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:
- Requirements for large batch (1,000+ pieces) print runs
- Offline, manual campaign setup
- 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:
- Cloud-based software that manages the direct mail process
- CRM or Marketing Automation Integration
- Easy-to-use postcard and letter editing tools
- Personalization tools that bypass the traditional pre-press process
- 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.
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:
- InfusionSoft Keap
- Active Campaign
- Active Campaign
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 having to rely so heavily on manual processes, project management, and vendor relationships. This will help you avoid any 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 Postalytics, you can save your company time and money on your direct mail campaigns while reducing the logistical headaches that come with 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.