Time to Go Full Digital

The Fall and Rise of Direct Mail 

For those of us old enough to remember what the world was like before the rise of the internet, we may have thought we’d seen the last of direct mail as a marketing medium, but it would appear that we may have been wrong in that assumption. Innovations such as QR & AR have breathed new life into direct mail as a communication channel by bridging the divide between the physical and the virtual, allowing marketing and creative professionals to express themselves in the way only a physical media can whilst maintaining the ability to track and analyse metrics.

Let’s start by rolling the clock back 30 years to 1991. Bryan Adams had claimed the number 1 spot on the music charts for what seemed like eternity. Right Said Fred were claiming to be “Too Sexy”. Bill & Ted were about to embark on their “Bogus Journey, Arnie was promising us he’d be back as Terminator again, and the world was introduced to Sonic the Hedgehog for the very first time. These were a few of the things diverting our attention away from world changing events such as the Gulf War and dissolution of the Soviet Bloc as we wondered what the new decade would bring us.

The internet wasn’t new of course, not even back in 1991, but it had yet to weave its way into every facet of our lives as it has now and was almost still consigned to the realms of interesting technological curiosity. It was also the time when direct mail was the channel djour, and marketing was far more art than the science it is today.

Over the course of the next 10 years the internet became ubiquitous and changed the way we lived and worked forever, and direct mail was gradually replaced by new and exciting forms of media that offered all manner of ways to track interactions, profile media consumption trends and promote marketing from “glitter and glue” to a foundational pillar of an organisations business strategy.

I’ll be honest, I was convinced that direct mail was a thing of the past, something we would look back on through rose-tinted specs with a hint of nostalgia whilst conveniently forgetting the pain of fighting with mail-merges, the endless paper cuts of envelope stuffing and the mountains of return envelopes. Then came QR/AR and direct mail was re-born.

What is QR?

We’ve all seen Quick Response (QR) codes recently of course as part of the Governments NHS Track & Trace system. The black and white box of pixels we scan with our phone to tell the powers that be where we were and when. It may feel little like big brother, but your opinion of the politics notwithstanding the technology is now a tried and tested way of driving traffic from a physical media to a digital world.

What is AR?

Augmented Reality. Still underutilised as a marketing tool in my opinion and possibly at the stage where the internet was back in 1991, AR allows us to view digital assets in the real world. The most recognisable incarnation is Pokémon Go, the craze that swept the world a few years back and, if the rumours are to be believed, led to more than a few people walking off cliffs as they tried to “catch ‘em all”.

Once again, QR & AR are not new technology and whilst these technologies are radically different, they also have one thing in common, they enable marketeers to use printed assets to trigger a digital journey… That’s huge!

Billboards, posters, on the page adverts, business cards, flyers and yes direct mail campaigns are all back on the menu with the added bonus of delivering the same data and analytics capability that made digital marketing the powerful tool is today.

The possibilities for creative minds are exponentially larger than they have ever been as campaigns cross the divide between the physical and virtual and it is the job of marketing professionals to develop new and innovative ways of making the experience as immersive for the recipient and effective for the advertiser as possible.

We’re just starting to see the use of AR enter mainstream advertising, but it requires specialised apps to work effectively and that is limiting effectiveness right now. QR on the other hand is a proven technology that only needs the camera built into every smartphone made in last 10 years, so for today QR is the route to take when looking at direct mail.

Clever Marketing - Hampshire SEO & Digital AgencyThe Clever Marketing team were there when direct mail ruled the waves and, whilst we have become experts in digital marketing over the years, we’re also not blind to the potential that the direct mail/QR partnership has to offer. So come and speak to us today to discover how to include these elements into your digital marketing strategy. 

 Call us on 01276 534 680 or complete our easy contact form.




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Opportunity in the New, New Digital Economy

There can be no doubt that the events of the past 12 months have significantly changed the way we live and work and, whilst the shift to “digital” was already well under way, there is now a real business imperative for moving IT projects up the agenda far quicker than they might otherwise have been. Here’s why…

Lockdown has been hell for the vast, vast majority of people and many will be paying both the physical and mental price of the pandemic for years, perhaps even decades to come. But the enforced move away from the much talked about “normal” has also afforded us the opportunity to review what that normal actually is, and many people have done just that.

Here’s a question… If a large percentage of jobs can now be done just as effectively from home as they can from the office, then why do we go to the office?

The answer I suspect is nothing more than a hangover from working practices established when manufacturing and production were the foundation of our economy and the technology to enable remote working prohibitively unreliable or simply not available.

Yes of course there is a huge difference between choosing to work from home and 0 to work from home, and we all crave the human interaction that comes as part and parcel of the office environment. Equally there will be some that prefer the established norms and find the office environment conducive to better working practices, but that’s the thing… there is a real choice to be made now, and how organisations deal with that choice will be a huge factor in their on-going ability to recruit and retain the best people.

This is the opportunity for the technology sector to shine. Decades of hard learned lessons around security, reliability and cost have led to a suite of solutions that are now robust enough to stand up to the rigours of the real world and cost-effective enough to offer a compelling business case for all.

There is a technology gold rush about to kick off and there are thousands of IT providers out there looking to stake a claim in the rich grounds of SMBs who are now seeing IT services and solutions as an investment rather than the “distress purchase” it was often viewed as in the past.

Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)… Everything as a Service. The need for large capital investment in expensive infrastructure and software has been overtaken by events, and a large chunk of IT outlay has moved from the CapEx to OpEx column of the financial spreadsheets, allowing companies of all sizes access to technology that was once reserved for a very select few.

Now is the time for IT services providers to secure their pay dirt by ensuring that the rich vein of potential new clients knows who they are and what they do… sounds simple I know but to do it properly requires planning, expertise and experience or you can very quickly find your business development budget being burned with little or nothing to show for it.

Business development through digital marketing is what Clever Marketing does, and more than that knowledge of the IT channel makes us uniquely qualified to drive your message to the right people in the right way.

We understand the technology, the challenges you face as service providers, the complicated and often convoluted vendor Marketing Development Fund (MDF) processes, the issues are partner programmes and accreditation levels… We have seen and dealt with any and all of these whilst delivering successful campaigns that deliver the Return On Investment (ROI) you need to grow your business.

Take a look at our OnDemand Webinar recorded specifically with the needs of the IT Channel in mind. Business Development through Digital Marketing will cover all the basics you need to consider when thinking about business development campaigns.

Alternatively you can contact us directly to discuss ideas and thoughts on your offering.

Clever Marketing - Hampshire SEO & Digital AgencyClever Marketing is a digital marketing agency in Hampshire with specialisms in IT channel marketing.

Call us to discuss your next project on  01276 534 680 or complete the contact form.

Recipeasly. We're Sorry.

Recipeasly: A Lesson in Digital Disruption

“Digital disruption” has been a popular topic in recent years with technically-savvy businesses looking to use digital technology to change the status quo.

But what exactly is digital disruption?

In a nutshell, digital disruption is a change or transformation, brought about by innovative digital technologies, that impacts existing business models.

A clear example of innovative technology that has caused digital disruption is the ride-hailing service Uber. The traditional method of grabbing a cab has always been to make a phone call to the taxi company. How people got that number in the first place could be anything from a business card pinned by a phone to a look in the telephone directory, usually online these days.

What Uber did was to centralise the whole ride-hailing business into an app. Mobile phone users simply downloaded the app, hailed a ride, and Uber’s network of owner-drivers would be alerted to a nearby fair.

Of course, that’s the digital side of the concept. The disruption part came from traditional taxi firms being “undercut” as Uber used self-employed drivers, often unlicensed, thereby reducing its own financial responsibilities and placing them on the drivers. This cost saving was passed on to the customer who could get a cab cheaper on the Uber app.

What about Recipeasly? What have they done?

On Sunday 28th February 2021, Twitter user Tom Redman, posted:

From this tweet we can surmise that the Toronto tech innovator and his companions had identified what they thought was a problem – the internet is full of recipes but they didn’t like any “fluff”.

One business model on the internet for nearly twenty years has been to monetise popular content. If, for example, you run a popular website dedicated to a single model of car, then you can monetise your site by showing ads for specialist car insurance and include affiliate links for visitors to buy car manuals. Not only are you providing value for your website visitors but you are also earning a little commission or an advertiser fee for your time.

Add to this a little story-telling and you personalise the experience. Visitors to your car website can see your passion and your experience. They get to know you and build a rapport, you connect with your visitors and you build a relationship. Building a fan base is extremely valuable, as even on a personal level, you are building a brand.

Tom Redman, and his Recipeasly team mates, saw a benefit to being able to both curate this content but also to remove the ads and “cut the chat”.

Being from an engineering background and now being in digital, we see the merit of “more signal, less noise”. However, from a moral and ethical standpoint, taking someone else’s content, “curating” it and stripping away their opportunity to earn revenue and build an audience has been removed.

Additionally, there’s a potential legal aspect here with the possibility of one party “trading off” the other. [We had this just yesterday where a rogue web design business was passing off one of our logo designs as their work – Ed]

After making the announcement, the feedback came rolling in. Some of it was positive, with some commenters agreeing with the methodology, highlighting that some recipe blogs are propped up by an overabundance of ads. [Core Web Vitals, Page Experience Ranking and the Cumulative Layout Shift may soon put the dampeners on that – Ed]

However, other comments did highlight the fact that food writers and recipe bloggers were being done a disservice from having their content curated on someone else’s aggregate feed.

Redman did clearly say in the comments of his post that they had no intention of monetising the curation of content on Recipeasly. However, the model of offering something for free and then later charging for it is something we’re currently seeing with LastPass and their free account being payable from March 16th – Many users are dropping the password management tool and moving to other free alternatives like BitWarden.

But we digress…

Despite the intention to digitally disrupt, the model looks very similar to what Google have done with their search results; featured snippets are the content taken from websites to fulfil a searcher’s need and displayed in the Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) so that users don’t need to go any further unless they really need to. Google does “credit” the resulting featured snippet with a link to the originating website. No wonder organic traffic has been going down foe the past few years.

Listening to all the “strong feedback”, the Recipeasly.com website was swiftly taken down. In a follow-up post on the 1st March, Redman said:

The digital disruptors listened to the community feedback and, with great humility, removed the “offending article” or rather, the whole of the Recipeasly website, txt files, XML sitemap and all!

[UPDATE]: The team at recipeasly.com have replaced their site with the following message…

“We’re sorry
We have nothing but respect and admiration for the time, money and effort that go into creating great recipes & websites. We don’t want to minimize the results for all that hard work.

We realize we’re not demonstrating the huge respect we have for recipe creators. We missed the mark big time today and we’re sorry.

Given the feedback, we are taking recipeasly.com down as we re-examine our impact. We commit to making changes where we have fallen short.”

This was a strong lesson in what can and sometimes does happen in the world of digital disruption. What seemed to be a very genuine attempt to make a positive impact on the digital landscape actually tipped toward being the opposite.

Tom Redman did however take a very positive response to the feedback, particularly the negative feedback. As a Public Relations (PR) activity, what seems to be totally disastrous for the Recipeasly concept may in future have a sliver lining…

What will they come up with next to appease the concerns of the community yet still deliver a game-changing service?

Clever Marketing - Hampshire SEO & Digital AgencyClever Marketing is a digital marketing agency in Hampshire who have the experience and the skills to improve your website. From website design and development to SEO, PPC and social media, we improve your visibility, increase your traffic and generate more leads.

Call us on 01276 534 680 or fill in the friendly contact form.