In this episode of “The Commerce Marketer,” we’re joined by Dennis Kelly, CEO of the direct mail automation company Postalytics to discuss how to augment digital marketing channels with direct mail. Dennis explains how direct mail has evolved and why its usage is on the rise, as well as how marketers can begin experimenting with direct mail.
But first, Kelly shares his direct mail pet peeve: Marketers who haven’t tested direct mail but insist it won’t work.
“We see marketers who all call themselves data-driven, but then say people just throw away direct mail because that’s what they do,” Kelly said. “The most recent data shows that 42% of consumers read or scan it.”
Kelly feels that belief comes from bad experiences with traditional, batch-and-blast direct mail devoid of personalization. Kelly compared the new direct mail technology to modern email marketing software. Integration with CRMs and marketing platforms allows for data-backed personalization and smooth content creation tools.
“Now you can do small-batch, integrated drip campaigns, and you can bang those out in minutes,” said Kelly. “We’re seeing tons of new opportunities in the up-sell, cross-sell, post-sale, loyalty, win-back… those types of campaigns are really becoming possible for the first time.”
Direct mail response rates also benefit from the vacuum left by marketers have flocking to digital media en masse. The volume of mail has dropped, and consequently each piece of direct mail gets more attention from readers. From 2010 to 2016, direct mail volume decreased by about 25% — the response rate doubled.
Meanwhile, the cost of customer acquisition through digital channels has continually risen.
“SEO, everyone’s following the same playbook. SEM, people are bidding up the same keywords,” Kelly said. “The relative cost of sending a mail piece out has dropped, because the relative cost of sending out a piece hasn’t kept up with the increase in cost for certain digital channels.”
Cost-per-piece was prohibitively high for small batches of printing, because there was a large cost associated with setting up the printing. But today’s direct mail automation tools allow marketers to send one piece — or 100,000 pieces — for a flat, per-piece rate.
Kelly advises layering direct mail in with existing email campaigns it the way to go, essentially swapping direct mail for emails when engagement rates are low. If you have to pick one place to start, he suggests mixing direct mail into a lapsed purchaser campaign.
“More and more of our experiences are now virtual, where there is no physical contact, those that you do have become more valuable and stand out more,” Kelly said.
“When great marketing is applied to a channel that is underserved and underutilized, then you can see some really good results.”