Profiting From Triggered Direct Mail Automation

Automation eliminates complexity to maximize response and ROI

profiting from triggered direct mail automation

You know that old adage – be careful what you wish for because those wishes may actually come true. Marketers focused on connecting with leads in a cost-efficient way are learning that triggered direct mail can deliver on those wishes.

I’m reminded of that wisdom when I think about how just a few short years ago visionary marketers knew that had to learn more about their customers and prospects – especially direct marketers who understood the enormous potential impact of a relevant piece of direct mail delivered directly to just the right person at the right time. Advertising legend David Ogilvy even called direct mail his “secret weapon.”

That required access to data – the more of it, the better.

But today we’re drowning in data. With the power to track every single online interaction on multiple web pages every day and clicks on email links, we sure have plenty of data. That’s useful for managing automated online marketing, but for direct mail, customizing responses to virtually limitless possibilities seems close to impossible.

Sure, it would be great to send out direct mail based on a wide variety of different types of triggering events, but no human could possibly manually manage those campaigns. And because these specific triggers may only require a few pieces of mail to be sent in a day or week, high fixed costs for printing would be so enormous that any notion of making a profit would be impossible.

But that’s all changed. Thanks to a sophisticated automated technology platform that creates and mails specific communications as needed based on rules and templates defined in advance, using Postalytics to set up a triggered direct mail campaign integrated with your online marketing is almost as easy sending emails. And because we take advantage of imaging solutions that require no print setup, you can send one or two pieces of direct mail for almost the same cost per piece as sending thousands of mailers at once.

Triggered direct mail campaigns put your data to work

data is used to target direct mail recipients

Best-in-class marketing teams have smartly invested in automation systems that make it possible to generate automated messages that leverage promotional opportunities quickly and easily – with little human involvement outside of the setup. That’s the power of marketing automation.

While most marketing executives see the potential to add direct mail to their marketing mix, print media has not traditionally been as easy to manage as online campaigns. If fact, it’s pretty painful when done the old fashioned way (Check out How Does The Direct Mail Process Work?).

That’s a shame because while online marketing may be fairly inexpensive, it’s a very crowded and noisy environment — making it hard to stand out with same impact that a piece of direct mail offers.

After all, a prospect or customer may not visit your website for any number of reasons, but how many people don’t check their mailbox six days each week? Opening the mail is a daily ritual for most people. Taking advantage of our automated platform that integrates with tools such as HubSpot, Salesforce, and many others, it’s easy to create direct mail programs that use triggered events as a basis for delivering relevant messages at the right time.

By combining your digital marketing with direct mail you can more easily:

  • Reach the right people as they identify themselves as likely prospects for specific products and services
  • Reach that audience with the right message because a specific trigger accurately defines what that message should be
  • Reach your audience at the right time because prospects have identified themselves based on a specific trigger.

But you may wonder – just what is a “trigger”? More importantly, how do you determine which ones work best for direct mail?

Two types of triggers: Behavioral and demographic

Triggers represent events – which may be based on a specific behavior or action someone takes or a change in demographic status. Let me explain each type:

Behavioral triggers: Marketing based on specific actions

behavior triggers send mail when certain actions occur

You can see examples of behavioral triggers in most online marketing strategies. You probably already leverage triggers because this term is just a fancy way of describing that someone has done something – taken some action.

Someone clicks a link in your email. Someone visits a specific page on your site. Someone may visit your site and then leave, or perhaps visit another page to learn more. Someone may leave your site and then return in a few days. Someone may start shopping and then abandon their cart. Someone may complete a form on your web page in response to an offer that can reveal more specific purchase intent or interest.

In the offline world, making a purchase is a trigger. Another trigger may be applying for a credit card, speaking with a sales rep in a B2B environment, shopping for a car, and more.

If you sell cars, you know that it’s far better to follow up with prospects who visited your showroom than call random people. Shopping for a car may indicate interest for other products or services – roadside assistance plans, auto insurance, and more.

The type of vehicle someone shops for or buys can also reveal relevant information. A young couple that trades in a smaller car for an SUV may be expecting their family to grow. An older person buying an expensive sports car may have just come into some money.

In the B2B realm, behaviors can create opportunities to identify leads for new technology solutions, reveal companies that are adding to their fleet of vehicles, need specific consulting services, and more. Asking for information can be a behavioral trigger that offers an opportunity to sell your own products and services – especially if a new person moves into a role at a company, perhaps a new CFO, CMO, or any other executive.

I’ll explain with a few examples how you can use behavioral triggers to create customized direct mail programs, but first let me define what a demographic trigger means.

Demographic triggers: Marketing based on a changing population

getting older is a demographic trigger for sending direct mail

While a behavioral trigger represents an action a person has taken, a demographic trigger is based on how someone’s status in the population changes. One simple example is getting older – turning 30, 40, 50, or moving into any older age bracket. Someone may get married, then then become single again, or perhaps remarry. The birth of a first child, then perhaps more children changes demographic status. Financial attributes such as earning more money or a change in your credit score are other examples of demographic triggers.

Some resemble behavioral triggers in that they’re based on behavior – getting married, for example, but others are involuntary. We can’t avoid aging and we really don’t specifically control our own credit scores.

These triggers are relatively easy to identify, not because a prospect does something but based on a wide range of data that’s available. Plenty of organizations offer access to data on people and their demographic status that you can use in your marketing programs.

If you can identify demographic triggers that represent marketing opportunities, you can use them to send direct mail with messaging that focuses on specific needs.

How it works: Creating automated triggered direct mail campaigns

precise triggers make for great marketing

Precise triggers may be good marketing opportunities – especially for online programs where costs aren’t based on printing. But it’s nearly impossible to manage large print runs if you don’t know in advance when these opportunities will be triggered and how many you can take advantage of on a per-day or per-week basis.

As I mentioned, until recently, sending a few dozen pieces of targeted direct mail was too costly and far too cumbersome to manage But thanks to platforms like Postalytics, you can leverage technology that makes it possible to send even a handful of mailings almost as inexpensively as sending thousands.

Even better, you can automate the process using your own data or data from outside resources – sending mailings as needed, when needed. You can even create customized templates that key in on specific messages and images with no need to hire a designer or print production specialist to manage your campaign.

Here are a few ways you can use triggered direct mail campaigns and set up automated programs to take full advantage of powerful marketing strategies.

Cut your sales costs by 50% or more!

cut sales costs

This first example shows how a marketer at a life insurance brokerage might leverage behavioral triggers.

Like many modern marketers, you’d use various tactics to attract visitors to your website and an offer to encourage prospects to complete a lead form. That behavior is a trigger, of course, because someone did something and of course you’ll follow up with a phone call and a series of emails.

But you could also use that trigger to automatically send a mailing to that prospect. Even if you send one per day, with Postalytics that one mailer doesn’t cost much – perhaps $1 or less. That’s a very inexpensive way to augment email marketing with a tangible letter that your lead can hold onto and even review later.

You can add even more behavioral triggers. If someone visits your site, completes a form, leaves your site, and returns within a few days, you could send another piece of mail because that indicates more significant purchase intent.

Even better, you can set up customized templates that uses various messages and imagery targeted specifically on what you learned about that prospect. Someone who is younger and just starting a family, for example, might get a piece of mail focusing benefits of insurance from that perspective. An older couple might get a mailing that focuses more on how aging can make insurance more expensive so that it’s best to lock in coverage sooner rather than later.

You can even personalize these messages. Our powerful templating tools make it easy to add areas that contain personalized text and customized content to create more interest and response.

Here’s how those two different mailings might look:

Note the data-driven images and copy that directly target different demographics.

By using behavioral triggers like this, you could dramatically boost your ROI. Let’s assume that you already use direct mail – sent in large batches with more generalized messaging. Perhaps your response rate for a more information offer averages 1%. If your mailing costs $1 each, you’d be spending $100 to get a lead.

But what if your mailing was far more personalized based on triggered behaviors? That could easily boost your response rate to 1.5% or more.

Here’s how that compares based on 1,000 pieces mailed:

 General mailing to wide audiencePersonalized mailing based on triggers
Mailing quantity1,000   1,000   
Cost (at $1 per mailer)$1000  $1000  
Response rate1%1.5%
Responses      1015
Cost per lead  $100    $66.67

That reduces your cost per lead by 33% — but it gets even better. If the triggers that you use give you essential data that helps you close more sales, you can improve your conversion rate. Let’s assume that you now convert 30% of your leads to sales. Knowing a lot more about your prospect before you call could easily double your conversion rate to 60%. Take a look at how this can improve your ROI:

 General mailing to wide audiencePersonalized mailing based on triggers
Mailing quantity1,000   1,000   
Cost (at $1 per mailer)$1000  $1000  
Response rate1%1.5%
Responses      1015
Cost per lead  $100    $66.67
Conversion rate30%60%
Cost per sale$334$112

Now you’ve slashed your cost per sale by 66%! That’s certainly a boost to your bottom line.

Selling to businesses with more targeted communications

behavioral triggers mail for businesses also

You can also use behavioral triggers when selling to businesses. Just keep in mind that behaviors aren’t something a business does, but the behavior of someone who has a specific role in that business.

If you sell technology solutions — for example, a subscription-based accounting platform — the change to a new CFO may mean that person begins searching for a new solution that the former CFO did not consider. New executives can be a great lead source if you know that there’s been a change in who’s in charge. Once again, there’s no need to manually track these activities so you can take action. Postalytics automates this entire process so you can focus on selling, not managing mailings.

As in the previous example, if you can use this information to send more targeted promotions, you could make your marketing budget work harder.

For example, if your marketing automation tool is tracking that new CFO for website visits, you can trigger a personalized postcard to go out the moment that CFO starts his research.

Maybe that CFO visits a page where you compare your platform with that of a competitor. Messaging in your mailings can be customized to these specific attributes and if you get another visit to your website, you can trigger even more mailings.

Lower funnel and post-sale B2B triggered mail

Direct mail has traditionally been deployed as a part of customer acquisition campaigns. Automated triggered mail now enables marketers to use direct mail to enhance lower funnel and post-sale workflows.

Post-sale direct mail can help you maximize the lifetime value of a customer. You may have someone try out your subscription platform at a low initial price. If you do, post-sale mailings – say 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days after the initial sale – can help you keep customers you might otherwise lose.

Consider this example. Assume that it costs you $200 each to generate 100 initial sales and that you can currently count on 50% on those sales for at least 12 months. If you can hold onto 75% or your customers instead that sequence of direct mail can really make a difference as you can see here.

 No direct mail follow upDirect mail campaign after initial trial
New customers100      100
Initial sales cost (at $200 per sale)$20,000$20,000
Cost per sale$200$200
Retention rate50%75%
Value of each retained customer$1200$1200
Direct mail cost (at $1 each for three mailings)$0$300
Number of retained customers5075
Revenue ($100 per month for 12 months per customer)$60,000$90,000
Profit after all sales costs$40,000$69.700

Even after accounting for a few hundred dollars sending out automated mailings, you’ve boosted ongoing revenue by almost 75% — not bad considering it takes hardly any effort to automate the mailings you send.

As the population changes, new triggered mail opportunities abound

new home purchase trigger

Finally, let’s look at an example that uses demographic triggers as people enter new population categories. Using the example of the life insurance broker I set out above, leads can come from those who have never visited your website if you can take advantage of data resources that tell you when specific life milestones are reached.

A life insurance broker could use changes in age – for example, sending mailings to people who’ have just turned 40 or automatically send mailings to those who have purchased a new home, recently had a child, or perhaps have had a positive change to their credit score (indicating more wealth to protect).

Although there may be only a few prospects that warrant a customized mailing in any specific week or month, you can still use direct mail affordably through Postalytics.

Wishes do come true!

Precise data-driven marketing has always been the dream of direct mail marketers, but high minimums for producing and printing direct mail were just too costly to make triggered direct mail programs work.

As I mentioned, David Ogilvy considered direct mail his “secret weapon” because he knew the power of targeted communications sent to the right people at the right time.

Automation makes direct mail more powerful and impactful than ever – so start taking advantage of triggered direct mail opportunities today.