ThinkOTB Agency

How to apply direct mail techniques in a digital world

April 19, 2023

Direct mail marketing can often feel like the distant past. But, as DM is at the core of our marketing agency’s roots, we believe the techniques that drove incredible open-rates, high brand recognition and long-term loyalty can – and should – still be applied to digital marketing.

Here are our 4 top direct mail marketing techniques that will optimise your digital marketing today.


Just like digital marketing, direct mail is all about one-to-one communication. It relies of accuracy of data to ensure that you are contacting the right consumers with the right products at the right time.

The trick is finding the most-likely-to-respond customers based on truly insightful data such as their likes, habits and previous responses, then using this information to tailor messages to connect with them. So a headline for a fashion store’s occasionwear range targeting a 40-year-old female with a young family could be something like “Finally it’s time for you to feel like a princess”.

Great creative

From these data insights, your creative agency can deliver engaging creative and messaging. Your comms can tap into the target’s emotions, convey your brand’s essence and hit the nail on the head in terms of what the audience wants. One of the best features of digital marketing over direct mail is that you can so quickly, easily and cost-effectively A-B test creative approaches. It lets you see exactly which communications perform best.

You can then tweak an image, headline, offer, or landing page. It’s simple to optimise the campaign and make it the most effective it can be. In fact, digital testing has been taken to a new level with companies such as Userzoom. This innovation allows marketers to observe users in real-time via screen share technology.


Just as a direct mail piece would have had an envelope, the opening line or image of a digital marketing video, carousel or rotation, should create intrigue. It should tease the reader to stop scrolling and metaphorically open the envelope on the next piece of the advert. Give it all away in the first second, and the reader has no reason to interact with your brand.


Back in the day, direct mail was loved by marketers. It was a relatively fast and accurate way of tracking response rates. Today digital marketing has that need cornered, but there are still DM techniques to be leveraged.

One key mechanism is only providing one clear, measurable call to action. By offering options such as ‘read more’ or ‘buy’, you are diluting the urgency of the message and asking the audience to make a decision. By taking the audience on a buying journey (or sales funnel) of awareness – interest – desire – action then they should be ready to act.

Of course if you really want your brand’s marketing to stand out, you could use direct mail! Increasingly, brands are using occasional pieces of print to cut through digital noise in a highly effective and cost-effective way.

Today direct mail can be incredibly sophisticated. You can incorporate:

  • mobile-enabled features such as barcodes, QR codes and image recognition features that prompt mobile shopping experiences
  • add AR functionality that allows the recipient to see 3D digital images
  • try scannable features that trigger an interactive video experience
  • embed NFC chips that enable data to be shared.

Whichever media your brand chooses, a combination of digital media and direct mail techniques or direct mail and digital techniques will create incredibly powerful marketing. Using these well will connect you with your audience and drive results.

Weaving DM techniques into digital is one of our many fortes here at ThinkOTB. So, if you would like some ideas for your brand’s digital marketing, get in touch. We’ll put the virtual kettle on!


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