Benchmarking Direct Mail: How Do Your Response Rates Measure Up

Sep 14, 2021 1:00 PM2:00 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways

How do you gauge direct mail engagements to maximize investment? Is there a way to make direct mail a faster and more viable acquisition channel?

Unlike a virtual response, direct mail can combine digitalization with paper to produce a higher response rate and improve marketing and transactional mail campaigns. How do you benchmark your direct response rates? As the Head of Product Marketing, Mark Pinard knows that data is essential for success. Tracking engagement, performance, and connecting data with a delivery confirmation system can produce an efficient campaign that saves time and money.

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant sits down with Mark Pinard, Head of Product Marketing at Lob, to discuss benchmarking data for productive direct mail engagement. Mark discusses why an address verification system is crucial, tracking omnichannel performance, and why coordinating direct mail and digital channels is vital.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:


  • Mark Pinard discusses why data is essential for direct mail campaigns
  • The importance of proper tracking and understanding your ROI
  • Mark explains how direct mail campaigns must be flexible to meet consumer needs
  • How to incorporate digital technology into direct mail for higher response rates
  • Unique strengths of an omnichannel presence
  • Mark talks about how to set benchmarks for your direct response rates
  • Reaching your target audience with the right content
  • The difference between direct and transactional mail
  • Merging direct mail and digital channels
  • Mark discusses the types of testing to define a higher retention outcome
  • Using automation for direct mail and personalization
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Lob is an automation platform that transforms direct mail into intelligent mail, at scale.

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Guest Speaker

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Mark Pinard

Mark Pinard

Head of Product Marketing at Lob

Mark Pinard is the Head of Product Marketing at Lob. He has over a decade of experience and success in leadership roles. He worked with Intuit, Xero, and Mynd to develop and execute multimillion-dollar campaigns. He graduated from San Jose State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and Marketing.

Event Moderator

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Mark Pinard

Mark Pinard

Head of Product Marketing at Lob

Mark Pinard is the Head of Product Marketing at Lob. He has over a decade of experience and success in leadership roles. He worked with Intuit, Xero, and Mynd to develop and execute multimillion-dollar campaigns. He graduated from San Jose State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and Marketing.

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Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Co-Founder & Managing Director Aaron Conant runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

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Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant 0:18

Happy Tuesday everybody. My name is Aaron Conant. I'm the Co-Founder and Managing Director of BWGConnect. We're a networking and knowledge sharing group with 1000s of brands who do exactly that. We network and now chair together to stay on top of the newest trends, strategies, pain points, partners, whatever it might be that shaping the digital landscape as a whole. There's close to 10,000 brands in the network now, you know, I talked with 30 of them before even a week. And that's how we come up with the topics for these calls. So whole, just Digital Strategy Session, if anybody that would like to chat, for follow up email, we'd love to have a conversation with you. And that's, you know, kind of pick your brain on Hey, what are the next topics that are out there, a couple housekeeping items, we'll get started today, we want this to be as educational and informational as possible. So real time, if you have any questions, you can drop them into the chat, you can drop them into the question section, or you can always email me Aaron we'll get those answered as many of those as we can today. The other thing is, we're starting three to four minutes after the hour. And just so you know, we're gonna try and wrap up was four minutes at least to go in the hour as well, if not a little bit more. So just know, we're gonna give you plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being late. And with that, let's go ahead and kick it off. So what's been really popular with brands that I've been talking to is, you know, maximizing the current customers that are already in the funnel. So iOS 14.5 update goes through, a lot of people are struggling now are finding it, you know, a little bit harder, a little bit more expensive to get people in top of funnel. So what do you do? And how do you maximize potential with everybody that you already have in the funnel? Maybe they're on your website? You know, already? How do you maximize that, you know, both currently, but also lifetime value of the customer? How do you make it as high as possible if you've already got them locked in. And so we got some great friends, great partners of the network over lunch, they're helping a ton of different brands out within the network, and just came highly recommended in a really think rapidly changing really unique space of direct mail. So not always just the traditional, hey, we're gonna blast everybody that's out there, but very specific direct mail and driving, return on adspend as a whole. So anyways, you know, we've got a great friend here, Mark, if you want to, you know, jump in, you know, a brief intro on yourself and Lob would be awesome. And then we can kind of kick off the conversation with some good.

Mark Pinard 2:40

Yeah, for sure. Hey, Aaron. Thank you, everybody. Great, great to actually be here. So my name is Mark and Im the head of Product Marketing over at Lob. And Lob is is the leading direct mail platform for direct mail innovation. We service about 8500 customers, many of those customers in the top 100 mailers and and we actually served as send mail, it's important to households in the US so but quite an experience in executing direct mail underneath our belts and do it through technology. And then super excited to kind of walk you guys through some of the ways that you can achieve the top direct mail results with with your campaigns. Awesome. Love it.

Aaron Conant 3:17

So again, if you have any questions along the way, drop in the question section in the chat area, or email me Aaron So with that, let's go ahead and kick it off Mark, give a screen share or slide deck and kind of jump into it.

Mark Pinard 3:38

Need to share share with me. Yeah, to get things off. Again, thank you, everyone, I'm excited to be able to talk about a topic that's near and dear to my heart. You know, understanding how your direct mail response rates are adding up. I want to show you how to benchmark your direct mail response rates and then improve them to make both your marketing as well as transactional mail campaigns the most effective that you possibly can, and will also kind of go through and share some helpful resources including, you know, on demand viewing of this webinar afterwards. So if you miss anything, we'll be emailing you a full recording of the webinar in the next day or two. So So feel free to chime in and focus in on the content itself. And again, Mark Pinard so head of product marketing. And the reason I'm presenting you today is that Lob, you know again, with that experience of sending one and two US households is a leader in direct mail innovation. We provide a complete end to end direct mail platform for enterprise businesses. And it kind of gives way to that archaic way of executing direct mail a radical facelift that kind of brings it back into the digital age and aligns with the rest of your your digital campaigns. We do provide API's for both Britain mail as well as address verification, and combine that with an extensive printing network, you know, HTML templating analytics, real time mail tracking, plus other functionality and that really gives direct mail the level of efficiency and results You'd expect from your digital channels such as email, for example.

Aaron Conant 5:04

So really quick, it's funny that first question comes in, like, I'm struggling to understand from a personal experience, why in 2021, there's no, there's no way for direct mail databases to be updated for people that actually have moved. Right? There seems to be so much mail that goes to people that no longer live at addresses, you know, mind bath late.

Mark Pinard  5:24

Yeah, first of all, love the actual question. And that's a great kickoff and like into what we're going to talk cover, you know, today. But to be honest, there is technology out there that supports the scrubbing of database and ensuring that your data is like up to speed and that things like NCQA, which is forwarding addresses, and that all of the actual mail itself is going to the correct address, I will cover some of that. But honestly, that's a great way to kick off the presentation, because data is probably the number one thing that can make or break the success of a direct mail campaign, as well as the cost of it. Um, so there are ways to do it. And I promise that we talked about some of that during this presentation itself.

Aaron Conant 6:05

Yeah. Awesome. Yeah, I mean, because every time you send a piece of mail out, right, it costs money.

Mark Pinard 6:11

100%, right. And that's, that's actually where you really want to make your efficiencies. And there's technology out there to kind of support that. And that's a that's a lot of layers. But what I want to cover today is around the utilization of technology, because I think that when people take a step back and look at their marketing tech stack, right, a lot of what they're doing to support content, you know, SMS messaging, you know, social advertising, email, all of that is based around technology. And direct mail is one of those channels that's kind of been left out on itself on its own island, right. And there hasn't been anyone that's gone and something teeth into it, to support it from a technology standpoint, or kind of bring it back on underneath the fold the other channels. And a lot of what we go through today is on the basis of utilizing technology and just kind of opening the eyes of some consumers. So marketers to really understand that, hey, technology can support direct mail. And this is a very viable acquisition channel. I'm gonna jump into it. So the challenge of benchmarking data, and this leads to that that technology piece, right. And so let's talk a little bit about value direct mail engagement. benchmarking is a major challenge. There's a lot of data out there about response rates and benchmark benchmarking on digital channels that you know, such as email. But as far as direct mail goes, there's a lot less information that's available. And direct mail is kind of that secret sauce, where most companies that are successful at it have figured out a way to spit and duct tape work flows together in order to really get the most out of it. So and one of the main reasons is that between how digital channels and direct mail are structured, digital channels, again, such as email have a lot of tracking and analytics that are automatically built into them. And as email is routed the recipient, the system automatically tracks each step and provides almost instantaneous feedback. If for example, an email isn't delivered. The third party providers have developed tools that can easily be added to track open rates provide report receipts. And then, of course, like within the email, you can include things like custom links, you know, tracking, click throughs, these and everything else that goes because it is completely digital. The secret sauce is the most of the things that you can track an email, you can also track and direct mail. But the tools aren't there by default, like they are with email. And while the US Postal Service actually has a lot of back end tracking mechanisms on their own, it doesn't automatically plug in any business to that and be able to utilize that system. So if you are utilizing like a single print vendor, for instance, I'm having them send it out your data only goes as far as confirming that the campaign was printed, and that the mail was then handed off to USPS. And you won't ever get confirmation that your direct mail was delivered successfully, much less information about engagement unless you put some tools in place. That's really where like the premise of this presentation kind of kicks off because you got to have tools in place just like you do with any of your digital channels to support direct mail, to have the proper tracking and understand what your ROI is. So gauging direct mail engagement and response rates. So if you want to gauge your direct mail engagement, you need to again adopt that technology in order to do so you really need to, again, shameless plug address verification system, and good data is the crux of any direct mail program. So Address Verification enables you to ensure you're not wasting money on sending direct mail onto wrong addresses or duplicate addresses, which will obviously artificially lower your engagement rates.

And here's the part where I have a little bit salesy for the moment right. Lob provides an address verification system that you can integrate directly into your direct mail workflow, and it's probably the single most effective investment you can make. Do your direct mail program, particularly if you struggle to maintain up to date addresses, knowing your mail is going to actually get to its destination is actually crucial crucial for effective benchmarking. Most of the way that direct mail is run today is that a list is polled, it's sent off to the vendor, and then the vendor fulfills it, none of that list is typically scrubbed. Whereas an agile verification system, like what we're doing actually gives you the ability to actually scrub it before any of those mail pieces are created and sent, which is which is key to this process of any engagement response rate. And you also need a way to plug into the US USPS delivery confirmation system. The Postal Service scans mail and every step of the delivery process as a cast certified Postal Service partner Lob actually can plug that right into your system, and then you receive real time confirmation when your direct mail is delivered. You can even follow each individual mailpiece throughout this entire journey. And that's really what a lot of our customers are doing in order to measure success and see the actual engagement response rates and understand how they can improve. And then finally, with that, you need some type of trackable confirmation. So there's no real direct mail equivalent of read receipts, for instance, I like to see an email. But people sort their own mail, they don't rely on a filter, like with email. So you can assume that pretty much every piece of mail gets gets some eyes on it. However, you can track engagement if you give your recipients something to engage with, which I think is the biggest piece of this this puzzle that people are really looking for more information on. Right? Is that like, how do I actually track that engagement itself? Um, I want to pause there and just make sure if any questions came up, I'm not missing anything.

Aaron Conant 11:42

But the only question I came in is, who are you sending out the direct mail to? Is it a Are you are you doing it by individual consumer, or are you doing it by customer segments.

Mark Pinard  11:56

And honestly, that's completely up to the actual marketer themselves. So because Lob, for instance, is an API based product that plugs directly within your marketing tech stack, it gives you complete flexibility to do it based on a customer action. Based on a record that has changed based on something they did on your website, whether it's an abandoned cart, or pre purchase a wind back campaign, it gives you the full flexibility to send a direct mail piece, regardless of how you cut and slice your data. Um, we've actually seen a lot of our customers, you know, have deeper relationships with their data analytics teams, so that they can fully understand the performance of what their customers actually doing. And then automatically send and trigger or trigger a direct mail piece targeted towards that audience. So it's, it's the has the complete flexibility based on whatever you're seeing, and whatever you want to accomplish.

Aaron Conant 12:50

So just another one, just a quick a quick, so now, so flow, abandoned cart. Right, an email doesn't get open, we shoot the text over, there's not you shoot out a direct mail, in a flyer to that individual person with a 10% off coupon code, and

Mark Pinard  13:10

you got it 100%. I mean, there's events, we've even had customers that, for instance, have seen a someone go to their website and make a purchase, right. And they may or may have not made a purchase in the next three to six months. So it says, Hey, I actually want to send a direct mail piece that is highly targeted at their last purchase and provides maybe an example of something else that they can purchase within that same branding category. And all of these actual pieces are highly customizable and personalized to that specific person and kind of get into a little bit later. But we've got companies that have very sleek algorithms based in their direct mail program that will understand anything from credit scores, and you know, what the customer is shopping for. If you're a young family that just had a child and you're looking to make a car, you know, make a minivan purchase or a car purchase, they'll send out without, you know, highly gloss picture of the actual, you know, SUV or minivan rather than a convertible, for instance, and all of the messaging and everything can be targeted and triggered and customize to whatever the variable is based on that person's action.

Aaron Conant 14:16

Um, no, it's awesome. I mean, I think that's crazy. All this tracking and stuff to what I hear from a lot of brands is you know, there's a lot more scrutiny on on budgets in media and advertising budgets this year than there was last year was almost like last year, there was kind of a pass, not a pass but less scrutiny. And now, the budgets are being I don't know if they're being tightened up, but there's a lot more. A lot more attention paid to where the money's going and how it's being spent. And what's what's the return on that adspend So, yeah, you know, the ability to not, you know, just blast everybody all the time, and then plug it in. Like it's like did It'll age direct mail. That's what it is.

Mark Pinard 15:02

That's exactly what is 100%. Right. It's like connecting the offline world, the online world in the way that I like to describe it is that direct mail is like the newest oldest channel, right? I mean, it's been around for quite some time, but it just has had lacked that that level of flexibility to, you know, to execute and personalize and do all the things that you see on the digital side. So I think what happened is that marketers, we got so reliant on the digital side, that digital channels are now relatively saturated, and kind of given away the entire presentation, but some of some of the ways that they're looking to kind of get out of the comfort zone of you know, the digital age is going back to direct mail. And and most companies that have found that are using sophisticated workflows to execute direct mail are like, hey, great, but the environments changing, how can I execute faster, and that's where it kind of technology comes in, and to solve that ball. Um, but back to this, this tracking engagement. So there's four basic ways that you can track your response rates, you know, on the first is the QR code. So I don't know about you. But before the pandemic QR codes were, I never really interacted with them, I didn't really understand like, I actually thought that they were going to plan up dead. But with the pandemic have actually provided us a crash course on that on how the QR code works. And basically, you can encode unique information to automatically take recipients to a specific webpage, when when they scan that code, we've actually seen some really cool things in which you can take them to a VR experience in which they can actually see whatever you want whatever product that you're selling, and have them interact with it, or, for instance, one of our printers and created a VR experience in which it took that person to a concert. And it kind of made them like they're sitting in the back lawn of an actual concert and experiencing that. So there's a lot of really cool things that you have to do for it. Um, for younger recipients, and others who are comfortable with the technology, what's an appealing option, because there's nothing they have to type in. And then, you know, obviously, during the pandemic, many restaurants use them to allow diners to access virtual menu. And this kind of brought QR codes back the top list of ways to track direct direct mail. The second option is using a unique URL. each recipient receives their own URL in which they typing to redeem an offer, submit an invoice, pay a bill or perform whatever action you direct mails trying to get them to complete. And then these are actually nice, because anyone with a computer or smartphone can use them. And you can also include a QR code and a URL to point to the same page with the recipients can use whichever technology that they're more comfortable with. third option is unique discount code. So Aaron, like you had mentioned, right? If you're trying to get that customer like maybe on a wind back end, campaign and come back and purchase again, you can offer say 10% off of purchasing your mail piece, and then give each recipient a unique code. And when they enter that code at checkout, and not only applies the discount, it also lets you know which particular recipient took advantage of the offer, which then in turn allows you to develop better customer profiles in segments as you start to target these these different customers. And then finally, there are platforms enable you to generate unique phone numbers for each recipient. This is more of a niche technology, because digital codes are more convenient for the user in most cases. But however, unique phone numbers can be useful for for older customers who aren't comfortable with the digital technology. And that can also be useful in transaction new cases where you really need to get the user on the phone. And a good example of this is trying to resolve a specific user complaint or set up a payment plan. The code identifies the individual user, which makes things a little quicker and more convenient for the rep on the other side when they're when they're servicing the phone. Okay, so let's dive into the benchmarks. Because I feel like this is an incredibly important topics that just kind of cements the understanding of the performance of direct mail in general. Now that we've adopted kind of the tools to track the response rates, let's go through some of these benchmarks. And for reasons we already discussed, there's less benchmarking information out there about direct mail. And then obviously, digital channels is saturated quite a bit with with a lot of data. According to the Association of national advertisers, the average direct mail response rate is 9%, which compares favorably to the email response rates around 1%. So let's chew on that a little bit. So 9% on a direct mail piece compared to the 1% on email. So that's quite a big delta between those two. And then this is tested was backed up by our recent state of the direct mail survey, where we lost survey 200 American Marketing Leaders from eight different industries. And we found that 64% of those leaders rated direct mail as having the best response rate of any channel.

I like to attribute this with the pandemic and everyone being stuck in front of a computer all day and then digital channels really have reached that kind of full volume of saturation at this point, and I actually use this this metaphor at a conference in It seemed to resonate. But I think at this point, because people are in their homes all day, they're stuck in front of a computer screen, right, the opportunity to kind of detach, watch the walk to your mailbox and check your mail is actually kind of like a break in the day, it's, it's a little bit of a roll, I never would have thought it but it's a little bit of a relaxing, you know, way to kind of kind of get away from the computer for a bit. And in doing that, you get your you get your prospects, undivided attention, which is something that you will never get any of the other channels. And then a portion of that is that there's a lot of people that will take that piece of direct mail, they'll review it real quick, and then they'll put it on their countertop so that it's not added automatically thrown out like an email isn't wasted. And they will either come back to it, they'll take an action, they'll do something at a later date. So that kind of shows that effectiveness of direct mail, and that ability to get a person's undivided attention, which is very hard to find another chance to pause there and any other questions rolling in?

Aaron Conant 21:01

I mean, the only other question is, we don't know if we can tackle it now or later is like, how, what is the percentage of people using? So there's two that come in? One is what are the percentage of people using direct mail today? You know, in a highly efficient manner, manner, or, you know, all kinds of say just Is there a statistic as a whole. In the other one is, you know, what does integration look like? I mean, everybody, you know, in there it comes in there, I their IT department has got, you know, a tech stack a mile and a half long waiting to be implemented. There's a so there's two questions there that popped in And just a reminder, as we're kind of getting halfway through for those of you who join, so an awesome conversation with Mark over at Lob, I'd say. So they come highly recommended from a ton of different brands in the network is a, I'd say digital age direct mail, you know, service provider. And anyways, you have questions at all, just drop into the question section in the chat or email them directly to me Aaron we can get them answered in real time. So do you have any stats around, you know, how many people are using it or using it effectively. And the other one is, you know, the integration timeframe, and maybe we're going to get to that, I don't know,

Mark Pinard 22:17

we'll get a little bit of the integration, I don't have any stats off the top of my head, but I will get get those over, we do see quite a few. I think a range is right, I think there's a range of which there's some channels that are companies that have been utilizing direct mail for 20 2030 years, right, and they've got this down to a science, which they understand that is a viable acquisition channel for them and the ability to customize, right. Um, we've seen a lot of those top 100 100 mailers kind of come over and utilize Lob because it was the ability to execute at a faster rate. And I know that we kind of think we tackle this a lot, but anywhere from a typical direct mail campaign campaign, depending on your workflow, it can take anywhere from three to six months. And with Lob, you can cut that down in a matter of days and weeks. Um, and I think like the pandemic, again, drove marketers to an edge point of which like, hey, direct mail is a good viable channel. For me, I'm seeing a lot of success in it. But the environment around me and what my customers are interacting with engaging with is changing so fast, that I don't have that ability to move faster. And how can I do that, like I am doing my digital channels. And that's kind of where Lob provides that technology to the marketing tech stack. I mean, honestly, because we're an API, you can plug it in anywhere, some of the major software's that we work with are Marketo, braze, Salesforce, I mean, and but any CRM marketing side, you know automation system, CDP I pass, you kind of name it, we can actually plug in, plug into those systems. And then from there, it's all about how you want to customize it in which you're setting up your actual campaigns. Lob just becomes a tile within those campaigns, and then allows you to set up the automation flow of like I think you mentioned earlier and of like sending out an email followed by an SMS message followed by a Facebook ad followed by a direct mail piece, and how you actually set up that that flow. The good thing with that is that we get this later. But from an omni channel perspective, if you have that direct mail piece in it, you can actually have all of that data underneath one roof now. So you can see what your direct mail performances from that campaign versus a campaign that's just email base, and actually understand what what customers are engaging with what's performing, which is I think, is huge. So the other question that is, is the ANA so the Association of national advertising their their response rates findings houseless first prospect list. So houseless are data that you have internally based on a customer or prospect that is engaged with you that has gone to your website that has maybe, you know, submitted for an inquiry for demo, or whatever it might be, was a prospect list is typically an outsourced list that you've purchased and that it's a targeted segment or a segment that you're going after. Um, so the the ANA actually reported on some factors that were that kind of affect direct mail and according to the data hostless actually have a higher response rate and prospects less of that oversized envelopes have a higher response rate than postcards or normal envelopes. type of campaign also affects response rate. So with retention campaigns are performing better than acquisition campaigns, which I think is is is good to to understand your acquisition campaigns are more of the broader. Maybe these are customers that have not interacted with your product at all, where retention campaigns are those campaigns that, you know, they've done something within your within your product with with your website. And so that it's kind of like a warmed up lead. And they are seeing which kind of makes sense retention campaigns perform a little bit better on the acquisition side, and the state of direct mail. So However, our own data showed high response rates across all types of marketing campaigns, over half, the Marketing Leaders we surveyed had response rates of 5% or greater across acquisition, winback, retention and referral campaigns. And you can see the retention response rates are a little bit higher than acquisition when that referral, but a significant portion of the total response reported rates greater than 10%, across all four types of campaigns, which is pretty impressive. We're a big fan of retention marketing, and the data does seem to show a little edge for potential response rates. But all four types of campaigns show high enough response rates that really your marketing priority should drive your direct mail program rather than statistics on what are you trying to achieve and then build your campaign target around that actual goal. Similarly, although the AMA data shows oversized envelopes, getting higher response rates, and postcards and regular envelopes, it's not really clear if that's because of the form factor itself, or just the case of oversized envelopes. And companies are more likely to use oversized envelopes to send important documents that recipients are expecting like, you know, insurance information and medical, legal or financial on, which obviously will likely skew the results. This also could be because larger envelopes will stick out in the mail stack, right drawing more attention to the recipient first. And they're going to target that because they feel like something something's important in there.

So how should your direct mail responses be? So in review, direct mail has higher response rates across all four types of campaigns. But now that you have some broad data, how do you set benchmarks for your direct mail response rates, if you're just starting to measure direct mail response rates, a good baseline is about 5%. response, you're already seeing a 5% response or higher, you're doing pretty good, you're doing a really great job at direct mail. But a rule of thumb, you also want your direct mail response rates to be higher than your response rates on digital channels like email for the example that we gave earlier. And that delta between the nine and 1%. One of the big benefits of direct mail is it doesn't get screened or filter like email. So you can pretty much guarantee that all your recipients will see at least one of your mailings, and it really should be your most effective channel, or at least one of your most effective channels. And if it's underperforming your digital channels in some use case, then there is something wrong needs to take step back and kind of go through the details and understand what where you can improve. Not just about the numbers, though, you do need to make sure your direct responses are relevant to your business. Which brings us to response quality. I wanted to pause there real quick, just to see if anything had rolled in there.

Aaron Conant 28:33

Yeah, so just a couple of one in there saying, hey, join a little bit after the hour, we'll be sharing this deck after the meeting.

Mark Pinard  28:42

We will be sharing a recording of the webinar.

Aaron Conant 28:45

Okay, awesome. Um, the other thing is, what is your time frame? I think this is jumping back. I don't know if it's this 5%. Or going back to the the last pause that we kind of took is the timeframe for the 9% response rate on direct mail campaigns.

Mark Pinard 28:57

And honestly, it all depends, like I think the hardest part with direct mail is that marketers jump into it, they try it for a few months, and the Lego didn't work and bail. So with any marketing channel, which we know as marketers, right, it takes time to refine and get the actual workflow in a proper place. Write, test, learn and iterate is like the best process you could possibly have across any of your marketing channels. But regardless if it's direct mail, and understanding the performance, every single one of those and that comes down to again form factor imagery, copy offer color right? In the same same way as email it's you know, subject line are you using a video in it, you know, what is the special offer? It's all about test learning and entering. So typically what we've seen is that it takes probably about a year right to get get this right and it's the same with any marketing channel. But it all depends. I mean, there's there could be an opportunity to where you know your customer really well. You know, what they're gonna interact with, you know, what they're gonna engage with, right and maybe a very niche market, in which you can get a direct mail piece out and See that 9% on on the first one. But typically it takes takes a bit of time to actually refine the approach and making sure that you have the right offer in place. Awesome. Therefore,

Aaron Conant 30:13

Was there another one? No, that was those are the ones just remind others have questions, drop it in, and we'll get them answered.

Mark Pinard 30:20

I think I. So going back to your, your, your direct mail response, I think I covered on that. So the response quality, the response rate is only about half the equation, right, you need to ensure that you're targeting the right people with the right content. And a lot of companies struggle with outdated address lists, or the lack of the targeting information. So this obviously can lead to lower response rates. And there can be also other problems such as poor alignment, lack of conversion and lack of purchase intent, which kind of goes to that question that the audience had. Um, first of all, you need to be able to show your leads aligned with your audience, both for your brand and then for the specific campaign you're executing. And to do this, you need to look at demographics, purchase history, geographical area, and any other factors that are relevant to your campaign, and show how they match. And this is where when I said earlier, a lot of marketers are building those deep relationships with the data analytics teams to execute direct mail. This is actually where that kind of comes to life. Next, you should look at conversions. And then obviously, responding is a type of conversion. And sometimes that's not enough. If a customer uses a discount code you sent in mail that counts both as a response in a conversion. Um, but in other cases, a customer can respond without taking further actions. For example, if you're sending out a website link with an offer, a customer might visit the site, but not convert, they could bounce click a few links, but leave before converting or start to make a purchase, but then back out the goals and get them to make a purchase, then you haven't gained a conversion. And like with any marketing channel, this is that where that kind of multi touch attribution comes into place. And this is the benefit of actually having direct mail integrated within your marketing tech stack across those, the digital channels as well, so that you can see what touches and what channels aligned to actually create a conversion. And it gives you better tracking ability to monitor the performance of that campaign. But what you should make sure you're tracking is, again, all those options. So even if in a discount code, you'll certain you'll have a certain portion of who enter the code, but then back out for completing the sale, you need to be able to track those people as well. So you need to be able to track the people that are going to that customized landing page, or the people that are, you know, scanning that QR code. Using your conversion tracking, you can then get a picture of how to segment those users. So if you're initially we're going after individual users, but realize that you kind of want to do a bigger bulk campaign, a lot of having this data at your fingertips will allow you to kind of create those segments, and then target them when maybe with a broader campaign as well. For example, if a lead, added an item to the cart, and then visited the site for more information that shows high purchase intent, and you might add them to list of qualified leads. And then you can get more granular from that you can look at what products your leads are searching for, what resources they download, how long they spend on the site, and then so on and what content they engage with. Yeah. So there's two types of obviously of direct mail, there's, you know, acquisition direct mail, which is the the larger marketing, direct mail, and then there's also a transactional mail. So this is billing statements, financial statements, insurance statements, whatever it might be. Um, so I wanted to take a step back and make sure that these guys kind of got included as well. So how do we know when the transaction quality side of the response rate, so per transaction, or direct mail response rate definitely isn't enough. It may not even be a particular important metric for some of these companies. For example, if you're sending an invoice of the code, what's important is that the mailpiece gets then gets them to respond, it really doesn't matter whether they read the message or use the code you set, or just read it and then sign into their account, pay the invoice, what really matters is that they completed the task at a faster rate. Maybe you just use the direct mail piece to target customers who are late on a payment or have frequently missed payments in the past. So a transaction on direct mail, you really want to look at how it's affecting your responses. Are you getting fewer late responses? And if so, can you attribute that back to the direct mail piece that gets sent out, you also have to look at how this affects what tasks customers are completing.

If you're trying to get them to complete a multi step payment process or set up an account, measure what your direct motions are more likely to complete all of those tasks that they're they've been taxed with. You can also look at some other supplementary steps that you like customers to complete but are necessary for that core process. So it's having your finger exactly what the actions the customers taking, and is that a result of the direct mail piece that you sent out. For direct mail payment reminders, you can also encourage customers to sign up for automatic payments to direct mail can be used to drive a customer to take an action such as signing up for automatic payments. And then the primary target is making a payment. But if you can get them to sign up for those auto payments, that increases the value of the direct mail campaign and obviously the lifetime of the customer as well. So you want to track how many customers sign up for automatic payment. And then in addition, how many make the payment in response to your direct mail pieces that you've been sending. And lastly, you can also look for signs a direct mail piece is positively affecting customer satisfaction. So you can use surveys to measure this directly. But you can also use for other signs, like our transactional direct mail affects future purchase rates over the next quarter. The heat another benefit and plug for technology is that if you have the tracking mechanism, so Lob, for instance, plugs into USPS system, if you have the tracking tracking mechanism methodology in place to be able to track it from the point that it leaves the printer, to the point that it's actually put into the physical mailbox, a lot of what our customers do is they'll do a 30 day look back period, to say, Hey, I have the exact point of when that was delivered into the mailbox, let me put a 30 day look back period and then understanding performance within those 30 days to whatever offer that they might have. Pause real quick and anything else pop up?

Aaron Conant 36:20

No, no, no, no other ones. But I think this is the really interesting part, right? direct mail with digital channels is there. It has to fit into the flow. Right. And yeah, anyways, that

Mark Pinard  36:35

kind of speed outs, I know that where we are tight on time. So trying to kind of speed up on some of this. But I think coordinating direct mail and digital channels is one of the biggest the biggest portion of this right. And I have mentioned in the past that it all comes down to the the actual cadence of how the direct mail is, is being worked into the rest of your campaign flow. And as we discussed, like transactional direct mail and digital channels are often interdependent on they might take multiple emails, direct mail, notices SMS text to get someone to pay an invoice or sign up for an account. So you need to ensure that those channels are sending the same message with complimentary timing at the same time, in order to be able to track you know what the customer is doing, and then engage with so like that cadence is incredibly important. And honestly, marketing works the same way. So if you're trying to turn a contact into qualified lead, coordinating multiple channels give you more touchpoints and then give your contact different ways to kind of interact with with your brand. And then you also need to be able to use your customer metrics across all the channels, so that when a contact turns into qualified leads, your channels can update messaging goals, or whatever else needs to be added to that campaign in order to increase performance. Most companies have these capabilities with their digital channels, but they really don't on their direct mail side. And that's actually where something like that the technology comes into support that there are differences in how well they'll be able to coordinate different channels and use the data. But they're kind of basically there in the way that they utilize their marketing channels. Many companies sell legacy approaches to direct mail, which is siloed off from anything else. So your digital marketing team might be able to send out a campaign within a week while your direct mail teams takes a couple of months. And that's where technology comes in. You really want the ability to speed up direct mail and the same way that you're executing email. Based on what you've learned, right, the market changes fast, the environment changes fast. But the execution of direct mail pieces actually needs to change as well in the speed of being able to do that is supported by technology. Then I think Lastly, this bucket on the right hand side is data access. The way that I like to describe this as most people actually being bring direct mail to the data, write the purchase lists, and then they'll create a creative and then those the handoff of creative and then list in the actual creative go and upload and upload. The way the technology works is that you can actually bring data bring direct mail to data. So any of your actual platforms that actually have in support your data and store your data CRM marketing, automation, CDP, whatever it might be, you can actually now plug direct mail into that, and then formulate your your list and everything else directly within those databases and then execute a direct mail piece out of there. Rather than having to pull us create a creative master together and send it off printer, which I think is hugely supportive. modernizing direct mail will raise your response rate. So because of that that's located into direct mail team can't send out content to support digital campaigns and vice versa. That can negatively negatively impact response rates on both digital channels as well as direct mail. So just as importantly, as direct. Direct Mail digital teams use different workflows that makes it very hard to actually coordinate. In any legacy. Direct Mail workflows are very primitive compared to digital flows. Your email teams can do all kinds of automation. They can do things like sending webinar invites. You know everyone Donald's and asset targeting customers win back campaigns when they fail to make a purchase within six weeks. Your direct mail team probably can't do these things. They're stuck preparing campaigns in big batches. And they probably only have limited ability to customize, they can't do rolling campaigns triggered by customer actions. Additionally, direct mail team probably has very limited data access, and you probably most of the audience wouldn't be here otherwise, right? But because there's no reason you, you couldn't give you direct mail team access to everything you email, people have quick hands automated workflow and lots of data, but your legacy direct mail system is kind of holding you back. And that's the big thing of what we actually solve for is automating that workflow and creating campaigns more of an automated and trigger basis. Um, it basically, it brings that same ability that you have in your digital channels to execute a direct mail piece as fast as humanly possible. Which I think is great, right, it's bringing that offline world and connected with the online world, which I think is key, especially as marketers trying to expand out the ability to target customers in different ways.

So testing to prove your direct mail response rates, um, this is a huge one. Once you've kind of modernized your direct mail capabilities and start tracking results, you can start thinking more strategically about indirect mail campaigns. And testing is the ideal way to do that. We've actually seen some of our top mailers tested pretty frequently, they will send out 1000 different variants for a single campaign. And they're doing that because internally, what they've done is they've actually built out these very sleek algorithms that look at all of the customer actions and data that they have based on that prospect or that customer. And then use that to formulate a single specific direct mail piece that is highly personalized for them. So again, everything on this from the clothing to the you know, color of the actual piece itself, the special offer, to obviously the naming conventions to the phone number that's on there, every single thing can be customized. And that's all done via testing. There are two basic types of testing you can do right, there's a single variable and multivariate testing. single variable test is when you have to change one variable and see how much difference it makes in the outcome. But again, so you might divide up a customer cohort into two groups for a retention campaign, you send one group and email alone, and then the other group in email a direct mail piece. And if the direct mail group has a 10%, higher retention rate, that lift can be attributed back to the direct mail, you can also get far more granular in your testing, for example, you can test the design the language, the form, factor the images, really anything that you want, you can actually test now with the wreck now. And once you gain some experience with this, you might want to dive into the multivariate testing side. And as you can tell by the name, multivariate test has multiple variables, right. And this makes it more difficult to identify which factor was responsible for a particular outcome. However, it also gives you a lot more freedom to be flexible, and try radically different approaches. So you're not only changing one thing at a time, and that you can land on the combination that works best for you through trial and error. And Capital One for instances is a customer of ours that actually uses multivariate testing quite a bit, they will send out 1000s and 1000s of variants on a single campaign in order to actually understand what is working and to consume the data back on our platform, and then work internally to actually execute the different variants of that campaign itself. Pause any questions that have popped up and

Aaron Conant 43:36

know the only? Well, yeah, are there other question that comes in is other other uses for it, including, you know, not just winback, but potentially, post purchase, you know, things like warranties, you know, there's I think there's a lot of different people, you know, there's there's the one side of a, maybe it's fashion, or maybe it's home goods or something like that, but then there's also, you know, the electronic side of a is there, you know, warranties are a huge thing, how you're essentially able to plug this into any kind of marketing campaign, right,

Mark Pinard 44:11

any any kind of marketing or transactional mail campaign, right, we've, um, we've actually seen customers use it for the privacy data protection, right and send out a notice of like, what their rules are around data protection and actually have some fun with it in order to get the customer to react. Um, we've seen customers use it just as a customer experience, right? Like if you look at like the likes of chewy, your dog has a birthday, chewy, sends out a direct mail piece that's basically a card that says you know, happy birthday to all of her whatever your dog might be, and a special discount to go and purchase the toy on. They do the same thing with Christmas cards. So it really does anything that you can actually print and mail can be utilized in this manner. Especially if you want that automated, um, we have when it's automate Within your Salesforce system and you know that certain prospect has a birthday, it can do that or that certain prospects been with your company for a year or that company or that customer has been with your company for a year, send an anniversary card, it really does have the flexibility to be utilized in any manner that you see fit from a customer delight or to a customer acquisition, to you know, just a customer notice on whatever it might be, it can be utilized in that way. property management companies, right, if you, if you're managing a lot of properties needs to send out a notice to residents via email, it can be triggered and sent that way as well. So you can get pretty, pretty creative with it.

Aaron Conant 45:39

Awesome, love it.

Mark Pinard 45:41

So to dive into the side of kind of like some of those best practices, so as you as you do more testing, you're going to start to see patterns emerge show that that what works and what doesn't. One thing we've consistently seen is that personalization is obviously powerful, right? If you can customize your content for each recipient, you get a higher response rate and a better response quality. So you kind of want to look for ways to use that information about previous purchase interest, demographics, personality and other factors on tone messaging are obviously important. What does your audience respond to? How do they feel about your brand and how you can incorporate that in your messaging. And length is another key factor. So for a lot of industries, shortened to the point works well, but not necessarily true for everyone. And if you're an industry with a long sales cycle, your customers might respond better, to longer, more informative contents. This really is based on on what your industry is and understand the actual prospect. fourth factor is closely related to tone. So for short messages postcard is ideal, because they make an immediate impact. But for longer form content, you're better off using like a folded self mailer, for instance. And then images can make a big impact, especially if a personalized, for example, pictures of products, your recipient, previous purchase seasonal content, or even localized contact, making mailings, much more appealing and accessible. So this is all about supporting your brand, you know, understanding what works and what doesn't. And this also gives you a lot of opportunity for creativity, and you know, doing something different that maybe you're not seeing any of your competitors do and allows you to stand out in the market. And then lastly, developing an omni channel approach. So your goal ultimately should be to develop a unified omni channel communication strategy. And using all the channels that you have available to you, right direct mail is just now a piece of the pie and expands out that that marketing tool chest, but in the effective omni channel ongoing process that will take some time to develop. But as you learn what each channel does best to develop rules for kind of integrating them and how to use the different pieces together. It's not just about messaging, or how many emails and postcards you said, it's about when a customer bans a shopping cart, or makes a customer customer or makes a purchase or whatever they're doing and interacting with you. This gives you the ability to actually target them across all the actual channels. And you can develop really technical best practices for the cadence in a good example of that plan to have payment reminders, right, exactly three days before payment is due. And then two days after an email, mitre, with technology, automation and the ability to trigger, you can actually do that all together and not have to not have to actually worry about it running in silos. This is another area where you really need to upgrade your direct mail capacity. Because once you automate, you can have precise control of every aspect of your direct mail, including the personalization timing, and then that opens up all kinds of opportunities to drive responses and drive response quality by getting the right message the right recipient at the right time. I know that we've covered we've covered a lot. And and I know that direct mail is obviously top of mine, when I make sure Aaron had a positive real quick resume, any last questions that come in?

Aaron Conant 48:39

No, I don't have any more that have come in. I think it's literally like perfect timing here. As we always try to wrap up with, you know, four to five minutes to go on the hour. You know, I do want to say quick thank you each for, you know, just setting aside an hour here, you know, to help educate the network as a whole, you know, I want to say thanks to everybody who dialed in and was able to submit questions 100% worth a follow up conversation with the team at Lob. They said it's kind of a newer age, digital age, I shouldn't say direct mail company as a whole, it's a completely different spin in the I just they come highly recommended for multiple brands in the network. So we're putting a follow up call on the calendar with them. And, you know, I think also from my standpoint, would love to have a conversation with anybody who's able to join today. Love to kind of share network share digital strategies that we're hearing working here at BWG Connect, but also, you know, pick your brain on, you know, other pain points, the next topics that we should be hosting. With that, I think we're going to go ahead and wrap it up. Are there any other things Mark, like, key takeaways, things that you thought might come up that didn't?

Mark Pinard 49:50

Yeah, I mean, I think that I think it's just again is expanding the mindset to think about direct mail in a different way in this digital world. Right. And I know that we covered a ton of information today, right? And lots of kind of fire hose at the audience. But Lob is is not only here as like a technology provider, but also as strategic partner when it comes to executing direct mail. So if you have questions or just you know, want to understand exactly how this plugs in play into your current workflow, feel free to reach out. We're here to work with you throughout the author's journey and be able to support you and executing your best performing direct mail campaigns.

Aaron Conant 50:23

Awesome. Well, thanks again, my friend. Thanks to everybody who joined in hope everybody has a fantastic Tuesday. Everybody, take care, stay safe and look forward to having you at a future event. Thanks again Mark All right. We're gonna wrap it up here. Take care, everybody. We'll be in touch

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BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.
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