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The Direct Mail Advantage

The advantages of direct mail are no secret. Whether you want to reach a new market or demographic, generate repeat sales, or simply increase your campaign’s response rate, direct mail is the way to do it.

Not only is direct mail beating out other marketing mediums, it’s on the rise. In a recent ADA/DMA study, the response rates for both house lists and prospect lists for direct mail were shown to handily outpace response rates for digital marketing vehicles. Not only that, but these numbers are up a substantial amount from previous years. According to the same study, the utilization rate of direct mail is also reaching new heights, tying with social media for the most utilized medium.

One reason that people are flocking to direct mail is the innovation in the industry. The many advantages of direct mail can now be increased by new technologies that can print better, more engaging, and more target and personalized tools capable of meeting goals and beating expectations.

Crafting the Campaign

The rule of thumb is that a direct mail campaign is capable of generating an intended response/impact based on three factors:

  1. Reaching the right person in the right way
  2. Design and content
  3. Perceived value and legitimacy

As you can tell there is a general give and take within each of these factors. For example, not every coupon can be 50% off, but the perceived value is also tied to the trustworthiness and legitimacy of the piece of advertising as a whole — people tune out website ads that claim you have won a new laptop by being the 1,000th customer, but pay close attention to even modest deals from their favorite brands or from sources that feel official. Likewise, reaching the right person can involve market research, mailing lists, and individual customer data, but it can also be sent in the right way through variable data printing: personalizations made to the mail that can turn a recipient who wouldn’t have paid much attention into a responder or customer. Naturally, design and content are tied to one another, with opportunities for a well-designed piece to act as the most successful vehicle for any content.

What’s clear is that no matter the message you want to get across, there is always a way to perfect your direct mail campaign. The experts at United Mail, along with an arsenal of the latest innovations and technologies the industry has to offer, can take your marketing campaign to the next level by drawing out the strengths of your marketing message both overall, and as they apply to the three key factors.

Every Step of the Way

These days, “snail mail” is a distinct misnomer. Direct mail can happen fast. You can generate a mailing list, develop mailing materials, launch a mailing and start to receive results all within just a few months, and United Mail can be there for you every step of the way.

First, we will figure out who you want to target. Establishing a mailing list is a key part of any direct mail campaign. This is where reaching the right person comes into play. With countless factors to consider and a multitude of different time-tested methods for generating leads, the experts at United Mail can work with you to generate the best mailing list possible for your campaign.

Next comes crafting the mailing piece itself. Here is where we’ll have to juggle the rest of the key factors of a successful campaign: reaching people in the right way, design, content, perceived value, and legitimacy. Each of these factors can be perfected through the proper implementation of variable data printing.

Variable Data Printing

What is variable data printing (VDP)? VDP is a way to connect with recipients on a personal level while maintaining efficiency of cost and increasing return on investment. VDP is a technique that combines comprehensive data, marketing savvy, and the latest equipment to make direct mail more successful than ever.

We’ve all seen boiler-plate mail: “Attention customer,” or “Dear Resident” etc. A lot of people aren’t motivated to read mail that isn’t addressed to them. Sending the exact same piece of mail to everyone on your mailing list, while simple, isn’t often the most effective way to reach the right people in the right way. For the customer, doing it the standard way can seem distant and impersonal. Instead, everything from addressing each recipient by their actual name, to adding a local color map, to drawing on customer data to generate unique marketing materials in other ways will help you connect with your customers, and impart a valuable personal touch, as well as a feeling of value and legitimacy. This will help customers hold on to and pay attention to your send-outs far more often and more effectively than mail that sounds mass-produced, impersonal, and boilerplate, and it will also generate the responses and impacts that you’re looking for on a much wider and more meaningful scale.

This sounds expensive and time-consuming, right? Not with United Mail. Even though each piece of mail can be personal and individual, with the technologies at our disposal, there’s no need to craft each piece of mail individually. But how does it work?

Imagine a national chain of pizza restaurants. Before, a brochure would either have to be crafted specifically for each region or service area, or it would have to be general enough to be applicable to all stores nationwide. Now, through VDP, a send-out can be much more specific and helpful, to a region-specific or even customer-specific degree, without the need to individually craft them on a per-region or per-customer basis. For example, this hypothetical pizza company has a better chance of reaching customers if they include a map that points out the nearest location to each individual customer. That way the customer will feel like they’re being spoken to on a personal level when they see their own neighborhood pizza location on the map.

Adding a region-specific or customer-specific element, and addressing recipients by their actual names, are just a couple of ways that VDP can improve your marketing campaign, but the true number of applications are functionally unlimited.

Another idea would be to send an individual message based on the customer’s specific shopping history. An “if you’re enjoying your recent purchase of X, then you’re going to love Y” sort of message is a great way to tap into and build upon the positive experiences of an initial customer in order to turn them into a repeating customer. Repeat business is often vital for overall success, and personal touches to previous customers can help you convert one-time customers into lifetime customers. Likewise, customer loyalty messages and first-time shopper advertisements can make use of the same general marketing materials. All of the specials and sales would be the same and be used to create the overall template to form the bulk of the content, with specific areas that can be replaced based on customer data to reflect returning customers, long time customers, and first-time customers. VDP is even capable of awarding different coupons to each tier of customer. Customer loyalty is extremely important and making your customers feel valued and spoken to on an individual level goes a long way toward fostering that customer loyalty.

The Technology

Recent marketing data shows that customers are 70% more likely to open mail with personalized content and color text. Using a variable data printing method to tailor each marketing piece to your customer’s profile can increase your live response rates by 15%. And by creating templates that can be filled in with relevant individual information, the time and financial cost of printing individually are far less with variable data printing technology.

One of these technologies is United Mail’s new iJetColor NXT printing system. With VDP capabilities and full-color edge-to-edge printing for envelopes, this system is perfectly poised to take advantage of that 70% bump in readership right off the bat.

The system is fast, flexible, and failproof. With a high real-world speed, production output on this system can surpass 12 items per second, well exceeding 6,000 per hour. Full color and color image printing has never been faster than with United Mail, continually shattering the “snail mail” paradigm. The iJetColor NXT also cuts down on processing time through a unified and streamlined approach. The system boasts extreme flexibility, ready to print on a variety of input dimensions and head heights, with a wide range of feed-dimensions and easily adjustable between standard #9s, #10s, remits, peel/stick, catalog, coin, and more, and has an adjustable head height control up to 3/8″ to print bubble packs, padded envelopes, corrugated materials, etc. Mitigating all of the most common causes of delay with clean and easy maintenance cycles, easy access to ink cartridges and operative parts, the system is also failproof.

Another example of United Mail’s continued investment in the latest and best technologies and longstanding commitment to innovation is the StitchLiner MARK III. The StitchLiner MARK III is capable of a process called “variable print stitching.” Variable print stitching is essentially variable data printing squared, capable of individualizing multi-page send-outs in a variety of different ways.

Variable print stitching affords you the ability to efficiently utilize personalized images, text, phone numbers, information, and more in brochures, booklets, and other multi-page projects.

With variable print stitching, specific pages from the same base pool of materials can be attached to create an effective personalized experience for customers by presenting them with marketing materials relevant to them and their individual data profiles, regional information, or demographics. For example, customer X can receive pages 1,3,5, and 9 of a booklet, while customer Y can receive pages 1,2,4,6, and 8. While the first page might be relevant to every recipient, there’s no need to overwhelm everyone with information that isn’t relevant to them, nor to print those pages in the first place. Consider a real estate company’s booklet. While all recipients will need to understand the general ins and outs of home listing, a subset that lives in a gated community will need to know different specific information than the subset that doesn’t.

Another option that The StitchLiner MARK III brings to the table is the option for variable print stitching with cover personalization. Cover personalization helps to ensure that each customer, region of customers, or demographic market feel spoken to on a more personal and relevant level. The StitchLiner MARK III gives companies, brands, and marketing professionals the power to deliver the same information to a wide array of customers with a variety of needs and expectations. For example, the same content of a public safety booklet may be relevant to residents of several different districts, but adding in a local and personalized cover page can increase readership.

Do More with United Mail

The iJetColor NXT and The StitchLiner MARK III are just a couple of examples of United Mail’s dedication to innovation and to bringing you the technology you need to bring your vision of a perfect marketing campaign to life.

United Mail is here not only to craft your next direct mail campaign but also to perfect it. With our array of services, depth of expertise, and investment in the latest printing machinery, there has never been a better time to work with United Mail. Give us a call today to take the first step in bringing your perfect campaign to life.

By: Kenton Jetton