Eighty billion advertising pieces travel through the United States Postal Service each year for a good reason. Direct mail marketing is still a great way to find and reach a specific target audience and an important part of effective multichannel strategies.

The modern day mailer understands a complete, correct, and current name and address is vital for compliance and maximum delivery rates. Marketers understand that analytics are important for segmenting specific targets and providing information that allows for personalizing messages. However, many mailers and marketers fail to utilize the tools available to measure the success or failure of their direct mail campaign. The Intelligent marketer will continually adjust their advertising based on delivery time, delivery performance, and response metrics.

Delivery Time The USPS IMB Tracing data uses operational codes to define a mail piece scan event. A scan event happens each time an Intelligent Mail barcoded mail piece passes through USPS automation equipment. These real time codes can be used by intelligent marketers to increase the visibility of their mail as it travels through the USPS. Using a "stop the clock" scan event, mail tracking software can predict the delivery time of a message. Being able to predict delivery times allows multi-channel marketers to coordinate other channels of advertising (e.g. email, internet, and phone) around direct mail. Predictability of delivery allows the intelligent marketer the ability to accurately time offers with lifecycle events (e.g. births, marriages, and moving) and promotional offers (e.g. weekend and holiday sales).

Delivery Performance
Most mail tracking software record the first scan, or "start the clock" scan, to calculate the number of days the mail piece is in the system. High quality mail tracking software combine the first scan with historical data and USPS services standards to create visibility into slow moving or lost mail pieces. The intelligent marketer can then drill down to the last scan event to find where the delay is. This information can be used to show the USPS the problem and get your mail moving again, before any negative impact to the campaign response.

Response Rate Unfortunately, many businesses will run a direct mail or multichannel campaign and never get a true read on which combination of offer, message, channel, and timing drove the most sales. This results in a lot of wasted dollars and lost opportunities. The intelligent marketer will stagger multichannel messaging so that they can leverage response analytics to adjust their campaign based on which segments and messages are responding best.

Response rates for direct mail can be captured in a number of ways. For example, personalized URL (pURL) linked to a personalized web page can be associated with the mail piece recipient, and placed directly on the advertising piece. This pURL is tracked when the web page is visited, indicating that a specific mail piece generated a response. Similarly, a QR code can be placed on the mail piece, that when scanned by a mobile device, will tie that mail piece directly to a response. A phone number can be placed on the mail piece and be manually tracked back to the campaign. There is even some technology that can use customized phone numbers to identify who is calling and tie that to the campaign. The intelligent marketer knows that reply mail can attract consumers that are not tech-savvy and can show results almost as quickly as the QR code and pURL. The reply piece that uses a unique Intelligent Mail barcode will generate a response as soon as it is scanned by the USPS automation equipment. This results in a response that is days earlier than tradition reply mail. Software that has inbound and outbound mail tracking capability can associate the outbound mail piece to the inbound scan to show very timely response rates.

Direct mail marketing is a great way to find and reach a specific target audience and an important part of effective multichannel strategies. Combining direct mail with technology allows the intelligent marketer the ability to continuously test the market and improve their campaign response. Campaign measurement is the critical step, that when overlooked leads to less than optimal results. Let your Data Marketing Services provider help show you how technology can track and maximize the return on your marketing spend.