The last decade has seen retailers divert more, and more, of their budgets into digital, as online becomes the go to channel for marketers. Yet, as websites, email marketing, and social media, continue to consume a growing percentage of the marketing budget, direct mail has remained a successful and influential channel to reach consumers.
Now, as NFC starts to proliferate across consumer touchpoints and with NFC in paper becoming cost-effective, the loop may finally be about to be closed, allowing direct mail to offer marketers a seamless channel to raise awareness and drive sales.
What is NFC?
NFC, or Near Field Communication, is simply a technology that provides wireless data transfer when in close proximity between devices, without the need for an internet connection. The technology is similar to that used in Oyster cards and contactless payments, but allows people to replace the cards with their phones. For example, when travelling in London people can use mobiles can be used on the transport system, providing they have downloaded a mobile payment app, such as Android Pay, Apple Pay, or Samsung Pay.
How does NFC work in paper?
The actual NFC chip is measured in millimeters, so it is a simple process to insert it into paper. In recent years, this has been seen in business cards, allowing people to present their card to new acquaintances and through tapping the card with their phone, instantly downloading all the relevant contact information.
In recent years NFC chips have been embedded in multiple layers of paper; two layers of our conventional paper, between which a layer of specialist paper with pre-printed RFID circuitry and a silicon chip are inserted. The three sheets are then laminated to create a normal looking sheet of paper. Which can be printed, finished and handled as you would any other paper.
This means NFC can be used in magazine advertisements, packaging, retail labels, book covers, cosmetics and other high-value printed materials to be interactive and deliver additional content, such as special offers, coupons, product information and other information. The actual NFC-ready paper can then be programmed to trigger a multitude of functions on any NFC-enabled device. Hey presto paper becomes IOT.
The benefits of NFC in direct mail
Although, there is still some development challenges to marry the tech with conventional litho and web offset printing processes, NFC print has the ability to transform direct mail into a mobile first environment providing amazing opportunities for a range of businesses. The technology removes the clunky nature of previous solutions, such as QR codes, presenting consumers with an easy-to-use interface, which they are familiar with. And as the old marketing adage says “the easier the process the higher the response”.
Using NFC, a direct mail campaign for the latest blockbuster, would allow the studio to send out information where people can not only view the trailer using their phone, they could instantly purchase tickets. Retailers can tap into the elements that make direct mail so successful, such as its tangibility, tractability and influence and integrate their digital content, for example retailers are able to direct people to a specific landing page, bespoke social media content, or live streaming of a particular product.
Two other benefits will be of interest to marketers are:
Measurement - What is particularly interesting about the amalgamation of print and IOT is the ability for people to make the seamless jump from a traditionally unmeasured interaction into a highly measurable digital journey, allowing marketers to effectively understand not only the true reach of a DM item, but also allowing them to directly allocate digital success metrics to specific mail pieces. In short, effectively measuring true return on investment across channels.
Data collection strategy – As the potential customer makes this seamless “hand first, mobile second” jump, fresh data will be harvested, delivering clearer single customer views, journey preferences and actionable insights. Providing concise marketing intelligence and delivering enhanced customers experiences. All with a residual value.
It is no secret that digital marketing will continue to grow in influence, especially as digital natives become a bigger section of society, and with Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg, stating that video is going to be as big as mobile, NFC provides the potential to link these new technologies with one of marketing oldest, direct mail, and provide an opportunity to target people in their home through print and digital content in one package. Brands are just starting to experiment with this technology, so if you’re unsure whether NFC is right for you, give us a call and we can talk you through your options.