Companies are focusing on customer experience and the customer journey, and more of them are working on creating a single customer view, but their efforts don't always include mailed communications. When companies focus on only email, social, or display advertising to cultivate positive relationships with their customers, they ignore the one channel that works best — physical mail.

Customers are really good at ignoring digital messages from companies. They are bombarded with electronic communications and recognize them as mass-produced, automated efforts to promote a brand. Consumers rate digital messaging as low-value, and yet, many organizations continue to rely on these low-impact communication channels to care for a precious asset — their customer relationships.

The Journey Continues After Purchase

Many organizations already have an established connection with their customers via the mail. Monthly bills, account statements, or other regular communications are consistent customer interactions. Yes, these transactional documents have a core business purpose, but thinking of them as an obligation, rather than an opportunity, is a mistake. These documents are opened and read every month by the vast majority of customers. What better place to include content that nurtures customer relationships or bolsters loyalty?

Organizations spend lots of effort and money to attract new customers, and part of that effort might include direct mail. Marketers know mail is effective in promoting brand awareness, and how physical mail is a key factor in advancing prospects through the various phases of the buying process. But once they become customers, the focus of printed communication often shifts to an operational emphasis and mail is not used as much to nurture those new relationships.

Developing Relationships Electronically Is Tough

I don’t know about you, but I get way too many emails. I don’t read most of them. A good part of the time I spend with my inbox is dedicated to unsubscribing from lists or routing incoming messages to folders I rarely open. I also ignore pop-over ads on websites, paid ads in search results, unsolicited text messages, and online display ads. But I open and inspect every piece of physical mail that comes to my postal mailbox. Sometimes I even see the material twice, since it shows up in my daily Informed Delivery digest (one of the few emails I open every day). If a brand wants my attention, they are wasting their time with digital efforts. Mail is where they have the best chance of reaching me.

Transactional Documents Can Do More

The technology available today in digital printing and document composition software makes it easy to turn those utilitarian bills and statements into conduits for content that enriches the customer experience. The communications can serve several purposes connected to the customer journey:

Loyalty—Use data the organization already has about customer longevity to make customers feel appreciated and to promote loyalty rewards or referrals.

Retention—Personalized messaging can make a big difference in how customers perceive offers or information added to their transactional documents. Refer to individual purchase history to make relevant offers and show customers the organization appreciates their business.

Upsell—Offer discounts for products complementary to what customers already bought.

Winback—For customers who have cancelled a service or not renewed, highlight recent product improvements and provide incentives for them to sign up again.

Make on-statement messages even more effective by delivering them at opportune times, such as on birthdays or age milestones, when seasonally appropriate, as warranties expire, or on product purchase anniversaries.

Customer journeys start over whenever customers have an unmet need, which can happen after they’ve already purchased a product or service. Use data and technology to add relevant and personalized promotional or informational content to transactional documents delivered through postal mail to ensure the company manages the customer journey. Don’t rely on digital messages to shoulder the burden alone.

Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants creates content for the document industry and helps document operations build and implement strategies for future growth and competitiveness. Learn more about his services at and Follow @PMCmike on Twitter or send him a connection request on LinkedIn.