Direct mail is here to stay! Want to know why? Two reasons: technology.
"Wait! That's only one reason!" says my nay-saying coworker watching me type this blog. First I ask her to stop standing behind me and explain, technology can work in two very separate ways to promote the expansion of direct mail.
Technology used in conjunction with Direct Mail can only serve to make it stronger
Mail pieces and technology are like the high school quarterback and the well-liked cheerleader. Direct mail is the star quarterback: reliable, smart, and firm to the touch. Technology is the flashy cheerleader: sharp features, full of new ideas and occasionally loud. Put them together and you have the prom queen and king.
With QR codes and augmented reality applications, direct mail can come alive in your hands. Direct mail immediately becomes social with a scan of the smartphone and an offer to share. Direct mail pieces can immediately transport you to a 3-D world with augmented reality (see video below). The applications are endless, and with the evolution of smartphone technology, new ways to have your phone interact with the printed piece will continue to evolve.
Technology and compatibility move at different paces
I was thrilled to get the latest version of Adobe Design Suite, especially for the "Interactive PDF" function that comes along with InDesign. You can add video, interactive buttons, animations and more in a PDF. Sounds awesome right? Well, it is pretty awesome, if everyone has the same operating system, configurations and software version I do. The video portion of the PDF simply wouldn't work on several other people's computers. Oh, and forget about making the Interactive PDF work on an iPad. Apple hates Flash.
My point in that seemingly baseless rant is that it doesn't matter if you have a PC or a Mac, an iPad or a Droid, your direct mail piece looks the same. My PDF originally had flying planes, zooming buttons and a streaming video, but these options didn't all work for different machines. Direct mail not only is fail-proof between addresses, but it can be variably printed by spoken language, finance criteria or a million other options. Not to mention, Direct Mail technology can have that video that became my white whale literally embedded on the piece. See the video below:
So, in short, direct mail is not going anywhere, as long as it is a part of a multichannel solution.Use direct to redirect might be the mantra of this blog. As long as we still have mailboxes, technology will never outpace the printed piece.