‘Tis the Season for Direct Mail

Direct Mail Blog Image country home and mailbox

How Big Data and Traditional Tactics are Merging Together

Direct mail is back and bigger than ever. As consumers spend more time at home, it is increasingly important to meet them where they are. Many brands such as Amazon, Target, Walmart and other household names are opting for mailboxes in addition to inboxes, using direct mail to reach audiences. The direct mail that many know and love is getting a big upgrade by utilizing big data. These changes mean more refined targeting, higher conversation rates and a stronger return on investment.

Today’s Direct Mail

Direct mail is simple in nature but incredibly effective. It is physical mail distributed to consumers directly. Postcards, newsletters, magazines and more have been delivered right to individuals’ doorsteps for decades. These tactics continue to be utilized today, but with a data-driven strategy supporting them.

A key player in the sales funnel, today’s direct mail is using big-data and tying into the larger picture. IBM defines big data as a term applied to data sets whose size or type is beyond the ability of traditional relational databases to capture, manage and process the data with low latency. Instead of surface-level demographic information, big data allows brands to identify customer behaviors, personalities, tendencies and other in-depth information that was not previously available.1

Consumers are spending more time at home, ordering things directly to their home, or opting to purchase online and pick up in-store. Direct mail provides the opportunity to reach customers where they are and put a tangible item directly in their hands. But what does access to new data and technology mean for direct mail?

Data-Driven Strategy and Targeting

Using big data, there is the potential for brands to identify trends, interests, themes, behaviors and other high-level insights about their customer groups. These insights can be used to create customized content to reach very specific target audiences, focusing efforts on what drives results to deliver a stronger return on investment.

For example, grocery chains collect consumer data through their customer loyalty programs. They track what customers frequently purchase, identify products customers may be interested in, demographic data and more. Utilizing this information, they can create direct mail pieces such as customized booklets of coupons for their favorite products or products they may be interested in. These personalized coupon books then arrive directly on the doorstep of customers for them to use online or at retail locations.

While this is only one example, the options for targeting and customizations can be tailored for any brand. Using big data to understand your audience’s needs, interests and behaviors means you have valuable insight to create relevant and custom content.

Using Direct Mail to Drive Traffic

In addition to being strategically planned, direct mail must engage consumers quickly, be carefully crafted and communicate your message quickly. The benefit of today’s direct mail is that once you have their attention, you are able to drive traffic elsewhere.

Direct mail gets your foot in the door, but the end goal is conversions through visits to websites or physical locations. For example, Amazon’s 2020 Christmas catalog introduces products to customers and their families. To view pricing and additional product details, you must go online and view the product, driving traffic and providing additional sales opportunities. Curious by nature, people will seek out additional information if it is missing and they are interested. Combining curiosity and a personal touch, direct mail is a great way to introduce a product or service, then drive traffic to another destination for additional information and conversions.

Another example of direct mail driving traffic elsewhere is DoorDash. The company has sent direct mail pieces containing coupon codes that customers can redeem by using the DoorDash app or online ordering system. By enticing customers with a discount, DoorDash is piquing curiosity and requiring customers to use their service to reap the full benefit. This theme can be seen across brands, offering a free trial by visiting their site, or a simple QR code to browse products online. Direct mail gets your foot in the door, and direct mail paired with a strategic website presence can drive home the conversion or sale.

Integrating direct mail with larger marketing strategies also provides more insights and analytics. If you send direct mail pieces encouraging customers to visit a specific landing page or use a promo code, you can view the performance of that campaign, allowing you to analyze and adapt your direct mail marketing strategies.

The Future of Integrated Direct Mail

As data becomes more available and technology evolves, direct mail targeting options and customizations are only going to become more robust. Performance can continue to be improved by integrating direct mail with digital strategies and analyzing the data. While there are many strategies, the personal touch of direct mail combined with evolving technology means that marketers will be able to more efficiently and effectively reach target audiences, right at their doorsteps.

Whether it is a Christmas catalog with a customizable ‘Christmas List’ for children to fill out or a customized offer for customers, direct mail is back and here to stay. With a personalized touch and an integrated approach powered by data, direct mail is delivering stronger results than ever before. How are you incorporating direct mail this season?


1 https://www.ibm.com/analytics/hadoop/big-data-analytics