Direct Mail Automation
“I can get these mailings all done at once, rather than having to find time to coordinate them at busy times.
I’ll schedule six months in advance and then just let them go.”
– Michael D’Errico, My Georgia Plumber
When a North Georgia plumbing company decided to re-brand several years ago, they knew they’d be doing things differently. My Georgia Plumber (MGP) services residential customers in an area that covers 15 ZIP codes. The company is growing as they exploit the value of repeat customers and referrals among their loyal clientele. Direct mail has always played a part in the company’s marketing plan, but the traditional direct mail model the company traditionally relied upon was expensive, time consuming and limited their ability to expand.
MGP believes in investing in technology to scale their business. They’ve implemented a leading CRM for local service providers. They send service appointment notifications via text messages, track their technician’s path to worksites via GPS, deliver estimates efficiently via PDF documents, and collect digital signatures. All in an effort to deliver a great customer experience with a highly efficient back end process.
Electronic communications address customer needs after they engage with MGP, but direct mail drives the business. Postcards and letters keep the company top of mind so customers know who to call when they need a skilled plumbing professional. MGP distributes coupons and incentives via postcards and letters to attract more business.
As a regional plumbing business, My Georgia Plumber did direct mail like many small businesses who haven’t tried automation. They used an internationally known printing company to print and ship postcards well ahead of time. The team then had to print several hundred address labels, affix stamps, and get the postcards to the post office each time a campaign needed to be sent.
This rigid, traditional direct mail process was limiting their ability to grow, because to add service areas only added much more time and cost.
The plumbing company paid full rate retail postage and, because of minimum print order restrictions, often had to spend money well before the need. They stored the excess postcards until they needed them again.
As conditions changed and the team came up with new ideas to respond, the pre-printed postcards couldn’t be changed. They couldn’t alter the images, offers, or text for new mailings unless they disposed of the unused stock and placed new print orders.
The other challenge with doing direct mail in this manner is scheduling. MGP staggers their promotional mailings, targeting certain geographical areas at different times, often pursuing leads in different cities every week. Finding time to prepare so many mailings was becoming a problem, causing employee stress and frustration.
Postalytics addressed MGP’s direct mail challenges with the flexibility of a modern, cloud based software tool.
The company now schedules their campaigns months in advance, with a single employee handling all the details.
That was a game changer for MGP. “I can get these mailings all done at once, rather than having to find time to coordinate them at busy times,” said Project Manager Michael D’Errico, “I’ll schedule six months in advance and then just let them go.”
MGP may occasionally pause planned mailings depending on market conditions. When the company is ready to resume mailing, all the elements are still ready to go in their Postalytics account. This gives small organizations like MGP the ability to match promotional activity with capacity and optimal cash flow.
MGP uploads their mailing lists to Postalytics, chooses the custom letters or postcards, and schedules the mailings. The company relies mostly on referrals and repeat business. Past and current customers populate their mailing files. The company also sends “Welcome to the Neighborhood” mailers to recent home buyers in their service areas.
At the end of every month, MGP contacts all the customers for whom they worked during the month. The Postalytics account sends thank-you letters and coupons customers can apply to future services. MGP no longer has to worry about stationery, stamps, envelopes, mailing labels, or casual labor. MGP offers an excellent customer experience supported by direct mail, and it’s all done through the Postalytics software.
MGP even uses Postalytics for a non-marketing application: employee recruitment. The state of Georgia supplies MGP with lists of HVAC, electrical, and master plumber license holders. MGP regularly sends recruitment postcards out to the list. The company uses several postcard versions, each one highlighting different company benefits and featuring unique catch phrases. This effort keeps the pipeline full of potential new employees.
My Georgia Plumber’s CRM is connected to their phone system, allowing them to track incoming calls and match leads to the mailing pieces. MGP assigns each Postalytics campaign to a different phone number. The CRM reports on calls from each campaign, tracks jobs the company has booked, and records the revenue generated from those jobs.
“We turned off postcards when COVID-19 hit. We didn’t know what would happen, so we were being cautious. Almost at once, our website views dropped. Even though we don’t use QR codes or PURLS on the postcards, we found that direct mail was still driving traffic to the website. Because we segment our list by city, we can correlate postcard campaigns with web traffic,” said D’Errico, “When we started mailing again, our web traffic returned to normal.”
The buying power of Postalytics allows their customers to take advantage of savings that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them. Mr. D’Errico shopped print service providers and received postcard estimates that were at least 30% higher than the prices at Postalytics. He saw no reason to consider any other solutions.
My Georgia Plumber is keeping an eye on trends. They’ve noticed a slight shift in communication preferences as their customers use text messages or other digital channels more often. MGP believes other changes brought on by COVID-19, such as a focus on sanitation and responsible health behavior, will linger. MGP will use the Postalytics design center to incorporate relevant messages and images into their postcards and letters. Because the graphics software is so accessible and easy to use, MGP can respond quickly to changing market conditions and outpace their competitors.
When asked what he’d say about Postalytics to a peer that wasn’t using direct mail for their small business, Mr. D’Errico pointed to the affordability of the service, the easy creative studio, analytics, and scheduling. He feels those items set Postalytics apart from other solutions a small organization might consider for marketing their business. My Georgia Plumber would “absolutely recommend Postalytics to a peer”.