Why Direct Mail Automation is a Must-Have Tool for Digital Marketers

Filed in Marketing Automation on February 24, 2016 by

If your day is anything like mine, you’re swamped. Swamped with emails, phone calls, a barrage of meetings, early morning spin class, soccer practice, date night, that third cousin’s kid’s dance recital. With so much busyness, how do marketers get this crowd to stop, take a moment, and absorb a message that isn’t on their to-do-list?

To find answers, some marketers are looking to the past—only with fresh perspective.

I’ve noticed a rise in marketers using automated direct mail as a left jab to email’s right hook. Perhaps that’s why print makes the top three paid advertising methods in the B2B space, according to the 2015 CMI Report. They’re finding answers in an omnichannel approach that garners a wider audience.

There’s a lot for marketers to love about direct mail in a digital world. When combined, online and offline channels pull a much higher lift than when working separately. According to the 2015 DMA Response Rate Report, response rates increase up to 35% when email and direct mail are combined.  It makes me wonder why everyone wouldn’t have some sort of strategic mailer thrown in with their email and social efforts.

It’s important that marketers also pay attention to the segments of their database that aren’t responding well to email only. It’s pretty simple when you think about it: combine more channels, cast a wider net, bring home more fish to fry.

So why the heck isn’t direct mail as fully adopted by digital marketers as it should be? A few reasons.

“I stopped sending postcards when they stopped being cool—about the same time as frosted-tips and JNCOS.” 

sugar ray-frosted tips

Don’t get me wrong, marketers are consistently achieving great results with well-crafted postcards. With that being said, thinking of a direct mail send as just a postcard is like thinking of electricity as just a light bulb.

Reality Check:

Direct mail capabilities extend far beyond flat mailers. While a well-produced postcard may get the job done, you can automate just about anything when it comes to sending mail. I’ve seen some brilliant automated direct mail campaigns—from coffee cups, to popcorn machines, to self-mailing coconuts.

“You think I have the time for that???” 

Time rabbit

I’ve also noticed many businesses skimp on direct mail simply because they don’t know what can be done with the channel today. They still envision direct mail efforts as a laborious process that’s both time-consuming and draining.


Reality Check:

Imagine being able to use your Email Service Provider or Marketing Automation Platform to trigger the send of physical pieces in a fast and efficient way. With today’s solutions, direct mail can be as painless as sending an email. (No, really.)

“But I’m a digital marketer.”

Iron Man-digital marketer

If you’re a digital marketer, you’re focused on digital results, whether they hail from email, web or social. What you may not be considering is that it’s possible to drive online results with offline efforts.


Reality Check:

Even if “digital” is in your title, don’t forget that “multi-channel” should be your goal. Whether you’re sending product samples or simple promotions, automated direct mail can drive digital actions, depending on your CTA.

Some of the coolest campaigns I’ve seen do this begin with a digital piece – an email, or a personalized site – that drives the customer to request a product sample. Once the customer receives the sample in the mail, a follow up email arrives with a message that thanks them and invites feedback. This kind of integrated campaign can be used for pre-launch product research or to identify brand advocates who can be invited to share their product experience online or social media. Talk about full circle.

I know. It all sounds great in theory, but you’re the “don’t believe it till you see it,” type, aren’t you? Or maybe you’re the type that thinks this isn’t relevant to your industry. I’m here to tell you that direct mail is driving tangible results across all verticals–even those as heavily regulated as Financial Services and Healthcare.

If you want to know specifics, take a look at how a top retail bank is growing its email list while saving millions in direct mail spend. 

Have you incorporated direct mail into your digital strategy?  What are some of your most successful campaigns? Let me know in the comments, and if you’d like to see more vertical-specific campaigns, give me a shout.

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