Direct Marketing

Dukky: The 21st Century Version of Direct Mail

Written by Chris Martin for Gaebler Ventures

Direct mail is a popular option for entrepreneurs. But it's hard to measure the success of a direct mail campaign. That may be changing with Dukky, a service that combines direct mail with the power of the Internet.

Entrepreneurs are constantly trying to market their products, services, or company in a competitive marketplace.

They try everything from phone book and newspaper ads to radio and TV commercials. But one of the most popular methods of marketing used by entrepreneurs has been around for years: direct mail.

Direct mail is an entrepreneurial favorite because it allows them to target a specific geographic area with a hard-copy advertisement at a relatively low price. About 54% of all ad spending in the U.S. goes through direct marketing channels. In 2009, companies spent $44.4 billion on direct mail and catalogs alone.

The drawback is that it's difficult to measure the success rate of a direct mail campaign. When it is possible, a stellar conversion rate is only about one or two percent. So even though direct mail campaigns may be cheap, they're not very cost-effective.

But all of that might be changing with the advent of a new concept called Dukky. Think of it as Direct Mail 2.0.

Dukky (which rhymes with "lucky") is a new service which combines the ease of direct mail with the scope of the Internet. Launched in 2008 by Shawn Burst, Dukky started out as a comprehensive database of leads which could be used by its customers. Then it added the ability to track print advertising and allowed clients to view the progress of their campaigns online in real time.

But all that pales in comparison to Dukky's software platform that was released in January 2010. This system permits clients to leverage the power of social media and use these networks to bolster their direct mail campaigns. This is done by the creation of what is known as a personalized URL. A PURL is a web address that is already "assigned" to a specific customer who is targeted with a piece of direct-mail that allows him or her to sign up online for some type of incentive.

Here's an example of how the concept works: A Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Covington, Louisiana partnered with Dukky to send out five thousand direct mail pieces to area customers – each with a PURL unique to the addressee. The ad offered a free chicken biscuit if the recipient would go online to his or her PURL. After entering a name, email address, gender, and birthday, the person would receive a printable coupon. In addition, the PURL owner could share this offer with his or her friends via social media channels, and would be entered into a contest for free sandwiches for a year.

So how did it work?

Over a four-week period, Chick-Fil-A saw 1,300 individuals redeem the coupon offer online for an astonishing 26% conversion rate for their direct-mail campaign. In addition, the eatery received a total of 3,400 e-mail addresses which they could use for future promotions. And all of the detailed metrics were easily viewable online using Dukky's "dashboard" in real time.

Although Dukky's method necessitates an extra step in the process (signing up online), Burst believes that consumers won't feel that it is a hassle. Plus, the whole approach is transparent in that it allows customers to opt in or out for future correspondence, giving them a bigger sense of control. And Burst believes that the individual forges a stronger bond with the marketing entity as a result of this practice.

Right now, Dukky is offering small businesses access to their software and platform for as little as $99 per month in subscription fees. Or larger clients who deal in direct mail exclusively can elect to license the software for under $1,000 and buy individual PURLs for pennies apiece.

Some experts are calling Dukky one of the most groundbreaking technologies in the database management arena in decades. And as the Internet becomes even more of a marketing tool, Dukky is poised to become a powerful force in the direct marketing industry in the years to come.

Chris Martin has been a professional writer for the last seven years. He is interested in franchises and equity acquisition.

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