Everything you need to optimize mailing performance and reduce direct mail costs
Earn the best return on your investment
As a marketer, you can reach your prospects through channels like social media, email, webinars,
pay-to-click advertising, TV, radio...sometimes it seems like the options are limitless.
Direct mail is an extremely effective tool for driving new customer acquisition and retention, as well as revenue.
One channel that seems to lose
appeal in the face of the flashy new
marketing automation solutions is
direct mail. The reality is that direct
mail is an extremely effective tool
for driving new customer acquisition
and retention, as well as revenue. And
when you pair automated direct mail
with your digital strategy, you can see
tremendous positive growth in lead
generation, customer acquisition,
and revenue growth.
If you're new to direct mail, you'll
want to incorporate it in your
marketing mix. Even if it's an
established part of your campaign
tactics, review the best practices
outlined here to ensure you earn the
best return on your investment. You
want to optimize mailing performance
while reducing the costs of sending
mail to bad addresses.
As a best practice, and at a minimum, follow these three rules:
- You should not mail to people WITHOUT addresses.
- You should not mail to people with OLD addresses.
- You should not mail to people with INCORRECT addresses.
The 5 pillars of a solid foundation for data quality
Reprinted with permission from NetProspex / Dun & Bradstreet
With increasing goals and static budgets, today's marketers need to get the most out of each program they launch. The quality of a marketing database can make or break a program. This section provides actionable steps and best practices.
The 5 pillars for data quality
Pillar 1: Know your buyer
PFL Tip on Account Based Marketing
Automated direct mail
can reach target account
contacts you normally
can't reach. These include
contacts without email
addresses or prospects
that may have opted out
As basic as it sounds, we work with
companies every day that do not do
this. Target your programs directly
at the people who are most likely
to buy from you. The best way to
obtain this information is to look at
past purchase data for trends. Try
to identify demographic criteria like
titles, industries, geographies and/
or company sizes that buy most
frequently. Isolate those that tend
to make large versus small purchases
and, even better, those that are
Once you've done this, compare it
to the type of contacts you have in
your marketing database. Dig into any
behavioral trends you can see in your
response data. Often, you will be able
to group your contacts into influencers
or buyers. Study how each group
typically responds and at what time in
the buying cycle.
Lastly, ensure that your marketing
database has enough of each of these
profiles in it to help you meet your
marketing goals. Develop targeted
outreach programs with messaging
specific to the needs of each audience
to ensure maximum success of
Pillar 2: Give your database a good scrubbing
PFL can assist with the
data scrubbing process
when it's time to send
direct mail, but we
always recommend that
marketers perform this
cleansing earlier in the
The experts at SiriusDecisions have determined that the average amount of
usable records in a prospect database is 75%, with 90% considered best in class.
If you're looking to improve your database, you have to start somewhere—and the
best place to begin is by conducting a thorough cleansing.
For a focused effort, remove records that don't fit your target buyer profile
or can't influence the sale. Normalize your data in terms of capitalization and
formats of fields such as phone and title. Remove or append information to
incomplete records. Get rid of records that have bounced or unsubscribed.
While it's not the fastest or easiest job in the world, starting with the cleanest
list possible will make your life a lot easier and more successful.
Pillar 3: Build from quality sources
When you're actively cleaning out bad data, you may find less target
contacts than you'd like in your database. Hitting your goals is a
numbers game. Use a marketing funnel or calculator to determine just
how many leads you need to hit your goals.
If you plan to purchase data, check that your vendor has a dedicated
process to ensure and maintain quality. Validated data will cost a little
more, but it pays off in the end. The vendor should be able to tell
you how recent the data is that you're purchasing and should offer a
guarantee or refund if a percentage of data is incorrect.
Pillar 4: Keep it clean
Okay, so everyone knows that data is never 100% perfect. However, by looking
at all the ways your company gets marketing contact data, you may be able to
mitigate some quality issues by heading it off at the pass.
For example, if you are gathering information from registration forms on your
website, you may want to employ drop-down lists rather than open entry fields to
prevent errors and promote consistency. Progressive profiling is another proven
methodology for gauging a prospect's interest by getting them to engage in
multiple offers while also allowing you to gather bits of information over time.
By keeping the number of fields per form low, you will not only increase
conversion rates, but you will also decrease people's natural tendency to
fudge the answers.
Pillar 5: Rinse and repeat
Data decays at a rate of 2% per month or more, so you can expect 20-30% of your organization's contact data to go bad per year.1
You may have started out with a clean
database and applied best practices
for bringing in new data, but it won't
stay that way for long without ongoing
Data gets stale as a result of
employees finding new opportunities
or switching positions. Duplicate
records may get imported or created.
Ensure you have a way to keep track
of the state of your data on an
Remove hard bounces from your
database as they occur. Sometimes,
auto-reply emails will provide the
contact information of the new
contact and your prospect's company.
Take advantage of the windfall by
providing them with a welcome
message to introduce them to your
company and get them to opt-in
Much of this type of activity requires
significant manual effort, so you
may want to take a more scheduled
approach for cleaning your database.
Scrubbing your data against
third-party sources can remove
the personnel cost of doing this
internally, provide improved campaign
performance, and help to keep your
overall email deliverability rate high as
it reduces the hard bounces.
Give incentives to get clean data
If you really want to get the most up-to-date contact information, provide a little incentive.
People are more likely to submit accurate information when they know a gift is coming their way.
We have experienced massive
success testing this process. This
technique kills two birds with one
stone. First, the campaign helps
obtain cleaner data, as the recipient
won't receive the gift if the address
is incorrect. Second, the campaign
provides another touch point to
help build the relationship with your
prospect or customer.
Does the incentive have to be a physical gift? No.
The incentive could include:
- Free eBook
- Contest entry
- Free trial
Try different incentives to see which delivers the best ROI for your organization.
Rely on a partner
Even when your company practices good data hygiene, bad data creeps into your system. As an option, consider
working with a third-party vendor to get your data in order.
"Address information such as street, city and state is missing in over 40% of customer databases." 2
2 2014 NetProspex Annual Marketing, Data Benchmark Report
Data appending is the process of
adding information to leads that
companies can leverage for sales and
marketing purposes. This data includes
address information, demographics,
psychographics and lifestyle profile
information that can enrich existing
records in your system.
For example, instead of asking your
leads for their mailing address, you
can let the partner append this
information. Typically, when a lead is
created in a marketing automation
system like Marketo, that system will
reach out to the third party's database
and attempt to match the lead against
its data warehouse of names. If there
is a match, the partner will append the
additional fields to the record.
For direct mail, the accuracy of the
company name, address, city, state,
postal code, and country are the
Leverage progressive profiling
Progressive profiling is a Marketo feature that allows marketers to collect more information each time a lead fills out
a form. Prospects don't want to share all their information before trust is built, so the best practice is to ask fewer
questions up front and then deepen the relationship over time.
If you try to ask for too much information up front, conversion rates will drop.
These graphs show decreasing conversion rates for both increasing information
presented (shown by the number of text areas) and information demanded
(shown by the number of form fields).
Consider adopting an address-focused progressive profiling strategy if address
collection and verification is an important part of your process. Keep in mind that
the accuracy of data collected via a user submission can vary greatly.
If your company decides to go this route, make sure to give your data a review. If
you see a lot of data like "555555" or "7 Mickey Mouse Way," you might need to
use one of the other processes instead.
Set yourself up for direct mail success
Direct mail is a powerful and effective marketing channel for your
organization, particularly when it is automated and integrated with
your marketing automation platform.
The most significant initial component?
Doing it correctly, and seeing the most return on your investment, requires planning and forethought.