The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is dropping potentially mixed messages on marketers. In their 2012 Response Rate Report, they state that on average, direct mail generates stronger response rates than email: 4.4 percent for direct mail and 0.12 percent for email. But this news was shortly followed by the Q1 2012 North America Email Trends and Benchmarks report, a joint study between Epsilon and the DMA, which shows that while email volume has increased, average open rates have increased as well.

This data may leave marketers wondering what they should do: How can I reach my potential customer and, at the same time, use my marketing budget efficiently?

The answer is to stop thinking of traditional and digital tactics as siloed channels. Instead, integrate.

Direct Mail Gone Digital

Direct mail shouldn’t be overlooked because it’s a legacy channel. Creatively designed mailers stand out. Plus, fewer marketers are using direct mail, so there’s less clutter to cut through, improving the chances that you’ll get the response rate you desire.

But if you really want to extend your direct mail’s impact, take it digital.

Include quick response (QR) codes or personalized URLs (PURLs) on every direct-mail piece. These QR codes and PURLs should link your lead to a landing page with content that reiterates your original offer and provides a way to act on that offer. PURLs, QR codes and their associated landing pages help your message resonate with your lead. And because each landing page is unique, you can easily track response rates to directly attribute marketing to ROI.

Pick up the Phone

Telemarketing has a tenuous relationship with the public. It’s generally seen as intrusive, unwanted and outdated marketing. But when used in conjunction with direct mail and email, it can be very effective.

First, warm up your leads with a direct mail, email or display-ad offer. If your lead gives you contact information, call. If they’re already aware of your brand and offer, it will be less intrusive and ultimately generate better results.

If you don’t believe me, the same 2012 Response Rate Report shows that 13 percent of customers in a house database have responded to a marketing offer over the telephone.

Multichannel Campaigns

Multichannel campaigns are a very effective way to market your product. Here’s an example. By using behavioral tracking technology, you can target leads with highly relevant offers through email messages and display ads. If the lead clicks through the offer (which your analytics will tell you), follow up with a direct-mail piece that outlines your product in more detail (don’t forget the QR code or PURL so you can continue to track engagement), and then contact the lead directly with a phone call.

By connecting with your lead at multiple touch-points, delivering added value with each touch, you’ll build a strong brand impression and improve the likelihood that your lead will purchase your product.

One item that’s easily overlooked in digital marketing is customer permission and privacy. Don’t contact leads that haven’t given you permission to do so.