Type “direct mail” into a search engine and you’ll see paid ads and organic listings from dozens of direct mail services. They all kind of look and act the same. You’ll see what are mostly small businesses that have print and mail equipment and experienced people for hire. They’ll follow the same practices that have been in place for years, and will do a good job for their clients.
We recently did a deep-dive into several leading traditional direct mail services. We did this to determine where we had a competitive edge and where we needed to improve in order to keep up with an industry that has been rapidly evolving.
It Can Look Overwhelming
In a crowded market of dozens, or hundreds of traditional direct mail services providers, where do you start the comparison? It is easy to throw up a good looking website and claim to help companies to design and deliver direct mail campaigns. To the untrained eye, it can seem like there are few differences between the options in front of you.
But There Are Big Differences
But when you dig a bit deeper, you’ll quickly find that there is a big gap between the traditional direct mail services and more modern direct mail automation tools. While both can ensure you send a professional direct mail campaign, the workflow, processes and technology used are very different.
You Needs Lots Of People…
The results? There’s lots of ways to send an effective direct mail campaign. The traditional mailers that we reviewed can do a great job if you’d like a group of people to handle the whole campaign for you. They’ve got salespeople, project managers, pre-press operators and other experts to manage the the files, calls, meetings, emails and other back and forth required to send mail out the traditional way.
…Or Some Great Software
If you’d like to use direct mail more like email or other digital channels, with simple software interfaces, integration with CRM/Marketing Automation, triggered mailers, tracking and more, Postalytics is the clear choice.
Direct Mail Services Comparison Breakdown
Let’s start by taking a look at this quick direct mail services comparison comparison chart that we put together, comparing Postalytics to some of the widely available traditional direct mail services:
Direct Mail Services Comparison
As you can see, Postalytics is really a software solution that looks, acts and feels more like a digital marketing channel that happens to print and mail. The other players have a few digital features, but are primarily service providers that can outsource a traditional direct mail campaign for you. They all do a great job, they’re just very different services designed for a very different audience.
Let’s take a look at some of the specific features that distinguish an automated direct mail service like Postalytics from traditional print and mail services.
Online Production and Workflow vs. Email, Call & FTP
Some brands prefer a high touch workflow with calls, meetings, emails & manual processes. Others prefer a software only production environment. We found they style and steps of the production workflow to be a massive distinction between the traditional print/mailers and Postalytics.
Of the direct mail services we compared, Postalytics is the only solution that offers full online production and workflow. We allow our customers to handle production directly in our software, making it easy to keep track of where campaigns are in the production process and improve time-to-send speeds. Additionally, our software makes it easy for your teams to collaborate and get new campaigns delivered quickly.
The traditional services all include some form of speaking with a salesperson/customer service rep, setting up calls & meetings, emailing of images, lists & other assets, and other traditional workflow methods.
CRM & Marketing Automation Integrations
Traditional direct mail became a major marketing channel well before the proliferation of CRM and Marketing Automation tools. As a result, most traditional direct mailers have built their processes in ways that don’t incorporate them. None of the traditional direct mail services we reviewed offer it.
At Postalytics, we have made CRM/MA integrations a centerpiece of our offering. Our integrations ease the process of pulling in lists and contacts, monitoring and tracking campaigns, and connecting your campaign results to other channels. Most clients start by combining direct mail with email in easy to use workflows.
Here’s just a few of the many platforms that Postalytics integrates with either directly or via the Zapier marketplace:
Workflow Drip Mailers…One Mailpiece At A Time
Workflow drip mailers are a completely new category of direct mail campaign. These require integration with a CRM or Marketing Automation tool to “drip” contact and personalization information to a mailing system, a single piece of mail at a time.
Since none of the traditional direct mail services offer CRM/Marketing Automation integration, they don’t offer workflow drip mailers. Additionally, traditional printers never want to print just a single mailpiece. Because of the manual efforts necessary to create a campaign, it just doesn’t make financial sense for them.
Postalytics offers a workflow mailer we call “Triggered Drip” direct mail campaigns. These campaigns “listen” for triggers from your CRM or marketing automation integrations and use those triggers to send out automated postcards on a piece-by-piece basis. This allows you to connect direct mail campaigns to specific actions that your audience takes, such as opening an email, filling out a contact form, or interacting with your content.
Once a triggered direct mail campaign has been set up, it runs automatically with no need for manual intervention, making it the perfect choice for companies that want to add a new contextual channel to ongoing email oriented drip marketing campaigns.
Dashboards & Analytics…What Happens After You Send
A vital feature for any modern direct mail solution is offering detailed analytics, and that is another area where Postalytics separates itself from the competition. By leveraging the data that is generated through our integration with the USPS Intelligent Mail Barcode system and our personalized URLs, Postalytics delivers detailed statistics for:
- Delivery Data – such as pieces delivered, returned or forwarded
- Response data – such as targets that respond online, pages & conversions
Having detailed dashboards that provide easy access to your most important analytics is critical for improving and optimizing campaigns over time, and learning more about your audience. Being able to understand how the materials you send are connecting with prospects and the actions it leads them to take is critical for running better campaigns.
While most traditional direct mail services do offer analytics in some form, few reach the level of detail that is offered in our system. Being able to see the exact delivery and response status of each piece of mail that is sent, along with campaign rollup information, in real time, is unique to Postalytics.
The Direct Mail API
Our Direct Mail API (Application Programming Interface) is a part of what makes our software the most powerful & sophisticated direct mail automation tool on the market today. The API is open, documented and is able to connect to virtually any REST based marketing or sales software API out there.
Some of the unique features of the Direct Mail API include:
- Postcard and letter creation, sending, delivery and response tracking
- Express Windows – a way to embed UI intensive direct mail components into an app
- Fully branded master account/sub-accounts with direct mail margins and payouts
Beyond that, our API allows for connections to a range of other functionalities including accounts, contacts, templates, and campaigns. This makes Postalytics the perfect solution for teams that have developed their own in-house marketing tools and want to leverage Postalytics within their currently existing ecosystem.
Cloud Based Software vs. Old School Batch & Blast
We take a lot of pride in making Postalytics the most valuable direct mail automation solution on the market. Between our built-in workflow management, range of integrations, and high-powered API — we make it easy for companies to leverage our deep feature set in the way that delivers the most value for their organization. While the companies that we’ve compared ourselves with are all reputable, high quality firms, at the end of the day they’re traditional printer/mailers. We’re betting that cloud based software can disrupt and transform this older form of marketing and help it thrive in the digital marketing era.
If you’d like to see how Postalytics can help your company leverage direct mail in a new, smart way: