Measure Your Direct Mail Campaigns

The internet has certainly changed many aspects of our lives. We turn to it for entertainment, for news, to research products and vacations, and get directions of all types. But perhaps the biggest change is the impact it’s had on marketing.

The internet brought the age of digital marketing with highly focused audiences, and immediate responses that can be measured in real time. But along with this comes information overload. The American Marketing Association figures the average American sees up to 10,000 ads in any given day! (source: AMA)

Leverage print to break through the clutter.

To measure direct mail marketing performance you can use call tracking phone numbers specific to your campaign or use digital call-to-actions that can be measured using Google Analytics. For more technical details on using Google Analytics read my Measure to Improve Your Marketing Performance article.

Here are ways to track the marketing performance of direct mail.

Table Of Contents

1. Campaign Specific Landing Pages

Avoid using a homepage for the call-to-action of any printed piece. Using a campaign specific landing page allows you to determine the response rate for your campaign and determine how visitors interact with your website.

Use a landing page with an URL like www.yoursite.com/winter-sale.

Since prospects reading a printed piece need to type in the URL in their browser, the URL should:

  • Be easy for a person to type
  • Use term(s) related to the campaign

Tip: To use a landing page to measure your direct mail campaign you need to be sure all the visits to the landing page come from the direct mail. You need to ensure people don’t click on links or have the page show up in search results.

  • Don’t have the page in your website menu or link to the page from other pages.
  • Don’t email the link to people.
  • Don’t allow the page to be crawled by search engines.

2. Redirect with UTM Parameters

To your prospect this looks the same as using a specific landing page. The difference is the easy-to-type friendly URL redirects to a URL that leverages Google Analytics to measure your campaign effectiveness. You can answer questions like:

  1. What were the direct mail response rates for our house marketing list and a purchased list?
  2. How did direct mail compare to our email marketing for the campaign?
  3. How much revenue was driven by direct mail or email?

This techniques requires:

  • An easy to type URL like www.yoursite.com/winter-sale that serves as the call to action on the direct mail.
  • The web page you want the prospect to go to. page like www.yoursite.com/winter-sale-landing-page
  • A separate URL with Google Analytics UTM parameters that redirects the browser to the landing page.

An example is to use a URL like modernostrategies.com/measure-marketing that your website redirects a browser to:

https://www.modernostrategies.com/blog/measure-improve-marketing-performance/?utm_source=blog&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=MeasureDirectMail

In this example, the UTM parameters tell Google Analytics that in the campaign MeasureDirectMail, the source is blog, the medium is website.

Here’s some sample parameters you can use for your print campaigns:

Medium (Marketing Channel)SourceContent (optional)
direct-mailhouse-listversion-a
product-brochurepurchased-listversion-b
company-brochurereverse-ipurl
retail-graphicsqr-code
ooh
magazine-ad

Tip: Using the optional utm_content parameter allows you to capture additional useful information. The parameter can be used for many things, including.

  • A/B test any content in your direct mail, including headlines, copy, images, and the call-to-action.
  • Determine if the prospect keyed in the campaign URL into their browser or scanned a QR code.

Create a different URL for each combination of parameters, such as:

  • www.yoursite.com/winter
  • www.yoursite.com/winter-sale/
  • www.yoursite.com/january-sale

You can use the alternate versions for different audience segments. Variable data printing technology is used to print the different versions of the URLs on the direct mail.

You can implement URL redirection using a plugin on a WordPress website, and there’s other techniques are available for websites built on other platforms.

3. Personalized URLs

Using a personalized URL, or PURL, in your campaign allows you to:

  • Conduct detailed segmentation analyses. Since you know individual behavior your can analyze performance using any data you have, such as industry, company size or  job title.
  • Increase response rates by providing personalized landing pages for each prospect.
  • Learn what your prospect is interested in by tracking what pages they visit.
  • Make the website visitor a known visitor to your marketing automation platform.

There are multiple services available to commercial print providers that allow you to set up a subdomain and create a unique URL, like like winter.yoursite.com/todc, for each person in your marketing list. Cross-channel marketing platforms like Mindfire and EasyPurl allow you to create the PURL call-to-action as well as landing pages and integrate email marketing. They also have built in campaign performance reporting.

Other services like purlem create the PURLs, allowing that you can then implement using your own website technologies.

The primary disadvantage of setting up a compaign using personalized URLs is that it requires specialized software to implement.

4. QR Codes & Augmented Reality

QR codes and Augmented Reality (AR) can be used with any of the three techniques described above:

  • A simple URL that goes to a landing page
  • A URL with UTM parameters
  • A personalized URL

As smartphone adoption increased, QR codes gained popularity for marketers in the early 2010s. But they were often poorly implemented, with marketers not thinking through the user experience. One of the funniest marketing presentations I’ve seen was by Scott Stratten, of UnMarketing fame, about the poor user experiences frequently provided by QR codes:

But QR codes never went away, and now that both Apple and Google have made them more accessible in their smartphone platforms, and marketers seem to be improving customer experience design, they are again gaining traction.

Interest in QR Codes has increased the past few years. Source: Google Trends

There are many tools, such as qr-code-generator.com, that allow you to easily make QR codes. For QR codes with personalized URLs, digital print savvy commercial printers can create QR codes from the PURLs and use variable data print to personalize each mail piece. Alternatively, the personalized URL services discussed above can create personalized QR codes.

Augmented Reality (AR) can provide a much richer, interactive experience. URLs can be embedded into images in the direct mail or in the AR experience. A downside or AR is it requires a smartphone app for your prospect to engage. This is too big a barrier unless the audience is already very engaged with your brand.

By embedding UTM parameters into your QR code and AR URLs, you can measure direct mail performance in Google Analytics.

5. Campaign Specific Phone Numbers

6. Unique Code

Coupon codes can be used for in-store or online discounts, or an promo code can be used to provide access to some content or service.

A single code can be used for the campaign. This will allow you to measure overall campaign effectiveness. A unique can be implemented using variable data printing, allowing you to convert an anonymous website visitor into a known visitor, or to A/B test different direct mail content.

Summary of Measurement Techniques

print measurement techniques table

Use the techniques in this article whenever you are using a website as the call-to-action for any printed piece so you can measure marketing performance.

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