Forrester to Growth Marketers: “Grow Spending in Direct Mail”
Direct Mail- Unthink Expensive Rethink Efficient
A November 2020 Forrester report* provides guidance to Marketers on setting budgets -- in the wake of COVID -- across digital advertising, offline advertising, and organic/earned media categories. Whether a company is in survival mode, adaptive mode, or growth mode, three paid channels are recommended to “keep and grow” media spend. Those three channels are traditional television, search marketing, and direct mail.
The direct mail recommendation for companies in growth mode, including advice to “Grow spending to cut through the digital clutter with new prospects and expand market share.”
Despite the proof of performance of direct mail (and Forrester’s recommendation), Marketing leaders are called upon to demonstrate a positive return on investment (ROI) for mail. Some may erroneously believe the end-to-end cost is prohibitive.
Over the last year, the print industry has seen the cost of materials come down from previous years. Mailers are also being smarter when it comes to the ability to print variable copy. Two developments have converged to make direct mail of all kinds more affordable and effective:
MORE ACCESS TO MORE DATA. There’s more address-level data available, enabling marketers to precisely target their audience and eliminate waste. Targeting was previously limited to demographic information and managed lists. Mailers now have access to databases of transactional history, purchase intent, online behavior, location information, creditworthiness, even social media content. All these data elements can be also appended to an address and used to drive personalization, making communications more relevant.
HIGH QUALITY DIGITAL PRINT PRODUCTION. Digital print production is much less expensive and higher quality. Marketers can print completely dynamic 1:1 mail at any scale and take full advantage of the data elements that make your mail communication relevant to the recipient.
One example of efficiency and ROI comes from our Pitney Bowes Marketing team, who developed a highly targeted, disruptive self-mailer for existing clients to upgrade their technology. The new digitally connected sending device for office mailing and shipping was offered as a free upgrade on the 100th Anniversary of Pitney Bowes and required a client to accept a customized offer online. A four-color, laminated, affixed card, securely attached on the front of a self-mailer with personal customer data safely printed on the back served as both a reminder of the upgrade opportunity AND a quick-reference tool with account information in order to transact online. The interactive card resulted in a 700% increase in conversion rate.
An inherent benefit of digital mail production, and contributing to mail efficiency, is that you can print a mail campaign and utilize postal software upfront or work with a third party commingler, such as Pitney Bowes Presort Services for the best postage rate available. By commingling mailers see more of their mail qualify down to the 5 digit zip code, generating deeper postal discounts for some or all of their mail. If you are a marketer that is already utilizing direct mail in your marketing mix, look to your printer and creative vendor to see how or if they are presorting your mail to optimize efficiency and ROI.
For greater efficiency, companies are increasingly utilizing USPS incentives tied to the use of cutting-edge technology that drives response rates higher, including tactile, sensory, and interactive production elements. A 2% postage discount provides cost savings to the marketer while encouraging the use of highly effective techniques that improve engagement.
Marketers have also benefited from United States Postal Service annual promotions to “test” a variety of intrusive Marketing Mail tactics with substantial discounts. For example, the 2020 promotions included mail with tactile, sensory and interactive engagement, emerging and advanced technology, and mobile shopping.
Multi-channel marketers recognize the value of mail when it is personally relevant and when it breaks through the clutter. The availability of more data for targeting and personalization and intrusive production techniques – combined with postage savings from presorting mail – make mail a cost-effective method to produce Marketing outcomes.