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9 Nov

Direct Marketing 2.0: Using Intent Data to Take Your Results a Giant Step Further

Author: Allen Abbott

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Direct Mail

Direct Marketing 2.0: Take Your Results a Giant Step Further

Many people narrowly define direct marketing as direct mail, email or DRTV. The truth of the matter is that direct marketing is, as Jessie Kernan, EVP applied data and strategy at RAPP, says, “the focus on individual consumers and using data effectively to know who they are and what they may want.”

Direct marketing has always been data-driven, consumer focused marketing, because the goal was to develop a one-to-one relationship with interested consumers. And while direct marketing is still about building a one-to-one relationship, it has become a conversation between individuals and organizations. Communication now goes two ways, and it’s up to marketers to listen carefully to what consumers want and expect.

The Direct Marketing Conversation

The most challenging aspect of direct marketing is accumulating enough of the right data to ensure a valuable conversation between individuals and organizations. Fortunately, collecting data for direct marketing has never been easier. However, understanding what data is important to reach your audience, when and where they are in their buyer’s journey, remains a significant challenge.

Intent Paves the Way for Direct Marketing

Typically, retargeting website visitors has taken place in the digital space. While it’s always a good idea to entice a potential customer who may have been on the verge of purchase with a digital display ad, even the most optimistic marketer knows that these everyday means of retargeting are easily ignored. Even if an individual has an interest in the product, he or she is so well-trained in ignoring or blocking online advertisements that the message is all too often lost.

But necessity is the mother of invention. An emerging technology known as programmatic print enables companies to issue retargeting notifications using postcards that are delivered through traditional mail. Using programmatic print, companies can engage in the same retargeting efforts they’ve employed online, but through a medium that generates a significantly higher response rate and can help develop that one-on-one conversation. Not only will your postcards reach your customers in a unique way, but by adopting this technology before your competitors, you’ll stand alone in your industry as a forward-thinking, customer-focused organization.  And if you are thinking that direct mail is yesterday’s media, U.S. advertisers spent more on direct mail last year ($45 billion) than they did on Google Ads.

The best part about programmatic print is that it’s not a return to sending out “junk” mail. It’s a revolutionary medium that incorporates the data-driven mindset that segments customers into logical groups instead of relying on email blasts and basic demographics. Programmatic print is a great way to incorporate direct mail into the marketing strategies you’re already executing, giving you the best of both worlds.

Retrieving Addresses Using Digital Data

It was once accepted that personalized online marketing could only occur if an individual signed up for a company’s email list. However, technology has changed the landscape, enabling businesses to individually market to people based solely on their website visits.

The translation of an online identity to a physical address can be done in several ways. It’s possible to obtain an individual’s physical address using their IP address, cookies, or previously collected data from your CRM system. Using this method provides further insight into how often someone visits a company’s site and what they are looking at, giving them a true indication of how interested this person is in hearing from them  and what they are interested in hearing about.

Taking this type of interaction offline is a great idea for two reasons. First, using a postcard to reach those who can’t be reached by email will yield a far greater response rate than online marketing. Second, sending a postcard is likely to be perceived as more valuable to the consumer than emailing them about it right away. The value lies in providing the individual with a message, offer or promotion for a product or service they have already expressed interest in through a medium that isn’t easily overlooked or ignored.

Both email and digital display play an effective role in marketing, but no one goes online to look for digital display ads, and very few people check their email just to see what new marketing email pops up (well...occasionally a pizza coupon doesn’t go amiss). The point is, when a person is online, they’re looking for something, and the ads and marketing are at best background noise, at worst a disruptive, distraction from their purpose.

Direct mail, like postcards or catalogs, though, enter the home, and when your audience does choose to read them, their entire focus is on that marketing message. Their purpose is to read and evaluate that piece of mail. That undivided attention makes direct mail highly effective, and also means that providing the individual a highly personalized piece is necessary to hold that attention and prompt them to take the next step.

Matching Unidentified Browsers across Devices

In today’s Omni channel world, marketers reach out to customers via a variety of media, and consumers interact with companies across many different devices. It’s up to businesses to not only keep track of these various marketing channels, but to match up the activity of consumers across all devices.

This is a major challenge for many businesses. According to an Econsultancy survey from March 2016, 74 percent of companies surveyed claimed that identifying customers across multiple devices was a priority. However, only 14 percent of these organizations actually had the capability to do so. On one hand, cross-device attribution is a major undertaking that requires advanced technology solutions, but the bigger benefit to identifying users across multiple devices is in knowing that the person who visited your site while on different devices is a much better prospect for your marketing efforts. Learning to identify consumers across multiple marketing platforms virtually guarantees that you’ll have a leg up on the competition. It’s a tremendous opportunity for the company that finds a way to master cross-device identification.

The more you know about a consumer, the easier it is to identify their desires and pain points and create individualized marketing materials. Combining this knowledge and customization, with the ability to create exclusive offers or promotions on the individual level, and leveraging the higher response rate of direct marketing, makes this strategy a must for any company that wants to take their marketing to a more sophisticated level.


Identifying consumers is the first step in the digital to print revolution. But once you have the information you need, it’s up to you to deliver a quality presentation that entices people to make a purchase.

There are two different ways to personalize a direct mail piece. The first is when you have an existing mail piece and you need to find the right audience to send it to.  For example, if you sell golf equipment and attire, your main audience is surely golf enthusiasts. You have an existing mailer to promote your annual sale on golf attire. By analyzing your website traffic, you can see which users in particular are browsing golf attire, how often they’ve visited, how many product pages they’ve viewed and so on. With this data, you can further personalize the mailer. If you’re sending a postcard, you can personalize with the location of the nearest store. If you’re sending a catalog, you can use a cover that features a particular product group the individual has shown the most interest in, like new golf shoes. By matching current interest with an existing mailer, you’ll be reaching the prospects who are most likely to purchase. This is where all of the work that went into tracking consumers across marketing platforms pays off. Because so many touchpoints are at your disposal, it’s possible to learn virtually everything there is to know about a given consumer. This gives you a limitless number of ways to segment your marketplace and find the perfect audience for your mailer.

The other way to personalize via direct mail is to go the opposite way — in other words, to look at the individual or audience segment and then create the perfect mail piece that will motivate them to buy. Using the golf equipment website example, you can send highly individualized postcards that feature the product group the individual is interested in, the nearest store location or even a special offer tailor made for their browsing behavior. Again, this is much easier when you have all of the pertinent information at your disposal. As always, your mailer should be directed at the desires and/or pain points of this segment, while simultaneously providing a solution as well as a way for recipients to act now.

The Capability of Digital to Print

There are many companies that simply choose to say, “We don’t do direct mail.” However, it’s fair to ask why. The truth is, anything that can be done via a triggered email can also be done with automated postcards. Postcards can continue the conversation with individuals who have opted out of email marketing or with those who haven’t provided an email address. They add balance to your existing trigger programs, rather than trying to replace them. In fact, postcards require little effort on the part of the business and provide valuable messaging; and postcards also come with an exponentially higher response rate than automated emails.

Using postcards solves many of the problems that plague modern marketers. Direct mail stands out in the eyes of a customer, and it facilitates the one-on-one conversation with customers that all marketers covet. It utilizes the same technology that makes digital marketing so efficient, but it’s even more effective. And with direct marketing, data you’ve collected across all of your marketing platforms can be used to send a unique message that’s sure to catch the eye of your desired audience, separating you from your competition while enhancing the customer experience in a fun way.

How to Get Ready for the Digital to Print Revolution eBook

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