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It would be great if online marketing—websites, pay-per-click, email, etc.—were all you needed to get the most out of your business's marketing plan, but that just isn't the case. Could you make it work? Sure. But you'd be leaving money on the table—money that could be brought in, say, with a strategic postcard campaign.

Deliver magazine recently published a statistic: Customers who received a printed catalog spent more meaningful time on the company's website and purchased 28% more on average than customers who did not receive a catalog. And that held for every age category.

So, when people say the Internet and social media have made direct mail obsolete, I can't help but strongly disagree. Though not a silver bullet, a direct mail campaign that's strategically and consistently applied will deliver results.

The truth is that to have the most effective marketing strategy possible, you will need direct mail and online marketing working in tandem. A successful direct mail marketing campaign drives traffic to your website or landing page, where you prompt prospects to fill out a form, thus capturing a lead. But if you are using only online marketing like pay-per-click advertising, you may have a prospect's attention only for a split second before they click on your competitor's ad.

The key is integration.

Integrate Offline and Online

Here are three examples of how postcards and online marketing can work together to help you build your business.

1. Use postcards to point prospects to a landing page

There is just no better way to ensure your prospects see exactly what you want them to see than a well-designed landing page. It makes your sale (offer, special, etc.) the only information available. On your homepage, there are many distractions that can interrupt the sales process. Use landing pages to guide a prospect through the sales cycle. Never leave them to wander aimlessly.

2. Follow up with online leads using Google's Remarketing

Once you drive prospects to a landing page or your website, you want to follow up with them, because not every lead will close right away. The easiest way to do so is with a new service from Google: remarketing. Activating it with your AdWords account allows you to have your ads follow prospects around the Internet once they visit your site. After they navigate away from your site, your ad will appear to them anywhere they go on the Google marketing network, which includes thousands of sites, including big names like dictionary.com and CNN.com.

3. Collect email addresses with a postcard campaign

You want email addresses for your leads because email provides an extremely affordable way to stay in front of customers and prospects alike. Also, it is an excellent way to follow up with leads who opt in to your mailing list. The combination of email and Google remarketing follow-up provides excellent exposure for your company and increases your close percentage.

The Benefits of Direct

Here are two major benefits you get from direct mail that you won't get from a solely Web-based strategy.

1. Targeting your ideal customer

You can compile a mailing list based on a model of your current best customers. You are able to filter results by age, gender, income level—almost anything—and by doing so, you are putting your ad in front of prequalified leads.

2. More prospects reading your message

As great as online marketing strategies are, the fact is that email and online advertisements are opened at much lower rates than direct mail postcards. A direct mail piece, even if it does find its way into the trash can, stands a much better chance of getting its headline read by your target audience. The more consistently you mail, the more likely you are to increase awareness of your business.

* * *

The Internet will never be able to compete with direct mail in terms of targeting a specific audience and gaining superior exposure, and direct mail can't always offer the cost-efficiency that online platforms provide for staying in touch with prospective clients. When both are used hand-in-hand, they can increase the efficiency of your marketing plan and help you get the most out of your budget.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joy Gendusa is the founder and CEO of PostcardMania, a marketing firm that specializes in direct mail, email, and website development. She used postcards to grow PostcardMania from almost nothing—just a computer—to a $20 million enterprise in less than a decade. Download her free "95-Step Total Marketing Checklist." Find her on Google+.