Postcards Go High-Tech

Postcards in the era of artificial intelligence? Yes, snail mail --  with a high-tech twist -- is the medium Winter Park, the Colorado ski resort, is deploying in an effort to reach niche markets and cut through marketing clutter.

Ryan Wilson, founder of FiveFifty, Winter Park’s advertising agency, says the company does a lot of travel and tourism marketing and has found direct mail useful in certain cases. He calls it “something you can touch and feel in influencing people.”

For the Winter Park campaign, the agency sent out 3 x 5-inch postcards to consumers who had spent some time on the destination’s website.

The content featured a small promotional component, alerting recipients that they could get the best prices at the destination’s website.

Attention was paid to how these consumers engaged with the site, and the agency followed up with the postcard if they didn’t convert.

Targeted consumers were in long-distance source markets like Texas, Kansas and Chicago. The agency used a company called PebblePost that offers a tool called Programmatic Direct Mail to track addresses of individual web browsers and deliver geo-targeted physical mail to website prospects.



Wilson says that the postcard is only part of a broader campaign, noting that people are not going to book a $5,000 to $7,000 trip because they received a piece of mail.

The direct-mail campaign was quite affordable, he says, and offers a clean attribution model as far as conversions.

The agency will continue to use direct mail, though the next generation will see more frequent changes in the creative and content, tweaking based on online behavior to achieve a more granular degree of personalization.

The goal is to create a “super narrow audience,” says Wilson. For example, if someone is spending a lot of time on a site looking at lodging options, the creative would emphasize lodging.

The power of a medium like direct mail, he says, is that it is one-to-one, and if someone receives a piece of mail, the recipient’s spouse and children are also looking at it and being reminded of when they spent time on the website.

The postcard starts a conversation, Wilson adds, and that’s what makes it powerful. If you can get people talking about a brand, that could lead to conversion.

And while some might think it intrusive for a company to be able to figure out their mailing address, Wilson says he sees many more complaints about targeted digital ads that are a result of browsing behaviors.

Wilson says Google research shows the average consumer spending 45 days visiting more than a dozen websites over 140 times in the aggregate booking a trip. Getting a postcard in the middle of that process just might be a decision-maker.

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