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Direct mail is constantly evolving. While there is still a place for traditional letters and postcards, new technologies, designs, and materials are constantly being conceived and executed. These innovations allow marketers such as you to reach a wider target audience, and to impact that audience more deeply. If you are curious about some of the amazing ways that direct mail has evolved in recent years, read below.

Profile/Variable Mapping

Variable mapping uses GPS technology to enhance your mail piece. Using this technology, you can print a map on the mail piece that would show the route between each recipient’s address and a location of your choosing. For example, if you are opening a new store, or holding an event in a certain city or neighborhood, you can show each of your targeted recipients the route from their particular address to your location. This is a great way to not only increase brand-awareness, but to get people through your doors as well.

QR Codes

You may have seen a QR (Quick Response) code before. It is a small box, usually placed on advertising material, filled with what appear to be random pixels. The pixels are not random though. Rather, they serve as a link to specific digital content. If you place a QR code on your mail piece, recipients can scan that code using an app on their phones, which in turn can pull up a webpage, video, photograph, digital coupon, promotional announcement, or nearly any other type of digital message. Essentially, any type of content that you can relay through an email blast or banner ad can be relayed through a QR code. By using a QR code on a physical mail piece, you are able to bridge the gap between digital and print marketing, reaching the recipient through two channels simultaneously. Not only that, you are also providing an immediate call to action, which is sure to increase response rates.

Augmented Reality

If QR codes allow you to bridge the gap between print and digital marketing, Augmented Reality (AR) closes that gap completely. As with a QR code, mail pieces featuring AR technology are viewed through an app on a smart phone or tablet. The difference is, while a QR code allows the mail piece to serve as a link to digital content, AR transforms the mail piece itself.

Sound like something out of science fiction? Well… maybe it should! Using this amazing technology, the mail recipient would view your mail piece through their phone, as if they were going to take a picture of it. That static image is instantly transformed – before their eyes – through the power of digital animation. For example, a travel agency might mail a postcard with a picture of an airplane on it. When that postcard is viewed through an AR app, the plane appears to shoot off into the sky, leaving a promotion for discounted airfare in its wake.

Such technology is more than mere bells and whistles: it conveys cutting-edge content that awes and inspires. And when people are awed and inspired, they tend to respond. If you are wondering how likely customers are to respond, consider this: in a recent USPS study, consumer were 135% more likely to purchase a product they viewed through AR than a product they viewed through traditional print advertising.

NFC Technology

“NFC” stands for Near Field Communication. This is one of the most recent evolutions in direct mail, taking QR and AR technologies a step further. In this case, an actual microchip is embedded into the mail piece. This microchip emits a radiofrequency that allows recipients to pull up multimedia digital content, simply by tapping the mail piece with their smartphones—no need for recipients to download an app to view your content! What’s more, content on the microchip is connected to the web, and can be updated even after the mailing has gone out. This allows you to deliver several messages with one piece of direct mail. This technology is brand new, so its impact on response rates is still being measured. That said, current studies indicate substantial consumer interest in this emerging technology. In fact, a recent USPS study indicated that 88% of smartphone users would consider using NFC to interact with a poster that interested them.

Let’s Work Together

If you would like to learn how you can apply these innovative approaches to your next direct mail campaign, give us a call at 866-542-2107, or contact us today. Here at United Mail, we will not only keep you informed of the latest trends in direct mail – we will help you set them.

Article by Brandon Wuske