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Direct Mail, Web Comedy, and Other Unusual Marketing Trends

Effective marketing techniques don’t always take the form we expect. Here are some surprising developments materializing in 2019.

Marshall Lemon
September 12 2019

Marketers pride themselves on following the latest trends and keeping up with the most effective retention techniques, but even in 2019, marketing campaigns can still surprise us. Perhaps an out-of-date strategy will make a comeback, or an unusually quirky ad will become a viral hit. Here are some recent examples of unexpected market trends unfolding around us.

More from PostFunnel on marketing trends:
Humanizing the Trends Reshaping eCommerce: Three Ways Tech Can Make You More Human
Asking the Experts: Martech Trends to Keep an Eye On in 2019
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Direct Mail is Making a Comeback

As more companies embrace digital transformations, brands are increasingly marketing to customers through digital advertising channels. But that doesn’t mean we should phase out traditional marketing techniques just yet — especially direct mail. While modern email campaigns tend to see roughly 0.7% response rates, a well-optimized direct mail campaign can easily achieve 5%.

Direct mail’s resurgence relies on data collection, micro-targeting, and segmentation techniques to optimize modern digital campaigns. While the actual messaging delivery process is slower due to mail transit times (hence the unflattering ‘snail mail’ nickname), marketers can use targeting techniques to ensure the right person gets the right message.

But targeting alone isn’t the only driver behind direct mail’s resurgence. Receiving personalized messages by mail is a tactile experience with psychological benefits that are difficult to match on computers or smartphones. People simply love the sensation of getting something in the mail, be it birthday messages or personalized gifts. When marketers leverage these feelings, it can cultivate a stronger sense of customer engagement than any email or mobile advertisement.

Many eCommerce Brands Are Successfully Expanding into Retail

Online storefronts like Amazon established themselves as successful digital alternatives to conventional retail brands. But how does an eCommerce platform expand once it’s cornered all available digital markets? For many companies, the surprising answer is to launch brick-and-mortar retail chains.

In the past few years, we’ve seen quite a few successful eCommerce companies open physical storefronts to support their brand. These businesses range from major players to relatively new startups — online eyeglasses brand Warby Parker, second-hand eCommerce platform thredUP, and Amazon have all dabbled in the trend.

From a marketing perspective, brick-and-mortar retail strategies are a good fit for eCommerce platforms. Each new franchise leverages brand recognition that attracts existing and new online customers. The prior online success stories of these brands can also help them secure storefront leases while lacking explicit retail experience.

While not every business tries to mimic a traditional retail experience — most notably Amazon, which optimizes retail inefficiencies using automated systems — these branded chains suggest the line between online and in-person shopping might blur in the near future.

In-Person Events Are Highly Effective Marketing Channels

Marketers can engage with customers through a variety of remote channels, such as email campaigns or SMS messages. But even in 2019, in-person strategies still work best. This was the overriding message in a survey of 800 marketers, which revealed that local and in-person events represent the most effective marketing strategies.

In-person events can take many forms. Local events, for example, include everything from large-scale public fairs to industry-exclusive trade shows. Hosted events, meanwhile, include training seminars or classes on unique topics. The common factor uniting them all is that people actively engage with the event instead of viewing recordings after the fact. The in-person engagement factor is more likely to convert customers and offers a level of personalization that online platforms struggle to replicate.

That’s not to say in-person events are always practical. Event-based marketing is one of the most challenging strategies for brands to manage and can be quite expensive in many cases. Without careful attention, it’s easy for budgets to balloon out of control without gaining the corresponding ROI conversions. Yet despite these risks, a successful in-person event can attract your most engaged customers and secure ties with local communities. For these reasons, it can be worth checking out local event opportunities in your region.

Quirky Ads with Genuine Humor Can Develop Your Brand

It’s fairly common for marketers to take the most successful advertising techniques and find ways to apply them to their own brands. However, there’s certainly something to be said for going off-book and experimenting — especially when it comes to humor.

Applying humor to advertising creative works on several levels. First, when deployed effectively, it helps your campaign stand out from the competition. Second, emotional responses to advertising go a long way toward engaging users and making your brand feel relatable. Finally, a well-constructed joke will surprise customers, turning an otherwise standard ad into a memorable experience. When combined correctly, each of these points draws attention to your brand while encouraging shares on social media.

More importantly, humor in advertising does have measurable benefits. Take this video from the Dollar Shave Club, which by itself is basically online sketch comedy. As part of a larger marketing initiative, however, it attracted attention which created a strong return of investment. Dollar Shave Club’s initial budget for this video was $4,500 — but it generated 24 million YouTube views, 23,000 Twitter followers, and 76,000 Facebook fans. That’s an impressive number of conversions for a single advertisement that ultimately opened the door to new potential customers.

Dollar Shave Club is not alone on this front. The Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim brand has gained a reputation for turning absurdist content into viral marketing hits, such as the unusual sketch. Old Spice is still remembered for its engaging “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign. The restaurant chain Denny’s is recognized for comedic Tumblr images, while Wendy’s has a hilarious social media presence. Sometimes a comedic voice goes a long way in helping your brand stand out — and earns you new customers in the process.

At the end of the day, marketing is as much art as science. You can learn a great deal about your customers by leveraging data or measuring trends, but there are many unique and undiscovered ways to engage with your audience. By staying open to approaches like direct mail, in-person events, or even comedy, you can reach customers beyond the reach of the latest marketing trends.

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Marshall Lemon

Marshall Lemon is a writer, editor, librarian, and game designer. As the Content Marketing Manager at Fluid PR Group, he helps businesses craft engaging stories within the context of well-researched industry data. He lives in London, Ontario with his wife and two adorable puppers.

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