Direct Mail Meets Digital in the New Pizzeria Marketing Paradigm

  • Digital campaigns and direct-mail marketing can deliver explosive results when used in combination, one expert says.
  • No one marketing channel is the be-all and end-all—if your marketing budget allows for it, utilize as many different channels as possible to maximize results.

Related: 5 ideas for boosting your catering business with direct mail

By Tracy Morin

While digital marketing offers ease and convenience for pizzerias and their tech-connected customers, direct mail stands out in today’s near-empty mailboxes (versus getting lost in overcrowded inboxes). Therefore, many marketing experts note that taking advantage of both in a single campaign can reap maximum benefits.

“While the common stereotype in today’s digitized society is to avoid traditional forms of marketing and instead implement digital campaigns, both types of advertising can deliver explosive results for a business when used in combination,” explains Ashley Regan, executive content writer for Sydney-based RGC Advertising. “A layered approach—utilizing traditional and new-age forms of marketing—is so successful because each strategy targets a different market and achieves a different marketing objective, which in combination widens your potential sales volume.”

Combo Orders

Regan notes that physical direct mail—such as postcards, fliers and catalogs—has a better chance of reaching a wider demographic, including older individuals who may not use as much technology. On the other hand, although digital direct mail can get ignored or lost in an email box, it can be more effective when the content is personalized to the user, while appealing to individuals who are short on time and prefer digitized forms of content.

“Furthermore, a study showed physical direct mail’s response rate is 5.3% higher than the 0.6% response rate for digital direct email,” Regan adds. “As so much marketing has moved online in recent decades, there’s still something to be said about the standout factor of old-school snail mail.”

“A study showed physical direct mail’s response rate is 5.3% higher than the 0.6% response rate for digital direct email.”
— Ashley Regan, RGC Advertising

Ultimately, she says, no one marketing channel is the be-all and end-all—if your marketing budget allows for it, utilize as many different channels as possible to maximize results.

Solomon Thimothy, co-founder of Clickx in Chicago, also believes that snail mail remains a viable offline marketing tactic, since it feels “charming” to tech-savvy customers and allows operators to distribute marketing materials or coupons directly to a geographically targeted market. “Integrating traditional direct mail marketing with digital campaigns elevates your marketing efforts,” Thimothy says. “It exposes you in two different dimensions, which helps ensure that your brand and business will be imprinted on customers.”

Related: Why pizza restaurants need digital marketing technologies

Finally, direct mail can be used to drive traffic to a pizzeria’s online offerings, according to Krystle Mobayeni, CEO and co-founder of New York City-based BentoBox, which works with pizzerias like Emmy Squared. “Direct mail can be an effective way to get additional diner information when paired with online purchases,” she says. “Using a unique promo code in direct mail will entice diners to make an online purchase. Online purchases are powerful, because they allow the restaurant to capture diner information, like phone number and/or email address, which can then power digital marketing, like email campaigns.”

Ensuring Success

Jill Flores, who handles digital marketing for ClickSend in Berkeley, California, offers the following advice for setting up a multichannel campaign. First, outline an objective to help set the tone of the messaging throughout your campaign. Do you want to attract more dine-in patrons after COVID-19 restrictions ease? Do you want to encourage more pickup orders? Do you want to simply sell more pizzas across the board, via dine-in, carryout and/or delivery? Or have you launched a new specialty pizza and want to encourage its sales?

In addition, ensure your messaging fits the channel. In text (SMS) messages, keep your message concise, according to your objective—really drive the message you want to promote. “Email is great for longer-form messaging—for example, if you have multiple messages that you want customers to know about,” Flores says. “A good marketing email might have the major promotion your restaurant is pushing, as well as general information like changes to opening times or even local events or staff profiles if you run a community-oriented pizzeria. And personalized postcards work great for pizza shops, since it’s refreshing to get something other than bills and junk mail in the postbox. Use images of delicious-looking pizza to entice customers to order.”

Related: Marketing your pizza restaurant in a digital world

Finally, nail the right timing. No one appreciates inappropriately timed text messages, so Flores recommends using SMS scheduling options. “You don’t have to manually send messages whenever it happens to be the optimal pizza ordering time—you could set it all up at 5 a.m. on a Sunday,” Flores says. “Then, for snail mail, many people check their mailbox when they come home from work. They’re tired, hungry and thinking about dinner, which makes them most receptive to the idea of ordering pizza instead of cooking.”

Fun graphics, mouthwatering food images and attractive discount offers can turn direct or digital mail receivers into online orderers.

Creating Cross-Connections

Joby Antony, senior manager of digital marketing for Fingent, with U.S. offices in New York City and Boston, notes that because physical mail is more of a novelty for people today, open rates are high: more than 90%, compared to the average 18% for digital campaigns. “But you get only one chance to make an impression, so make the messaging on the campaigns super-attractive and concise,” Antony advises. “Use custom envelopes, include images and make customers feel welcome. This will drive up the costs, but it will totally be worth it.”

In addition, Antony recommends including digital avenues on snail mail so that customers can check out your store and services. So, for example, include a QR code that takes them to a custom landing page for the snail-mail campaign. “This is where you ask them for their consent to receive your newsletters and offer mailings—and, unlike with a blind email campaign, these people are truly opting in, so the open rates will be higher,” Antony says. “Add them to your mailing list, start your ad and email campaigns, and maintain a clean list and audience segment by monitoring them closely. Repeat the cycle a couple more times, and you’ll have a dedicated target audience to build on.”

3 Tips for Creating a Multichannel Campaign

Jill Flores of ClickSend recommends keeping these tips in mind when setting up a multichannel marketing campaign for your pizzeria.

  1. Outline an objective to set the tone of your messaging. Know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and who your target audience is.
  2. Make sure your messaging fits the channel. Email is better for longer-form messaging, while a personalized postcard will stand out in a mailbox stuffed with bills and junk mail.
  3. Nail the timing. Use SMS scheduling to make sure your digital messages go out at the right time without annoying the customer.

You can work in the other direction, too—i.e., enabling an option for your digital recipients to subscribe to your direct mailing services. “It’s crucial that those who opt in to direct promotional mailings from your business get exclusive discounts or promos only for those who subscribe to digital mailings, so your offline marketing tactics will become more attractive,” Thimothy says. “It also becomes the business’ responsibility to make each direct mail personalized and customized to impress subscribers. Solidify your two-tiered marketing efforts by adding a QR code in your digital campaigns, so that customers can scan it and be directed to sign up for direct mailing.”

Meanwhile, Flores notes that operators can utilize different formats for different objectives, ensuring that they all play off each other for the best impact. “Once all of your contacts are in one place, you can send and track multichannel communications with your customers,” she explains. “If you notice that your emails are going unread, you might choose to follow up with an SMS, then a postcard. Or use postcards to promote seasonal promotions, while sending text messages when you need to get more pizzas out the door on short notice. Or you could use postcards to help promote your ‘text to order’ pizza service. There are so many ways to set up a multichannel campaign—it’s really up to you, depending on what works well to drive more revenue, and you may want to test a few different strategies!”  

Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor.