Reaching Consumers in a Multi-Channel World

Targeted, personalized content makes direct mail stand out



Eve Padula


In today’s uncertain times, print service providers (PSPs) and vendors are making investments to stay relevant and remain top-of-mind with their customers. Many organizations are increasing their focus on direct marketing initiatives (i.e., forgoing a third-party retailer and selling firsthand to the public) as they strive to capture and keep consumer attention. Although much of this spending is occurring in the digital space through social media channels and e-mail campaigns, a healthy share is also being channeled back to more traditional printed direct mail.


Savvy PSPs are discovering that targeted—or better yet, personalized—print campaigns can enable market differentiation and provide a greater return on investment. Research from Keypoint Intelligence reveals that today’s consumers are becoming less responsive to generalized forms of advertising. Most people understand that the providers they do business with have access to a great deal of their personal information, and they have come to expect communications that reflect this level of knowledge.


Personalized Content: It Starts with Data!

If PSPs and print vendors hope to succeed with personalized campaigns (print or digital), they must first develop a reliable big data infrastructure. This means that their internal operations must be optimized to take in copious amounts of personal information, process it within an appropriate timeframe, and then feed this data back in a way that prompts consumers to take notice and react. It makes no difference whether the information collected is used for an e-mail, a social media push, a text message, a direct mail campaign, or some combination thereof—all that changes are the parameters of the data collection.


At the same time, however, some print providers are discovering that printed communications get noticed and enable them to stand apart from their competitors. According to Keypoint Intelligence’s Marketing Communications research, direct mail was more likely to be read than digital messaging. Although 64% of consumers read all or most of their printed direct mail, less than half did the same for digital messages.


Share of Messages Read Before Disposing/Deleting


Consumers remain responsive to printed communications, and this may be partially attributed to digital fatigue. Most people are now inundated by digital messages, especially e-mails. In today’s digital age, direct mail is the less crowded channel. Whereas e-mails are frequently mass-deleted, consumers are more likely to at least glance at their direct mail pieces before throwing them away.


Delivering a Great Customer Experience

The concept of the customer experience is not new; businesses have been holding marketing meetings to formulate strategies on keeping clients engaged and happy for decades. From mapping the customer journey to learning the psychology of the point of sale to identifying the importance of retention and the value it can bring, this process is already well-understood.


With all the use of big data and digital infrastructure, it might seem counterintuitive to rely on something like direct mail. Although businesses should certainly not be focusing solely on printed direct mail—or any other single channel—to resolve all their marketing challenges, the reality is that print remains an established, viable tool that has demonstrated continued effectiveness with consumers of all ages. Particularly when personalization is involved, printed communications increase engagement rates and prompt consumers to act.


Keypoint Intelligence’s Marketing Communications research confirms that over half of consumers reported spending much more time with personalized, relevant direct mail than they spent with generic mail pieces. Customers are also more likely to pay attention when a piece of marketing content is personalized. Using a client’s name helps, but relevant coupons, references to events of interest, and offers based on previous purchases can greatly increase response rates.


Leveraging Digital to Help Sell Print

Print campaigns can often be improved with digital augmentation, and the value of an omni-channel approach cannot be overstated. Customers want to have their unique preferences met, so forcing everyone to capitulate to a single channel will certainly not improve response rates. By embracing an omni-channel approach, PSPs can position themselves for greater success.


Our Take

Developing personalized print campaigns can be challenging, but it is increasingly essential—particularly in today’s unprecedented times. With internal workflow optimization, PSPs can set themselves up for big data processing so they can better respond to their clients’ evolving expectations concerning personalization. Even in today’s digital era, direct mail and other print campaigns can remain impactful and profitable. These campaigns can become even more effective when they are personalized based on consumers’ needs and behaviors.


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