Escape the Dumpster Fire: Attribution Models for Direct Mail

Filed in Featured Posts, Marketing Ideas on May 10, 2018 by

better direct mail attribution graphic

What is Marketing Attribution? Why should you care? And how do the savviest marketers measure attribution?

If any of those questions have been bouncing around in your mind, you’ve come to the right place. Attribution is simply the science of measuring how much revenue your marketing efforts have generated.

Did the television ad spot work? What about the podcasting promos you’ve ordered? Is your email closing deals, or winning new customers?

Under the marketing attribution model, each touchpoint is given credit for the exact amount of influence it had on a customer’s conversion. Usually, that can be tied to money earned on a transaction, but it might also be simply taking a desired action, like signing up for a webinar.

So now for the “WHY” behind marketing attribution. It’s obvious: if you know what is working, you can do more of that and less of the stuff that’s … well, not. As such, attribution is a crucial part of any comprehensive marketing strategy.

But, attribution is exponentially harder when you have multiple channels. And if that mix breaks the digital barrier with something like tactile marketing, attribution becomes even more arcane.

Don’t fret though! That’s where we come in. We’re here to walk you through how to measure the impact tactile marketing has on your business.

Before we jump in, let’s give some credit to Bizible for helping us with this article. They’re the undisputed champions of attribution, especially B2B attribution. If you want to read the best content on attribution, start reading their blog right now.

Traditional Direct Mail is an Attribution Dumpster Fire

Let’s get right to the point: traditional direct mail is an attribution dumpster fire.

A dumpster fire can keep you warm, but no one really wants to smell what’s burning at the bottom of the bin. The challenge of measuring the contribution of direct mail is tied to how the channel is used.

Traditional direct mail works as well as a shot in the arm for a single campaign. To be effective, the creative must include a clear call to action — usually with a special phone number, URL, or even a hashtag to spur social activity. Measuring the traffic from these unique CTAs is usually as far as direct mail attribution goes.

But direct mail is increasingly being used as a primary driver in evergreen, multichannel strategies. For organizations, especially B2B companies, with long sales cycles and several handoffs, direct mail must be measured holistically. For organizations looking to create an orchestrated marketing experience, a tactile marketing campaign can be the missing link that catapults your conversion rates from ho-hum to OMG.

In a complex, multichannel mix, there’s no longer a single conversion point that matters. Now you need to know if direct mail is impacting your email open rates, making it easier for your sales team to get traction or driving traffic to your booth at a tradeshow/event.

How do you give direct mail its proper credit? By using it like a digital channel.

Tactile Marketing Brings Direct Mail to Modern Attribution Models

To measure the effectiveness of direct mail, you have to adopt an attribution model that goes beyond first or last touch attribution, which are the standard models for measuring direct mail impact. PFL’s Tactile Marketing Automation solution works with marketing automation technology and CRMs to turn direct mail into a digital channel.

Now you can measure it, just like an email.

But wait: this isn’t email.

Unlike email, tactile marketing excels at pushing prospects the extra yard to a new goal post and it impacts every stage of the customer journey. When used like this, tactile marketing requires a more sophisticated attribution model.

Our friends at Bizible suggest a position based or algorithmic model for multichannel marketing strategies. These models look at the micro-conversions that lead to milestones in the customer journey and properly credit the ripple effect of tactile marketing on other channels.

To borrow the analogy used in the above blog post from Bizible, your company is like an elite athlete. Whereas your average Joe Schmo may be able to adopt a simple nutrition plan and see positive changes in health and physique, the elite athlete requires a much more complex, thoughtful plan tailored to his or her exact body type and performance goals.

As a business with a multichannel marketing strategy, you have to dedicate the time and planning required to tailor your “nutrition plan” to your exact needs, taking into account all of the complexities unique to your particular business and target markets.

Okay, great, but how can I actually get started including direct mail in my marketing strategy and attribution model?

Here are our best tips:

  • Use direct mail to truly leave an impression. Touch is among the oldest of our senses to develop, and as such it is integral to how humans experience and remember the world around them. Using tactile marketing allows your business to leave a lasting, intimate impression on your prospects, delighting them at every point along the buyer’s journey. See some examples of tactile marketing campaigns real companies are using right here.
  • Plan your direct mail campaign. Like any great marketing campaign, your direct mail strategy will be most successful with a well thought out plan including event-based triggers. Analyze the contents of your automated campaigns (or create a campaign if you haven’t already!!)  to decide where direct mail best fits, and what events should trigger a send.
  • Track results using a direct mail automation software. For example, PFL’s Tactile Marketing Automation platform lets you simply integrate your direct mail strategy into your automated campaigns, so the planning, send, tracking, and analysis are as simple and automated as an email campaign.
  • Analyze results of your direct mail campaign. Whatever direct mail automation software you use, be sure it allows you to track product deliverability, as well as and campaign performance through response rates. With this information, you can prove ROI and gain insight into how leads are moving through the funnel, as well as the impact your direct mail strategy has on this process.

In today’s world of digital and inbox overload, it can be very difficult to stand out when you employ digital marketing campaigns only. Your emails are either sent into the voids of an inbox wasteland, are marked as spam, or bounce as a result of server rules, job changes, or attachment limits.

Direct mail marketing is the antidote to the digital overload hell. But, remember: blindly sending tactile marketing pieces into the void with no tracking or calls to action is no way to measure success. It will be easier to tame a lion while wearing a Lady Gaga-esque meat suit.

Toss batch and blast direct mail, and weird costumes, into the dumpster and start tracking marketing attribution for direct mail using PFL. We integrate with your current CRM or digital marketing automation platform.

Learn more with our free Tactile Marketing Automation Software Guide.


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