Author: Patrick Groover
Have you taken a close look at your direct mail lately? You may have noticed a pleasant surprise: offers and newsletters that you’re actually interested in.
To some, direct mail may seem like a marketing method of the past. However, coupled with a sophisticated marketing automation platform, direct mail is getting a facelift that may make it a channel that helps you differentiate your go-to-market strategy.
Rethinking Direct Mail
Historic approaches to direct mail largely centered around long hours of preparing one-off mailers to large audiences that were painstakingly pulled together. Back then, executing direct mail campaigns meant developing lists, developing content, printing content, and then shipping it out—step-by-step.
Marketing messages are only effective when they engage audiences at the right time within their buying journey, so it’s no wonder that the effectiveness of direct mail was called into question. Besides the potential for misalignment between timing, mass media approaches to direct mail were often impersonal and contained generic messaging. Traditional direct mail campaigns usually targeted a large number of individuals with the same piece of communication.
To reduce gaps between timing and personalization of messages, direct mail marketers began focusing heavily on audience segmentation using cohort analysis, which incorporates data-driven information and groups individuals with similar characteristics together. While audience segmentation remains a vital part of a solid go-to-market strategy and has a solid impact on open and response rates, it doesn’t address targeting and one-to-one communication. This requires defining and acting on real-time signals of buyer interest with highly personalized content that matches the exact target audience, which is where marketing automation excels.
Marketing automation leverages previously configured audiences and dynamically personalized content assets that are already tied to your overall campaign strategy and connects time-released materials to buying signals—enabling personalized direct mail at scale. With a sophisticated marketing automation solution, direct mail campaigns can be incorporated directly into your programs, so you can run, measure, and optimize them within one platform for true cross-channel marketing.
Here are three ways to use direct mail in your cross-channel marketing campaigns:
Personalization increases the likelihood that buyers will interact with your content and respond with the desired call-to-action. Advanced direct mail providers can integrate with your marketing automation platform through APIs, which makes it possible to pass information about individuals who perform a specific behavior to print houses in real-time to develop personalized content using customer names, specific offers, and more.
If you’ve pre-configured the creative, it’s easy to call upon the correct template, add elements of personalization, print the final mail piece, and package it up for mailing—all on the same day. For multi-dimensional mailers, or mail pieces that aren’t flat, providers can pre-stock materials and send out batches according to agreed-upon terms.
A great example of a relevant and personalized direct mail campaign is delivering coupon offers to customers a few days before their birthday. A complete marketing automation platform allows you to configure rules that will pass information to direct mail printers with each individual’s name and specific offer. The unique format and timely delivery of this offer through the mail increases the likelihood that the customer will take action, capturing a portion of their birthday spend.
2. Time-Released Nurturing
As you’re graduating from a batch-and-blast approach to a personalized one, consider augmenting your communication format. Using an advanced marketing automation platform, you can integrate a variety of marketing channels for a single campaign. Instead of using emails for every form of communication in your nurture campaign, add a flow step that incorporates direct mail.
Direct mail adds a tangible element to your email nurturing campaign that makes your audience feel hand-selected and valuable. And aided by dynamic personalization, your offers and content can reflect the specific person and their buying stage, a relevant message, and other aspects through pre-set criteria. The addition of this step to your nurture campaigns adjusts the customer’s perception of your overall interactions by making it more personal, and if you’ve been missing them through email, it’s an opportunity to reconnect.
3. Focus Efforts on Key Audiences
Direct mail can seem like a cost-prohibitive investment as sending dimensional mailers or even basic content to your audiences can quickly add up. However, marketing automation platforms provide added value to managing the overall cost of this channel by allowing you to configure criteria that only target the most valuable audiences with something more tangible.
Previously, it was very time-consuming and cumbersome to align the right audiences to direct mail. Marketing automation allows you to quickly identify the most valuable leads or contacts and send them highly relevant collateral. With the right platform, these lists are self-sustaining as your leads or contacts exhibit specific behaviors or match identified criteria. If you’re a B2B marketer, this capability is prime for account-based marketing. For example, if you’re targeting prospects in at higher education institutions, you could send them a direct mail piece after they download a specific asset on your website.
If it’s been a while since you took a look at direct mail, it may be time to take a look again. Evaluate whether your marketing automation platform supports multi-channel marketing and tie together all of your communications efforts. The right platform and approach will help you increase results, lower costs, and time messaging for the greatest impact.
Have you had success using marketing automation to support your direct mail efforts? Share your tips and tricks below.