As the leading direct mail automation platform, we get this question a lot. So, let’s dive into what exactly is direct mail automation and how it can help you cut through the noise of oversaturated digital marketing.

Automated direct mail marketing is radically shaking up the old, tradition-bound world of direct mail marketing. It uses new technology to enable direct mail to be used in conjunction with, and just as easily as, digital marketing channels like email.

Traditionally, direct mail marketing has been viewed as an effective channel, but with cumbersome limitations such as:

  1. Requirements for large batch (1,000+ pieces) print runs
  2. Offline, manual campaign setup
  3. Lack of tracking, measurement, and integration with other channels

However — new direct mail automation systems are now enabling savvy marketers to avoid all of the standard pitfalls associated with planning, managing, and launching direct mail campaigns. It even enables marketers to connect direct mail and email together in automated workflows.

Before we dive in further, let’s quickly remind ourselves of what is direct mail marketing.

What is Direct Mail?

Direct mail or direct mail marketing, is an older and much clunkier cousin of automated direct mail. It’s how traditional marketing has been done for centuries. And it has been done that way because it can bring a staggering return on investment – even today.

For textbook definitions, Direct mail is any type of physical promotion that lands in your real-life mailbox. Think postcards, letters, flyers, brochures, and such. Marketers use direct mail to generate more leads, stay top of mind, brand, sell, and/or raise money for a cause. Direct mail is used for all things marketing.

And recently, it’s gotten a whole lot better.

What Is Direct Mail Automation?

Direct mail automation is a new category of SaaS (Software as a Service) tools with the following characteristics:

  1. Cloud-based software that manages the direct mail process
  2. CRM or Marketing Automation Integration
  3. Easy-to-use postcard and letter editing tools
  4. Personalization tools that bypass the traditional  pre-press process
  5. Small batch and triggered direct mail options

Direct mail automation is a system that can deliver many of the benefits that companies appreciate email marketing for, but using direct mail as a channel. It’s all about making your direct mail campaigns more connected to your overall marketing efforts. It provides the same level of customization, autonomy, and sophistication of other marketing channels.

Let’s dive into exactly how direct mail automation works and how it can help your company to save time, money, and headaches.

automated direct mail old way vs new way postalytics

The 6 Benefits of Using Direct Mail Automation

Direct mail automation has become as easy as email automation. This has led to many businesses utilizing it for their campaigns. Here are six major benefits.

Increased efficiency

With direct mail automation, businesses can set up workflows and processes that automate the sending and tracking of campaigns. For example, you can trigger a lead nurturing campaign when the lead takes a specific action, like signing up for your mailing list. These actions save time and increase the efficiency of your marketing activities.

Better targeting

Direct mail automation enhances targeting by leveraging data analytics to segment audiences. You can do this based on demographics, behaviors, and preferences. It enables personalized content creation and dynamic variable printing, tailoring each mail piece to the recipient’s interests. Automated systems integrate customer data from various sources, allowing for precise audience segmentation and targeting.

Staying ahead of the curve

A triggered direct mail sequence could be activated by specific customer actions, such as signing up for a service. Once triggered, the sequence automatically sends a series of personalized mailings over time. These could be welcome letters, exclusive offers, and follow-up reminders. This approach nurtures customer relationships, increases engagement, and drives conversions by delivering timely and relevant content based on the recipient’s behavior.

A triggered direct mail sequence could be activated by specific customer actions, such as signing up for a service. Once triggered, the sequence automatically sends a series of personalized mailings over time.

Improve ROI

Direct mail automation boosts ROI by optimizing campaign efficiency and effectiveness. For example, targeted segmentation and personalized content enhance response rates, leading to higher conversion rates and increased revenue. With the power of real-time analytics, which provides insights into campaign performance, you can make quick adjustments to maximize results. By minimizing costs and maximizing responses, direct mail automation delivers a higher ROI for marketing efforts.

Enhanced scalability

Automated systems allow businesses to scale up campaigns to reach larger audiences without significantly increasing time or resources. Features like dynamic content personalization and audience segmentation ensure that campaigns remain relevant and effective even as they reach a broader audience. This scalability allows businesses to expand their direct mail efforts while maintaining high-quality, targeted communications.

Better customer experience

Direct mail automation uses data-driven insights to tailor mailings to individual preferences, increasing engagement and satisfaction. Features like triggered sequences and dynamic content ensure customers receive communications that align with their needs and interests. Additionally, errors and delays are reduced, providing a seamless experience.

Types of Automated Direct Mail Formats

Automated direct mail can be delivered in various formats to suit different marketing goals and customer preferences:

  • Postcards: Concise and eye-catching, postcards are perfect for quick announcements, promotions, or event invitations.
  • Letters: Letters can hold more information and are suitable for welcome messages, offers, or detailed communications requiring a more formal approach.
  • Brochures/Flyers: This is best for companies who want to showcase their products, services, or events with visuals and detailed information.
  • Catalogs: Comprehensive product listings tailored to individual interests or purchase history, encouraging browsing and purchases.
  • Packages: You can incorporate promotional items, samples, or personalized gifts with these packages and create a memorable and tangible brand experience.
  • Self-Mailers: Folded or sealed formats that don’t require envelopes, providing cost-effective options for promotions or announcements.
  • Dimensional Mail: This is a unique and attention-grabbing format that includes boxes, tubes, or pop-up cards, enhancing engagement and response rates.
  • Integrated Mail: Combines print with digital elements like QR codes or personalized URLs, bridging offline and online interactions for a seamless customer experience.

Cloud-Based Software Manages The Direct Mail Workflow Process

In the old school, traditional direct mail, project managers at letter shops, agencies, or printer/mailer companies would manage campaigns using tools like spreadsheets, .CSV files, FTP, and email. These semi-manual, disconnected processes were slow, inefficient, and error-prone.

Automated direct mail uses cloud-based software to connect directly to your databases to reduce the chances of human error and allow you to keep a single data set consistently updated for all of your platforms (often in a CRM or Marketing Automation tool). Connecting directly to your databases gives you a centralized system for maintaining your information across all of the platforms that you use.

CRM Or Marketing Automation Integration

Direct mail automation has a huge advantage with its ability to integrate with the most popular marketing and CRM systems that are available today.

Integrating directly with these systems allows you to track the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns and optimize them in the same way that you would an email campaign or a landing page.

Finally, you’ll have access to the in-depth analytics that you have through digital channels for your direct mail campaigns.

Today, Postalytics integrates with many of the popular marketing/CRM platforms, including:

  1. HubSpot
  2. SalesForce
  3. InfusionSoft Keap
  4. Active Campaign
  5. Zoho
  6. Active Campaign
  7. Act-On
  8. Pipedrive
  9. GreenRope
  10. Zapier

For the full list, please check the direct mail integrations page. These are just a small sampling of the more than 20 integrations that Postalytics offers through our platform. Why shouldn’t direct mail as a marketing channel have access to all of the same useful software packages that are enjoyed through other digital channels?

Easy To Use Editing Tools For Several Postcard & Letter Formats

Traditionally in direct mail campaigns, customizing your content could be quite a headache. However, the ability to customize content on a deep level for your direct mail campaigns will help you to increase response and read rates.

You’d need to deliver a series of PDF designs and .CSV data files to your printers, who might offer a few points on your design that are able to be customized and send you back printed “proofs” that you’d tweak, send back to them, repeat and rinse several times before everything is correct.

Automated direct mail campaigns use modern, easy-to-use online editors to customize many different variations of postcard and letter sizes. The best systems offer portrait or landscape postcard options, as well as multiple-page letters that can be quickly modified by marketers rather than only designers.

design your direct mailpiece

Postalytics makes it dead simple to customize your content. Using our drag-and-drop interface, you can personally alter the content of any piece of direct mail without the help of a designer or printer. Instead of the back-and-forth that would typically be required to make changes to direct mail campaigns, you can edit and send your campaigns in just minutes.

Personalization “Merge Tag” Tools That Generate Dynamic Content

70% of Americans say that direct mail is already a more personal medium than other channels. Increasing the personalization within your content will only serve to make it an even more personal way to connect with your audiences.

Traditional direct mailers employ “pre-press operators” that work with sophisticated print job management systems and digital printing presses to enable variable data to be deployed on large batch print jobs.

Direct mail automation bypasses the time, cost, and back & forth of the traditional pre-press process. Marketers are able to embed “Variable Data” and “Variable Logic” into direct mail templates via simple drag-and-drop tools.

direct mail personalization

Variable Data inserts are like email “merge tags” or personalization fields that come from data files, CRM, or Marketing Automation tools.

Variable Logic blocks create dynamic content, with text and/or images that print for different audience segments based on simple IF/THEN statements.

Postalytics makes it easy for you to pull data from your databases and insert that into every piece of mail that you send out. It isn’t limited to just the basics like names, either. You can use any data that you have on hand to ensure that your recipients are receiving information that they will find relevant and valuable based on the information that you have on them currently.

Small Batch & Triggered Direct Mail Options

Did you know that 79% of direct mail recipients will act on direct mail immediately, compared to only 45% who act on email immediately? A key aspect of automated advertising and marketing is being able to react to the actions of your customers. You want to be able to deliver new messages & ads to them quickly, based on their behavior.

Traditional direct mail has been a large batch, slow, manual process. Most campaigns that include any type of personalization require minimum list sizes of 2,500 and 4-6 weeks to implement.

On the other hand, direct mail automation enables marketers to quickly send out frequent, small-batch campaigns that are personalized and reasonably priced. It uses a software-only interface, with simple wizards that enable a single marketer to set up & schedule campaigns to lists of ANY size – 1 to 1 million.

On the other hand, direct mail automation enables marketers to quickly send out frequent, small-batch campaigns that are personalized and reasonably priced. It uses a software-only interface, with simple wizards

Triggered direct mail campaigns are a new innovation that direct mail automation enables. They use automated workflows from CRM and Marketing Automation software to “trigger” individual letters or postcards to be sent. Without human intervention. Just like a triggered email.

For instance, Postalytics-triggered drip campaigns will allow you to deliver new mailers to your prospects when they reach various stages in their customer journey via CRM or Marketing Automation workflows. Perhaps they’ve visited your website and downloaded high-value content. Since they signaled interest by engaging with your content, you want to follow up with them and continue to grow the relationship from that point forward.

Trigger-based mailings allow you to more accurately deliver follow-up content to your prospects in a hands-off way, but in a way that most of your competitors haven’t considered. You don’t have to wait for them to fill in a contact form and match that to a previous mailing that you delivered.

Industries That Can Benefit From Automated Direct Mail

Direct mail is now being used in every industry because of its advantages. Here are four key industries where direct marketing has become popular.

Healthcare

Healthcare can benefit from direct mail automation by improving patient engagement, appointment reminders, and health education efforts. Automated mailings can personalize communications based on patient data, such as appointment schedules or specific health needs, increasing relevance and response rates. You can send reminders for preventive screenings or medication adherence. Moreover, automated mailings can deliver educational materials on health topics, promoting wellness and disease management.

Read More: Nuclear Care Partners used direct mail personalization to generate leads for their healthcare company

Finance

Direct mail automation can help financial firms personalize communications and optimize customer engagement. Automated mailings can deliver targeted offers like credit card promotions or investment opportunities based on individual financial behaviors. Moreover, segmented campaigns can cater to diverse financial goals or life stages, providing tailored advice or product recommendations. By streamlining account management processes such as statements or notifications, automation boosts efficiency and enhances the overall customer experience.

Read more: Credit Union Marketing drives multi-channel, triggered nurture campaigns to drive more credit union customers

Direct mail automation can help financial firms personalize communications and optimize customer engagement. Automated mailings can deliver targeted offers like credit card promotions or investment opportunities based on individual financial behaviors. Moreover, segmented campaigns can cater to diverse financial goals or life stages, providing tailored advice or product recommendations. By streamlining account management processes such as statements or notifications, automation boosts efficiency and enhances the overall customer experience.

Read more: Credit Union Marketing drives multi-channel, triggered nurture campaigns to drive more credit union customers

Real estate

Imagine receiving a personalized postcard showcasing your dream home, perfectly tailored to your preferences. That’s the power of direct mail automation in real estate. By analyzing customer’s interests and behaviors, automated systems can send relevant listings, market updates, and invitations to open houses. Plus, timely follow-ups ensure you never miss out on the perfect opportunity. By harnessing direct mail automation, real estate professionals can efficiently reach prospects, showcase properties effectively, and ultimately close more deals, maximizing ROI and business growth.

Read More: Real estate investor uses direct mail automation to schedule in-person meetings and tours

E-commerce

E-commerce businesses can revolutionize their marketing strategy with direct mail automation. Automated mailings can deliver personalized promotions, product recommendations, and exclusive offers by integrating customer data. You can even segment audiences based on purchase history, browsing behavior, or demographics, ensuring relevance and personalization. Additionally, automated follow-ups can re-engage inactive customers or abandoned cart shoppers, recovering lost sales and boosting revenue.

Read more: Zogics generates a 500% ROI jump with automated direct mail

Best Practices for Direct Mail Automation

In order to get good conversions and ROI from your direct mail campaigns, here are some best practices you can follow.

  • Segment and create targeted lists: Divide your audience based on demographics, behaviors, or preferences to deliver personalized and relevant content.
  • Use clean data: If you’re not using first-party data, get access to data that is sourced ethically and in line with privacy laws
  • Define campaign KPIs: Clearly define your objectives and KPIs before launching a campaign. This will guide all the other strategies like content creation, targeting, etc.
  • Focus on design: Invest in high-quality design and printing to create visually appealing mail pieces that capture attention and reflect your brand image.
  • Integrating with tools: Integrate direct mail automation with other marketing channels and tools for a seamless omnichannel experience and consistent messaging.
  • Evaluate success: Track key metrics like response rates, conversions, and ROI to evaluate campaign effectiveness and make data-driven decisions.
  • Use automation tools: Set up automated workflows for triggered mailings, drip campaigns, and follow-ups with direct mail automation software like Postalytics.

Automate and Send as Many Pieces as You Need

Direct mail automation gives you complete control of your direct mail ecosystem, putting you in charge of every step of the process without relying so heavily on manual processes, project management, and vendor relationships. This will help you avoid waste or execution problems, like poor printing practices, designs that don’t comply with USPS or Canada Mail, or an excruciatingly long time to create traditional mail.

Anyone who can use a computer can create and send a direct mail campaign today with Postalytics.

Using a direct mail automation platform like Postalytics can save your company time and money on your direct mail campaigns while reducing the logistical headaches of managing those relationships. Automation makes direct mail advertising at scale easy.

We built Postalytics to help marketers solve long-standing problems associated with traditional direct mail. To learn more about how direct mail automation works, read our blog or get in touch with our team.