Direct Mail: The secret to stronger Content Marketing and SEO - Midwest Direct

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December 17, 2015

Direct Mail: The secret to stronger Content Marketing and SEO

When we think Content Marketing, we often think entirely in terms of digital. And when it comes to SEO, of course our minds go to keywords, links, content and all that good stuff.

But how many of us think, “Hmm, how can a direct mail piece help my content marketing and SEO efforts?

This writer has worked for several ad agencies, and direct mail was almost always an afterthought – if it was a thought at all in our clients’ marketing mixes.  But working for Midwest Direct has opened my eyes to the power of direct marketing.

I have to confess: I was writing our 2016 company communications plan, and got very far into the project before it struck me: I was leaving out one of direct marketing’s most impactful tools: A well-designed direct mail piece and the accompanying campaign.  Which is all the more ironic (sad? frightening?), considering it’s a core service offering of my employer!  

Let’s start by considering that yes, direct mail is cool again! That article is worth a read, but in a nutshell: Emails get routed to spam or deleted, but a well-designed, stand-out physical mail piece – addressed to you – will likely be opened, and at the very least, scanned.

So what’s the relationship between direct mail and online marketing efforts?

Returning to search marketing after a few years away, I was interested to learn that search has shifted fundamentally from technical and strategic to philosophical.  It’s not about the anchor text you used, or your H1 headers; rather, it’s ultimately about the end user experience. Always back to the end user experience.  

What’s the reason behind why users are searching for certain keywords? Are we answering search questions, or just throwing up content to boost search rankings?  Yes, technical SEO is still critical to keep in mind. But the consensus is in: Creating quality content wins the long-term SEO war over tactics designed to artificially bump search rankings.

Google’s more recent algorithm updates have emphasized two simple yet profound ideas when it comes to search marketing: Customer experience comes first.  And, brands should act like brands.

Driving traffic  

A great mail piece drives traffic online, through a clear call to action (and possibly a pURL or a QR code). Remembering that customers are all at different spots in your sales funnel, yes: Many people need to know who you are, before those white papers and case studies give them the permission they need to buy.

This brand awareness stage is where you can leverage a potentially humorous YouTube series, or a 101 or How-To set of articles on your blog. And, this is where you can step in with a sharp, standout mail piece driving traffic online and boosting searches for your brand.

Or if your mail piece is nudging prospects to buy, you will be ready with your online content designed for that more advanced stage of the buyer journey.

And let’s not forget those buyer personas you spent so much time developing.  Melissa, the young, hip marketer you interact with?  Sure, she is a tech-savvy digital native.

But Operations Bob, the practical guy with the mechanical background and no-nonsense approach to his deadline-filled days?  He is not retweeting anything you publish. In fact, he’s actually going to appreciate and value a physical mail piece which directs him to a specific, useful online resource.

2016 is poised to be the year that content marketing assumes its rightful place on the center of the marketing stage. Personally, I’m working to ensure our marketing plan’s success by adding a strong direct mail component and campaign to our content strategy.

Strong offline brands produce strong branded Internet searches – driving traffic to your digital content, and growing your slice of the SEO pie. I’m hopeful 2016 will also be the year that direct mail’s value is more fully appreciated, as a reliable component of well-rounded integrated marketing campaigns from Cleveland to the west coast.

Vince Bank is a corporate communications specialist with Midwest Direct, where he designs and executes integrated campaigns for our clients.

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