Direct Mail Advertising In The Digital Marketing Era

direct mail advertising in the digital marketing era

Direct mail advertising is still a high performing marketing channel for marketers that have figured out a little secret.

What savvy marketers are learning is that direct mail can be easily added to existing marketing tech investments to give email and digital marketing a major boost.

Popular opinion tells us that the rise of digital marketing has made more traditional mediums like direct mail, radio, and television a less attractive option for modern marketers. 


They say that only newer digital strategies enable automated campaign management, precise targeting, detailed reporting and campaigns that are fully integrated with CRM, Marketing Automation and Ecommerce platforms.

The problem with that is that it is wrong.

Modern tech and ingenuity has created hundreds of relevant digital advertising platforms, and now, more recently, it has updated direct mail advertising in new and compelling ways. Today’s direct mail automation platforms look, act and feel just like email and digital marketing channels.

Beyond that, the shift in focus inside of most companies toward a more digital-centric approach has also made these channels less competitive. In direct mail, it’s easier to stand out today than it was ten years ago.

20+ Direct Mail Industry Statistics for 2019-2020 | Inkit

Companies that shift their focus entirely to digital are leaving money on the table and foregoing the critical direct mail advertising channel that could dramatically improve ROI. 

Using modern direct mail automation software, direct mail can and should play a role in their digital marketing campaigns, throughout the customer journey. 

Direct mail automation has made it possible for marketers to better track the ROI of their direct mail campaigns while integrating them with digital channels. 

In this article, we’ll look at the current landscape for direct mail advertising and examine why modern marketing organizations should be deploying automation to bolster their campaigns. 

Digital Marketers Shouldn’t Have A Cultural Bias Against Direct Mail

cultural bias against direct mail

It is important that marketers stop looking at direct mail as a traditional “media” channel. It is actually the first, and oldest, targeted direct response marketing channel. While often marketers lump it together with “print” marketing (like newspapers and magazines) or traditional marketing (like TV, radio, outdoor, etc), it is actually nothing like those channels at all.

When you think about it, direct mail advertising is most like email marketing. You are targeting specific people, at specific addresses, with (what should be) personalized ads. Unlike traditional media, you don’t buy “impressions”, and you know with certainty that the vast majority of highly targeted ads you send out will at least be looked at.

But sometimes the anti-traditional channel sentiment can be cultural in a company, and marketing ops managers will have to work to break those sentiments down. This is especially true in newer organizations who have less experience and success through channels like direct mail and radio advertising. But you can’t blame people from shying away from areas that they do not have experience in.

New Technology Can Quickly Change Perspectives On Older Channels

This feeling is often misplaced. They just don’t know what is possible with direct mail automation software. Once they see how direct mailers can seamlessly integrate into existing campaigns, while helping the company to add new critical data points to their systems, opinions tend to turn around. 

Marketing teams should be willing to explore any channel that can help them to improve their marketing systems and grow their ROI. Especially when we know how important an omnichannel approach is to modern marketing: 

Once a team decides to embrace direct mail, the benefits become clear. But getting to that point can be a challenge in some company cultures. 

Direct Mail Advertising Is A Key Part Of Omnichannel Marketing

direct mail advertising is a key part of omnichannel marketing

Modern direct mail automation allows marketers to ensure that their direct mail campaigns integrate directly with their digital and email campaigns.

In fact, direct mail automation software plugs directly into your CRM, Marketing Automation and Ecommerce platform. You can easily integrate with popular solutions such as HubSpot, Salesforce, ActiveCampaign, and Shopify among many others. Additionally, these platforms can be further extended to other platforms using solutions like Zapier and a full featured API.

Using tech such as personalized QR Codes and personalized URLs enables marketers to track who opens their website after receiving their mailer. Then, they can track additional options that the prospect takes. In that way, direct mail campaigns become part of the digital marketing ecosystem within the company.

With automation, direct mail campaigns can automatically go out to prospects at set intervals. Even better, the channel is appropriate for all stages of the customer journey. Whether you are raising awareness, nurturing current prospects, or sending direct sales materials to homes, direct mail offers the flexibility to send materials in all sizes, shapes, and formats.

Too often modern marketers think that direct mail advertising floats by itself,  disconnected from other campaigns. Traditionally, direct mail couldn’t be connected to digital, because it was an entirely offline process.

But cloud-based, fully automated processes changes everything. With a few simple integrations, direct mail automation software like Postalytics can plug directly into your existing software stack.

Direct mail advertising should be an augmentation to your current campaigns, and not necessarily a stand-alone channel.

Stand Out From the Competition With Direct Mail Advertising

customer acquisition costs

In decades past, the direct mail landscape looked surprisingly like the current digital marketing landscape. As more companies hopped on the direct-mail bandwagon, getting noticed over the competition became more difficult.

The phrase “junk mail” became popular when mailboxes were overflowing with direct mail advertising.

That is a lot like what digital marketing looks like today. It is more difficult and saturated than ever before, and it takes ingenuity to stand out. Just think of how many emails you either delete or ignore every day.

On top of being more crowded and harder for your message to stand out, digital channels have become far more expensive, as very large companies employ automated bidding strategies to own the best keywords.

As the advertising volume has shifted more from traditional channels towards digital channels, the competition has thinned out. In fact, in some industries, particularly more modern tech-heavy industries, marketing through direct mail is a somewhat uncommon occurrence. In those industries, you are competing against very few companies in your space.

However, even in industries where direct mail advertising is more common, standing out has never been easier. While your competition is shifting their focus toward digital channels, a more traditional approach can help to break the monotony of marketing materials that your prospects are receiving from customers.

Direct Mail Is A Full-Funnel Channel

Another common issue with how direct mail is perceived is that people too often see it as a channel only for direct response. You send out a mailer offering a specific deal to your audience and wait for the sales to come in. That’s the way that it was done in previous decades. But modern direct mail advertising is effective throughout the entire funnel. 

It can be used for top-of-the-funnel content. Educational documents. Brand-awareness building content. For customers that are problem-aware but are just beginning the process of evaluating the options that they have in front of them. 

It can also be used for middle-of-the-funnel content. Useful content. Offers to push them farther down the funnel. Surveys to learn more about them. 

And the bottom-of-the-funnel as well. Case studies. Product spec sheets. Webinars and product-focused demo invites. 

Direct mail is a well-rounded channel that can be used to deliver information, draw attention to other events and activities within your marketing ecosystem, and help you to connect with prospects in new, innovative ways. 

Automation Changes The Game

The missing piece for many marketers is that they don’t realize just how far marketing automation can take direct mail advertising. It completely changes the face of the medium and gives marketers more ways to use the channel, while testing out new approaches with their target audience. 

Let’s look at some of the ways that automation reshapes the way that marketers use direct mail to their advantage. 

Automatic Delivery (While Adhering to Best Practices)

Postalytics automatic delivery

One reason many marketers avoid direct mail advertising is that they think there will be a lot of work involved. There are different formats to learn. Specs for each format. Calculating cost requires that they acquire knowledge about the USPS that they don’t currently have. It can all be a bit overwhelming. They might imagine themselves staying after hours, stuffing envelopes to go out to their customers. 

But marketing automation platforms for direct mail like Postalytics make it simple to send direct mail campaigns. You simply select the size of your mailer, design it using their drag-and-drop designer tool, and Postalytics takes care of the rest. The campaign is put together and mailed out without any further time investment from your marketing team. 

With this completely off of your plate, you can focus on the content of the campaigns and improving them over time. With Postalytics, you’ll never have to worry about the finer details and instead can focus on how direct mail will work for your company. 

Send Complete Sequences, Not One-Off Campaigns

sequences not one off campaigns - Postalytics

Postalytics, when working with CRM and Marketing Automation platforms, allows you to send not just a single mailer automatically, but full sequences — just as you would through email. 

Using sequences, you can use direct mail as a channel for walking prospects through the buying process, sending mailers to them at every stage. Or, you could send a series of mailers that are designed to heavily influence a prospect at a specific stage. 

Further, direct mail can be integrated with existing campaigns. For example, imagine you are an eCommerce company. An “abandoned cart” email sequence is a common way to give customers a nudge to complete the purchase that they started. 

But what if you also sent them something through direct mail as well? Maybe a coupon code? That might get them to take the next step and finish what they started. 

Direct mail can augment existing sequences, act as its own insulated channel, or play a one-off role in a multi-channel sequence at all points in the customer journey. 

Accurate Tracking Of Delivery And Response

Postalytics home dashboard

The top direct mailers for years have been tapping into a little known program from the USPS called the Intelligent Mail Barcode or IMB. IMB’s enable tracking of direct mail advertising.

Direct mail automation tools are able to tap into the IMB program to enable marketers to better understand exactly where their mail is. They can even display the deliverability information on a dashboard, just like email marketing tools.

Response tracking can be collected via personalized QR codes and pURLs (Personalized URLs). These enable marketers to accurately track who engages with their direct mail campaign. 

A pURL is a unique URL printed on a piece of mail used to track the online response of direct mail campaigns. 

The internet is where most prospects begin interfacing with the brands that they want to work with. Fewer are picking up the phone to call, and fewer yet are filling out the old business reply cards that were so commonplace in previous decades. 

By giving the mail recipient a specific place to reply to an offer, you are controlling the content they view. It also has the upside of helping you to track their online activity, including engagement with your digital campaigns. Postalytics gives incredibly detailed data about how mail recipients respond online because we make it easy to include a pURL on every mailpiece.

Direct Integration with CRMs & Marketing Automation

Integration with CRM - Postalytics

In any modern company of any size, their customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation systems play a critical role in the success of their business. Your CRM system is often intertwined with your marketing automation system, with HubSpot being a shining example. 

But that direct integration makes direct mail campaigns viable for nearly any company. A direct mail integration ensures that customers that you interface with not only show up in your CRM but have their activities tracked. No more interactions floating outside of where you can track them. 

Integrate with Other, Automated Campaigns

With many modern CRM systems including marketing automation elements, direct mail automation systems like Postalytics fit right in with your existing tech stack. Your direct mailers can become part of your existing campaigns — connecting wholly disconnected aspects of your marketing strategy together into a more effective bundle. 

Now direct mail can fit in seamlessly with your existing automated sequences and campaigns. Imagine including online ads, email marketing, social media, and direct mail all into one cohesive campaign. That is exactly what modern direct mail automation delivers. 

A New Era, New Approaches

Digital marketing has changed the way that marketers plan and execute their campaigns. But more traditional channels like direct mail haven’t necessarily been left in the dust. They too have advanced with technology as well. 

With direct mail automation, marketing teams are freed up to try new approaches, develop new campaigns, and find innovative ways to stay in touch with their customers. 

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