When conducting a high-volume direct mail campaign, it’s important to ask yourself: Do I have everything I need to make my next mail campaign more successful than the last one? Or am I missing a critical element that will help build a more substantial roadmap to success? Especially if it won’t impact an existing process?

Additional questions to consider include: What issues could affect my response rates? What could benefit the campaign — adding Informed Delivery? Stronger postal data? Targeting in-home delivery dates? Retargeting?

Are all these things part of your current strategy? Maybe you have tested them once or twice. But maybe not.

The key metric in every marketing campaign is the response rate. But with direct mail, response rates are often inaccurate because undelivered mail is not factored in. And that can make it a challenge to determine overall campaign effectiveness. So much of your time and effort is devoted to producing the right offer, the messaging, the images, and the calls to action so that your campaign can elicit the strongest possible response. But if a consumer can't respond because they never received the mailing in the first place, what good is all that effort? Each year, more than one to 1.5% of the US population moves every month, and these are only the moves submitted to the Postal Service.

The other issue of undeliverable mail is the black hole effect, where you will lose important data that might help your next campaign's success. So once the final campaign piece is mailed, wrong addresses are written off or not acknowledged at all. When mail doesn't reach its intended address, any communication timed to follow in a different channel is compromised. That black hole impacts even more aspects of your campaign. The result comes in two forms: your campaign is less effective, and inaccurate data (i.e., a consumer's incorrect/undeliverable address) plagues future campaigns.

Take Another Look at Informed Delivery

It has been about five years since the extended release of Informed Delivery, the opt-in service that gives consumers a digital sneak peek of what mail (i.e., your campaign piece) is in their mailbox.

In the past years, the audience has grown from humble beginnings to 45 million members at the beginning of 2022. This channel has increased the number of consumer impressions and creates a direct link of an offer in the mail piece to any digital channel chosen. Informed Delivery is a vital touchpoint for direct mail to reach consumers.

Online ads continued to be a significant channel. By 2021, consumers will see between 6,000 to 10,000 ads daily, most of them digital. Now, digital display ads are expected to slow in 2022, but companies are expected to spend over 123.22 billion. So that channel is a significant player, and Informed Delivery creates a possible direct link to that channel, which will improve response rates in the channel that does not have the same level of competition. As a bonus, Informed Delivery enhances customer satisfaction, which leads to an average open rate of 65%.

Postal Data Is Key

There's enough detailed postal data to keep your team busy for days, or even weeks! But isn't it true that as long as your direct mail content is creative and provides the right offer, then nothing else matters? Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

How you send direct mail, where you get your lists, what kind of delivery methods you use, and how much you personalize each piece is just as important — sometimes even more so — than what the content says and how it looks.

The data that is available to today's mailers is mature and remarkable. Those data points include knowing in-home delivery dates, knowing the best delivery day of the week for customers, and even more robust address hygiene. Overall, delivery data can improve the identification of customer response to the right channel. It also helps you get a better pulse of what's happening within the USPS to gain visibility when disruptions occur in a particular area within the USPS delivery network. Any way you look at it, the answers are in the data.

Two More Key Questions

Just before your campaign is ready to launch, two more decisions need to be made: when you want to send it out and when you want it to arrive. Is one of those more important than the other? It's a bit of a trick question. Why? Because while the day it arrives at its destination is, in fact, of great significance, the day it's mailed often plays directly into how well you meet that target. It all depends on several factors.

Studies show that the day of the week a direct mail piece is received has a discernable effect on consumer attitudes and response rates (there could be as much as a 20% difference in response rates on clients who targeted a specific day). Understanding the best in-home date for your customers combined with multichannel efforts enhances response. In a 2020 study, marketers who use four to six channels in their multichannel campaigns reported the best response rates.

But not all consumers are the same, and not all campaigns have the same effect. That's where targeted data comes in: once you know how your customers respond to delivery dates — and what kind of mailings they respond to — you can have more confidence that a campaign will deliver on its promise.

The Importance of Retargeting

Retargeting: it's a marketing term you've heard. What would you say if someone asked you how it works and why it can be a useful option?

In a nutshell, retargeting helps activate direct mail that hasn't yet compelled a prospect to act. How? By taking clues from consumers who indicate even the slightest curiosity about something on your website (by clicking on a link, for instance, or placing something in the digital shopping cart without actually purchasing it). Once the visitor's address is captured (either via a known IP address or already existing in your database), they are pushed to a retargeting mail campaign. It is another chance to link the digital world with the tangible, tactical world of a letter, statement, or postcard.

That, in turn, can renew consumer awareness. It can be an effective reminder. It can revitalize interest. The truth is that retargeting is becoming a hundred-million-dollar industry all by itself! Not every campaign will need it or even want to use it, but having it in your direct mail arsenal will give you the confidence to know that you're ready for any challenge.

Dean DeCencio, GrayHair’s Vice President, Business Development, works closely with many of the largest US companies advising on how postal data can translate to meaningful insights that can help resolve their business issues and improve processes across the organization. With a passion and advocacy for the mail industry and almost 30 years’ experience in supporting the needs of large enterprise mailers, he leads account teams to manage the short- and long-term needs of his clients. To reach Dean, email him at ddecencio@grayhairsoftware.com or connect with him on LinkedIn.