5 Ways Direct Mail Can Drive Data-Driven Marketing
Direct mail can be an important component of your data-driven marketing (DDM) campaign, both for the efficient way it uses data and the crucial data it can generate.
Let’s consider that statement for a second, because many blogs that talk about DDM don’t characterize the process that way.
There are actually two facets to the marketing part of data-driven marketing:
- Using data to market
- Getting back data from the marketing process
Direct mail can help with both through its ability to:
- Turn data into personalized appeals
- Reach customers when they’re ready to buy
- Produce data on tangible actions
- Tie results directly back to campaigns
- Reduce reliance on attribution models
Let’s look at these in more depth – but first, let’s look at the status of DDM in business.
DDM in business – the good and bad
Call it a buzzword (buzzterm?) or a mantra, but DDM Is being used by nine out of 10 organizations – and many of those organizations agree on two things:
- Data is absolutely, positively vital to our marketing success; and
- We’re really bad with data.
Think that’s an exaggeration?
According to Invesp, more than three-quarters of respondents feel like they’re able to access more useful data over the past year, but only half feel like they’re good at using data-derived insights to guide their strategy.
(Data is useful, and we’re really bad with data.)
In addition, under the “data is really important” heading:
- Almost two-thirds of marketing execs “strongly agree” that data-driven marketing is crucial
- Half feel that there’s significant pressure to increase data’s role in making marketing decisions
And now, under the “we’re really bad with data” heading:
- Almost nine out of 10 consider data to be their organization’s most underused asset
- More than half say the biggest challenge to data-driven marketing is the lack of data quality and completeness
Get the picture? Seldom has anything been so clear in marketing since the day the computer was declared more useful than the typewriter.
And the thing is, data is really important. Especially first-party data, the stuff that you get directly from your customers. Cience has found that it:
- Reduces cost
- Increases accuracy, reliability, and relevance
- Secures user privacy and data protection
- Builds trust with customers
- Gives you control over data
- Creates segmented audiences
- Builds stronger B2B marketing campaigns
- Fosters a personalized experience
That’s fantastic! And because it’s your own and you collected it legitimately (right?), there’ll never be an issue with illegitimate acquisition or use of data. It’s the cleanest stuff out there.
Now, let’s examine those ways direct mail can leverage that data in the context of DDM.
Turning data into personalized appeals
Just about every marketer on the planet thinks that a more personalized appeal helps advance customer relationships, according to Hubspot.
We’ve already established all the ways direct mail aces the personalization test – providing meaningful contact beyond a name in a subject line, customizing loyalty-building offers, delivering compelling calls to action, upselling your best customers.
Since direct mail has the potential to deliver the most compelling personalized offers, data should be used to maximize the level of personalization.
We advocate moving far beyond just a name in a greeting line to things like:
- Unique offers
- Personalized URLs
- Custom QR codes
- Summary of loyalty status
- A special “hotline” for mailing recipients
By making your best customers feel unique and special, direct mail is the Hellmann’s mayo of marketing techniques, helping you turn “nothing” data into something really special.
Reaching customers when they’re ready to buy
Every good salesperson needs to have something to close the deal, the one thing that turns the months of relationship-building into something tangible.
Direct mail can be that closer.
Data from a customer-relationship-management system (CRM) can identify customers in the final stage of the funnel. That information can be turned into a direct-mail piece that asks for the business and closes the sale.
Personalization is key here, and the more organized your CRM the better the data you’ll have to work with.
However you identify the stages of the buying process, bringing in direct mail at the very end to deliver a personalized appeal with style and substance is a great way to close.
Producing data on tangible actions
We’ve also talked repeatedly about how the ways we interact with direct mail are very tangible: We take the piece out of our mail, hold it in our hands, examine it, open it, read it, perhaps throw away some parts of it and keep other parts to more fully consume later.
Because we interact with direct mail with more than just our eyes, its messages stay with us longer.
Academic research has found that direct mail has the potential to deliver complex messages and have them retained longer than other marketing types.
As a result, direct mail has the potential to deliver results not only on direct calls to action when the piece is received, but in other ways for a longer period of time than other types of marketing.
Businesses that use direct mail often find long-lasting upticks in web traffic and social interaction in addition to action on the CTAs contained in the piece.
However, where direct mail really delivers the data goods is on those mailing-specific direct actions mentioned earlier – QR-code clicks, PURL visits, calls to a unique hotline.
Those actions should be tracked and logged in a CRM, with that data used to drive additional marketing efforts.
In this way, data put into a mailing can generate detailed and campaign-specific data that can then be used for further marketing efforts.
It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Tying results back to campaigns
Same thing here.
The results from the tangible actions you ask for in a direct-mail piece can easily be incorporated into campaign stats.
If you use direct mail to test messaging or offers, those results will be clear and evident, and easy to plug into your overall campaign performance.
By tying results directly to campaigns, you can easily generate ROI for a given campaign – at least, for the direct-mail channel. Which leads to our final point …
Reducing reliance on attribution models
If you’re in marketing and are tasked with attributing ROI to digital channels, you know: Attribution models stink.
There is no model in the universe that can consider all the different emails and social posts a person is exposed to and say with even a smidge of certainty, “That one. That was the post that convinced the customer to buy.”
The problem isn’t the messaging or the offer. It’s the frequency.
Because email and social are free(ish), businesses can and do bombard their customers with messages across multiple channels.
With direct mail, because of its expense you basically get one shot.
Usually that’s cited as a drawback to direct mail. Not in this case.
If you create an offer unique to a direct-mail piece, you can say with some confidence that that piece caused the sale.
Obviously, the direct-mail piece isn’t the first time a customer has been exposed to your brand, so if you want to throw in percentages for direct contact, email, web, and social, go ahead. But save the bulk of the attribution for the direct-mail piece.
This is so much cleaner than a digital-only attribution model, which is rarely ever not a mess.
If your business relies on attribution models to show marketing ROI, employing direct mail is worth it just for the cleanliness alone.
DDM is not going away; in fact, it’s only going to grow in importance and influence. Because of that, direct mail should grow in importance as a marketing tool within a DDM environment.
If you’re looking for new ways of using direct mail to leverage and create data, contact us. We have some ideas.
By Dan Topel 8/2/22