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In An Ocean Of Digital Noise, Is High-Tech Direct Mail The New Marketing Hero?

In An Ocean Of Digital Noise, Is High-Tech Direct Mail The New Marketing Hero?

Each month I hold an innovation meeting for our team here at Advanced Marketing Strategies. We discuss the ever-changing marketing world and how we can bring new innovations and technology to our clients.

Staying on top of the changing market is vital to the life of a marketer, and once again, the advertising landscape has fundamentally changed. Don’t blink or you might literally miss it! Advertisements now flash before our eyes at blazing speeds. According to recent reports, the average American consumer is exposed to thousands of advertisements per day. In fact, within the first waking hour of each day, it’s not unusual for the average consumer to see more than three hundred advertisements! As a general rule of thumb, about two percent of advertisements garner our valued attention each day. In other words, only about 100 out of every 5,000 ad exposures have any meaningful impact on consumers. Digital advertising in today’s landscape is perilous because of two key factors: Quality and Saturation.

Recent studies are using a much more accurate and scientific approach to market research using Neuromarketing. One such study compared the effects of paper marketing (direct mail pieces, in this case) to digital media (email and display ads). The study used advanced eye-tracking and high-resolution EEG brain wave measurement tools, along with conventional methods such as questionnaires, to gather data. It produced two major results:

  • Direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media, suggesting that it is both easier to understand and more memorable.
  • Overall effectiveness, referred to as the motivation-to-cognitive load ratio within the study, showed that direct mail scored an average of 1.31 compared to 0.87 for all digital channels. This is significant because, in this type of test, values greater than 1.0 are indicative of broad in-market success.

Further, consumers who received direct mail offers were able to recall the brand 75% of the time. For consumers who received digital-only versions, the brand was remembered only 44% of the time.

But how can frumpy old direct mail out-shine dashing digital? Well these new innovations in print might make the list for BEST BETS FOR 2018! Check out some of the cool new tech for print I shared with my team:


Near-field communication (NFC) print technology allows marketers to embed information into print materials to make them amazingly interactive. Use of new NFC technology brings print technology into the modern era, making it dynamic and capable of expanding the amount of information that can be shared and the ways in which consumers can interact with brands and services. A tiny tag or chip which emits a radio frequency (called RFID) is placed in the print project (either directly into the paper or on a sticker). When a user taps their phone on the chip or places it near the chip, multimedia content starts to play on the phone through a web browser. Through an online platform, NFC allows the advertiser to change the content that the chip is linked to at any time, providing versatility, adaptability, and increasing the product’s lifespan. Anything that can be printed can include NFC, expanding the amount of information the printed piece can incorporate. NFC print technology is the tech behind Apple Pay and Google Wallet so it is something smartphone users are familiar with. Nearly all phones are being made with NFC already built in.

NFC content doesn’t have to be highly produced, which makes this an affordable option for marketers on a budget. You can use it to connect customers to a digital business card, coupon, existing video or website. NFC chips are great not only in promotional materials, but for providing customers with the important information they will want to reference over and over, such as user’s manuals, instructions, coupons, product recalls, and safety information. Instead of printing a multi-page user manual, manufacturers can create a card with the NFC chip included in it. NFC also allows customers to easily share information about a product, event, or service on social media, increasing word of mouth advertising and setting up the potential for your product or service to go viral.

The technology is also interactive. If a customer would like more information about a product or service, would like to enter a contest you’re running, wants to be placed on your mailing list, or would like to schedule an appointment or make a reservation with you, they can do so by tapping their phone and following the prompts that will come up on their screen. NFC is also great for event tickets, door hang tags, or any material you’re handing out to potential customers, clients, or users because you can push information and entertainment out to them anytime they are near the printed material. This tech also lets customers reorder products easily.

NFC chips have geolocation capabilities, allowing customers to communicate their location with you. The interactive nature allows businesses to collect and analyze information about their customers, users, and potential customers.

You can put this to work for your marketing campaign by adding an entirely new level of interaction, depth, and information built right into a direct mail send. Imagine your prospect opening a package filled with something fun and enticing them to a demo – they turn the gift over and there’s a touch here icon – by holding their phone up they instantly see your sales rep’s contact info and go to a page where they can schedule a demo.

Running a large marketing campaign? NFC can help you deliver hyper-personalized experiences. Imagine delivering a cool, fun printed piece with a little gift attached. The card has an NFC chip embedded in the ink and when your prospect holds their phone over the card, it loads a personalized website with content pointing directly to their needs.


NFC vs QR Codes

A few years ago QR codes were lauded as the next big step in marketing materials. By scanning them, customers could access multimedia materials and learn more information about products and services. Unfortunately, QR codes never caught on as advertisers hoped. Many smartphone users didn’t know how to scan them, one survey showed that 97 percent of consumers didn’t know what they were, since there is no standard QR scanner included on any phone. Customers never warmed up to these, finding them hard to use. Advertisers and businesses also balked at including square, black QR codes in their materials, no matter how small. Another problem with QR codes is they are static, the code links only to one specific web site. NFC codes are much more flexible and offer more options. QR codes still have some effectiveness and work best among males in the 25 to 34 demographic. If this is your target audience, it may be a less expensive alternative to NFC chips your business should consider.


Another simple way to add a ton more content to your small mailer is the addition of a thumb drive. Custom USB flash drive print pieces are unique and innovative ways to send information to direct and prospecting clients and are ideal for companies who value the importance of technology and instant brand awareness. Direct Mailers can include a tear-off USB that your prospects can plug directly into a computer and connects them directly to your website, files, or other promotional material. There’s no better way to get your contacts to visit your site and buy your products and services. The paper-thin design allows them to be perfect bound, saddle stitched, or used as a drop-insert.


This ultra-slick new technology is sweeping attention with nearly every phone and gaming system jumping on board! But you can also bring some of this excitement via Direct Mail! Pop a VR paper headset or a AR link into a printed piece for amazing animated results that will make your customers take notice and most importantly remember you! Check out our blog to learn how this new tech can benefit YOUR brand!


Nothing beats Video Brochures when it comes to Direct Mail Marketing. To engage consumers and impress potential clients, video brochures combine audio and visual in an unforgettable package to ensure messages get remembered. Video screens embedded into direct mail have been around for several years now – however the price was way too high for most marketers. Lucky for us, this technology is coming down in price and is actually affordable for many more marketers. For sales, fundraising, educating, training, recruiting, branding and many other business purposes, video brochures are ideal. They can be easily distributed to targeted recipients and are exactly the cutting edge tools needed to give your company an edge over your competition. Plus the WOW factor is second to NONE!

Want to add ultra-engaging NFC chips, thumb drives or video to your printing? These are just a few of the new print innovations available to smart marketers. Want to see more? We’d love to come give you the FULL presentation! Give us a buzz at and schedule your very own INNOVATION MEETING!


Michele Marlo, Executive Creative Director, Advanced Marketing Strategies


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