Direct mail typically generates higher response rates and higher sales than digital efforts. When print and postage costs rise, there is an inclination to reduce direct mail quantities and shift budget to lower cost digital tactics. Marketers who integrate direct mail into their marketing efforts utilizing data management solutions ensure their campaigns are executed the most efficiently and effectively by optimizing audience targeting.
To boost direct mail efforts, there are five data-driven approaches that should be incorporated to help counteract increased postage costs.
1. Address and Data Quality
Adhere to address and data hygiene methodologies for both house and outside / purchased lists. Using US Postal Service solutions such as Change of Address, CASS Certification, and DSF, marketers improve deliverability by verifying and updating addresses, identifying and removing undeliverable addresses, and appending Zip+4 codes to reduce postage costs.
2. Best Kept Record Scoring
Employ a specialized scoring algorithm during merge/purge processing to ranking audience records based on a combination of address quality, presence of Zip+4, gender, transactional data, and other available data points.. As duplicate records are identified, this score decides the best record to keep for campaign response purposes.
3. Promotion History
Track promotion history to determine the number of times a record will be targeted with no response.. Tailor business rules to suppress individuals, households, and/or segments after a specific number of times mailed with no response to lower quantities and eliminate print and postage costs OR maintain quantities and target additional records more that could respond. For marketers with multiple brands targeting the same prospective audience, analyzing promotion history at the enterprise level to reduce cannibalization of results..
4. Household and Company Penetration
Use advanced record-linking to identify multiple unique individuals within a household, or employees within a business.. Through testing and campaign analysis, marketers should establish a maximum number of contacts to promote within a campaign such as limiting direct mail to one piece per household or a maximum of three per company depending on the offer. Reducing duplicate pieces to the same address allows for expanded reach to additional households and/or businesses.
5. Licensed and Proprietary Suppression and Prescreen
In addition to in-house suppression files, utilize licensed and proprietary suppression files to prevent non-responsive records from being targeted. Pander/do not mail, correctional facilities, deceased, profanity, and more are identified and flagged to ensure they are withheld from campaign eligibility.
Marketers should also utilize compiled data sources to enhance and prescreen records ahead of the audience selection process. Appending income, age, and presence of children, and/or other demographics can help validate list selections and suppress records from outside the desired target audience.
Increased production and postage costs, will continue to pose a challenge to direct mail as a channel. If done effectively – with a data-driven approach -direct mail will continue to be a valuable component of any brand’s marketing strategy today, and will remain so going forward.