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In a world where specialization from an early age— whether in school, the arts or even sports—is increasingly becoming the norm, one would expect the most successful people in the world to have taken a direct flight toward their achievements. Master the cello by age 7, play in a major symphony orchestra by high school and eventually we could all become like Yo-Yo Ma, right?
Not necessarily. Doing things just one way, no matter how prolific one is in his or her methods, can make it harder to spot creative solutions that might otherwise be obvious to a more well-rounded observer. This theory on the importance of prioritizing breadth over depth in learning can apply to nearly any domain, but it is particularly relevant when considering the current state of the marketing industry.
Don’t just mail it in
Far too many marketing veterans are still relying on that old mainstay: direct mail and print marketing. Many of marketing’s most powerful professionals built their careers off this strategy, so it is no wonder that it still holds such strong appeal. Direct marketing is still valuable in some instances today, and there have been modern innovations in this area. For example, we now know how important a compelling call to action is to successful print efforts.
As technology continues to change the game, it is time to embrace multi-touch marketing. Reaching a target with consistent messaging across several mediums, multi-touch marketing arose from the popularity of online and social media platforms that facilitate interactions with both consumers and brands. Instead of sending ceaseless print mailers to the same place, marketers can reach targeted audiences across the entire internet through email campaigns, search engines and social media.
By no means is direct mail marketing extinct, nor should it be. Print campaigns prove to yield significant increases with brand awareness and recall, but evidence is mounting that only sending mailers is doing a disservice to your marketing potential. In fact, one study found that integrating digital efforts with a print campaign resulted in 75% more attention captured and a 25% higher campaign response rate.
Never lose sight of your blind spots
According to a 2018 report, marketers who integrated all online and offline channels were twice as likely to report high marketing effectiveness as other groups.2 That points to the importance of a strong online presence as well as the continued relevance of print campaigns to successful marketing.
Yet, there is more to this digital effort than at first glance. An integrated campaign not only helps marketers reach and convert more customers, but it helps one better understand one’s target audience.
Multi-touch marketing allows for more agility and adaptability with marketing efforts. Should a direct mailing campaign produce less-than-satisfactory results, it can take valuable time to collect feedback and adjust where needed. By constantly monitoring and measuring consumer responses and relationships online, marketers can react immediately to what is or is not working and proactively adjust efforts. Leveraging all the data that comes from an online campaign helps optimize marketing efforts no matter where they are.
Open your eyes to the future
It is fair to consider whether compiling a comprehensive multi-touch campaign is affordable, particularly for smaller teams. It may feel like only a larger company has the tools and technology to conduct such a campaign.
However, that is not the case. If you work with a dedicated affinity group, you already have the keys to a multi-touch marketing vehicle: email addresses. While in the past only select marketing specialists could track customers across channels, technology is increasingly accessible — even to potential business partners.
As an example from experience, Aflac is a company that fits the bill. Historically, not too many insurance agents and brokers came to the company seeking a digital-first marketing approach. We have become very familiar with mailers and office marketing and were prolific in those areas. However, by taking a more generalized approach and conducting more comprehensive campaigns, we can now do even better. All Aflac needs is an email address to connect with a target across multiple platforms, ensuring a coordinated message.
Not only are recent advancements effective, but they have made multi-touch marketing less costly, leading to broader accessibility and increased return on investment across the board. For example, a recent case study by Forrester found that using print and digital together increased a campaign’s three-year ROI by 224%.3The cost of an integrated campaign may be somewhat greater, but the upside of a successful effort is even higher.
While successful marketing hinges on both generalized and expert approaches, multi-touch marketing is the future of connecting with consumers and proves the value of a comprehensive foundation over doing things just one way.
Jeramy Tipton is senior vice president, Distribution Expansion and Consumer Markets at Aflac. He is responsible for leading the digitally focused direct-to-consumer business and all financial, sales/marketing and operational aspects of the business.