Is Direct Mail Dead?

Since the introduction of email and digital marketing, direct mail marketing has slowly dwindled. Clearly digital marketing is cheaper.

Let’s really take a look at that though. Is it as effective? Is the ROI the same as direct mail?

Here’s a great article we found from Forbes that makes it clear that Direct Mail shouldn’t be ignored.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2017/08/30/why-direct-mail-marketing-is-far-from-dead/#312b2f03311d

As stated in the article, direct mail achieves a 4.4% response rate, compared to 0.12% for email. That’s a substantial difference. The article goes on to talk about the emotional response to physical mail and the feelings people get when anticipating the trip to the mailbox.

So when considering your next campaign, don’t just go to the easy solution of email. We can help you get that next campaign in the mail and increase that response rate.

Remove the Data Silos – Drive the Strategy

In your tenure at a company, how many different software platforms have you been on? For some companies, that’s just 1. But not for most. Most companies transition software platforms as new and better technology comes along.

Data migrations from one platform to another can leave you with incomplete and unmatched data. Typically, part of the data is left in the legacy system never to be used again. But why? What determines what has value and not?

Software transitions are just one of the ways you can end up with silos of data. Today, data can be collected from an assortment of sources. Just think about your web presence for a minute; social media, e-commerce platforms, google analytics, paid search, and more.

What you end up with is silos of data and frankly a big mess. How can you market with intentionality if you don’t have a clear picture of your data? And data should drive strategy. Gone are the days of “spray and pray”. Marketing departments now need to be careful to send the right message to the right customer through the right channel.

So how do you do that? Step one is to get rid of the silos. Unification of data across all platforms is a must. Hygiene and standardization routines are required before any unification. The more sophisticated the hygiene logic, the better the standardization and thus the better the unification.

Once you eliminate the silos, you can use that data to drive your strategy and grow your business.

Market Segmentation & Strategy

One of the most important marketing decisions a company will make is figuring out which market segments to focus on. Each segment has unique needs and in most cases, certain products stand a much better chance of success when marketing strategy focuses on the needs of those unique segments vs trying to market and fulfill the needs of multiple segments.

What’s even worse is not doing the proper data analysis and going after the wrong segment. For example, a leading distributor of liquid vitamins was shocked to discover that their marketing effort to and perceived leading segment was not 65+ adults because they were easier to swallow but actually middle-aged adult business travelers who were always on the go.

Of course, a segment should be big enough to be profitable but the smaller and more unique the segment, the more precise the marketing strategy and message can be.

In this day and age, a marketing strategy that includes a marketing database can make it much easier to reach these smaller segments and individual consumers. For example, a large retail website has a marketing database with 60 million existing and potential customers and over 400 data points on each. These data points include hobbies, age, credit, marriage status, birthday, as well as # of children just to name a few. This marketing database allows them to send individualized catalogs when a consumer is most likely to buy.

Combine that with a 360-degree view of the customer and you will get even more accurate insights allowing you to reach the right audience with the right personalized message at the right time.

What do your Consumers Want?

Do you…

  • drive a 1990 Audi station wagon?
  • eat only rice and beans?
  • wear only hand me downs or clothes bought at your local thrift store?
  • only buy furniture at flea markets?
  • live in a van down by the river?

Probably not.

If someone asks you what you want for your birthday do you tell them shampoo or toothpaste?

Maybe, but that would be a rare consumer and a very strong outlier in any data set. And while that consumer wouldn’t require much effort when it comes to marketing strategy your potential and existing customers don’t just purchase the basic necessities to get by. They also purchase what they want.

A good marketing strategy starts with understanding what motivates buyers, allowing them to experience those feelings in advance, and thus creating a desire for them to take action.

How do you tap into that?

A good place to start is with data and lots of it. But, not just any data. There is an explosion of readily available data in this day and age from multiple sources, in multiple formats, and spread across multiple data silos. First, it needs to be cleaned & unified.

From there you need to optimize your data through segmentation, profiling & modeling, and personas while combining spending habits, touch-point behaviors, and other various measures into one single reliable customer view.

This helps create new insights and intelligence that you can add to your campaign execution.

Don’t let your marketing strategy be a one size fits all approach to just spray out a message hoping it will land on someone who will buy. Make it a goal to understand the wants and values of your potential and existing customers. A good place to start is always with clean, unified, and optimized data.


360-Degree View of a Customer

If you are like most companies, you have switched software vendors multiple times. And you probably still have multiple different software systems that you still use. Your data is siloed. This challenge is super common.

Data Hygiene and Identity Resolution is the beginning of the fix to this problem. Data must be cleaned in order to bring it together and create unique persistent pins. But that’s not the end result of this process.

Once you have clean and merged data you are left with a 360-degree of a customer, a holistic view of spend measures, buying habits, and consumer traits.

But why is this important? By analyzing the past and present interactions of a customer, you can use predictive analytics to shape the future. Will the consumer respond to cross-sell opportunities or upsells? A 360-degree view of your customer will help you figure that out.

A 360 view can also aid in the creation of customer personas. Knowing what your customer looks like will help you build an effective marketing strategy and campaigns. You can target your client base with a much more personalized feel.

With a more personalized customer experience, you can build loyalty. And brand loyalty will drastically increase the lifetime value of a customer.

Don’t guess at what your customers look like. Know for sure with a level of depth and insight that will keep them coming back.

Customer Retention is Key

Lost customers can result from being overlooked, not getting enough attention, or getting too much attention. It can ruin customer relationships or how they perceive your brand. Companies need a platform to engage their customers personally across all touch points on a regular basis with the right message at the right time.

Whether it’s quarterly, seasonal, monthly, weekly, or promotional outreach, it’s imperative that companies retain customers against multiple competitor campaigns.

Be sure to reinforce the value of your brand, respond quickly to any real or perceived problem, and get proactive in knowing your customers base. Start with profiling & modeling, segmenting your customers, and creating personas. See how customers rank along multiple factors including revenue contribution, lifetime value, and campaign response rates then take a closer look at how often and in what ways you are connecting with them.

How often are you contacting your customers (too much, too little, not at all), through what channels, what is the purpose of your outreach, what messaging are you using, and what are historical outcomes of those interactions?

Put yourself in your customers shoes. Do your outreach efforts make you want to buy more from your company, feel valued as a customer, feel like your preferences and buying habits are understood?

Apply analytics to your data to better understand your situation, then decide on the frequency, purpose, and channel of outreach to stay top of mind to your customers before they go elsewhere.

Stay on top of your Data Hygiene

In today’s “Big Data” world most business decisions are data driven but the smart and accurate decisions start with clean data.

Data cleansing or data cleaning is the process of detecting and correcting (or removing) corrupt or inaccurate records from a record set, table, or database and refers to identifying incomplete, incorrect, inaccurate or irrelevant parts of the data and then replacing, modifying, or deleting the dirty or coarse data. (wikipedia)

Having clean data is important in every department across B2C and B2B organizations especially in marketing. Some of those multiple data points are:

  • Address Standardization
  • Address Correction and National Change of Address
  • Email Validation
  • Phone Type Validation (Mobile vs Voip vs LandLine vs Company # vs Direct)
  • Duplicates
  • Missing or incomplete data


Bad data can be worse than no data and lead to problems with cost, wasted employee productivity, and customer distrust. For example:

  • Poor data quality is also hitting organizations where it hurts – to the tune of $15 million as the average annual financial cost (Gartner)
  • 77 percent of companies believe their bottom line is affected by inaccurate and incomplete contact data and on average, respondents believe 12 percent of revenue is wasted. (Experian survey)
  • Bad Data Costs the U.S. $3 Trillion Per Year (Harvard Business Review)

With the increasing volumes of data, data sources, and technology stacks housing siloed data coupled with the increasing need to make better and more informed data-driven decisions it is becoming paramount that organizations stay on top of their data hygiene.

Life Events Can Drive Marketing

Personalization is the key to marketing today. The more personal your campaign is the more likely it is to reach the emotions of your consumer. And emotions drive sales.

One of the best ways to personalize a campaign is to use life events. So how do you go beyond birthday when marketing to your customer base?

The key to life events is a good profile of your customer base. You need to make sure your data is clean and has been through Identity Resolution before appending consumer data. Clean data brings back the importance of Identity Resolution. If you have clean and unified data, you will be able to append consumer data with much more accuracy.

Once a customer database has been through Identity Resolution, a good profile will include important dates for each customer. For example you will find wedding anniversary, children’s birthdates, retired date, home purchase date, and more. This kind of data can personalize a campaign on a whole new level.

How can these dates help your marketing strategy? You can use life events to trigger campaigns. So if you are a jewelry store, why not send campaigns based on wedding anniversary? Or if you are a home and garden shop, what better time to send something than the home purchase data anniversary?

Being creative in your campaigns will only boost sales. Don’t discount data that might seem small and inconsequential. It might just be your next best campaign.

An In-Depth View into Pinning

Identity resolution, also known as Pinning, is a data management process through which an identity is searched and analyzed between disparate data sets and databases to find a match and/or resolve identities. Identity resolution enables an organization to analyze a particular individual’s or entity’s identity based on its available data records and attributes.

When an individual or company is searched through an identity resolution solution, a series of algorithms, probability, and scoring is applied to find and determine any associated records. For example, an enterprise might have more than one person named John Smith. However, through identity resolution, this individual’s other data attributes such as telephone number, address and email can help differentiate all of these individuals or detect matches.

Each entity run through our system is assigned a unique company ID, unique person ID, and a unique address ID for consistency, segmentation, and reportability of the marketing database.

Why is this important? The obvious reason is to remove duplicates. This is particularly important when you are sending out a print campaign. The cost of a print campaign can be drastically reduced if a large portion of duplicates have been removed. Pinning can be done at an individual level and a household level ensuring that only one copy of your print ends up in a household.

Another reason Identity Resolution is important is to better understand your customers. Check out this article written for our blog for a more in-depth view of that.

But is it really that important to remove duplicates when sending out an email campaign? Yes it is. The opportunity cost of lost emails through spam reports and unsubscribes is definitely to be considered here.

As you consider all of these things, there is one important thing to remember. Bad data leads to bad results. Increase your effectiveness and your ROI with proper Pinning.