Use Landing Pages to Make Your Direct Mail Work Better
Direct mail is at its best as a call-to-action and response medium. Using a landing page to capture and track that response is a smart way to encourage immediate action, maintain focused involvement in your message and proposition, and to capture contact and other data.
What is a landing page?
A landing page is a web page that is designed specifically to focus on eliciting a desired action from those who visit it. This is most often a lead generation effort, asking visitors to identify themselves and supply contact information in a lead-capture form. Often something of value is offered in return for this information or a special offer is made.
Why a landing page? Why not simply invite visitors to the contact form you already have on your website or to another page of your website?
Your website is not likely the best place to send visitors from your direct mail and other campaigns. There is simply too much going on at the average website for the visitor to figure out and sort through. They have just received your direct mail and are trying to follow up on what they just read. They are interested enough to type in the URL you provide in the mailer into their browser. Don’t leave them stranded trying to figure out where in your website to find what they were just reading about.
Landing pages let you provide immediate recognition to this visitor based upon the message and promotion that drove them there. They know they are in the right place and they know what you are asking them to do.
Sending visitors to an existing form on your website may also be a lost opportunity to identify where those visitors came from. Unless your form can handle the entry of a code of some type that you provide the direct mail recipient in the mailing, you may not be able to distinguish these visitors from others who have come to your form from different origins.
Hosting a landing page
Some marketers create landing pages that are hosted as part of their website, visible only to those who have received their direct mail promotion. The typical URL for this looks something like “www.ourwebsite.com/thispromotion”. Hosting the landing page on your existing website is fine. But these types of URLs should be avoided if possible. They are usually very long to type into a browser and can be mis-typed, leading to frustration.
We always recommend registering a campaign or medium specific URL that is shorter and easier to type, and that if possible, reflects the theme of your promotion. You can then set up a redirect that will take visitors who type in this URL to the hidden page you have set up on your website. Domain registration is inexpensive and often comes with promotional pricing.
But it may be preferable to set up independent hosting for the domain you register. Even with a redirect, pages that are hosted on your existing website resolve to your existing domain – www.yourwebsite.com/promotion — and this will show in the domain bar at the top of the browser. Savvy visitors may then decide to visit other parts of your website, diluting the focused attention you are after. Third party hosting can also be quite inexpensive if you cannot set up new hosting on your existing servers.
Another consideration when deciding where to host your landing page is whether the server that hosts your existing website can support the technical needs of the landing page, such as WordPress, form plugin, or other needs. In a lot of cases, companies opt for third party hosting simply because their IT department makes the process of setting up new hosting or pages too complex and lengthy a process. It’s just easier to get it done elsewhere given the low cost.
The direct mail/landing page combo
No matter what type of direct mail you are planning (Personalized Mail, Neighbourhood Mail, Postal Code Targeting), your mailing can easily include the URL for your landing page as the call-to-action.
If you are conducting a Personalized Mail campaign (addressed mailing), you will likely be personalizing the mailing in some fashion, if only to address to the recipient on the list you are mailing to. This gives you the option to provide each recipient with a personalized code to enter at the landing page, or to provide a personalized URL (PURL) such as “www.ourwebsite.com/code” or “www.customURL.com/code”.
Now you are able to track who among your direct mail targets responded and who didn’t. If your web hosting supports it, you also have the option to personalize the landing page to the individual, a very powerful way to build relevance. This is especially the case where you have other data about the direct mail recipients besides their contact info and therefore usually applies when you are mailing existing and past customers, or perhaps prospects you have on file.
It also provides you the option to pre-populate any forms you want the visitor to complete. With a simple database connected to the landing page, the visitor enters their personalized code, and this call up the info from the database. This can increase conversion as it makes it easier and faster for site visitors.
Be careful to ensure your data is accurate though. There’s nothing worse than trumpeting somebody’s name to them, only to find out it is misspelled. Always give them the option to correct any mistakes if you can. (This serves the double-purpose of helping you update your database.)
If you are planning a Neighbourhood Mail campaign (unaddressed mailing) or a Postal Code Targeting campaign (addressed to household, but not individuals), don’t think you are restricted to directing everyone who receives your mailing to exactly the same landing page. You can segment your mailing and create versions of it with different URLs or codes for recipients to enter when they arrive at the landing page. You can then customize the landing page message appropriately.
Consider versioning your mail by geography — province, city, FSA or full postal code — and tailoring your offer on your landing page differently to the residents of each geographic area. You can also intermix your mailing before distributing it so that some households receive one version, while others in the same area receive a different version, which is ideal for doing offer testing or creative testing.
If you are an ecommerce company, you will likely be using coupon codes to track response to different offers. Typically these codes are input by the site visitor during the last step of their transaction, the check-out process. This often means that the visitor is sent to the home page of the site to start shopping where there is no mention of the message or offer they have just seen in their direct mail piece.
If you are using Shopify or any of the other ecommerce platforms, you should be able to create landing pages for each of your offers. This way, you can ensure that your direct mail driven visitors land at a place with familiar language and with the offer reinforced.
Try Testing a 2-Step Approach
Here is one strategy that involves a landing page.
Most of us use the usual “1-step” marketing approach in our mailings. We announce the offer in the mailing and either drive people online to take advantage of it or perhaps to a retail location. The direct mail effort either either converts them in one step into buyers or it doesn’t, end of story.
Try testing a lead generation, 2-step approach. Use your mailing to announce the offer and drive people to a landing page where they are invited to sign up or subscribe in order to receive an email with a coupon they can print for retail, or coupon code they can use online, that entitles them to the offer.
The offer needs to be fairly rich to drive the action desired, to make it worthwhile for people to sign up. The delivery of the coupon via email can be instantaneous, automated through the landing page or you can use code from an email marketing platform like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor or others.
The idea is that you are seeking more qualified traffic. People who go through the trouble of signing up are evidently quite interested in what you have to offer. In return for the high-value coupon, they provide contact info about themselves. Now, you can follow up on these people, finding those who have not used their coupon after a certain amount of time and send them reminders. You are no longer restricted to the one-time effort of a one-step direct mail campaign.
Want to try a direct mail/landing page combo strategy? Give us a call, we’d be glad to help!