Programmatic Direct Mail Marketing? It’s Not The Oxymoron That You Think It Is

programmatic direct mail marketing

If you’re a typical marketer, you’re always looking for an edge to improve your lead generation, nurturing, retargeting, bottom of the funnel and retention campaigns. More and more savvy marketers are deploying an old-school channel combined with a modern twist to bolster their email and digital efforts. This new approach is called “programmatic direct mail marketing.”

The use of the word “programmatic” and the phrase “direct mail marketing” together might sound odd, as it sounds like a mash-up of new technology and a marketing channel that peaked years ago.

But that’s exactly what it is. Programmatic direct mail marketing leverages the investments marketers have made into the marketing tech stacks with new cloud based software designed to designed to alleviate the pain points of traditional direct mail.

The idea has been on the wish list of digital marketers for years, and for good reason — programmatic direct mail effectively brings direct mail marketing into the modern world.

Until recently, true programmatic direct mail was just flat out of the reach of many organizations. You needed true development talent dedicated to the task of putting the system together.

While some teams have developers who can hand code HTML creative templates and write JSON webhooks all day long, most marketing teams need software tools to simplify the process. Otherwise, creating a programmatic direct mail system that is connected with your existing platforms might cost a company tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. For many marketers, this is just too expensive of an endeavor to take on.

But now, the technology tectonic plates have shifted, and modern marketing automation software has made it possible for non-technical teams to inject direct mail marketing directly into their existing email and digital marketing campaigns.

Programmatic direct mail makes the channel a fluid part of your overarching strategy, and not a standalone direct response channel in the way that so many companies have traditionally used it.

What is Programmatic Direct Mail Marketing?

Programmatic direct mail marketing describes the blending of digital and traditional direct mail through true automation. Depending on the level of sophistication of your system, programmatic direct mail may only include parts or all of the process of launching a campaign.

Using programmatic direct mail marketing, companies can leverage both online and offline data in a way that delivers better experiences to prospects and customers, while improving the return on ad spend (ROAS) for the company employing it.

Injecting direct mail into your existing marketing strategies is just smart decision-making. It may be a traditional platform, but the winds are blowing in favor of more tangible advertising channels.

The average intended household response rate for First-Class mail is 13% and while Standard mail is 11%. The response rate for direct mail among people ages 18-21 years old is 12.4%.

When the Internet was first launched, the prospect of receiving an email was new and exciting. However, receiving printed marketing collateral in the mail was mundane and typical. It didn’t stir new emotions.

Now, more than twenty-five years later, the opposite is true. Receiving an email is old and mundane, and receiving a personalized piece of direct mail that is addressed just to you can feel exciting. Better yet, new data tells us that consumers trust direct mail far more than digital channels when it comes to making a purchase decision.

Modern programmatic direct mail marketing brings the same level of automation that you would expect from your digital campaigns to the physical mailbox. Adding a new channel, or expanding your use of it, allows you to deepen your connection with existing customers and make better connections with prospects.

Differences Between Programmatic Direct Mail Marketing and Traditional Direct Mail

Programmatic direct mail vs traditional direct mail

Programmatic direct mail marketing automates most of the processes associated with traditional direct mail campaigns. This can include but is not limited to building the list of recipients, designing the mailer, printing the mailer, and sending it.

With programmatic direct mail marketing, you can integrate your direct mail campaigns with other marketing activities.

So for instance, you could set up a triggered direct mail campaign that will run after an email marketing sequence ends. Let’s say an abandoned cart sequence for an eCommerce company. You know — the emails that you receive after you have added an item to your cart and then failed to complete the purchase.

It might look like this with programmatic direct mail:

  • Abandoned Cart Email #1 (+1 Day)
  • Abandoned Cart Reminder (+3 Days)
  • Direct Mail #1 (+1 Week)

Adding a direct mail step to a campaign like this will not only help to grab the attention of a customer that may be more likely to ignore emails, but it also puts you in a position to improve your ROAS as well.

The simple truth is that traditional direct mail just does not have the scale required for many companies to adopt it. But with large swaths of the process of sending direct mail automated and more ways for companies to creatively use the channel, it starts to make a whole lot of sense.

Direct Mail Automation Brings Programmatic Direct Mail Marketing To Companies Of All Sizes

Direct mail has benefited from the growth of the B2B software industry, opening up the channel to make it viable for companies of all sizes.

The B2B SaaS (software as a service) industry has grown rapidly in the last decade, with solutions sprouting up for every channel and in even the most niche markets:

saas industry growth - programmatic direct mail


In previous years, companies would have had to invest in developing their solutions for programmatic direct mail marketing campaigns.

Today, there are numerous options to automate your direct mail, including Postalytics.

Modern direct mail automation platforms deliver features that far surpass the experience of working with full-service direct mail vendors from previous decades. Even today, many companies still lean on these outdated vendor relationships and have yet to make the jump into more modern solutions. If these companies can be successful using “old school” methods, imagine what is possible with modern automation.

Some of the different features that you can expect when using a direct mail automation platform include:

Integrations With CRMs & Marketing Automation Software

This is the real beauty of programmatic direct mail. Yes, most direct mail automation platforms allow you to automate portions of your direct mail workflow. That is powerful enough on its own.

But imagine how powerful it would be if you could plug direct mail into your existing digital campaigns. That is exactly what platforms like Postalytics bring to the table by integrating directly with HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, Salesforce, and other top marketing and sales automation platforms and CRMs. You can even use platforms like Zapier to connect to Postalytics, or tap into the powerful direct mail API.

With those integrations in place, you can take your existing campaigns, you can add a new touchpoint to campaigns that are already performing well.

When you inject direct mail into campaigns that are already producing an excellent ROI, an additional touchpoint through a new channel will increase conversion rates. They can augment the messaging that you are already attempting to drive home and engage with them in a new, more tangible way.

For instance, you could build a single or several direct mail steps into an existing email marketing campaign. Maybe each subscriber will receive a series of emails. If they don’t engage, they then receive a short sequence of direct mail touchpoints.

Using Postalytics, you can directly integrate your direct mail automation software with CRMs and marketing automation platforms.

Postalytics HubSpot Integration | Connect Them Today

And you aren’t just limited to injecting programmatic direct mail marketing into email campaigns either. You could add a direct mail touchpoint to your PPC campaigns, social media engagements, sales cadences, etc. — your creativity is your only limit.

Compared to adopting other channels, the cost of direct mail campaigns is affordable. Even with larger lists, your cost-per-recipient costs shrink with higher volumes. For the level of engagement that direct mail delivers, the value is undeniable. 

This gives your marketing teams a brand new channel to play in and a wide variety of new approaches that they can test.

Triggered Direct Mail

Triggered direct mail is where the ROI in direct mail automation really begins to rise drastically.

Essentially, triggered direct mail refers to using user actions as a “trigger” to affect the next steps that a customer will go through.

For instance, an eCommerce store could have a specific direct mail campaign when a certain product is purchased. That campaign could include discount codes, specific upsell requests, or invite them to join a loyalty program.

Then, a different campaign could be triggered when a prospect adds a product to their shopping cart but then never finishes their purchase. Typically, the eCommerce company will send 2-3 emails. But the addition of a direct mail step can be an attention-breaker that causes the customer to take action.

Or consider a B2B nurturing campaign. In B2B, sales cycles can last for months. That often means sending tens of emails to answer questions, deliver content, send sales materials, and generally keep the deal moving forward.

But if all of that interaction is taking place through email alone, you are missing out on a big opportunity.

Another example comes from retargeting campaigns. These types of digital advertising campaigns allow companies to show ads to people that have already visited their website and left without making a purchase. For visitors that you have been able to collect (or enrich) information from,

Customers want the brands that they love to engage with them through multiple channels. 90% of customers expect consistent interactions across channels.

Design & Delivery Automation

One of the biggest objections that many marketers face when pitching an expansion into direct mail to management is the time factor. Traditionally, direct mail campaigns could become a big time sink, particularly when they required approval from several stakeholders.

Even getting the design right could take several weeks, with multiple rounds of revisions and back-and-forths before the campaign is ready to send. The whole time you’d be incurring hourly design costs. Hopefully, all of that culminates in a campaign that everyone can agree on.

But with platforms like Postalytics, those time-consuming tasks can be cut down to a fraction of the time.

For example, Postlaytics offers several professional templates that can be edited through a drag-and-drop editor. No more expensive design costs. You can quickly decide on a design and roll out your campaign for testing.

programmatic direct mail templates

The packaging and shipping can even be automated through the platform. All you have to do is make the relevant connections with integrated software and watch as the numbers roll in. You can quickly design, launch, and evaluate direct mail campaigns.

In a case study, we published about the company’s marketing program, Mr. Sullivan said, “Sending out a stream of emails, just like every other company in our space, didn’t set us apart enough, at least to our standards.” He wanted to send a personal letter from the company’s CEO but thought they’d be “hand assembling them in a completely disconnected process.”

Tracking and Analytics

One common misconception when it comes to direct mail marketing is that the campaign itself can only be tracked on a limited basis.

Recent advances in technology however leverage software to track detailed campaign metrics at the individual recipient level. Today’s programmatic direct mail marketing tools use the powerful Intelligent Mail Barcode system from the USPS to track the delivery of mail, and can even track when the USPS determines that an address is no longer valid.

What about response tracking? In the old days of direct mail, marketers would use self addressed and stamped Business Reply Cards to manually tally results, often weeks and months after the campaign ended.

Now, marketers focus on driving recipients to online landing pages to respond to offers, just like they do with email and digital campaigns. There’s great new technology that can print personalized QR codes and personalized URLs (pURLs) on each mailer. By personalizing the response mechanism, you can see when someone has followed the call to action on your mailer and visited your website.

Postalytics delivers many metrics that provide specific insights to your campaign:

direct mail automation dashboard

Viewability and Adblocking

One of the biggest concerns of companies that focus on digital campaigns is viewability. More internet users are using adblockers.

More than one-quarter of all internet users on desktop are using adblockers, and those numbers are going up each year:

ad blockers are driving the need for programmatic direct mail

Source: Statista

The reach of digital campaigns just isn’t what it could be.

Another concern comes from bots. Competition levels are high, and nefarious actors often use bots to click ads and drive up CPC costs. It is estimated that eCommerce companies lose up to almost $4 billion per year through click fraud.

clickfraud statistics

Source: PPC Protect Ad Fraud Statistics

Programmatic direct mail marketing takes these worries away. Bots don’t have mailing addresses. And the only “adblocker” when it comes to direct mail is the recipient throwing the mailer away without looking at it.

The level of automation that modern platforms like Postalytics bring to the table makes direct mail a natural choice for channel expansion for companies of any size. No more are large-scale direct mail campaigns and triggered campaigns for large organizations — modern direct mail automation solutions make it viable for everyone.

Programmatic Direct Mail Marketing Automation — A Logical Choice

If your company isn’t already leveraging direct mail marketing automation, the question that you should be asking yourself is “why?”

With the ability to connect direct mail as a channel to your other marketing activities and generate deep analytics about the campaigns that you do send, the common misconceptions that keep companies from making the jump into direct mail just aren’t all that relevant anymore.

Using Postalytics, you can quickly ideate, design, and launch highly effective triggered direct mail campaigns that integrate directly with the other channels that you are already marketing through. Sign up for your free trial today.