The Real-World Impact of COVID-19 on Direct Mail

There are certain realities created by the COVID-19 pandemic that are undeniable. Conferences, seminars, in-person fundraisers, festivals, and other events are mostly shut down. Businesses aren’t interacting directly with customers. Although strategies have changed and some industries have been forced to scale back, direct mail is the only way for many companies to put something tangible in the hands of customers and prospects.

Given the uncertainty and unique challenges of marketing during a pandemic, we’d like to share insights we’ve gained by observing recent behaviors and trends and listening to the concerns of our customers.

Opportunities for B2C

It’s no secret that people are spending more time at home than ever. They’re working from home and ordering in instead of dining out. Many people are feeling isolated and can’t wait to see what’s in the mail, and mailboxes are far less crowded than inboxes.

We’ve seen B2C clients increase the frequency of their direct mail marketing and test new mail formats. For example, if you typically send envelopes, send a 6×9 postcard. Spend a little extra time on the design to grab the recipient’s attention.

Also, customers are still using direct mail as a closed-loop marketing process. In other words, the mailing is self-contained and doesn’t rely on anything else for someone to respond. This is a simple formula that continues to be effective.

Time to Pause for B2B

Any business or organization that is capable of having its employees work from home is doing so. Most B2B companies, including Digital Dog Direct, have paused direct mail because people just aren’t in the office. Instead of mailing our newsletters and quarterly calendar, we’re reaching out via social media with digital downloads. While the print versions have more impact, money can be more wisely spent on digital until more people return to a physical workplace. Only use direct mail after verifying that the recipients’ locations are open.

Keeping Customers Informed

This has been a struggle for many businesses and nonprofits. Their customers want to know if they’re open, how they’re functioning, what products and services they are and are not offering, what precautions they’re taking to keep customers and employees safe, and whether hours of operation have changed.

Direct mail can help you communicate this information in a way that’s memorable and impactful. Rather than getting lost in a sea of emails, your message will stand out in the recipient’s mailbox and be kept in the home for future reference.

Using Appropriate Images and Messaging

This isn’t the time to show people gathering, closely interacting, and touching in tight spaces. Look for imagery that’s consistent with social distancing. Similarly, your messaging shouldn’t convey physical closeness. This is a difficult time, so be careful to avoid sounding like you’re exploiting a crisis. Show genuine empathy and focus on helping people rather than selling.

Continuing to Engage

The worst thing any organization can do is stop engaging completely. Share uplifting stories, even if they’re not business-related. Tell people about your philanthropic initiatives. Ask what you can do to help your customers. People appreciate companies that care, and everyone loves a good story.

Not sure what marketing strategy is best for your company? Contact us to discuss your goals and challenges and develop a winning formula that speaks to the needs of your audience.