Enterprise Roundtable: 2022 State of Direct Mail Marketing

Mar 15, 2022 1:30 PM2:30 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways

Direct mail is no longer an antiquated form of marketing. In Lob’s 2022 State of Direct Mail report, they discovered that email open rates are steadily decreasing. What’s more, is that they also found that the old channel of direct mail has become viable again. So what are the best ways to launch and optimize your direct mail campaign?

Direct mail campaigns are usually most effective when tied to another channel. Because we’re in a digital world, integrating direct mail into your technology stack can help you diversify outreach, reinforce messaging, and automate to lower the cost of your campaign. Additionally, using an omnichannel approach enables your brand to leverage data and create more personalized, relevant marketing campaigns for your customer.

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant is joined by Tatiana Afanasyeva, Leader of Marketing and Growth at Lob, and Rob Recinos, Mid-Market Account Executive at Lob, to talk about direct mail campaign trends and best practices. Together, they discuss the most common use cases for direct mail, the value of an omnichannel approach, and how to overcome the challenges of direct mail campaigns to draw in more customers.


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


  • Tatiana Afanasyeva discusses the current trends in direct mail marketing
  • The most common use cases and benefits of direct mail campaigns
  • Why an omnichannel approach is crucial for the success of your campaign strategy
  • Tatiana’s advice for launching your direct mail campaign
  • Rob Recinos and Tatiana break down Lob’s process for rolling out direct mail campaigns
  • Why some direct mail campaigns don’t work
  • How can you measure your campaign’s effectiveness?
  • Rob and Tatiana discuss the average campaign timeline
  • Utilizing data providers to personalize direct mail
  • Key highlights from Lob’s report
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Event Partners


Lob is an automation platform that transforms direct mail into intelligent mail, at scale.

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Guest Speakers

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.

Tatiana Afanasyeva

Marketing & Growth at Lob

Tatiana Afanasyeva leads Marketing and Growth at Lob, a company that automates direct mail and address verification for businesses. More than 7,000 companies use Lob’s APIs to move faster and create new growth opportunities. Tatiana talks with customers to understand what is and isn’t working with their current mail strategy and introduces a modern approach to direct mail.

Tatiana has over 10 years of experience launching and scaling global technology brands, achieving sustainable revenue growth, and building high-performing marketing teams. Previously, she was the Marketing Director of Growth, Marketing, Demand Generation, and Sales for Tradeshift, and the Global Marketing Manager for EFactor.com.

Rob Recinos

Account Executive at Lob

Rob Recinos is a Mid-Market Account Executive at Lob, where he helps companies run a more timely, relevant, and personalized customer experience that’s fully measurable. Rob joined the company in 2019 as an Inside Sales Representative before moving up to his position as Account Executive.

Rob has a proven track record of cultivating and building valuable relationships, managing projects, and presenting value to partners. Before Lob, he was a Sales Market Manager for Suiteness, a Tourism Marketing Manager for Miracle Mile Shops, and a Leisure Sales and Marketing Manager for MGM Resorts International.

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.

Tatiana Afanasyeva

Marketing & Growth at Lob

Tatiana Afanasyeva leads Marketing and Growth at Lob, a company that automates direct mail and address verification for businesses. More than 7,000 companies use Lob’s APIs to move faster and create new growth opportunities. Tatiana talks with customers to understand what is and isn’t working with their current mail strategy and introduces a modern approach to direct mail.

Tatiana has over 10 years of experience launching and scaling global technology brands, achieving sustainable revenue growth, and building high-performing marketing teams. Previously, she was the Marketing Director of Growth, Marketing, Demand Generation, and Sales for Tradeshift, and the Global Marketing Manager for EFactor.com.

Rob Recinos

Account Executive at Lob

Rob Recinos is a Mid-Market Account Executive at Lob, where he helps companies run a more timely, relevant, and personalized customer experience that’s fully measurable. Rob joined the company in 2019 as an Inside Sales Representative before moving up to his position as Account Executive.

Rob has a proven track record of cultivating and building valuable relationships, managing projects, and presenting value to partners. Before Lob, he was a Sales Market Manager for Suiteness, a Tourism Marketing Manager for Miracle Mile Shops, and a Leisure Sales and Marketing Manager for MGM Resorts International.

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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 here at BWG Connect our networking knowledge sharing group with 1000s of brands that do exactly that we network and knowledge share together to stay on top of the newest trends, strategies, pain points, whatever it might be, I chat with a 30 to 40 brands a week to stay on top of those trends. And when the same topics come up over and over again, we host an event like this, I don't think anybody will be surprised the number of events we're doing this year over last year is up by about 50%. From everything do direct mail, to SMS to whatever it might be tons of changes in rapid evolution and digital across the board. And so we're new close to 350 events like this, this year, we're also going to do close to 100 in person networking events. So if you're in a tier one city, or across the US, just shoot us and we'll put you on the list 100, we're gonna hit a lot of different cities, it's going to be great housekeeping items to get started, we're taking this off in four to five minutes after the hour. And just so everybody knows, we're gonna wrap up in five minutes to go, we're going to give you plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being late. And the last thing is, we want this to be as interactive as possible. So at any point in time you have questions across the board, don't hesitate to just jump into the conversation, we're going to bounce around and invite people with the Yeah. And so we're gonna jump around. But just to kind of kick it off. We got some great friends, partners, supporters in the in the network, the leaders in the space of direct mail, in super interesting how it's popped up over the past year and a half as people are plugging into the back end of their websites is kind of an extension of hey, how are you starting a conversation with your customer as a whole? Right? And what are the different tools you're using to do that with? And so you know, we got a couple people on the line today. Rob and Tatiana, Tatiana, if you want to jump in and brief intro on yourself, and Lob would be awesome. And then we can kind of jump into the conversation. So I'm good.

Tatiana Afanasyeva  2:07

Absolutely. Aaron, it's always really nice to be doing these events. You know, we are also chatting with so many brands across a variety of different industries. And we're learning every single day. So always love to come in and can like share the knowledge. But just a little bit about myself, of course and Lob. So my name is Tatiana, and then the Head of Marketing at Lob and just a little bit more description of Lob. So what is it that we do? Probably the best way of thinking about us is that we brought the world of direct mail into the digital age, essentially, we've been working on a software that allows you to handle direct mail in exact same way how you currently handle any other digital channels, right. So the exact same way how you can personalize an email, you can sugared you can see all the tracking and analytics. This is what we've done to do with direct mail. And we've been partnering with, you know, more than 10,000 companies now, right to really help them fully automate and streamline the direct mail process. For me personally, I spend probably most of my time talking with our customers. So you know, in any kind of day, you can find me jumping around talking to our customers around like, what are some of the best practices, right, what's working for them, what's not working for them. So I have now become a little bit of an expert on direct mail, as I mentioned earlier, and I can talk about it all day long. And really I'm here to share with you to answer any questions you might have, especially whether you're just getting started with direct mail, or you've been, you know, sent in hundreds of 1000s of direct mail pieces for maybe years now. So I'm sure that there's still going to be quite a lot of questions around the room. And that's where we're here for, as well as my colleague, Rob, Rob, do want to jump in and do a quick intro as well.

Rob Recinos  3:44

Yep. I'm an account executive here at Lob. Been here for two years in Berkeley. Tatiana, you have a sense.

Tatiana Afanasyeva  3:51

Yeah. And you know, for us, like one of the things that we do every single year is we also do the state of direct mail report. This is when we interview close to to 200. Executives, right, and leaders that have been sending working with direct mail for quite some time. And we're really trying to understand, you know, what are the newest trends? What is working for companies, what's not working, right? What type of performance have they seen from direct mail, how their innovative and comes to their direct mail campaigns? Right. So this is the study that we recently just did. We are we released a couple weeks ago. And we'll definitely be sharing it with the rest of the folks here. But this is also like one of the conversations that we can have today. Right? So everything that we've just have this fresh report, we have all these data that we've just found out based on, you know, companies that have been leveraged direct mail for quite some time. And then for us, you know, we are at any given time Lob was working as much as more than 10,000 customers or so where we send more than billion pieces of mail right. So we are you know, we are operating in quite a large scale. But for us, for me personally, you know, on any given day, I can work with somebody who send me like five pieces of mail versus like a million pieces of mail right. So regardless of where you are in your direct mail journey, I'm sure that this competition is going to be really interesting

Aaron Conant  5:00

Awesome. So just a reminder, others who want to jump in, just feel free to unmute and jump in. But you know, Tatiana, so what are the the biggest trends? You know, if I look back two years ago, rarely does this topic come up. Now it's come up more and more just from standpoint, people are trying to have that conversation. Right. And I think a lot of is tied to, you know, the iOS 14.5. Update, you know, and everybody hitting ascap.to track in, like, how do you communicate with the customer? How do you increase lifetime value? How do you curate new customers? The big How big? Is this grown over the past couple of years? And how important is it to the people to have implemented on the back end?

Tatiana Afanasyeva  5:42

Yeah, and you know, it's really interesting, I'm glad they're bringing up the world, especially if you're a marketer, right? Your world is changing really, really rapidly, right? So what we're noticing and quite a lot of companies, you know, first start talking to them. The reason it's either they're discovering direct mail for the first time, right? Or they're actually trying to really optimize that direct mail, because they double and down and direct mail as a channel. And the reason why that is happening, and I'm sure quite a few of us, we can have a discussion around that. I've seen that one, you know, was the new regulations, right? So we are in a little bit of an Era of Uncertainty, right? The cooker list future, right? So because of that, you know, marketers are looking for another touch point where they're looking for another channel, what else can I do? What else can I use, we're also noticing that and I've personally seen that was our own marketing campaigns is that the cost of digital advertising is getting so much more expensive, or it's just becoming harder and harder to stand out, right? And the cost of acquisition is going up, right? So in all of this, creating a look at this new pressure, right on the marketing organisation to either find a new channel or find something else, right. So like changing your mix. And this is where we start talking to a lot of companies, this is when they come to us really specifically, you know, look, I need to do something else, right? So I need to either introduce a new channel, or I need to optimize the channel mix that I have, right. So this is where frequently when we will start working with somebody, as they're thinking about their current mix. And it is because the you know, the the marketing landscape has changed so drastically over the last couple of years. Right? So and pretty much the same trend, we're also noticing on email, or it's so email open rates are not the same, right? Nobody believes clicks anymore. And this is where you know, this new almost like, old slash new channel is becoming viable again, and that's direct mail.

Aaron Conant  7:19

And what are the most common channels that you see use? You know, is it you know, is it incentive base? Is it loyalty based? Is it you know, how are people? You know, using direct mail today? Like, what's, what's the number one message that's being communicated? How should people think about it most effectively?

Tatiana Afanasyeva  7:39

Absolutely. And I'm actually, I would be curious to hear from the folks here, maybe like, if you can post it in chat, whether or not one are you currently using direct mail? And if you are, like, what type of campaigns are you running? What we're finding specifically, what we found from this study, is that it really depends on the organization, right? So for quite a lot of folks, especially in retail, and eCommerce, there is a lot of need for acquisition, right, so we're noticing that a lot of companies are leveraging direct mail for acquisition campaigns, a lot of them are using for loyalty as well. Right. So loyalty and retention, if you look in the general, especially companies that have tried direct mail, they love some start with acquisition, and then really move towards loyalty and retention, right. So we're kind of noticing that it's been used across all the different use cases. And companies are getting actually really, really creative about the direct values. He says, right, because now was modern technology, you don't have to, you know, you can trigger a direct mail piece of any business relevant event, or its you don't have to execute in these like bowl campaigns anymore. So that is, that's what's unlocking a lot of like new and interesting use cases, the one that I can, like love to talk about, because this is one I thought were just like super interested in brilliant. This one of the companies that we work with, they noticed right that they had, especially of the last year, they start noticing really high unsubscribed rates from their email communications. Right? So and the reason why that was happening because was COVID. And a lot of their stores closed, right? So they kind of like doubled down on their email, email marketing strategy, right, so they just started sending more and more emails because they had this pressure right of increasing orders and actually maintaining orders while using limited amount of channels that are available to them. So it started happening over time and it of course took a little bit of time, but their unsubscribe rates were going very, very high. And if you imagine if you also had this point digital brand and somebody unsubscribed from your communication, you can no longer communicate with that customer right so in for some of those those customers had a high lifetime value. And this is what they tried direct mail where they started triggering direct mail, direct mail postcard to be sent when somebody unsubscribes right in the postcard was saying like, we're so sorry to see you go they would actually add the last item that they were looking at, right because they have that information that could personalize that postcard, and the interesting part they sell 40% We're gonna I'm sure on that code, right. And then they were so confused of why this was happening, right? Because it's somebody that unsubscribes from the email communication. And yet those seen 40% of redemption right on those codes. So they actually end up doing like a qualitative study that when they call these customers, and they tried to figure out what's going on. And what they learned is, you know, as we're all getting bombarded by emails, or they, they're just getting tired of the email communication, but they still absolutely love the brand. Right. So notice, like, this is just an another way, how they were able to have a meaningful relationship and still have the orders come through where it but not necessarily relying just on this email communication. And this is what we're finding across where it's accompanies. Because direct mail is now integrated in their technology stack. They're discovering all this cool and creative new ways how they can leverage direct mail rates for the type of like omni channel campaigns that were not able to do in the past. So we, if anything, one of the lessons from this year is that we're seeing a lot of creativity from brands and the way that they're integrated direct mail as part of their more holistic omni channel strategy. And also one of the key takeaways from the study that we also saw is that direct mail becomes significantly more effective when it's tied to another channel, where it's I'll be kind of curious to hear around the around the group, who is kind of who, who's using direct mail, maybe like as a standalone, or if you actually current, like integrating it within some of the other channels?

Aaron Conant  11:19

Yeah, I'd like to jump out to leave first if, you know, thanks for mute and jumping in, you know, if you want to do a brief intro on yourself in the company be greater than Yeah. Are you using direct mail today? are using it as a part of your Omni channel strategy? Is it standalone? Trying to track like, the trend in this space is I think a lot of companies that started as a standalone and then now rapidly started to integrate it, it is something that I pull out there is, you know, not only the upsell, but also the subscription piece like are you seeing people use? I'd love to hear your thoughts. And we contributed for sure. I was just thinking on my own like, hey, there's a couple of things that pop into mind subscriptions. Right? If people didn't know it was available, the upsell the maintenance the anyways, I'll kind of pause there, I'd love to hear your thoughts. So we can keep jumping around.

Tatiana Afanasyeva  12:07

Yeah, no, no, no, absolutely. All of those are absolutely perfect use cases for direct mail. Right. So and to me, the way I really would encourage you is, if you can think of it, we can probably do it where it's so there's almost like the really, really no limit right to the type of direct mail pieces that you can execute. And what works especially for the you know, some of those items that are quite expensive, right? So in requires a lot of consideration. We've definitely noticing, right, so customers, as you think about your buyer journey, right? So it's could be like multi month process, right. And then there's what we've noticed that a lot of customers use the combination, right, they'll do an email and add direct mail piece, right. So and kind of the use a combination. And the beauty of a direct mail piece readily, as you've mentioned, is that a few things, one, it will get in front of your individual of your customer, right? So because no matter what you will check your mail. But the rest of it is almost like up to you or this is one of our almost like a challenge to the marketers out there. Right? It's up to you to make this direct mail piece relevant, it's up to you to make sure that it stands out, right. And that's kind of the difference between somebody throwing it away, I'll keep it in their house, right. And it was the current technology, you can personalize each individual mail piece right to where it's like what it's action matters for that individual. And because mail gets incredible fast rates, again, that opens up a lot of different possibilities for you. And what we're seeing is one, you know, individual spends, on average, about 15 to 20 minutes a day looking through their mail, right. So that look through it. And then second is, especially for those like high valued items, they tend to keep them or it's a direct mail pieces do stay where it's if you are, if you're in that business, it's definitely a really, really great use case for you consider that, like people tend to like keep those direct mail pieces. And some of their like really innovative use cases that we saw recently, or do you think a lot of them are around retention reactivation, where it is something that we're seeing a lot as well, and then Rob, and you can interesting things that you've been seeing from from our customers,

Rob Recinos  14:09

you know, the one that really stands out to me is the fact that you're now able to not only the tangibility of actually holding something in your hand, right, and kind of to Lee's point where it's thing inside of the house and Tatiana also mentioned it as well. But now you're reinforcing your messaging as well when you're sending Instagram, you know, the emails, whatever the case may be, right? All of those are now this person at least in at once in a single day and not to go you know, deep into like we're loves capabilities are, but we're able to surface some of that information back into into your system directly. So you can programmatically trigger off an email. So now you're really maximizing the messaging and not only the messaging itself, but the touch point, right and what satanic keeps on talking about is the personalization right? You can this shirt that I just purchased right let's say off of a website. Now you can also process then you can say hey, people have purchased this have also purchased this other items, right product one, product two, product three. And all of this has come from this system that you currently have in how you're probably more than likely leveraging your emails today. So you can really look at direct mail where has historically been an offline channel as an opportunity to get in front of the customer. And have, you know, you can really diversify. You know, your your outreach there. Yeah, and

Tatiana Afanasyeva  15:27

you know, one thing that we're so in particular, right, so even if you start, you know, maybe some of you guys to send in direct mail as a standalone, right one, one thing that we started and that came from the study is that once, focus on Edit, direct mail, and email are so just like literally combined, at least like to channel where the performance jumped up significantly, right. So some of the customers see in return return from campaign size, like 26%, right, that's, that's pretty high. And it's just because they've now actually tagged on email, and direct mail pieces together, it's so much if you trigger direct mail than you, then you trigger email. So that combination, even if just combining direct mail was one more channel significantly improved the total ROI of a campaign. So it's really, really beneficial for you to start thinking, and that's, you know, one of the big takeaways from today, is I really encourage you to think of where does direct mail command as part of your Omni channel strategy, right campaign strategy versus just a standalone channel?

Aaron Conant  16:21

Like, what are the thresholds Tatiana, for kicking something off? When does it time, effort money? You know, when is it right for Holly to like, pull the trigger on it? Is it? Is it directly tied to email? Is it tied to, you know, sales volume, like, just a lot of people out there like, Hey, I've got a million things to do. And my tech stack is, you know, 40 miles high? And, you know, should I do this or not? Is it gonna be worth it? Well, 100%,

Tatiana Afanasyeva  16:51

right, so I'd like all of us lately, thing I think about every single day, right? So when I opened up my my email, I was like, What am I supposed to do today? So here's my guiding principle there, Rob, feel free to jump in as well. Right? So I honestly feel to me, there really isn't a limitation, right to like how much like a minimum requirement you need to hire. Right? So how many people in your database, because modern technology like Lob, right, you can literally, you know, just easily integrate into our systems. Sometimes we even have a plugins to some of the existing CRM sites, if you're using some of the leading CRM, so probably have a plug into them already. Right? So there really isn't a giant, you know, like f4, that goes into integration. And then from that point on, right, you can be on any kind of tear, right? So even, let's say, you know, if you want to send like, five letters and test that out, you can literally be on like a free plan, right? So like on a very limited plan. So it's pretty easy for you to get started. The one consideration that I would say is, you know, we definitely encourage folks to really test out this channel in the beginning, where it's like, think about your, your Google ads, but you wouldn't just run one ad, right? So you would go through the test a variety of different ads, just to see what's ultimately going to work for you or not. And I would definitely encourage you to think about direct mail in the exact same way where it's so it might take you a little bit of time to find ultimately, what are the type of campaign that's going to be ROI positive, right, what is the type of campaign that's going to resonate? Right? So that's the one consideration is, if you might have like a very, very small database, it might be hard for you to just do some of the testing experimentation, where it's versus like, you know, maybe you tried one thing, and maybe that wasn't effective, it doesn't mean that direct mail could not be a great channel for you, it might just mean that maybe that use case wasn't the greatest use case. Right? So my number two advice there is just go with a provider that it's really easy for you to integrate, it's really easy for you to test, right? So that way, you know, it's it shouldn't be like a high effort for you to be able to test out this channel and see whether or not it's going to work for you. But just remember, you know, they'll test not just one thing, right? So just the fact that you've tried one, and it didn't work, it doesn't mean that this channel might not be actually ultimately successful for you, right? Because like, I'm just thinking exact same way who think about ads, right? Or even your email marketing strategy, right? You would never just try one one approach.

Aaron Conant  18:59

Awesome. So another question that just, you know, comes top of mind for me, then what is rollout look like? So you go through the process, you're looking at it? You're like, hey, I want to give it a try. This is three months is this two weeks? This? Hey, um, it's like, you know, adding another payment options, you just click it and it's in there. What does that look like? And then what's the timeframe for actually finding, you know, how well it's working or not like in a lot of cases, it's three months or so, before you've gone through enough iterations where it's you back, your mind is worth it just reminded others do you want to jump in with with questions, please do or you can drop them into the chat.

Tatiana Afanasyeva  19:37

Yes. And it's funny, we probably some both me and Rob are just gonna look slightly laughing when we hear those like three months process, right? Because it could have sounds ridiculous to us or that it would take you this long to actually get started. But we've definitely seen that right. So and quite a lot of customers that we work with that's that's the you know, that's what they think that's how long it will take because that's how long it takes for some of the like traditional providers. But Rob, are you do you want to continue I'm planning to walk the team through kind of how the initial kickoff activation process look like. And then I'm happy to contact the second question.

Rob Recinos  20:07

Yeah, so I mean, in terms of like integration standpoint, it's, it's quite an easy lift, right? Historically, it's been long lead times, and so forth. And that's where Lob has been, I think we mentioned this before, where you're able to leverage is similar to what you would do with digital. Right? So how long does it take you to put together an email campaign, you can imagine that's how long it's gonna take you to put together a, you know, direct mail. So in terms of like, left, it's similar to what you would see from a digital aspect. Now there is an integration components, I'm going to say, Twilio, and so forth, right. So I think the left again, will equal relatively the kind of the same thing, with the exception of now you're making an API call right? Now, you have to also decide if you're going to be able to leverage HTML versus PDF. If you're doing a PDF, then it's something you may already have. So in terms of lifts, that we've seen it lifted within a month, right? And that's including integration, and then obviously putting together to creative, but it also depends on the resources that you have available to yourself. Right.

Tatiana Afanasyeva  21:05

Yeah, and, you know, for quite a lot of customers, what are we finding is, especially if you, and it's kind of a little bit depends on how complicated you want this to be heard. So we've seen companies get started as soon as you know, just a couple of hours. And then typically, you know, if you if you want to do some a little bit more complicated about a week, right, so in like some of those, like, really, really complex cases, right, you could take a little bit longer than that. And here's the couple of differences. Right? So what makes it you know, what's the difference between getting started just few hours versus a week versus longer? And one, you know, what type of CRM are you using? And also how, how much data do you actually have? Right, currently, you know, we've definitely worked with some customers that it took them a little bit of time to actually clean up their own data, right, because like the, the internal database just like wasn't at a healthy spot. So that's one of the consideration. The second one is also you know, how complicated you on this programs to be, we've seen a lot of companies get started by just replicating some of the email campaigns that they already have. Right. So let's say you already have a template, right HTML template that you use for your email, and you already have flow that works for you, and you have a data set that you want to use, right? So if you just want to replicate exact same thing on on direct mail, it's very, very easy, right? It's not that difficult for you to get started. If you are, you know, a few have millions of customers and you want to run, you know, really, really complicated, highly personalized programs, right, that might take you of course, a little bit longer to get started. But in general, it's the concept of like a three month setup process should not exist. And like this is little, that's no longer okay. Right to actually accept that in the industry. Because if it takes you three months to get a campaign out the door, then it just no longer relevant anymore, right. So like, you know, this is one of the challenges that we really brought to this industry, right. So we really wanted to challenge is like, Why does, why should it take for three months to get started on a campaign, right? Because three months later, your consumers and customers are gone, right? So it's no longer top of mind. And this is why there was a very big presentation point for us, as we were thinking about, you know, how can we change the way the direct mail operates? That was a very big point for us.

Rob Recinos  23:05

Yeah. Sorry about that. So Tatiana had mentioned was the fact that you can also iterate as you're going along similar, again, what you're doing with emails, right, you can send 1000 mail pieces where you can send a single campaign as they're going, you can say, you know, what, something just changed. Think about it from like, it's a mortgage standpoint, right? When it comes to lending rates and APR is go up and down. So you can iterate that on the on a one to one basis as you're sending them out in real time. So that's another power of what, you know, direct mail can

Aaron Conant  23:39

do today. That's it, I'd love to hear your your thoughts there. And your thanks for jumping in. When you when you hear that, like, what clicks in your brain?

Tatiana Afanasyeva  23:51

Yeah, you know, to me, and if we hear that we definitely hear this a lot, especially for companies that have you know, we have tried direct mail or it didn't work out for us. And it really is, you know, doing my next question would be like it described to be more exactly what have you tried? And it's what we're finding right is sometimes that direct mail might not work well as a standalone channel, right? So but it could work really, really well as part of the omni channel strategy and omni channel campaigns are so the things that tend to work incredibly well is specifically when you and I kind of will describe a use case that we see happening a lot is because our direct mail you know, it's fully integrated as part of your other CRM systems. What we've seen a lot of companies do which works well is the trigger direct mail piece to be sent. Right so you know when direct mail pieces about to arrive, and that's when you trigger an email to be sent right say and say like, Hey, dear, let's Tatiana was sent you something special, right? Check your mailbox, because we can tell you where your direct mail is out for delivery. Right. So that has been really really effective to increase conversion rates and those direct mail piece specifically as you think about omni channel campaign, right at the same time, right? You can add that individual towards a retargeting, right? So now all of a sudden If I go online, right, so when I get an email, I get direct mail. And then I also see the same ad, right. So when that message has been reinforced three times, right, it's consistent. It's personalized to me based on what I actually want. It works really, really well. So I'm Andrea, I definitely would encourage you to try out right direct mail as part of your Omni channel strategy, and then going to see how does this channel fit in when I look into the total cost acquisition, right versus return? Unlike just thinking of direct mail is completely standalone, right? And looking at some of those cost acquisition ROI as a standalone channel,

Aaron Conant  25:31

you also might do that analysis, like, you know, like, when you're jumping in, where you would take a look at everything they've done and say, Yeah, well, you did everything, right. It just didn't work. Or you say, Hey, is everything great? There's this connect these three different things? Like are you providing that analysis as well? Because I think that's the also really valuable for people?

Tatiana Afanasyeva  25:52

Yes, we do. You know, that's actually one of the first things we would do. Right? So we'll just kind of partner together and take a look, what have you done? Right? What have you tried in the past? And then we'll provide recommendations on whether or not you know, the process can be improved, or to the cost sometimes gonna be improved as well, right? Because one thing we were also noticing is sometimes, especially if you're sending quite a lot of direct mail, and it's it's a manual process and disjointed, right, so you have agencies, right? So you have people manually doing some of this work, right? So sometimes the cost can actually go up. And it's because the process is not automated. Right? So versus if you were to introduce technology, but your cost can go down, right? Because you're you're now a streamlining a lot of those processes, right. So when we work with some of the largest mailers out there, that's one of the things that we're also noticing, right, so their total cost was significantly higher. But it's because of all these manual processes, right? So sometimes it's all about just like automating the process improving improving the cost because of that, right. So sometimes it's actually seen that, well, maybe you tried a use case, and let's try different use cases, right? So one of the first things we will do is just take a look and do an audit, right? So what have you done, what worked, what didn't work, and then we're looking to, you know, some of the best practices and how what we're we're this emperor, we've been able to see what our customers are, we'll provide you with recommendations or the things to try to be honestly, I don't think I have run into a customer yet that have exhausted right all the different ways. And it also didn't work. I think a lot of times, it's just a matter of trying out different approaches, and ultimately arriving at the one that will work. Not every direct mail use case will work for you and based on your individual customers. But there's definitely you know, a part of strategy, right, that is going to work. And that's what we're noticing, right. So for some folks, maybe it's not going to be the best channel for acquisition, where it's about maybe it will be for retention rates and the other way around. So it's all based on this limited customization you need as a you know, as a company and also your your consumers. But I don't think I have yet come across a customer where a direct mail just like completely lose like, look, this is not a thing for us, we're never going to do it.

Aaron Conant  27:50

Awesome. So a question that comes to mind for me is one is attribution. And then the other one is, you know, return on investment from the standpoint of you know, from the attribution standpoint, like what's the, what's the rate at which this is actually effective? Right, the conversion rate so to speak.

Tatiana Afanasyeva  28:10

Yeah, and this is, you know, we definitely, we hear this questions a lot. And, you know, I also Rob, feel free to jump in. But there's a couple of different ways, right, how you can measure attribution. And that's also, you know, one of the big changes in the industry, right? Direct Mail used to be a complete black box, you would send out your campaign and little hope for the best, right? I think a mail was sent, I think a mail was received, right, but there's really was no way for you to track that. And that's why, you know, direct mail has been, especially as the digital channels start rising, you know, direct mail was a little bit put in the background, right? Because it was very difficult to track the ROI. And actually notice, like how much impact is direct mail making, with some orange technology, there's a couple of different ways you can track it. And even from that the state of direct mail report that we've done, we've actually noticed and how customers like cards are tracking it and kind of falls within a couple of different buckets. The first one is really straightforward. A personalized URL or code or QR code, right? So because we use HTML, right, so each individual mail piece can be personalized, you can add individual, you know, you can add, you need redemption codes where you can add, like just a general on for campaign and you can add QR codes. QR codes have been, you know, of course, because of the pandemic, right. That's one of the things that we're actually leveraging quite a lot now. And they've been successful recently where they have not been as successful in the past, but because they were like, we're not trained to actually work with a QR code. So all those different ways. One thing I would say when it comes to specifically adding a code, and that was one of the lessons from one of our customers is, it's a good way it's not, it doesn't mean that that's the only way how the that cohort might interact with you. One thing we particularly one customer comes to mind is what they've noticed is that they didn't see astronomer redemption on that individual code, but they actually saw an overall lift in the purchasing from that pull forward. Right. So if you want to be like really, really sophisticated about this We would encourage you to have different cohorts, or the cohort that have received direct mail versus a corporate that did not receive direct mail. And you can of course, still add unique, unique codes. Right. So but I think what's happening is that sometimes, imagine if and for me, I received a direct mail piece. And that reminded me of like, that's a purchase that I want to make. And but I forgot to use the code, right. So that's, that happens a little bit where direct mail is still impacting the purchase, even though somebody didn't use the individual code for it. So codes are always great. But also just pay attention to the corporate in general Right. and best practices, see, and like, have a cohort that received direct mail underscored, that did not receive and look at the overall lift in the purchasing. Right. So under redemption from that group. That's kind of my top recommendations. And then one kind of thing that pandemic related QR codes now work, right, they didn't actually few years ago, if you were to ask me this four years ago, I would not recommend a QR code necessarily. Now it's like you will see, start seeing this in a lot more direct mail pieces. And then Rob, feel free to go and jump in here. If I missed something.

Rob Recinos  30:56

No, I would say that, to your point, right? Just make sure it's actionable. Anyway, okay. Since you're sending out make sure there's something to do, whether it's a phone call, Vanity URL, QR code, whatever the case may be. And in terms of tracking itself, Lob does not track it for you and report that back. Now you're using your own systems to be able to track that what Lob is trying to do is more so be the execution engine, help you get through there, make sure it's personalized and so forth. But in terms of the attribution itself, you know, you're using your systems, and it's your information. It's not something that loves trying to own at all right? Want to make sure that you're leveraging your your systems to Yeah.

Tatiana Afanasyeva  31:34

Yeah. And just just keep in mind that right. So even when you're looking at just the code redemption that might not show you the full ROI of that direct mail keeps, right So and there's just like a look in the total left from that group.

Aaron Conant  31:47

Yeah, I used to think that the QR code is just key at this point in time. Nobody wants to know that Oh,

Tatiana Afanasyeva  31:54

absolutely not. And you know, actually, I like one, I love direct mail for a singer. So I look through all of my direct mail pieces and get really excited, especially when I see the ones that are sent through Lob. And I have recently saw one that had like, literally this long of a URL code, right. And I actually, first of all reached out to like, a link to that company was like, Oh, my God, guys, please don't do that. Right. Nobody's gonna go in and type in like, you know, 20 letter URL code, just use a QR code, it's so much easier and done to me, like make it easier right on your customers, or I'm like, nobody wants to go be there. And like typing a giant URL, where it's like, that is a thing of the past, considering how easy it is to use something like a QR code these days.

Aaron Conant  32:33

Yeah. Another question that I written down while you're talking about timing in, in, you know, maybe timing an email or an SMS to hit just around the time that the actual direct mail hits. But what is the timing around? You know, from the time it gets triggered, right to go out to it's actually delivered? What is what does that timing look like as a whole? Because timing is everything right?

Tatiana Afanasyeva  33:01

It is, it absolutely is, especially not only depends a little bit on the type of sales cycle that you have read. So if you are in my like lending and financial services, retail and eCommerce timing tends to be everything, right? Because you want to catch somebody, if they went to your website and started an application, right, that's when you want to trigger that right, and you want to get there fast. If you have a really lengthy sales cycle, right? This could be more of a like a reminder, right? So it just depends a little bit. But for quite a lot of our customer timing is pretty much everything. Rob do want to jump in kind of walk through the typical timing process.

Rob Recinos  33:31

So for a timing standpoint, for mobile, immediate API call right against to be in a very programmatic way. Whether you say somebody jumped into your email, they didn't do the call to action, two hours later, you can trigger off an email, you set the cadence, right. And then from there on, after, he typically takes somewhere between four to six business days for it to arrive into their mailbox, right.

Tatiana Afanasyeva  33:53

And one of the things that is not available to everybody yet. So just a little bit of a sneak preview here is you can also start doing in home dates, right? So that's another thing that we've heard from our customers. And a lot of times instead, like, so for some triggers everything right? So we want to be you know, we want to get there as soon as possible. Right? So, okay, so four to six days later, you can be there. And that's, that's great, right, that's going on Best in Class speeds. Now for others, right? Let's say they want to run a holiday campaign, right? So and they want to be in somebody's mailbox at a given date. Right? So we're actually now releasing a really cool and new functionality that will allow you to actually be able to time when you want that mail piece to also land in somebody's inbox. Right. So and a lot of this is relevant for like if you're running a promotional if you're running against, like, specific holidays and blurring those lines. So that's one of the things that we learned from our customers that that's, you know, that's something that they also wanted to try, and we're able to offer that functionality.

Rob Recinos  34:50

Inherent I think you also double click on that. But that Aaron, you also mentioned how in terms of when you want to send an email To go out, right, the system, I think I previewed this earlier, I want to make the comment that we're able to trigger, you're able to see where the mailpieces is, as is traveling through the system, or read into the mainstream. So when you're able to get this information back and how some customers are diverging, and I think that's kind of mentioned this earlier, as well, was, once again, a middle seat milestone, letting them know its processor delivery, they'll then say, two hours after I get this milestone, send off an email, right, so that they can land at the same time. And that's where you're, you know, double downing on your comment and reinforcing

Tatiana Afanasyeva  35:34

the messaging. Yeah, thanks for pointing that out. That's really important, because there are consistent status updates you can get from Lob rights, and then you can leverage those statuses to actually keep time in your campaigns afterwards. And that's one of those kind of like, really cool functionality that unlocks some of these use cases for you.

Aaron Conant  35:51

Yeah, I guess that was the next question was, so you're actually tracking these mail pieces, because that's the only way. But that can be a real time feedback to trigger in an email, you're not actually having to get in there and watch it

Tatiana Afanasyeva  36:04

know exactly right. So you can set up all those as triggers,

Rob Recinos  36:08

you're able to do that on a one to one basis, right? Because you're saying the Colorado versus sending in New York, it might arrive at a different time. Right. So you're again doing it on a one to one basis. Wow. Crazy. That's right.

Aaron Conant  36:23

Yeah. So are there other things that are popping up? that you think would be interesting, and if others if you have questions, drop them in the chat there, we can get them answered. But other things that people should be aware of? I'm kind of walking through, you know, in my mind, like the scenario where, you know, maybe they're going back and forth and buying like a lamp. Right? And a guy put it into the car. Yeah, or the wife, what's in the car is like, Hey, I'm like, we don't need a new lamp. And then three days later, four days later, I get a flyer with a 10% off coupon code with that lamp on it, then, like everybody thinks it's a sign, right? Like, oh, my gosh, how did this line up? You see that happening? as well?

Tatiana Afanasyeva  37:07

Absolutely. It's if you've ever looked at piece of mail, and you're like, present versus just looking at this, the answer to that is absolutely right. And that was sent through Lob. A couple of use cases that we've noticed that, you know, quite popular and becoming more and more popular. One thing is, you know, definitely any information that you have, right, so you can now actual person was that. So something if things are in your cart, right, you can actually put that front and centre and info in the actual, let's say, postcard, right. So that we've seen those use cases a lot. And they're great things that you also tend to like more, right, because let's say if you looked at this one, one type of lamp, right, so we can also send recommendation, right, so you leverage your recommendation engine to again, put those in that personalization and your direct mail pieces. One thing we're also seeing, which is kind of interested in learning for me was is that a lot of our customers starting to test out not only different, let's say personalizations, but also different form factors, or the type of mail that you're sending, you know, I maybe this little bit of a marketing my mindset, I always thought that postcards were better for marketing. But we're actually noticing that for a lot of our customers, when they test out a postcard versus a letter, write a letter perform better. It's a think of the different types of direct mail, whether it's a size, or it's actually, you know, postcard versus letter, like there's also checks, right? That could also be an important thing for you to test out in certain instances, again, like, challenge my own assumptions. And when I saw that, like, letters perform better than postcards, right. So like, those are all the different things that you can start thinking about experimentation. It's not just what you put in the mail piece, it's also the type of meal that you're using as well. Right. So that can be a cool, interesting person, just to run, right? So like lettuce versus postcard versus

Aaron Conant  38:47

checks. question that comes in is around, yeah, how do you get that shorter lead time just in larger organizations? You know, it's usually a lot tougher to get different stuff approved and get it through that quickly. And the other question is around, are you getting the physical address? From an email address? Those are two things that, like, do they have to be registered on the site, if they have to be a member or something where they've actually no giving you their address? Or other ways to build it? You know, how do you how do you see people building? So those are kind of two different questions. But

Tatiana Afanasyeva  39:25

yeah, let's maybe start with a list, right, because we get those questions a lot. And Rob, also jump in here. You know, one of the things of course, if you have a address from a customer because you ship something to them, or maybe have their billing address, that is the best right so like customer giving you the address is like that's, that's kind of the ultimate goal, right? That's the best that you can have. That's the best quality of data, but sometimes you don't read so we definitely have folks that are one either actually using a data provider, right. So to get a list of customers, this is where my kind of guiding principles is like if you are fairly certain around your demographic that could work, right. So let's say we worked with a high end candy company, and they really knew their demographic, right? They knew that these are the type of folks that tend to buy their product. So they felt very confident in buying that list, right and worked well for them. But imagine if you're not sure rates of maybe your demographic is pretty broad, that's when less buying and maybe less strengthen might not be the best idea or because you actually might not see great return, because you don't have a very strong conviction of the different lists that you're building. Right. So then that's when it becomes challenging. And of course, the more data that you have, the better your lists can be. Right? So if you have a name and an email address, there are data providers that can that append the data with a physical address, right. So we definitely have worked with quite a lot of our customers that tried that out, again, you know, full transparency or best in classes if you have the address, right? If you actually have that. But it doesn't mean that if you don't that they are completely limited. If you have any kind of piece of data, that's already better, right? Because you can enrich it. And then if you don't have anything, you literally just trying to come up with, you know, like talking to the list, have a strong conviction, right? And if you don't, that's when I would be a little bit hesitant, right? So if you are, if the demographic is like pretty generic, and you're trying to buy that last time, because you might not see ultimate strong performance. But Rob, what are your thoughts there?

Rob Recinos  41:17

I would agree. I mean, you have two different sources of truth there, right? One of which you already own. Secondly, you can work with companies like inbound insights, our data to buy look like, you can also do email append, right, so you can actually get this person's email address. And so I'm sorry, their home address as well off of their email address.

Tatiana Afanasyeva  41:37

Yeah, so there there are, you know, of course, and we work with quite a lot of these data providers, like tower data is one of them. So we would also recommend, you know, that's part of the process, how we would work together, it's the first would figure, alright, what is your situation, right? So whatever campaign you're trying to run, you know, it's a really good strategy. And then we'll recommend going to best in class practices based on the state of your business and what you're trying to achieve. But don't worry, like, if you don't, you know, there always are, there are creative ways you can get started, even if you don't have some of these physical address necessarily. Awesome.

Aaron Conant  42:11

You know, are there other things showing the report, I see, we probably have about three minutes left here, I want to make sure we give everybody a chance to get on their next meeting without being late. But there are other key things, even a quick highlights from the report. And again, we can get a copy of this, everybody. Yep. And you know, I encourage anybody on the line today, have a follow up conversation with the team at Lob, they're great friends, partners, supporters of the network, you know, worth the conversation, to have them do a quick deep dive on what you have going on in the direct mail space and kind of analyze what's going on. But other key insights that you think are worth taking away or highlight strumming, since they're going to get a copy of it, that they can flip to

Tatiana Afanasyeva  42:48

upside and actually, like, let her have it in front of me. So I'm gonna go through all the top sub data points to keep in mind and you know, absolutely happy to send you a weather report. You know, I think to me, the one that really stood out to me, and that's one of the changes from last year to this year is that and we have surveyed, you know, folks that have been leveraging direct mail at scale, right. So these are the companies you know, that have been using direct mail for a while, but only 5% Use direct mail as a standalone channel, right. So the folks that have been working with direct mail for quite some time have also been moving towards an omni channel campaigns, right, it was only 5% rely on it as a standalone channel. So this is where you actually start noticing rates. So you can see the true impact of direct mail is part of your Omni channel versus just standalone. That was an interesting learning for me is that more and more marketers? So I think that concept of standalone direct mail, but it's also like, to me, I think it's similar in any channel where to start to completely go away. Right? So we've all been talking about omni channel for forever now. But now it's actually happening, right? We're seeing that in the data, right? So companies are adopting that. We also see a pretty equal split between how marketers are using direct mail, right? You've asked me some questions around like, Should we be using it for acquisition? Or referrals? Or, you know, getting some of those dormant customers back back on track, or even like doing upsell, cross sell makes you seem pretty equal split between? Right? So quite a lot of companies are either using it for all use cases, right? Or there's like a rare healthy mix between so what it tells me that it's pretty much just up to you to find something will work right. So just try out all the different channels, and a majority of customers use it for all right, so they started integrating direct mail as part of all types of channels, all types of campaigns that was upset interested in learning. And that to me, probably, you know, the last thing was interesting is, you know, what is still more to folks still struggling with right so you know, why is direct mail? Why are we not seeing more and more and more direct mail Rizza and this is where the manual processes is where companies are struggling with the most where it is that like for quite a lot extra for about half right that are not leveraging technology and modern technology. Direct Mail takes a lot from marketing team or marketing organization to execute. Right. So that's one of the challenges that folks have been complaining about is that it's still You know, it's hard to execute on, but those are for the companies that like that are not using technology, which I can see. Right. So if you are, if you're doing this manually, it will take you quite a lot of time to execute and direct mail. So we're noticing that, you know, more and more companies are starting to discover technology and move their direct mail processes from leveraging, you know, from like this manual towards a technology based process. And that's what's actually helping to increase the ROI and just in general performance.

Rob Recinos  45:24

Once you've narrowed every part about the report, I know we kind of like now. But the personalization, how they're leveraging personalization, right, making the information that you're sending, rather what you're sending out to be relevant, that's gonna be the highest impact, just as relevant to the buyer, right, relevant to the audience.

Tatiana Afanasyeva  45:42

Yeah, and actually, the data, they're like eight out of 10, use personalization, now actually personalized. So also, one thing to keep in mind, right, is that accompanies a momentary personalization. So if you're getting started now, and you're not, you're already right, not in the best position, because most, most companies are adopting personalization. And but also keep in mind, personalization doesn't just mean, right that like, it's the actual presentation of the mail piece, whether you add a name or code or an image, it's also the type of mail that you're sending, or that also can be used for personalization and like testing purposes. But that's a really, really good point, Rob, is that, at least for the folks that we're serving, they are all using personalization.

Aaron Conant  46:21

Yeah. And that's across the board to That's it, who you send an email to Who do you send an SMS to? Who do you direct mail? You know, what's the email format? Right? How often are you doing it? What are the services you're offering? And I think personalization is ramped up considerably. I mean, after you spent all the time, effort money to get somebody in top of funnel, yeah, right. With, with the the updates we talked about in iOS 14.5, then how do you make them feel special? Right? How do you communicate with them in a fashion that develops relationships that they like?

Tatiana Afanasyeva  46:52

So right, and to me, you know, kind of the the one takeaway, and if we have one takeaway for today is that think of direct mail as you think about email or any other digital channel, right? So if you can think of, you know, like, this is what I'm doing was email, then you can do the same with direct mail. Right? So it's kind of my one main message is I really want folks to start moving away from this concept, right? The direct mail is antiquated, it's static, right? So that was all you know, that's the old days, and was a modern technology, you can really, really use it in exact same way how you do digital channels. I agree,

Aaron Conant  47:23

because of the companies like wow, that have automated it, right? The email, the SMS, it was all automated on the back end, we need, we needed a Lob to come around. And you know, those, I'd say, digital age direct mail, to make it easy. And the reason I think for a lot of cases that has sat outside is because it wasn't directly integrated. And it wasn't easy to directly integrate. And it was a pain. Right. And we didn't know when the bail was going to show up. We couldn't track it. So there's so many more things now. But maybe that's the next call. Yeah, I guess you were right at time here. Rob Tatiana. As always, you know, thanks for being such great friends, partner support as the network, make sure everybody gets a copy of the state of direct mail 2020 to connect you with them, I'd encourage a follow up conversation so they can do that deep dive. It's worth it. I'd like to have a conversation with you as well. We don't sell anything here at BWG Connect. But I do connect with 30 brands plus a week just to stay on top of those trends and what's going on more than happy to network knowledge share and make any connections but also find out hey, what are the next topics we should have calls on or dinners on so thanks again. Rob Tatiana hope everybody has a fantastic Tuesday. A great rest of the week. Everybody take care stay safe and look forward to having you at a future event.

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