Tactile Marketing In A Digital World – Forbes

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Tactile Marketing In A Digital World – Forbes

Written By: Paul Talbot


It’s something of a quaint notion, the idea that what we buy we must touch first. Close to a quarter of apparel sales now take place online.

But our need to touch something, not just for settling in on the right size or identifying a comfortable texture, goes well beyond the practicalities of fit.

We respond to the tactile in deep and often unfathomable ways. It may be difficult for some people to explain precisely why they prefer to read an actual book rather than a digitized version, but the preference is there.

This is one of the reasons why response to offline direct marketing can often outstrip an online counterpart. A study conducted by Millward Brown for the U.K.’s Royal Mail concluded that “this research strongly suggests that greater emotional processing is facilitated by the physical material than the virtual.”

The research claims that offline marketing which includes a tactile item such as a gift “… leaves a much deeper footprint in the brain. The result is that a physical item is more likely to be remembered, have a positive brand association and ultimately aid motivation.”


Choosing A B2B Direct Mail Gift

Direct marketing packages mailed to a cold list which include a gift can yield high response rates, in some instances significantly higher than the identical mailing minus a gift.

But the challenge for the marketer is to avoid the perception of cheesiness. The wrong gift, a poorly considered tactile element, has the potential to do more harm than good.

“This is a very important piece of the tactile marketing puzzle,” says Daniel Gaugler, CMO with PFL, a printing, mail house and marketing technology firm headquartered in Livingston, Montana.

“The single most important thing about incorporating a physical element is that it emphasizes the value proposition offered to the customer. This may sound like marketing 101, but it has been somewhat eroded in the world of digital.

“The cost of sending mass digital communications is cheap – so even if response rates are incredibly low, marketers respond by cranking up the volume. The result is an onslaught of cheap and often irrelevant communications that leads to further digital fatigue.

“One of the reasons physical marketing is valuable is because it’s more costly than digital – which means you really need to pay attention to the content and the audience. No marketer is going to haphazardly send a customized dimensional mail kit with irrelevant messages to a contact that doesn’t exist.

“The gift itself is not the most important component – it’s secondary to the message and value proposition. The gift is used to cut through the digital clutter and grab attention, recall and staying power. The truth is that you can’t bribe your audience with a gift, especially in B2B.

“People aren’t going to stake their careers on a costly software implementation because they got an Amazon gift card – so again, the key is the right message at the right time with a focus on the value you bring.”


B2B Direct Marketing Response Rates

B2B direct marketing response rates vary widely. Research from the Association of National Advertisers’ Direct Marketing Association team reports a range of 15-40%.

Gift or no gift, weak or strong value proposition, the fact remains that the quality of the list is the leading factor in determining the success of a B2B direct marketing campaign.

More than the offer and more than creative, it’s the list that matters most, both online and offline.

The right gift in the wrong hands is squandered, as useless as clothing bought online that doesn’t fit.