Don’t forget about offline marketing

Dialogue marketing Don’t forget about offline marketing

Published on 20.08.2021 by Christina Mendel, digital marketing consultant and keynote speaker

We’ve all experienced it for ourselves: in recent months, the pandemic has led to a dramatic acceleration in digitization. Lifestyle and business concepts are being reimagined (keyword: “new work”), and even on the advertising market, many industries are feeling the effects of the past few months.

The trend is clearly going in the direction of more online marketing. So is now the right time to talk about advertising by post and offline marketing? And about letters and flyers? Absolutely. After all, a lot of budget managers underestimate this form of marketing. They dismiss it as outdated, ineffective and expensive. But especially at a time when customers are being swamped with digital advertising across the board, postal marketing is perhaps the most relevant it ever has been.

What is key here is having the right ratio of online to offline content, and your specific goal: for instance, offline marketing is suitable for re-targeting in the case of bigger shopping baskets or valuable items where the buying process tends to be lengthier.

Companies such as Apple and Walmart actually also use this form of marketing very effectively for their online-to-offline business model (O2O): online buyers are persuaded in a creative way to visit the stores again to try out the products advertised. The product is then ultimately purchased online. Offline advertising can also prove highly effective where online advertising does not work.

Old school, but still effective

Several studies show that offline and postal marketing can be used extremely effectively: the 2020 CMC DIALOGPOST study, for instance, comes to the conclusion that customers responding to print mailing spend 8% more money on average than on a previous order. In another study (MarketingSherpa, 2017) about 80% of customers say they trust postal mail when it comes to deciding what to buy – in other words, twice as many customers who trust online banners. What’s more, the “Response Rate Benchmark” published by the American Direct Marketing Association (DMA) shows that physical mail is seven times more effective than digital media.

Feelings are what make the difference: advertising materials you can touch appeal to our senses and pique our interest. In addition, letters come across as more engaging and relevant than electronic messages that users can simply delete at the click of the mouse. And, last but not least, our concentration is a lot higher reading printed materials than a text on a screen.

Five decisive seconds

With that said, physical mail is not always necessarily successful: a communication study carried out by the market research company Coleman Parkes came to this conclusion: three quarters of mail recipients decide whether they are going to read it or throw it straight into the bin in the first five seconds. This means boring flyers and pamphlets don’t stand a chance.

The following tips can help you create effective postal mail:

  • Less waffle, more facts: go about designing your promotional letter in the same way you would go about a sales discussion and answer potential questions in advance.
  • Keep pictures to a minimum: they can attract all the attention and distract from the actual text.
  • Calls-to-action are also possible offline: persuade your reader to actually do something (e.g. “Arrange an appointment today!”). A QR-code that leads directly to a website, a personalized reply card or a voucher will boost your letter’s appeal.
  • The most underestimated asset: the PS line. It may come as a surprise, but the most commonly read line in a letter is the PS line. In this line, you can repeat the letter’s main message, which you can combine with an additional benefit (e.g. a 5% early booking discount if you order by 01.08.)

However, the most successful mail doesn’t just appeal to the left side of our brains (our sense of reason), but also triggers the reader’s emotions and intuition: for every additional sense you trigger, this will increase brain activity, the result being the reader will remember your company and your message for longer. Creativity knows no bounds:

  • Use special paper or unusual folds, e.g. something that feels different.
  • Did you know there are children’s books out there where the pages have different smells? Why not send out mail with a unique scent?
  • For kids: why not send something your recipient can share with their children, or that they can give to them. The benefits to the reader can also be carried over to you.
  • Arts and crafts lesson included: an e-bike manufacturer enclosed a set of instructions with mail that it sent out where you could use the delivery box to create a crash helmet.
  • Send something that will “last”: things you can hand out or put on your desk for your colleagues to see will have a longer-lasting effect.

The 40-40-20 route to success

Before you come round to rebalancing your entire advertising budget in a fit of mailing euphoria, it’s a good idea to consider a classic marketing dictum: the 40-40-20 rule. This states that, in direct marketing, 20% of your success is dependent on design, 40% is dependent on your offer, and the other 40% is dependent on your target group.

This is why it’s very wise to think about the sorts of people you want to contact and whether your offer will appeal to this group before you start a campaign. Don’t make the mistake of resorting to ready-made mailing lists or trying to win over new customers with shotgun marketing. Carefully set out the profile of your target group, and draw up a list of companies and key contacts that would fit this target group profile. A customer relationship management (CRM) tool can also help interact with customers and prospects, and to measure successes.


Offline marketing/physical mail is an effective marketing tool that, when implemented smartly and creatively, will stand out and help your company and your message stick in your customer’s mind. It can be used very effectively to gain new customers and to retain old customers. However, as with any advertising campaign, one thing is clear: choosing the right channel is only one part of the puzzle. In any case, budget managers should not underestimate the potential of physical mail, nor should they pass up on opportunities to use it. This is because, unlike online advertising, enclosed vouchers can be redeemed for months to come, which increases a household’s contact with the brand.


Due to the current situation, Connecta Bern will again be held as a digital event in 2021. Connecta is renowned for shining a light on the diverse nature of digitization and this year will be no different with content presented across the three formats of Connecta Blog, Connecta TV and Connecta Talk . Find out more here:


Christina Mendel

An entrepreneur, digital marketing consultant and keynote speaker.

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