COVID-19’s Effect on the USPS and Direct Mail Marketing

We’ve heard a lot on the news about essential businesses during COVID-19, but one we all count on that is not mentioned much is the USPS. The Postal Service, like many of us, have been greatly impacted by this crisis, and so has direct mail marketing in general.

What strange times we are living in right now as individuals and businesses. In 29 years of working with direct mail, I have never seen anything like this. We’ve heard a lot on the news about essential businesses during COVID-19, but one we all count on that is not mentioned much is the USPS. The Postal Service, like many of us, have been greatly impacted by this crisis, and so has direct mail marketing in general.

First there has been a dramatic drop in marketing mail with numerous events canceled and businesses shuttered, causing a need to send fewer mail pieces. Second, the USPS must maintain facilities and personnel based on CDC guidelines, which can be very difficult in a processing facility. For more details on that, you can read the statement that was issued to address this. And third, the USPS was already having financial troubles before the crisis without congressional action.

To address the drop in marketing mail, Mailers Hub along with several other industry associations have sent a letter to Postmaster General Megan Brennan and Robert Taub, chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to express concern about marketing mail volumes.

They offered suggestions like a per-piece discount, deferring collections, extending or adding promotions and incentives, and deferring planned price changes for international mail.

As the letter stated, “Now is the time for action from the Postal Service and the PRC to keep businesses using the mail.” While the USPS may understand this, the challenge will be to find a “stimulus” for mailers that is within the limitations of the CPI cap and the rate setting process that the PRC is charged with enforcing. What the USPS may want to do to help mailers and what the law allows them to do may be very different.

So, one would think that when Congress is working on legislation to help businesses and individuals through this crisis that there would be some help for the post office as well. Check out what Leo Raymond, Managing Director of Mailers Hub wrote in the last newsletter issue:

“By voice votes in the Senate on March 26 and the House on March 27, Congress last week passed HR 748, the Middle-Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019, a $2.2 trillion program to help the nation’s economy and citizens deal with, and recover from the consequences of the ongoing virus-related crisis. Conspicuously missing was any aid for the Postal Service.

Instead, the bill only allowed it to borrow another $10 billion from the Treasury, going even deeper in debt. The final version of the bill was a dark disappointment for many in the mailing industry as well as the postal unions and their allies, who’d hoped Congress would use the occasion to lift some of the Postal Service’s burden of debt – not make it worse.”

From Target Marketing’s sister brand, Printing Impressions, Lisbeth A. Lyons VP, Government and External Affairs of the Printing Industries of America (PIA) shared additional thoughts about the $10 billion line of credit, and what PIA is looking to do in regard to the situation:

“This is a short-term victory as it throws a lifeline to USPS, which is reporting an 18-percent drop in entered mail this week as compared to the same week last year. However, simply extending more credit is not the best solution to what could be an impact to USPS greater than that of lost volume and revenue post-9/11 or post-2008 financial crisis. PIA is redoubling efforts to achieve more structural changes and financial stabilization such as full repeal of the onerous pre-funding of retiree health benefits requirement in the next phase of Congressional response to COVID-19.”

This crisis is going to go on for a while and those of us that send direct mail could use some relief in order to get marketing mail numbers back up. We have seen movement in the B2C mail stream as many people are now stuck at home; well-designed and executed direct mail is something they look forward to getting.

Sending Direct Mail During COVID-19

If you are a B2C marketer, you should take advantage of this situation and provide good quality direct mail offers that your customers can use. On the other hand, the B2B market is a whole other story. With many companies closed and employees working from home, your direct mail may not get to the right person. For now, you should plan to hold your mail pieces until your customers return to the office, and consider other channels that may be more appropriate for reaching your B2B customers.

As we continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic and get closer to reopening the country fully, you can expect marketers to be planning and executing as many relevant marketing campaigns as possible to help get our economy moving again. What has been happening in your area? Do you have any bright spots to share? Let us know in the comments!

Optichannel Marketing Campaigns Get an Additional Boost With Direct Mail

Not every brand has a big brand’s marketing resources. Here’s are two case studies in how optichannel marketing is being used at a more reasonable level of investment by real, medium-sized businesses to increase campaign effectiveness and bottom-line results.

Not too long ago, we looked at how some of the biggest companies in the world — including Disney and Neiman Marcus — use optichannel customer experience strategies to deliver great marketing ROI. Even among big brands, though, the customer experience magic of Disney may be out of reach. So let’s take a look at how optichannel marketing is being used at a more reasonable level of investment by real, medium-sized businesses to significantly increase campaign effectiveness and bottom-line results.

Response-Lift Modeling Finds New Campers and New Revenue for Summer Learning Initiative

The hard part of operating any business focused on school-age children is the built-in rate of attrition. Students grow up, graduate, and otherwise age out of your programs every year. It’s likely that at least 25% of your customers won’t be back the following year due to matriculation alone.

To refill those seats without breaking the bank, these institutions must focus marketing on lead generation and new customer acquisition — two of the most expensive goals in marketing. It’s challenging to do that and still find a way to market profitably.

One such program is Galileo Learning, which operates 75 children’s summer camps across parts of California and Chicago, Ill. Age limits on the program mean that large portions of the customer base graduate out every year.

Finding a way to replace those students quickly becomes prohibitive. Summer Erickson, head of marketing for Galileo Learning, saw that many direct mail strategies were becoming too expensive for the ROI. The answer she found was to combine a very effective mail piece with tight customer models built on the data of current customers.

“The customer modeling tool was a game-changer for us,” says Erickson. By using response-lift modeling to identify prospects on external lists who were highly likely to respond, Galileo was able to market much more efficiently. They used the savings to create better mail pieces that would also drive better-than-normal response, and the mailers were localized to each of their nine markets where Galileo operated camps.

The results, Erickson says, surpassed her most optimistic expectations. The campaign brought in 155 new campers and $66,000 in new revenue. And she expects even better success from a wider program launched later in the year.

Holiday Direct Mail Adds Optichannel Targeting, Gets 6X More Impressions, $200k-Plus in Donations

Sometimes you need to break out beyond a single channel to get the best results. Meals on Wheels (MOW) in the Diablo Region of California spurred $230,000 in new donations by doing exactly that with its holiday donor appeal campaign.

The campaign broke with MOW’s traditional strategy in two main ways:

  • They built three audience segments defined by demographics and customer look-a-like modeling.
  • MOW added targeted digital advertising to amplify its direct mail, which made sure the target audience saw 6X more campaign impressions that they would have in a mail-only strategy.

First, much like Galileo, MOW and its agency starting working from the donor database, using existing data from real donors to identify three list segments who would be most responsive to this campaign: current donors, lapsed donors and prospective donors. Although the names sound straightforward, the segments were developed by examining the demographic and engagement data of known donors across dozens of factors.

Each person on the list received a personalized donor appeal letter with infographics highlighting the benefits of donating to MOW and a coupon CTA to make a donation.

Overall, the campaign blanketed the audience with 75,000 pieces of direct mail alone. But that was just the beginning of the campaign.

In addition to those 75,000 mailpieces, MOW built email, social media, and online display advertising to amplify the direct mail message. Together, this added 467,542 additional marketing impressions for the campaign — more than a 600% increase in overall brand exposure, compared to a mail-only control group.

The results were impressive for MOW, even for a holiday appeal: $230,000 in donations, 43% new donors, and donors from the optichannel campaign averaged 169% more than donors in the control group who only received direct mail.

Why Marketers Should Incorporate Emerging Technology in Direct Mail

Technology can be a great way to engage your customers and prospects with your direct mail pieces, connecting offline to online marketing efforts. I previously shared the USPS’s 2020 Tactile, Sensory, and Mail promotion, and today want to highlight another promotion that can save marketers using direct mail some money, as well as encourage them to embrace new tech.

Technology can be a great way to engage your customers and prospects with your direct mail pieces, connecting offline to online marketing efforts. I previously shared the USPS’s 2020 Tactile, Sensory, and Mail promotion, and today want to highlight another promotion that can save marketers using direct mail some money, as well as encourage them to embrace new tech.

The 2020 Emerging and Advanced Technology promotion from the USPS runs March 1 through Aug. 31 this year, and encourages mailers to incorporate technologies such as “enhanced” augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, Near Field Communication (NFC), video in print (ViP) featuring shoppable video, integration with voice assistants, and digital into direct mail campaigns. You can create really fun and unique experiences while getting a 2% postage discount for eligible pieces.

For this promotion, you can use presorted first class, standard and nonprofit letters or flats, but please not that you cannot use it for periodicals, bound printed matter, or Media Mail. You must meet automation requirements for letter or flat size pieces.

Since there are quite a number of emerging technologies available for this promotion, let’s take a look at them:

  • Mixed Reality: This combines both augmented and virtual experiences through a combined immersive technology that can include sight, sound, and touch.
  • Virtual Reality (VR): VR is commonly defined as a computer technology that creates replicas of an environment, real or simulated, that includes a user’s physical presence to allow for user interaction. Virtual realities artificially create sensory experiences, which can include sight, touch and hearing.
  • Digital to Direct Mail: This is also known as automated or re-targeted direct mail. It encourages mailers to produce mail pieces that create a greater connection and elicit a higher response from consumers by using dynamically printed, personalized messaging that is automatically triggered based on a digital interaction. Unlike other options in this one starts with digital behavior such as a form filled out on your website that then creates customized mail pieces that get sent to them.
  • Near Field Communication (NFC): NFC technology generally consists of embedding a small chip into a mail piece that can be recognized by a NFC enabled device such as smartphones or tablets. The interaction is initiated by touching the mobile device on the NFC embedded item or by placing the device within close proximity to it. No app or download is needed to launch this technology so it is seamless for your prospects and customers.
  • “Enhanced” Augmented Reality (AR): “Enhanced” AR provides robust features that allow consumers to engage in experiences using the technology. “Enhanced” AR also includes video animation and 3D interactive graphics playing in front of or over physical objects so they appear to be interacting with the physical object. The “enhanced” experience can also use gamification or mobile game play. Think of the popular Pokémon Go game, this can be really fun for people to play around with.
  • Video in Print (ViP): ViP is video advertising that integrated into a printed mail piece. ViP can be integrated into a printed piece in several ways including, but not limited to Integrated video screen within a printed, mail piece, Integrated Video/Picture utilizing translucent paper, Personalized Interactive Video, or Shoppable Video. These are pretty cool, but they can be very expensive so make sure if you use this you are selling high end items that make it worth the investment.
  • Integration With Voice Assistants: Direct mail can be an effective way to educate recipients about the benefits of voice branding and how to interact with voice assistants such as Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Google Home and Nest. This should allow for the purchase of a particular product, provides a business related “tip of the day,” etc. with the assistant.

Each of these technologies gives you a different way to draw your prospects and customers into interactive experiences that not only have a wow factor, but work to generate more business for you and increase your response rates. Of course, be sure to refer to the USPS program document once you’ve thought about what you’re interested in experimenting with, especially to review the specific requirements of each technology. Are you ready to get started?

The Benefits of the USPS 2020 Tactile, Sensory, & Interactive Mail Promotion

Do you want to create awesome direct mail pieces that stand out and get results? Well now you can do that, and save 2% on your postage! The purpose of this promotion is to encourage sensory engagement with physical mail pieces, and it’s my favorite promotion the USPS is running this year.

Do you want to create awesome direct mail pieces that stand out and get results? Well now you can do that, and save 2% on your postage! This USPS promotion runs from Feb. 1, 2020 through July 31, 2020, and all eligible pieces can claim the discount. The purpose of this promotion is to encourage sensory engagement with physical mail pieces, and it’s my favorite promotion the USPS is running this year. Why? Because only direct mail can provide a tactile experience — no other marketing channel can do this.

There are three featured categories in this promotion:

Specialty Inks

Qualifying inks may include but are not limited to:

  • Conductive inks: Inks with a circuit that can be used to activate an electronic device. Users press a “button” to activate lights, sound chips, or other electronic sensors and components.
  • Leuco Dyes/Thermochromics: Heat sensitive dyes or inks change color in variation in temperature.
  • Photochromic: Changes color with UV light exposure.
  • Optically Variable Ink: Contains metallic materials that change appearance when viewed from different angles.
  • Piezochromic: Change appearance under pressure.
  • Hydro chromic: Change appearance when exposed to water or liquids.

Each of these inks are very unique and interactive. They can make your mail piece fun for your customers and prospects.

Specialty Paper

The specialty paper must have one or more treatments such as scent, sound, taste, visual and/or textural. They must be connected to the marketing message on the piece.

  • Scent: Paper infused with scent such as catnip, fresh bread, or bubble gum, and grass.
  • Sound: Paper that incorporates sound chip or speakers.
  • Taste: Paper that incorporates edible components.
  • Visual: Paper that incorporates special effects such as filters, holographic, or lenticular.
  • Textural: Paper that incorporates textural treatments. Paper surfaces may be coated, or made of unique materials or incorporate techniques such as embossing or other surface treatments like sandpaper or soft touch.

I don’t think that using taste on a self-mailer is a good idea, but if you have a message that is best conveyed with taste you can enclose the piece in an envelope to keep it clean. On the other hand, I really love soft touch, I can’t help but to keep petting the mail piece. There are so many coating you can use for a wide range of different experiences.

Interactive Elements

The mail piece must include an experience that engages the recipient and adds dynamic effects in order to benefit from the promotion. Some examples are:

  • Infinite Folds: These fun folds provide a message at each turn of the fold and are usually folded through at least twice as they drive curiosity. Check out an example.
  • 3-Dimensional: These can be really unique and drive interest. As they are not flat pieces of paper but all kinds of things in boxes or tubes. Check out some examples.
  • Pop-ups: These mailers are fun and a little scary. They deliver flat and when you open them the pop up into a form. Check some out examples.

My two favorites from this group are the infinite folds and pop-ups. There are so many ways you can create interactive mail pieces.

You are only able to claim this discount for presorted standard and nonprofit letters and flats First class, presorted first class, bound printed matter, periodicals, and media mail do not qualify. All mail pieces must be submitted via USPS mail to the TSI Promotion Office for review and approval no later than one week prior to the mailing date. You can get all the requirements here.

Are you ready to get started?

Is Your Direct Mail Trustworthy? 6 Ways to Make Sure It Is

Direct mail is a very popular and effective marketing channel. According to MarketingSherpa, 76% of people trust ads they receive in the mail. But do they trust yours? If you are not getting the expected response rate on your mail pieces, you could have a trust problem.

Direct mail is a very popular and effective marketing channel. According to MarketingSherpa, 76% of people trust ads they receive in the mail. But do they trust yours? If you are not getting the expected response rate on your mail pieces, you could have a trust problem.

There could be many reasons why your direct mail piece is not trustworthy. In order to get the best ROI, here are some key things to focus on as you design and write copy for your direct mail campaigns.

  • Testimonials  Real reviews from real people make a big difference. Be sure to use reviews that are clear and specific, as they are more believable. Make sure to include their names and, if possible, pictures. Of course only include ones that are relevant to what you are selling on your mail piece.
  • Cluttered — When you provide too much information on your mail piece, it can be confusing. People like skimming, so make it easy for them to understand what you are saying. You don’t want them to feel like you are hiding something in all of that extra copy. Bullet points and bolding will help highlight the most important information.
  • Content — Be direct and specific with your headlines, calls to action, and copy. Be realistic with your statements and promises. Authentic and direct messaging is the best way to build trust. Do what you say and say what you do. Under-promise and over-deliver to build customer loyalty.
  • Dated  Are you writing new copy for each campaign or are you picking up old copy? Check your copy for out-of-date wording. These days, information is changing very quickly. Your copy needs to change, too.
  • Fonts — Your choice of fonts matter. Fonts that are hard to read or super small sizes elicit suspicion. Use easy-to-read fonts. This does not mean you have to stick with Arial or Helvetica; you can still be creative with easy-to-read fonts. Do not use all caps. While it is OK to use smaller font sizes for less important information, there is no reason to use a 6pt font size on your direct mail.
  • Images — Are you using images with just your product in them, or are you using images where people are using your products? People relate to other people; make sure that you use images that include people.

Clear and compelling messaging is necessary to make the right impression. You only have a few seconds before you end up in the trash.. Your message is your brand promise; it cannot be vague and open to interpretation. This also includes over-promising or using bait-and-switch tactics. These things leave a very bad impression about you and your products or services.

People buy from people and companies they trust. Are you one of them? It’s not just what you say on your mail pieces, it’s how you say it that matters most. Honesty is the best policy, so stick to the golden rule. The colors you choose affect your prospects’ and customers’ moods, so make sure you are using the correct colors to go with your message. Not sure what the colors mean? Check out the colors post. Now you are set to create the most effective direct mail campaigns.

Empower Your 2020 Political Direct Mail With These Tips

It’s that time again for political direct mail planning. Are you the one planning to win your election? Did you know that a USPS commissioned survey in 2018 found that 68% of voters believe direct mail to be the most credible source of political outreach?

It’s that time again for political direct mail planning. Are you the one planning to win your election? Did you know that a USPS commissioned survey in 2018 found that 68% of voters believe direct mail to be the most credible source of political outreach? (Opens as a PDF) You need to build a strategy that raises awareness, builds a following, and motivates voters. What is the best way to do that? Using a combination of direct mail, social media, Google ads, and YouTube ads to engage voters both offline and online will enhance your results.

Because 73% of Americans prefer the first contact to be by mail, you need to be in the mailbox before early voting ballots go out. Are you prepared with a realistic timeline? You should also know that 55% of voters use mail to decide how to vote. If you are not in the mailbox you are missing out on a huge opportunity. Yes, direct mail is expensive, but it more than pays for itself with big ROI.

So what should you include in your mail piece?

  • Stance on important issues
  • Contrast with an opponent
  • A list of endorsements
  • Important voting information, such as deadlines
  • A picture
  • Color
  • Personalization

You may think that the best way to win is to mail to every registered voter. But really, your best bet is to mail to only active voters. These are the people who will mail in ballots or show up at polling stations. You need to convince them to vote for you: Do not waste your money on the others. What size mailer should you send to them? Use a large piece, such as an 9 x 12, because oversized pieces have been shown to increase response rates by 10.4%. They really stand out in the mailbox.

As you are designing and writing copy, keep in mind that your text should be concise and easily scanned. The best designs use bolding, italics, color, and contrast to draw the eye to important content. The easier you make it for people to quickly understand what you are saying, the more effective your mail piece will be. Direct mail is better understood, remembered, and acted upon when you use best practices. After you design a piece, send a PDF to your mail service provider to review for potential postal regulation issues before you print. You do not want to waste money on postal penalties.

Remember, unlike a business that sells products or services, which has the ability to sell them over a long period of time, political mail needs to convince people quickly to either support or not to support a candidate or a proposition. You can also add texture to your mailers to give people a reason to hold your mail piece longer. A very popular one is the soft touch coating, which feels like velvet. People can’t help but pet the paper. Lastly, make sure that you use personalization on your mail pieces. It makes people feel more important and makes your message more personal to them. Are you ready to get started?

Simple Math: Direct Mail + Email = Better Response

The job of direct mail is specific. You can’t ask direct mail to do too much; just like you can’t ask Facebook ads or Instagram to do too much. Each channel has a job to do, and they all do different jobs.

Direct mail is a strong channel by itself for nonprofits, but like I’ve written before, the job of direct mail is specific. You can’t ask direct mail to do too much; just like you can’t ask Facebook ads or Instagram to do too much. Each channel has a job to do, and they all do different jobs.

And knowing this, you have numerous opportunities to parlay multiple channels to create a stronger response. Let’s dive into a combo that’s an easy one: direct mail and email.

Think of it like shortstop and second-base position players: They each have a distinct job on the field, but when a double-play is available, they work as a tight combination and move as a duo.

The reason direct mail and email is a natural pairing is because their jobs and strengths are so different, but they’re united by data and personalization.

Direct mail is great at storytelling and using its leave-in-the-basket physicality to just simply hang around until your donor acts. Email is great for peppering your donor with reminders and moving them through an easy click-to-donation experience. And both of these channels reference the donor’s name and drop their message right into that person’s life space — mailbox or inbox. It’s a personal outreach.

Plus, the data shows this works: All the studies from the ANA (formerly the Data & Marketing Association) reveal that combining digital and direct mail increases response about 20%.

Use the Strengths

Direct mail is strong with storytelling. Use direct mail to tell a longer story via a letter, and drop in some visual assets that linger as a reminder. Most folks don’t want to or have the basket space to keep a letter, but if you have an insert slip, sticker, bookmark or postcard as a visual leave-behind, it lets the user recycle the letter without feeling like they’re going to forget you. They can put the asset on the fridge, keep in the basket, etc. as a lingering reminder to get back to you with that donation.

Emails are strong in visual frequency. Since emails can be designed lots of ways, and with high frequency, reference a direct mail asset in the email. Visually connect the inserts of the direct mail package in the emails. And use snippets from the letter in the shorter form email, telling the story of the letter in multiple touches. Also, you can use the email as a preview for a letter package coming in the mail. If your open rates are 30%, then those folks may be on the lookout for the upcoming letter and be more inclined to open the letter, too.

Judo-Block Weaknesses

One of direct mail’s weaknesses is that postage is a necessary expense and the frequency needs to be paced based on your budget. It’s rare for a business or nonprofit to mail more than once per month to their own customer base, and letter rate postage varies widely (from as low at $0.18 up to $0.42). As you plan the project, ask your mailing services provider for postage prices.

Judo Block: Use different formats for mailing that may be less expensive. Postcard rates — especially for nonprofits — are less than letter rates and could be an alternative. The postcard postage usually runs about $0.24 per piece, and some mailing services co-mingle to get even lower rates (for a full rate sheet, see the USPS calculator).

One of email’s weaknesses is that the donor data is incomplete. To make the subscription process easier and have lower barriers, many nonprofits just have name and email in their opt-in forms. That makes it faster to subscribe, but it doesn’t give you their home address, which limits your ability to do multichannel touches.

Judo Block: Do reverse-append to get a mailing list of your email subscribers. Usually a good partner can get 60% to 80% of your emails matched to a home address. Next to your house file of donors, this is the best mailing list you can get. And since they’ve opted in with their email, appending address data is privacy compliant (including GDPR and the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act).

In the end, you want your direct mail and email to work together to tell your story to your donors and move them along the next-step action. Cross-referencing, using images, pacing the story between the two, are all good ways to get the combo working together.

As you move into your 2020 marketing plan, pair these channels up in new and creative ways, as two players in an integrated double-play.

As always, I look forward to hearing your comments.

‘Crassmas’ Messages Show the Strengths of Snail Mail, the Weaknesses of Poor Digital Personalization

Even if the old-fashioned way of choosing, inscribing, and snail mail posting greeting cards has given way to “eCards,” the good intention is the same. It’s a reminder that someone is actually thinking of you. Which is why I was annoyed when I recently received cards from friends sent using the Jacquie Lawson platform.

Seasonal greeting cards are many things to both senders and recipients.

Starting at the top, they can be very personal communications of greetings, reminders of friendships often left to lapse during our busy year. At the bottom, they can be nothing more than purely commercial direct mail — with a bough of holly or a reindeer to give them a seasonal scent.

Either way, they are big business (estimated at 6% of the $7.5 billion greeting card market).

And even if the old-fashioned way of choosing, inscribing, and snail mail-posting them has to a great extent given way to “eCards,” the good intention is the same: If absence makes the heart grow fonder, the reminder that someone is actually thinking of you and expending time, effort, and money to send a greeting should be at least heartwarming, even if the non-digital examples have become somewhat anti-environmental.

Which is why, despite this un-Christmas like critique, I became really annoyed when I recently received cards from friends sent using the Jacquie Lawson platform. However brilliant the superb graphics (and they are truly beautiful) the gross commercialism of the accompanying messages totally detracted from the personal richness of the senders’ intent.

The notice in my inbox was straightforward enough. It said that my named friend had sent me an ecard. The “Correspondent” was simply, “Jacquie Lawson ecards,” a name I may or may not have known. And when, for no good reason, I had not opened the original missive, the day after Christmas I received a reminder. (Identification of the generous sender in the illustrations has been surpressed: what might her husband say?)

personalization absent
Credit: Peter J. Rosenwald

What Bothered Me?

These notices, instead of keeping the focus on my friend’s message to me and the hope that it would be something pleasurable, instead were Jacquie Lawson branding-dominant. Using the next-to-last paragraph of the reminder, right after “You can view your card here” to invite the reader to “learn more about us here” may be someone’s idea of a good promotional ploy. But to me, it was a rather good example of turning Christmas into “crassmas.” Can you imagine receiving a seasonal gift with a promotional message in the box?

Lest we have missed the Jacquie Lawson come-ons and just enjoyed the animated card, after the greetings message from the sender, at the bottom of the card this line with its links reminds us not of our friend’s greeting but of, you guessed it, Jacquie Lawson.

personalization absent, branding present
Credit: Peter J. Rosenwald

Perhaps this is a singular example, but there has been a growing tendency this past year for marketers to forget that “personalization” — the heart of truly successful targeted marketing — needs to stay focused not on the super technologies that make personalization and the accompanying graphics possible, but rather on not letting anything get in the way of truly personal interactions.

Sure, Jacquie Lawson has every right to promote the beautiful work done by her team and, no doubt, I’ll be receiving plentiful invitations to know more about it and purchase new designs from the company.  That’s the business we are in.

But in this New Year, let’s not let our desire for growth and profits outweigh the personalization sensitivities of our messages

Direct Mail Planning for Your 2020 Marketing Goals

As we start the new year, direct mail planning is essential. The strategies we used in 2019 need updates to be more effective in 2020. According to the DMA, direct mail had an average response rate of 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists. How do your response rates compare?

As we start the new year, direct mail planning is essential. The strategies we used in 2019 need updates to be more effective in 2020. According to the DMA, direct mail had an average response rate of 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists. How do your response rates compare?

Looking at more than just response rates, how did your other metrics do this year? Starting with the worst performing ones, devise a different strategy to increase performance in 2020.

About 66% of mail is opened and reviewed. Direct mail not only cuts through the daily marketing clutter, but has been proven to drive digital activity and influence online purchasing decisions. Are your direct mail campaigns as effective as they can be? In the digital marketing arena email fatigue, ad blindness, and the increase in ad blocking, have combined to result in stagnating and sometimes declining performance. Direct mail should be combined with these types of channels in order to boost overall performance. Are you taking a multichannel approach for 2020?

Direct Mail-to-Multichannel Marketing

We live in an interconnected world, your customers expect you to communicate with them through the various channels they use. The companies that do this effectively see the best results. When you use campaigns that include both digital and direct mail, you, on average, receive 39% more attention than a digital-only campaign. Research shows messages delivered via direct mail can be powerfully motivating, with 92% of people driven to digital activity and 87% influenced to make an online purchase. Are you planning how to be more effective at this for 2020?

Personalization

Are you using the true power of direct mail? Personalization through variable printing is powerful. You can alter copy, offers, and even images, based on each person in your list. There are even ways to utilize more information, such as demographics, geographies, psychographics, and behavioristic data to go beyond a regular piece to a truly specialized one. When you are able to do this, you drive response much higher than before. What are you going to try in 2020?

Retargeting

Want to try something new for 2020? What about retargeted direct mail? What do we mean by that? You can retarget online activity by reaching out with direct mail. Some of the most common ways retargeting works are: for abandoned shopping carts; people who visited your website, but did not purchase; contacting lapsed customers; or creating new customers. So how do you get the mail addresses for online contacts? You can take a list of email addresses and append mail ones, or you can take a list of IP addresses that have visited your site and append mail addresses to it, or you can use mobile devise owner information to append mail addresses.

Mail Formats

For 2020, we need to think outside of the box and try new things. If all you have sent are letters or postcards, try a new format to gain more attention. Consider sending larger pieces, because they get higher response rates. If you are selling a high-priced item, consider using dimensional mail in order to drive more sales. These are more costly to send, but the ROI is much better.

Get creative and have some fun planning out your 2020 direct mail strategy! Are you ready to get started?

Why Include Direct Mail In Optichannel Marketing?

Direct mail is highly effective on its own; however, when you combine it with other marketing channels, it gets even better. Demand Metric, in partnership with PFL, conducted a benchmark study. The optichannel marketing research is meant to understand the importance of multichannel marketing.

Direct mail is highly effective on its own; however, when you combine it with other marketing channels, it gets even better. Demand Metric, in partnership with PFL, conducted a benchmark study, “Multichannel Marketing Maximizing Program Engagement and ROI”. The optichannel marketing research is meant to understand the importance of multichannel marketing and the power of intentional, coordinated marketing efforts.

The goal of the study was to collect data to identify best practices and help marketers know how to reach specific audiences, and when to use particular tactics within their multichannel campaigns. The results indicate that direct mail needs to be a part of your optichannel marketing strategy.

Key findings:

  • When direct mail is personalized and tightly integrated into the channel mix and campaign technology: Average response rates improve significantly, with a 62% increase in those reporting good or very good response rates. The ROI of multichannel campaigns improves significantly, with an 80% increase in those reporting good or very good ROI.
  • Just over half of this study’s participants include direct mail in their multichannel campaigns, and 80% of them report that direct mail improves multichannel campaign performance.
  • The executive, or C-Suite, audience is the most sought after by study participants. Events and direct mail are the most effective channels to reach them.
  • While postcards are the most frequently used direct mail format, the dimensional format does the best job of representing the brand.
  • More channels produce higher response. Respondents using seven or more channels in their mix are 26% more likely to indicate their multichannel programs produce good or very good response.

Respondents use a multitude of channels that include:

  1. Email: 91% usage
  2. Social Media: 81% usage
  3. Events: 73% usage
  4. Display Ads/Remarketing: 60% usage
  5. Direct Mail: 56% usage
  6. Search/PPC: 51% usage
  7. Outbound Business Development/Sales Development: 47% usage
  8. Content Syndication: 35% usage
  9. Other: 5% usage

Most marketers are using between three and five channels on any given campaign, but results show that you should consider adding more channels. When marketers use seven or more channels, they report a 77% “very good” or “good” response rate. The report also found that marketers are not consistently using the most effective channels. The top three most effective channels are: events at 83%, integrated and personalized direct mail at 78%, and Search/PPC at 73%. What are you using?

Direct Mail Needs More Attention From Marketers

The report shows that marketers are most familiar with postcard and letter formats, and report that they use those formats most. Postcards are the least expensive direct mail format. Many marketers favor postcards because there is nothing to open: the message is easily visible. Dimensional mail formats are a close third in usage. This format includes pieces that are not flat, like the other types, but have an element of depth to them. A dimensional mail piece is often sent in boxes or tubes, and its very form invites opening it. These pieces evoke natural curiosity and tend to drive higher response rates. Have you tried dimensional mail?

According to study participants, direct mail clearly enhances multichannel campaign performance. In this study, 52% report a moderate to major improvement in campaign performance when direct mail is one of the channels. When direct mail is part of the channel mix, campaigns have slightly better response rates. Personalized direct mail generates significantly better response rates to multichannel campaigns. Are you using direct mail enough?

As you can see, adding direct mail to your optichannel marketing campaigns is significant. The more personalized and integrated it is, the better your response rate is going to be. Are you ready to get started with more personalized direct mail?