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The biggest trend in direct marketing recently has been the emergence of multichannel marketing. Not only is an integrated campaign suggested, it's viewed as being a necessity for marketers who are serious about reaching customers. While the focus with multichannel has mainly been on approaching the customer, it also works after a relationship has been established. Take, for instance, using direct mail to reconnect with an email prospect who has been inactive.

A clever way to utilize direct mail is to play to its strengths and design a creative mailer sure to get noticed and not trashed. If you want to get customers' attention after they've been AWOL, send them a mailer that looks urgent: A white or beige envelope with bright markings in a eye-catching color like orange or red.

Once you've got their attention, just be sure to inform them of your purpose and that they have no reason to worry that your mailer is a court summons or negative news. Ask them in plain language if they would like to reactivate or update their email address if a message was bounced back.

Finally, make sure you have emphasized the benefits of doing so. It's all about incentive. Remind consumers of the specials they've been missing and use any previous data to inform the appeal about their personal tendencies.

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