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The Value of Tactile Marketing in Modern Advertisement

The word “tactile” refers to the sense of touch; something tangible that you can hold and feel. Tactile marketing is the connection between a marketable content strategy and a consumer’s need to physically interact with branding materials. It lets consumers directly connect with products or product features, allowing them to feel, touch, or otherwise physically interact with services before purchasing.

In a world where digital marketing is quickly gaining popularity amid a decline in traditional marketing strategies, consumers still feel the need to physically interact with products before purchasing. That’s the benefit that tactile marketing continues to offer: the opportunity for customers to touch and feel potential purchases, a true standout approach from modern, commonplace marketing efforts.

The Benefits of Tactile Marketing

Companies that successfully integrate tactile marketing into overall content and outreach strategies often enjoy a wide variety of associated benefits. These can include:

  • Enhanced brand awareness, through the introduction of products and product samples that satisfy a customer’s need for physical brand interaction before a purchase;
  • Improved brand reputation, especially from potential consumers who wouldn’t have opened your emails, answered your calls, or clicked on your online advertisements;
  • Expanded consumer targeting, through applications that allow you to reach customers more likely to convert;
  • Instant interest, from customers who can touch and feel your product right in front of them;
  • An edge over competitors who opt strictly for digital advertisements, without any thought to a customer’s tactile needs.

These benefits help represent the true strength behind effective tactile marketing, in that companies of all sizes can pair potential customers with real-world examples of products they know will pique interest.

Ideas for Tactile Marketing

Effective tactile marketing has no shortage of real-world applications. There are many ways that a company can approach tactile marketing, depending on the products, target audience, and the branding and language that will resonate best with them. Tactile marketing as a strategy pairs well with virtually any business.

Direct Mail

Advertisement to customers through the mail has long been considered one of the most effective forms of brand outreach. As a recognizable form of tactile marketing, direct mail has the unique capacity to resonate with consumers from the moment they open their mailbox — especially if your mailer contains personalized stylistic mail elements and language, customized for your unique audience.

Unlike fleeting online advertisements or skippable online videos, direct mail places your brand in front of a customer’s eyes, through a widely enjoyable form of outreach. In fact, one survey found that 51% of consumers still enjoy receiving mail directly from their favorite brands, more than validating direct mail as an essential piece to any marketing strategy.

Of course, your direct mail strategies will need to be tailored for both your brand and your product offering. While it’s easy for a customer to hold direct mail in their hands and resonate with the imagery if it’s advertising solar energy or a personal loan offer, the same approach might be less effective for e-commerce brands, or highly complex products and services.

Newsletters

Newsletters work best when leveraged tactically for a specific consumer group. The more relevant the internal content is for a customer, the more likely that customer is to read through the newsletter — and any potential offers, specials, discounts, or specialty products you have chosen to place inside.

Companies should ask two questions when drafting newsletters for release as a part of a tactile marketing campaign: 

  • What does my customer want to know about me?
  • What message does my customer need to hear from me?

These questions can help govern the success of a targeted, relevant newsletter that your customers will actually want to read.

Catalogs

Catalogs often serve as the official release of new products or services to the market. If your business is also planning to market products online, you’ll want to make sure that the online release corresponds with the dates that consumers will receive their hands-on catalogs. Including catalog-specific promotions — and informing customers who don’t typically receive catalogs that there are exclusive promotions waiting inside them — can go a long way toward maximizing catalog reception and associated purchases.

Event Marketing

Event marketing means building the promotions of a product, service, or brand around a timed event, either in-person or online. If the event takes place online, consumers should still receive some facet of tactile marketing, oftentimes to pair what they’re seeing on the screen with what they have in their hands.

Even marketing can take many forms — a physical exhibit or showcase, an invite-only or public event, a countdown to the widespread release of a new product or service, and even passive display branding in a popular area for a limited amount of time.

Brands looking to leverage this type of tactile marketing should remember that the purpose behind an event isn’t always immediate sales. Rather, you’re looking to remain top-of-mind for customers, so that when a need arises, you automatically come to mind as the ideal solution.

Gifts

Gifts are a great way to indirectly extend tactile marketing to customers. These gifts often take the form of a free incentive with every qualifying purchase, or a goodwill offering to first-time consumers, repeat consumers, or consumers who meet some type of purchase frequency or brand loyalty threshold.

Without compromising your marketing budget, gifts should resonate with customers as more than something they can touch and feel. Especially in industries like healthcare, where providers deal with more sensitive content, companies should refrain from giving impersonal gifts that feel simply like a promotional token. Companies that can instead take the time to address gifts personally, and emphasize a personal connection between brand and buyer, will open themselves up to the possibility of increased brand engagement, customer loyalty, and total returns.

Real-World Examples of Tactile Marketing

Tactile marketing really does occur in the real world, in a variety of forms. Many companies regularly execute tactile marketing strategies to perfection, for the immediate and long-term benefit of satisfied customers.

One strong example of tactile marketing put to use in our world is scented advertisements. Prevalently used by perfume companies like Elie Saab and skincare brands like Botanique, these catalog, magazine, and direct-mail advertisements are consolidated onto a single page, and allow the customer to physically engage with the product’s scent before ever purchasing.

IKEA recently issued a direct mailer that instantly caught customers’ eyes, where a simply creased, cardboard card unfolded into a fully-designed living room. The eye-popping piece allowed customers to literally run their fingers over the designs they wanted to implement in their own homes.

Other Considerations for Tactile Marketing

Tactile marketing offers benefits as direct as the promotional materials you put into customers’ hands. If you’re considering the launch of a tactile marketing campaign for your company, here are a few items to keep in mind:

  • You’ll need sufficient resources on-hand — whether those are mailers, coupons, promotional samples, or any other type of promotional material — to ensure that every customer who wants to interact with your product can do so.
  • Keep an eye on sustainability. Company owners and marketing representatives should take steps to ensure that tactile marketing strategies aren’t launched at the expense of your community or its environment. Sustainable marketing practices can help you effectively limit any byproducts of your tactile marketing efforts.
  • Monitor your tactile marketing strategy as it unfolds. Be prepared to change strategies, or focus more or less on a specific demographic, depending on how individual customers are interacting with your tactile marketing materials.
  • Tactile marketing campaigns don’t always yield immediate dividends. Instead, these awareness-based campaigns help to remind customers of your capability to meet their needs on their time.

These strategies can help you to define a successful tactile marketing regimen, where your scheduled outreach regularly connects with customers who enjoy physically interacting with your products.