Filling the Gap with Sensory Marketing

Direct Mail Isnt Dead-1

This week's blog post is contributed by guest writer, Chloe Cunningham. Chloe is the Sales & Marketing Intern at NaviStone and an Honor student at the University of Cincinnati, Carl H. Lindner College of Business.

Filling the Gap with Sensory Marketing

Nowadays, it seems genuinely impossible to escape the world of technology. With COVID-19 guidelines set in place across the country, our world has an accelerated dependence on virtual experiences. Everything can be done from the face of a computer screen. School, work, and even exercise have all been converted into an at-home experience. 

“As 42% of the U.S. labor force continues to work from home full-time, we have heavily increased our reliance on our devices to keep us working, connected, and entertained. In fact, the average time spent with digital media is moving toward 7.5 hours per day.” 

Days that once consisted of opening and closing doors have turned into endlessly opening and closing our laptops. To no surprise, companies are taking advantage of this by directing most, if not all, of their marketing efforts to a digital format. Everywhere we look there are advertisements begging for our attention through a screen. Our attention spans have been getting shorter by the day as we try to click away from digital ads as quickly as possible. This feeling of burnout and mental strain has been referred to as “digital fatigue.” Everybody, in some form or another, has become more exposed to technology and for many it can feel exhausting. 

As a college student during the COVID-19 pandemic, I think I can speak for most of my generation when I say we miss physical interaction. What was once walking to class across campus with friends, frantically writing down notes to keep up with our professors and study with our peers, passing friendly faces in the halls, and being handed countless flyers on upcoming events, is now sitting in the same seat each day and staring at a Zoom screen for hours on end. Our reading, learning, organization, communication, and calendar systems have all been converted to an online format. The most interaction we’ve had in the past year has been through a computer. And while most of us understand the importance of public wellbeing, we cannot wait to get some in person interactions back in our everyday lives. We are desperate for a new experience. This is where marketers have the chance to step in and engage in a different way and fill a hole in consumers’ lives. 

Experts predict that the effects of COVID-19 on the marketing industry will linger for quite a while. With shopping becoming an almost entirely virtual experience, companies have followed this trend with their marketing techniques. Industries have picked up on the recent status quo and digital marketing has skyrocketed across the board. Twitter Business captured this, “The dramatic rise in the adoption of e-commerce and omnichannel services sees no sign of abating. The latest data suggests that there will be a huge increase of 169% in e-commerce purchases, from new or low-frequency users post-outbreak. And what’s more, the vast majority of consumers who have increased their use of digital and omnichannel services, such as home delivery, curbside pickup, or shopping via social media platforms, expect to sustain these activities in the future.” 

We know that digital works and is a permanent component to marketing strategies. We also know that digital alone can overload and contribute to the recent societal loss of sentiment and physical interaction. Forbes predicts that we encounter 4,000-10,000 advertisements a day. As with any competitive space, digital is bound to bring some other challenges. With increased use in ad blockers, it’s unsure how many advertisements are actually being seen by consumers. It’s even more uncertain how effective ads are in truly engaging consumers. The marketing industry has become focused on driving clicks and interactions, and has lost motivation to provide more meaningful, personable, and interactive ads to each individual.

Marketing is a competitive space, the digital experience is crowded, the competition is tighter. And, the strategic opportunity to employ sensory marketing techniques gets lost. In digital, everything is focused on engaging sight, and maybe sound. But if we think about what consumers need at this moment in time-touch, feeling, and personal connection-these components are more important than ever. Direct mail marketing gives us the opportunity to fill that void.  

Keeping up with modern trends in digital marketing is important to staying relevant and reaching larger audiences. But in order to really make an impact and build more brand recognition, companies need to appeal to consumers in a multitude of ways. Channels such as direct mail are proven to have higher response rates than digital advertising. In fact, direct mail itself has a 5-6% higher response rate than all digital channels combined (SG360).  This is due to the unique way direct mail appeals to customers offering something that is tangible, familiar, and more personal. There’s now a very discernible difference between clicking through digital ads and physically grabbing a piece of mail right out of the mailbox.

A Chinese Proverb states;

“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand.”

Companies have an opportunity to create a more personalized experience than ever before. In order to really stand out against the competition, keep customers involved. Rather than focusing solely on a saturated and crowded digital space, look for ways to combine innovative marketing tactics with channels that keep consumers engaged on a personal level. Incorporating postcards, catalogs, or personalized packages that are tailored to your target market will set you apart from the competition and help fulfill that human need of physical interaction.

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