“There are so many direct mail marketing companies! How can I find the right fit for us?”
With consumer trust in direct mail ranking very high in recent surveys, finding the right direct mail marketing company to partner with is an important choice.
But choosing the right company can be tough. There are hundreds of print and mail services for businesses that, to the untrained eye, appear to be very similar.
As they say — the devil is in the details.
After a few campaigns, you’ll have invested a lot of time and money before you find out that they may not be the right fit.
Traditional vs. Modern Direct Mail Marketing Companies
To start, there’s a big difference between software based direct mail marketing companies and traditional printer/mailers and direct mail services agencies.
Direct mail automation software companies have built systems built for marketers to manage their own direct mail campaigns, without the need for extensive direct mailing services to hold their hands. If marketers can send email, they can use these systems.
Traditional printer/mailers and direct mail marketing agencies have people handling more of the tasks required to create a campaign. Each campaign is a bespoke effort, with collaboration, meetings, calls, emails & other more labor intensive workflows.
The first question to ask yourself? Which type of company is a better fit? Do you and your team like to move quickly & get things done? Or do you like to have your hand held & prefer a more high touch process?
It’s important that you get organized and keep your team updated while you’re evaluating direct mail marketing companies. Luckily, there are some basic steps that you can take and things that you should look for to ensure that you are spending your money and time with the right partner.
Here’s a free checklist to help you get organized.
Start with a Conversation
You can learn a lot from a conversation, and it is important to figure out how a particular direct mail solution will fit with your current processes. Hopping on the website chat or the phone for a quick call can help you to filter out companies that won’t be a good fit, ease concerns that you have about a particular solution, and give you the chance to ask questions and get a feel for the support that a specific company would provide.
There are some specific questions that any company should ask on an initial consultation call to get an idea of whether a solution will be a good fit for their business:
- How much would it cost to send the average campaign that you typically send out?
- Do they provide any resources for designing the campaigns?
- Do they have an easy way to personalize your campaigns?
- Will the software connect to customer relationship management or other marketing software solutions?
- What kind of advanced automation features do they offer?
- How do they handle support? By phone? Email? A support ticket system through the website?
Your initial conversations set the stage for how the engagement will go. An honest, attentive interaction where the provider shows interest in your company and needs is much more likely to lead to a positive outcome.
A Proven Track Record of Success for Customers
Ultimately you want to work with a direct mail company that is going to deliver measurable results. That is the point of running direct mail campaigns. If they can help you to improve your ROI and bring in new customers, they should be able to prove that by providing you with case studies, testimonials, and references from other companies that they have worked with.
A track record is important.
If they can’t prove that they have been able to deliver measurable results to other companies, how can you have confidence that they will be able to do the same for yours? This proof provides peace of mind and insight and should play a critical role in any decision that you make.
Direct Mail Integration with CRM and Marketing Automation Tools
These tools act as central repositories for search engine optimization, pay per click, social media, and data from other channels are (or at least should be) all connected to central analytics and relationship management hubs. It wouldn’t make much sense to have your entire marketing operation centralized in that way, and leave your direct mail campaigns sitting out on their own island.
The best direct mail marketing companies connect direct mail to these CRM and Marketing Automation platforms.
Make sure that as you filter down your list of direct mail marketing companies that you actively look for companies that provide integration with the platforms that you are already using. It wouldn’t make sense to switch to a new platform, but plugging into an existing system is a huge benefit of modern software-based systems.
Remember — the leads and prospects that come to your business through direct mail campaigns are likely to start engaging with your company digitally (through your website, email, or social media) and it is absolutely critical that you are able to track these prospects efficiently, or else you will never know how successful your direct mail campaigns truly are. If they provide their own in-depth analytics solution, all the better!
Make Personalization a Priority
Personalization is critical to the success of your direct mail campaigns. Variable Data Printing has been around for a long time. There’s no reason not to use it.
Customers love to know that the mail that they receive is meant for them, individually, and not part of some mass mail campaign (even when it is).
It’s critical that you have a viable way to personalize the campaigns that you send. To see just how critical, take a look at some of these stats that show how important personalization is to consumers:
- 79% of consumers say that they are more likely to engage with an offer when it has been personalized to reflect their previous interactions with a brand.
- By 2020, more than half of consumers will expect that companies anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they make contact.
- 88% of U.S.-based marketers have reported seeing measurable improvements due to personalization. More than half of those reported a lift of more than 10%.
- A lack of relevance in content generates 83% lower response rates in the average marketing campaign.
At a minimum, make sure your direct mail marketing companies are able to insert data from your lists, CRM and other sources into your creative (think of email merge tags), as well as print dynamic content such as variable images and text to different segments of your audience.
Modern direct mail solutions should come with personalization baked-in. You need to be able to address customers by name, use data that you have collected in creative ways, and use the actions that they take to inform future campaigns.
A Checklist Can Help Evaluate Direct Mail Marketing Companies
Complex decisions require organization.
A checklist can be a great tool. We put together this free checklist for evaluating direct mail marketing companies for you to download.
Feel free to use it as is, or as a basis for your own checklist!