Everywhere we turn today, it seems that technology has changed generations-old practices.
One obvious evolution has been the onset of “on demand”. Many things that used to take weeks of preparation and planning are now possible to do almost instantly as services are available via cloud-based software. The rise of these new cloud-based services enables individuals or small teams to execute on complex workflows without needing to coordinate or project manage multiple vendors. In the marketing world, businesses are migrating older channels to the cloud, including direct mail on-demand services.
Need to travel somewhere across town? Don’t go looking for a map or (shudder) ask for directions — just fire up the GPS app in your car or on your phone. Don’t have a vehicle to get there? That’s not a problem anymore either. Private cars or rides are available on-demand through ridesharing or car-sharing services. Taking a longer trip or a vacation? People used to pour over guidebooks or engage a travel agent to make reservations and then wait for the tickets to arrive. No one does that anymore. Online shoppers who used to be satisfied with orders that took a week or two to arrive now expect options for next day or even same-day deliveries of everything from groceries to electronics.
We have become accustomed to getting things when we want them, and technology has enabled us to do so. Another area that used to take lots of advance planning was direct mail marketing.
Technology has changed that game as well.
Direct Mail the Old Way
It wasn’t so long ago that a business seeking to promote their products or services through the mail needed to manage a long, multi-step process. Individual steps involved a wide range of resources that included graphic artists, print service providers, list brokers, and more. Each part of the project required interacting with a different entity.
Marketers had to deal with processes involving data manipulation, graphics, design, pre-press operations, paper specifications, color management, address quality, and mailing regulations. Many of these areas required the work of experts and technicians. Direct mail projects progressed slowly from one process to the next. It wasn’t unusual for marketers to begin working on a direct mail campaign months before it was scheduled to be mailed.
Today, you can design, configure, order, and execute a direct mail campaign in the time it takes to eat lunch. You can even do this while you’re eating lunch!
Today’s Direct Mail On-Demand Approach
Postalytics has made it possible for anyone to print and send direct mail whenever they want, using cloud services that enable marketers to accomplish this task from anywhere.
We’ve also eliminated the restrictive volume requirements. No longer will our customers have to purchase thousands of postcards or envelopes to drive the per-piece cost down to an acceptable level.
Another benefit of Postalytics’ direct mail on demand is address correction and move-update processing. We automatically process your addresses to ensure they meet all US Postal Service standards for address accuracy. We update the addresses of people and businesses who have moved, so your mail makes it to them on time. In the past, marketers working with a local print shop were responsible for the accuracy of their address lists. Not being mailing experts themselves, many marketers executed direct mail campaigns with uncleansed data. These efforts resulted in a high volume of undeliverable mail and a poor return on investment.
Marketers can even send direct mail triggered by events recorded in a CRM system. When you connect Postalytics to your CRM, you can generate single pieces of mail based on dates such as warranty expiration, purchase anniversary, or policy termination.
You might have Postalytics send postal mail when a customer or prospect takes certain actions noted in your CRM, such as abandoning a shopping cart or downloading a white paper from your website.
All the Features Marketers Need
Personalizing mailpieces for direct mail campaigns used to be out of the marketer’s control.
Printing companies usually handled this task by merging a marketer-supplied data file with a document template. This took time and added cost to direct mail projects. Marketers couldn’t do the deep personalization that helps companies connect with individual customers and prospects.
Fortunately, cloud-based direct mail on demand removes those limitations. Postalytics offers several ways to personalize the contents of your direct mail pieces using data from your CRM or mailing list. Besides simply inserting variables from the data file, you can control the text, graphics, offers, or other aspects of a mail piece to achieve true one-to-one communication with each customer or prospect.
Comprehensive, cloud-based direct mail software allows marketers to design their own direct mail pieces using pre-designed templates. Though you can still use graphic artists for creative design, it’s not required.
When your customer communication strategy includes both electronic and physical elements, connect them with printed QR codes or personal URLs. Marketers find it much easier to get a customer’s attention through direct mail than with digital communications. Many marketers use QR codes or pURLs built into Postalytics to connect mailpieces to websites where customers can register for events, seek additional information, or place orders.
“Print on demand” isn’t new. Many print service providers advertise about their print-on-demand capabilities. Most use an online storefront interface called web to print that allows customers to view options and place orders. Rarely does this service include addressing, postage, and mailing. Marketers are forced to handle the mailing portion of their campaigns themselves. Without a complete service offering like Postalytics, classic print on demand is only part of the solution.
Print-on-demand service providers do not track individual mailpieces as they travel from sender to recipient. This leaves marketers guessing about when their promotional mail will arrive in the homes of their target audience. Postalytics leverages the power of the USPS Informed Visibility system to monitor the progress of mailed campaigns. Our customers know when the mail will begin generating responses and they can allocate resources accordingly to handle a surge in activity.
Direct mail on demand allows you to respond quickly to opportunities in the marketplace, actions by competitors, or breaking news. You can get your message in front of your target audience in just a few days, without the interference of spam filters, social media algorithms, or other barriers that make digital communications so inefficient.
As Easy as Email
Marketers with no direct mail experience find Postalytics a friendly and easy way to put mail to work for them. If you can set up an email campaign, you can run a direct mail promotion on Postalytics. The workflow and the interfaces are familiar, and we take care of the behind-the-scenes work for you. Pre-designed templates for letters and postcards make it easy to design your materials. You can be confident your mailpieces will print correctly and follow all the US Postal Service rules for the mail.
We will track your project so you can measure the effectiveness of your campaigns or compare the performance of multiple designs or offers.
Companies flocked to email partly because it was an on-demand sort of activity they could handle without relying on outside resources. With our direct mail automation software, you can send postal mail in much the same way and enjoy far less competition for your messages.
For an in-depth discussion of automated direct mail, see this article on what is automated direct mail.
If you’ve avoided adding direct mail to your marketing campaigns because it was too difficult or took too long, it is time to become acquainted with how mail has changed. With the right all-in-one platform, marketers can design a direct mail campaign on Monday and have their messages reach their customers by the end of the week. On-demand direct mail exists.