The New Age Digital Marketing - Driving ROI From Your Direct Mail Channel

Dec 16, 2021 3:00 PM4:00 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways

In this digital age where communication is increasingly moving online, physical mail seems like a thing of the past.

Consumers are bombarded with emails and text messages that are easy to delete without reading or giving a second thought. But when people get a letter, their curiosity usually leads them to open it. Even if they end up throwing it in the trash — it still made an impression on them. So, how can you use direct mail as a competitive advantage? How can you modernize your workflow to maximize ROI?

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant is joined by Tatiana Afanasyeva, Head of Marketing and Growth at Lob, to discuss how you can use direct mail to increase ROI. Tatiana talks about the most common issues with direct mail, how Lob can help you overcome them, and how to simplify your workflow.

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


  • Tatiana Afanasyeva discusses how Lob is revolutionizing direct mail strategies for modern businesses
  • Most common issues with direct mail: lack of personalization, timing, campaign automation, and delivery accuracy
  • The power of physical direct mail in an overdiluted digital world
  • Using HTML templates to simplify your complicated workflows
  • How will your ROI increase from each workflow improvement?
  • Why your postal vendor needs CASS certification
  • Understanding what’s really happening with your mail
  • What are the highest recommended uses for direct mail?
  • Tracking your mail success rate through QR codes
  • Why personalizing direct mail gives you a competitive advantage
  • Pros and cons of letters versus postcards
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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 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.

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

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

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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 Thursday everybody. My name is Aaron Conant. I'm the Co-founder and Managing Director at BWG Connect. We're a networking and knowledge sharing group with 1000s of brands to do exactly that we network and now cheer together to stay on top of the newest trends, strategies, pain points, whatever it is that shaping digital growth today. So I talk with 30 Plus brands a week to stay on top of those trends. We'd love to have a conversation with anybody on the line today. You know more than happy to network and knowledge share what we're seeing across the board, not just direct consumer related but international expansion or Amazon literally anything drop shipping, SEO, anything you might have a question, I always love those conversations. So shoot me an email It's actually my most favorite part about my my job is being able to connect with brands. So before doing that with anybody that's joining today, a couple housekeeping items, as we get started is we're starting this at three to four minutes after the hour, we're actually going to try to wrap this up around 345 latest 350 give you the gift of time here the holidays, back. So just if you're looking at your watch, you're gonna have plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being late. The other thing is we want this to be as educational and informational as possible. So any point in time, if you have a question, don't hesitate to drop it into the chat, drop into the question section, or feel free to email them to me Aaron that includes you know, if it's an hour after the call tomorrow, next week, anytime you have a question in the digital space, don't hesitate to reach out we've got 1000s of brands in the network, probably one we can connect you with to get you an answer. And so with that, I want to kind of kick this off. You know, where Tatiana and I were just kind of, you know, chatting here before we kicked it off era have drastically everything's changed in this massive shift in, you know, the topics for calls, which we get from those one on one conversations and how it's drastically shifted from a ton of people being interested in Amazon, which they still are, but 75% of the calls were on Amazon focused, you know, growth or strategy to now 75% of these virtual events that we do. And even the in person events that we do, are actually more focused on the direct to consumer side and everything that has to go along with it. It's just a mindset shift, I think for a lot of brands that grew so big. And so along with that, you know, is a lot of people are looking for those new innovative, you know, marketing methods that are out there. And we just talked to a lot of brands, you know, recommended the team over at LA. So they've been great friends and partners and supporters of a lot of brands, the network now. And so we asked them to kind of jump on the phone today and say, Hey, this is what's going on in this space. This is how you should be thinking about what I refer to as like digital age direct mail, right. And that's just, you know, my own phrase, I don't know, chaotic, all that or not. But, you know, I'll kick it over to you Tatiana, if you want to do a brief intro on yourself, and love, that'd be awesome. And then we can jump into some of the content here. And people just, you know, can just submit the questions as we go. So yes, absolutely.

Tatiana Afanasyeva 3:27

You know, always really great to be back here, you know, you know me, my name is Tatiana. I am the Head of Marketing at Lob, I have been in this industry for quite some time. So I spend majority of my time actually talking to our customers understanding what's working, what's not working for them. And really, you know, introducing this almost like a new wave of direct mail. Right. So modern direct mail, digital direct mail, I think we actually need to come up with a term for this, right? Because it's definitely quite different from what a traditional direct mail looked like. A few things like one as I mentioned earlier, you know, let's make this interactive, right. So, you know, I think we all have sat through like, you know, an hour long meetings, and somebody was just constantly talking at us, right? That's not the point here. Please ask any questions you might have I like any questions, we're happy to answer write anything as we come along. So if you see anything that's interesting on the slide, feel free to always just drop it in the chat. And I'm happy to like keep the questions going as we go through the different topics. So within that, I want to just spend a quick minute on just Lob, specifically an OS. You know, like one, probably the best way to think about Lob is we, you know, really brought this huge industry right direct mail industry into the 21st century. Right. And the mission that we always had as a company is why can't digits like why can't direct mail be as easily executable as digital channels, right? So that's what we always had as our vision. And that's really what we've introduced into this industry, right? Its ability to work and handle direct mail and sexy way how you currently handling your email or any other digital channel, right? That was our mission from the beginning. And that's how we partner with organizations cards is to really bring your direct mail strategy, whether you're just getting started, right, or if you're actually processing a millions of pieces of mail, our mission is to ensure that your process is modern. So today, I would love to chat about some of the hottest start off what is, you know, there's a lot of things that we're noticing, right, especially as we talk to a lot of different customers is like, that's currently missing from their direct mail channels, right? There are your direct mail is absolutely huge. A lot of companies rely on that as a fundamental communication channel. But a lot of their processes is not ideal, right? The things that we're noticing, quite often when it comes to digital marketing, you know, companies tend to be very sophisticated, right? So we all spend the last minute like, what 15 years, optimizing our digital channels, where it's so and then when you run into some issues when it comes to digital channels, right? So you kind of know where the problem lies, right? Because you're able to see the ROI, right, you have all the mechanisms to be able to see that. But with direct mail, it's just has been kind of like in the dark ages, right? Still, whereas you just don't have the same level of sophistication, right, that we see with other channels. And that's one of the biggest problem, right was direct mail. Most companies are, you know, they're seeing a strong ROI from direct mail. But it can definitely be better, right? If you were to modernize it process, and that's really what I'd love to chat through today.

So let's, uh, let's get into it. You know, like one of the first things right, and we a lot of, you know, the first thing that a lot of our customers ask us is evaluate our direct mail process. Right. So what are we doing? Well, what are we not doing? Well, and here's the most common issues that we're seeing right across the different customers, again, regardless of their sizes, is that most likely, you're currently not personalizing your direct mail, right. And there's a couple of reasons for that. Right. So and maybe even if you do some basic personalization, such as name, right, that tends to stay at that level, right. And it's because of the way how direct mail has been historically rotten. It's actually a lot of traditional vendors make it really difficult when it comes to price points to actually be able to personalize, and also a lot of technology is just lacking, right? So lack of personalization. And customization is one of the big, big challenges that we see when we just overall when it comes to companies that are leveraging direct mail. The second one is again, as we think about timing, right, so we're able to execute on digital channels, like was the click of a button, right? Somebody comes to your website, somebody added something to that card, right, you can trigger an email to be sent to them immediately. Right. So like just chill channels have this like timing, like where precise timing. But when it comes to direct mail, it is really, really difficult, right? A lot of times, and I'll kind of get into these in details, but it takes companies sometimes six months to roll out a single campaign. Right. And by that time, imagine if somebody you know, like a consumer that was had an interest in your product, and you send them a postcard six months later, right? So they forgot all about it. Right? Our you know, our attention span was very short. Right. So we're also seeing that, you know, even though a lot of companies do a lot of direct mail, or it just takes them so long to get something out the door where the urgency is, is missing. The next one and again, it's a really big one, which has campaign automation. So again, when it comes to email marketing, digital marketing, I so there is this concept of campaigns. So I'd say you're able to log into your tool, you can put together workflow, you can click a button, write an email goes out, and when it comes to direct me out, somehow none of that infrastructure exists, right? So you have to talk to a printer, you have a creative agency, right? And all of these can like system and workflows are existed like spreadsheets and email and phone calls, where there really isn't this holistic competing automation, right that and see and other channels. The next one is just the production itself, right? So digital channels, it's really easy to turn things around, right you're upload an HTML template, again, you upload a list then you can send campaigns out. And then with direct mail, the process is just so how much more like complicated varied, so even like getting together a list of addresses, right? So it's like 20, different spreadsheets and a lot of different places for instance, it becomes a huge problem. And then lastly, you know, to me, and that's actually the one that folks sometimes tend to miss which is delivery delivery accuracy breeds so one of the things when it comes to our again email and feel like I'll say email today lots of them just because there's a lot of comparison when it comes to email you can see right so like okay, this is how many email bombs right so the number words liberate and you can actually run through technology that will be able to get rid of those module six. A lot of times folks Bennett forget about that when it comes to direct mail. Right. So like people change addresses, about 20% of all addresses that are entered online continuing stake, read what somehow You know, we still are sending out a lot of direct mail piece that actually end up going nowhere. And the challenge was direct mail, right? It has a physical cost, right? So an email then bombs like, okay, sure, whatever. But you know, as you spend money sending out a postcard right or letter that bounced. So that's one area that we sometimes folks into, actually not pay attention to. But like the accuracy and deliverability of your apps is really, really important. And there are tools that allow you to do that very easily. So why,

Aaron Conant 10:27

why am I so far behind? Very, I mean, this is all things that people saw with email. Right? A while ago. A lot of people are solving with SMS right now. Yes, and well, that's what happened this guy because I think about direct mail. Right. But yeah, I don't know. But all my emails, right. My business ones I do right at work with personal emails, I don't open them all. Then, you know, even a text if I see is not for a person. I may right now open it. But direct mail I get I look at, right, I at least even if I'm walking it to the garbage, I've touched it. It's had an impression on me. You will look at us things like this fits in that stack. Right? And yeah.

Tatiana Afanasyeva 11:18

Well, and there's, you know, outside of this two things. So that happened. One, you're absolutely right. It's right. So and that's, I think one of the power about direct mail, it will get there, right, people will look at your direct mail piece, the rest is kind of up to you. And I have always challenged a lot of our marketers like the fact if somebody is going to throw away that piece, or they're going to keep an opt in, it is completely in your control, right? Because it's based on how personalized how relevant how timely it is. But the reason why, you know, we just didn't see that level of technology being invested in direct mail is it's a difficult problem to solve. Right. So we have been working on this for the last 10 years. Right? And I feel like because when we first started working in this industry, right, so we always were one, we were very naive, we quite honestly, you know, like many, many years ago, we just approach it like, Well, why can't you do the same thing when it comes to email? Like, why can't you create all this, like, you know, systems and workflows that we're used to? And I think a lot of times, you know, because this industry has existed for a long time, folks have just been trying to just slightly optimize an existing process, versus trying to fundamentally rethink of how it should operate. Right? And that's when we started, you know, working this like 10 years ago, it was this like, very naive idea. It's like, Why can't something something be done, right. And because of that, we really rethought the process. And then we, we worked in some work with a lot of printers to ensure that they adopt our technology. That's one of the things I just because direct mail actually has existed for a really long time. And so it was very difficult to innovate. And I think a lot of folks have just going to log this vision off to, can we fully rethink of the should be done right, versus trying to incrementally introduce new new innovation point. And then there is now you know, there's a lot more really amazing technology that is happening in this industry. And it is actually because our digital channels are getting less and less, you know, they're getting more saturated and more diluted, right? So folks are now one three, in you know, rediscovering this channel is highly effective, right. And so but now, as folks are coming back to this channel, or actually trying to introduce this channel, for the first time, they expect a certain degree of sophistication, right, so good that also helped propel technology. So, you know, it's been, it's been absolutely fascinating learning about like, what, you know, you can ask me, like little helm mail used to be around like, you know, 100 years ago, and to get into that, but but that's to me, my take, right, is that, like, there's not a lot more interest in this industry. And also, finally, you know, like players like us that we came to market. And we've decided, like, Why can't this be better? Right? Why can't we introduce modern technology? So, let's actually talk a little bit, and you've kind of, you know, mentioned, this is, like, direct mail, I look at direct mail, right. So like, and to me, you know, one of the challenge I always give to a lot of customers is, you know, even if you're already sending direct mail, right, and it's highly effective, right? So you can see here, just the stats around, you know, like why companies are investing in optimizing the direct mail process, because it's so effective. But if you were to introduce even more sophistication, right, you can get this channel to be even more effective. And these are some of the stats, right, that are just so evident when you look at them, right? So and, you know, direct mail is already has 13 times higher response rates that email and 90% of direct mail is open, or this is what I mean that you look at your direct mail, right, so it will cut through, versus a lot of other channels just end up going nowhere.

Also, majority of consumers check mail daily, right. So in over we actually did a lot of really interesting studies. We maybe that's one thing we can do next time. We do the state of direct mail study, when we actually survey a lot of just like marketers across the United States. And what we found and we keep finding it this is the stat that I think gives us so much more new it just gives us excitement to keep investing In this channel on developing much knowledge, because over 60%, of marketers that were consistently surveyed said the direct mail has the highest ROI out of any other channels that they have when properly invested, right? And these are kind of the reasons why I think more and more folks are getting excited right about direct mail. And it's just pure like, it works better than today's just works. So let's today actually want to discuss and really get into, you know, what are some of the challenges, right, that you're probably experiencing when it comes to direct mail, especially if you are sending you know, millions of pieces of mail? And how do you can actually address that, right. So that's kind of the first part I really want to get into the first one. And this is the one I love, love showing. So I mentioned the direct mail workflow, or it tends to be fairly, fairly complicated. So what you're looking here, this is a real customer, right? So and this is actually just middle of the road legacy direct mail process. This is somebody that have invested in innovating and adding more sophistication to the direct mail workflow. It's about 50, their workflow is 55 Steps long, right? And that's, and that's immediate, right? So there are companies that have 100, and more steps in that workflow. It includes everything a typical company does when it comes to direct mail process from planning to tracking ROI to create a workflows to vendor onboarding, RFP workflows, acquisition list formatting, right? It's just gets like, heavier and heavier and heavier, right. And this is why, you know, to me, I really like to show in us, because the legacy workflow is really, really complicated. And the problem was that it takes a lot of energy. And it takes a lot of time. And it takes a lot of resources, right, your own resources, resource heavy. It doesn't have to be this way. So I would love to talk a little bit about, you know, typically, many large companies, every single direct mail marketing project involves a multiple week workflows and extensive creative partner as well. It can take several iterations or outside of just legacy workflows. There's also on top of that, they have very, very, like complicated legacy creative workflows, right? So a lot of times, it takes a lot of back and forth his creative agencies for it to like, look at direct mail piece proven, get another version of it, right. So it just adds even more complexity to your workflows. So imagine, but now as you think about again, like email, or it's so easy for you to get a creative out or to like, take a look at this creative, send yourself a test email and just send it out. Right. So that's why we're looking to those two processes, right? There's just also so different and so complicated. And then really, you know, they really don't have to be. So like the best way that we have partners, and we really encourage companies to think about modernizing, right? How do you fix it? Right? How do you fix this complicated workflows, and increase your ROI? And there's really a couple of key things, right, that we talk a lot about is, the first one is, and it's a very, very simple one is we've introduced to really help us this nightmare workflow around creative. And then also like other things, we've introduced HTML templates, again, you know, this was our thinking was like, Why can't you use HTML templates for direct mail? Right? Why would have to be these like crazy PDFs everywhere, that a static but it cannot be formatted. So we've introduced this HTML template thing that allows you to program your direct mail in exact same way how you currently do email, and it actually sits within within the current platform, right? So imagine, instead of having through these, like complicated 30 Step workflows, and exact same way, how you can log into your email marketing tool and just upload an HTML and then just edit it, you can now actually do that with direct mail. So we now will tell you, if you're not currently using HTML, or for your creative, that's the best way of solving this complicated workflow. And that's also you know, something that you should definitely be looking for, right. So when you're looking to introduce kind of like this innovation, and then the second thing is just like really around production process, I'll get into the details around that. But again, now you can actually work with your direct mail platform that will allow you to take all of these complicated workflows and really introduced the same process, right, that you do when it comes to like compete management production that you see with your digital channel. Right. So this exists, right? So a lot of times companies that have been working with direct mail for a really long time, I'm not aware, right that there is now these two different innovations that have been introduced and it's pretty easy to

so let's then talk a little bit about you know, fixing this legacy workflows, right? So and very, very specific, how can you fix those workflows? And also how can that impact specifically your ROI right so I think a lot of us as marketers we need to tie everything right to ultimately dollars or so like, why you know, like, what type of ROI Can you see and what increase in ROI Can you see from each different improvement that you make to your workflows? So Let's talk a little bit about delivery accuracy or so I've mentioned that earlier. And this is something that I always always loved putting out there, because this is one thing that we find a lot of companies tend to overlook. And when we started marketers, we found that about 50%, of marketers that we surveyed actually struggled was managing just addresses, right? Because every single mail piece at the new day starts with an address, right. So that's the first thing that you need in order for you to walk checks in your direct mail. And then in many cases, your stuff was manually copy and pasting addresses between Excel sheets. And you depend in maybe on third party websites to acquire lists from third party address list. The address list companies often have very poor accuracy rates, like that's something that we run into, a lot of our customers have run into those challenges. And I mentioned this earlier, about 20% of addresses entered online have a mistake, right? So just because you you know, somebody you have actually added their address. And you know, if you happen to be from retail and commerce, you know that better than anybody else, right? So, you know, a lot of those challenges. If you don't have a really good accurate way or good system to maintain, I just accuracy, right? That's the beginning process of workflow improvement. But everything starts with an address. And then this is, this is something I like to like repeated again. And again, just because it tends to be so overlooked. So okay, so let's talk about addresses, right. So they're really an easy way addresses have been solved, it is no longer a problem. So really, what you need to look for is when you are looking to working with a vendor, you need to make sure that whoever you're working with has cast certification, right. So what it is, is the Postal Service has this certification program costs called cast certification, essentially, what they do is if you sign up for cast certification, if you're working with a vendor that has it, they ensure that every address actually can be delivered to right. So and it also automatically takes into account somebody if they have recently moved, right, what is the next address, right, and that will change that address in your systems? Right? So we offer that service, you know, because it's one of the first things we have to solve, right? So I just have to be accurate, and they have to be delivered to right, that's not negotiable, and cups to direct mail. So whoever you work with, just really, really make sure I'd look for this like very specific boarding pass certified, because that will ensure that your address is a cleanse, the actual service will also fix some of the mistakes right? In your addresses. Very often imagine, you know, if you say like, you're entering like, like a shipping form online, right? Sometimes you'll see like a pop up saying like, Hey, did you mean this, right? So like, let's say they'll fix your zip code, that's actually a certification company, right? So and we provide that service and just make sure that whoever you work with actually offers that service as well. That's a very easy takeaway, just look for this cast certification. The next one is, you know, besides just fixing your addresses lists, right, so it's a good idea to get missing address information to a lot of times, right, so when we work with customers, one of the first thing that they challenge that they face, say like, look, we have, let's say, a million database, email addresses, but we don't have physical addresses for quite a lot of that, right. So what do you do in that case, because a lot of your se customers might not be marketable to or using direct mail, even though you really want to try this out. So this is where we recommend using a service. So essentially, there are companies that will get missing address information, and they'll append it to your email list. Right? Most of the time, when you collect email addresses, you don't get the physical address, especially if you haven't considered leveraging direct mail in the past. Right. So there are companies that will do that service for you. We specifically partner with our data, there are other company, you know, there's plenty of these companies that will do that for you. But if you're thinking that, okay, well, I have a challenge where I have, you know, so much of my databases can be actually mailed to well, it just we recommend just using a service like this, and it can't be right. So that's not a hard stop necessarily, right? If you don't have to, all you have is the email address versus the actual physical address. So keep that in mind. Right, that this could be solved. And, you know, like a lot of other companies have run into this issue, right? So you're definitely not alone in that, specifically. Okay, so and I know I'm going through a lot of information faster, and I'm trying to get as much information out, I actually might skip a few slides. So just to make sure we kind of get the media parts out today. But also maybe just

Aaron Conant 24:23

fine. And just a reminder to others. If you have questions, you know, drop in the chat or drop them in the q&a, or just email them to me the questions section or email them to me, And we'll just Yeah, as your your, your your rocking through these. We can get some questions answered. Because there's a couple that that have come in that I want to make sure that we get addressed to but make sure we get as much through as much of this as possible as well.

Tatiana Afanasyeva 24:48

Yeah, absolutely. So okay, so it talks about addresses, right. So that's not a problem, right? You can fix it, you can solve it in your workflow. The next one is also something that becomes really problematic, right? It's kind of like visibility right? Getting some visibility into what's happening with your mail. Right? Again, this is something that historically tends to be such a black box. So like, Okay, I sent out direct mail campaign. So what right, so it was intent was to deliver it to, for it. So we really encourage, if you're thinking about modernizing the direct mail process, now's the time to really make sure you have the right visibility. Right. So we recommend using a vendor that has event driven architecture, for example, they have put hooks and maybe they have an API for it to be able to actually see where your meal is at any given time, but be able to get that visibility back, right, because that, again, when you look through that workflow, or that I showed you earlier, was 50 steps. But so many of those steps was actually contacting the vendor, just to get a confirmation that directly it was actually sent out, well, you don't have to do that anymore. Because the more technical providers will actually automatically publish that information for you, whether it's an API, or you can also leverage about props, right. So that like eliminate literally like 10 steps in that whole process that we saw earlier. And what you want, right is something this is actually a view of our own dashboard. Right? So this is something you know that if you were to log into Lob, right, you'll this is like one of the Analytics view that you can actually see for it. So you really want to look for a vendor that provides you with this, like really high level visibility of what's happening was your direct mail, but you can see where your mail is at any given time rates or whether it was sent what is in transit process for delivery rates, and maybe some vegetables. And then also just like in terms of just general campaign performance, right, the good expects everywhere else, like how many was sent, you know, what's happening was that. So this is now again, you don't just like remember that you don't have to have to have this manual process of getting this information in from vendors, you actually need to look for somebody who can just provide that information for you on or you should be able to log into a dashboard, right and have a dashboard versus having to actually email somebody for a contribution. Right. So definitely encourage you to look for that.

Aaron Conant 26:51

A couple of questions that come in around. Well, I mean, I was gonna say attribution. So that conversion, this is this is perfect. And then what are the what are the highest recommended uses for direct mail? Is it win back campaigns? Is it Remarketing is it you know, some basic, you know, abandoned cart? So attribution is what came in, but I think it's referring to conversion. So how are you tracking conversion and be able to tie that back? And how does it compare to,

Tatiana Afanasyeva 27:25

you know, other forms? Exactly. So, so let's start off. Right. Oh, sorry. There's, um, okay, so for the conversion tracking, and this is literally like, we get three questions like the first question that we always get right is like one, you know, what I do is addresses. Second is how do I get visibility right into what's happening? And second, like, how do I measure and track ROI, right. And again, like one of the part of the legacy workflows was around also ROI tracking, right. And there was something that was very, very difficult to do. There are no many, there's a lot of different ways that you can track conversion from direct mail piece. So first of all, if you ever hear that, it cannot be done, right. So you just have to rely right. So on mathematic, as I like to call it, that is absolutely not true. You can check conversion with every single one direct mail piece. Here's how we recommend you track conversion, the first one, right, and that's it really straightforward. You can use personalized URLs, right? So because remember, you can also now use HTML, you can just say Insert customized URL for every single one of those mail pieces, right? So you can say, like, you know, let's say, right, so you can use this personalized URLs. That's nice way. But they're also like other ways of tracking. And actually no to that I think we're noticing that the URL sent to now decrease a little bit, because there's actually even better ways, right? The problem was URL, somebody has to go in and type it out. Right? So you really don't want to have anything too complicated. We also found that sometimes customers still see somebody, you know, come come back to the website and purchase something, even though they didn't enter the special URL, like how do you check that, for instance, somebody has still saw direct mail piece, but then went to, let's say, the main Lob versus, though, so that's something that I'll walk you through how you can deal with that. But really, you can use you know, a lot of companies use checkout coats, right? So again, personalized, like, you know, things given 20 or so like something along those lines, you can make sure that you have personalized code that you can use a checkout, the one that I really, really see being utilized now and a lot more and actually, I think we see a little bit of decrease in URL personalization and increase in QR codes. And that is, of course, because of the pandemic, right? So we all now know how to use QR codes and we have been trained for it. So QR codes, you know, the technology has existed for a really long time. But now everybody's actually

Aaron Conant 29:50

there. It's so much easier for shopping on mobile, it's so much

Tatiana Afanasyeva 29:55

easier, right? So and you also get really, really cool tracking, right? Because if you use QR codes. So our recommendation, especially right now, I would test it out, right? I would even start off with custom QR codes versus other things right now. But just because we're, you know, it's just the easiest, like it's frictionless, right? And the QR code, you can also do like deep linking, right? You can actually direct somebody to download your mobile app, right? And you can deplete somebody into electric Ibaka. CART, right? So there's just a lot of cool things that you can do leveraging QR code. So I would definitely encourage you, if now's the time that you're rethinking this process, try it out. We also definitely had folks that I talk a lot about marketing, right. But we also, you know, have some of the more of a life cycle campaigns, right, or maybe somebody that works with, I'll say, like, health care insurance, right. So there's a lot of different ways that drug sales being utilized. We also saw that for some industries, and for certain demographics of the actual phone numbers still work, right? So let's say, you know, if you're working with a demographic, right, that might not be very tech forward, very tech savvy, right? That QR codes might actually be not the right method for your audience. There's always phone numbers, right, there's always personalized phone numbers. So because now you can add anything to like easily, or to the individual mail piece, we use an HTML, but that really opens up your ability to track, right. So here's all the different ways, we you know, there's even more ways, but now, and in pretty much any way how you are able to track conversions with digital channels, you can now do the same thing with direct mail. One thing that that was an interesting learning workshop from a customer recently, that I also encourage you to think about is sometimes it happens that somebody like saw your piece of mail, or it but they might not have used the code, right that you were actually assigned to them. So if you want it to be really, really sophisticated and like be you know, digging deeper into like seeing the impact of your direct mail, we also encourage you to use cohorts, right? So it just and then look at performance or lift based on a cohort basis, you can say, Okay, this cohort, one received a direct mail piece, and then you can see, okay, real X percent of them actually use this specific QR code and URL and then look at the second cohort, right, so the ones that didn't receive direct mail piece, because you'll notice is that the total lift from direct mail tends to be a little bit higher than you might see if you're just relying on those specific codes, right? So the best, the cleanest way is always to use specific personalization and also cohorts, right, if you want to kind of capture that, like some of that left that might not have come specifically from the code. And then to answer your second question, right around use cases, this is the one where, honestly, because of how easy the technology is, it's really easy for you to test an experiment, right? The things that we know work really, really well, we see really strong performance and somebody who unsubscribed right from your digital communication. Imagine if somebody you know, they, they actually have high lifetime value for you. So you know, it's like, it's a very important customer, but all of a sudden, right? They they unsubscribe, right? Let's say from your newsletter, from your email communication, well, in that scenario, you actually cannot contact them anymore, right? So that individual is blocked for you. But you can still send them a direct mail piece and what we're finding that sometimes that companies have really high conversion rate for most direct mail pieces. And what they've learned is that sometimes, you know, somebody is really just tired of the email, or they're just the love year as a company. And as a brand, they just want a different way of communicating. Right. So that was kind of like an interest in learning. And then outside of that are definitely, you know, retention campaigns work really, really well. If it's somebody that you know, you know, you have a lot of information about them for it. So that tends to work really well. But ultimately, to me, you know, there's no right answer to this strategy all kind of depends on what makes sense for you. And we just encourage you to test and experiment, right. And as long as you're using a vendor, right, or a partner that is, you know, where you can execute a complaint easily rather than that's not a barrier, right? You don't have to think really, really deeply. Okay, I only am able to do one campaign, right? Because it's so hard to execute. Now you can actually say like, Well, why don't I just try out like two or three, because it's like, it takes me the same amount of effort that it takes me to send an email, or the kind of unlocks a lot of things for folks. And we do have a lot of companies, the first one they use to get started easily, like quicker is to really take a look at specifically ad and replicate some of your email strategy. Right. So if you already have things that work quite well on email, you can also sometimes you can even take take the same creatives, right? So if you already had an HTML that works really well, it's really easy to just replicate that was struck me out, right. So that's also again, just like a little hack that you can do, right? If you want to get started easily, you can actually somebody on your email marketing team can pretty much execute on them.

Which actually kind of brings me to you know, we already kind of talked a little bit about this, but personalization, right? So it's kind of like the last thing I really want to make sure that we're covered today. And this is the one that I really love talking about. Because there's just so much fun things that you can do with struck me on that. So you know, one, this is our own research. And what it shows you is that very, very few companies do personalization right now. Right? So if let's say you and your direct competitor both do direct mail, chances are, you're not personalized. And so the faster you can introduce personalization, the more advantage you can have. Right? So what we found right now is only about 38% of the folks that and we actually, this survey was for companies that send quite a lot of mail. Right? So these are the folks that quite sophisticated, worried, so even folks that send a lot of junk mail, only about 38% of them can personalize the text of the mail piece, right? So you know, there's like, really, they cannot 90% can customize the envelopes, tax rates, it's so little, where's the most of those envelopes are pretty much the same. Just under 16% use different form factors, like you know, actually just the amount of postcard versus letter, right, versus like, you know, like even different types of postcards. So there's so many different things, right? And very few folks have tried it out for exam, like, okay, maybe for our demographic letters actually worked best, we, we definitely have a couple of customers that I've learned that, that for them letters were better, had better conversion rates, the postcards, but most companies currently, I'm not actually AV testing, right, so the different form factors. And to me, you know, the one that is like, really shocking to me is only about 8% can currently use custom images in their direct mail piece. Right? So you know, right now you have a lot of information right about, let's say, you know, if you are direct to consumer, right, let's say you're like a large clothing brand brand, and you know, somebody that was shopping right, and maybe added things to their cart, it might still be sitting in their cart, right? So currently, right? None of them that, you know, very, very few companies right now would actually use any of that information on the actual mail piece, it's a lot of mail piece tends to be very genetic, genetic, genetic. So even though you have a lot of information right about customer versity right now, you know, there's like one thing that can send you that really differentiate you from your competition. It's really personalization, because so few folks that actually use personalization. So that's why it is so important. You know, and I'm not going to get into this too much. But also, the challenge was personalization in the past have been the way that direct mail has been priced. Right, because it is much much easier to send out a batch, right, that is the same. This is why you know, we see a lot of this, you know, just like generic coupons, dear resident, right, here's an offer that are really not that effective. And is because the way that companies have been pricing for its own pricing structure. And that is also changing, right? So what you really need to look for is when you're looking for a vendor is somebody that is not trying to charge you more for personalization, right? So that should just be a feature that's built in versus say, like, Hey, if you want to add a personalized, let's say name, right, it's going to be an extra charge, right? So all of those fees that just no longer something that is actually relevant. Because it's, you know, like, for companies like Nah, bro, because, you know, we send like millions of pieces of mail a day, right? So and because of our technology, personalization is really not a problem. So for us, like there's nothing in our pricing that actually limits you from personalization, right. So that to me, if you're looking to like some of those, like changing, you know, like weird pricing structures where it says like, you can only send one letter or one postcard, otherwise, it's a charge, like, that's just those things all need to go away and look for a vendor that doesn't really charge you based on.

Um, so, you know, like when it comes to just a little bit more on personalization, right? So when now, personalization is not a cost, right, it is not something that adds a cost to you, right, it is something that should just be included, the things that you can do when it comes to personalization, and we really encourage you it's also just like make sure that you're testing out the different type of direct mail right so when it comes to just postcards, right there's so many or it's a maybe if you have this like a better beautiful brand, right? Or maybe like a car ride or something that is like very leave visual, you might want to start off right especially if it's like an acquisition right when you're trying to get a new customer maybe startup was like this big, beautiful bold postcard, right? Because it really captures attention you or let's say if you actually have something that requires a little bit more explanation, right, so let's say if maybe you have like a new you know, maybe second insurance I mean, it's like financial offering, right if you have something right that me that you need somebody to like read through it, so then you can actually use self mailers what self mailers are, they're almost like this you know, the postcards that can open up right so you can have this like really cool first offer and then somebody can open them and actually read through description rates. This can also work for you have the card fix a fix is something really really cool as well. And you probably all have seen this. This is the ability to attach a card right inside of a inside of a letter for sale. That's thing that that works really well. If you have an offer that does not expire right away. Right? So let's say you know if you're a food delivery, right and you're trying to get somebody like $100 off So it's actually really nice if somebody can just put that take that card out and put it in their wallet and to help them with right as a constant reminder. Or maybe if you know, if you actually try to drive some physical store for those cards work really well. But to me, the main point here is that don't think of personalization as just what you can do, right was like the actual creative like, yes, but also don't forget about the different types of mail. Right. So and sometimes, as I mentioned, like we had a real, you know, customer that sends, you know, like half a million mail pieces, sometimes a day, they recently learned that for them. They always sell postcards, right? They were sending postcards, events, postcards are aid like this big, beautiful postcards, and then we just encourage and look, why don't you just try out a letter, like, we know that that's not, you know, what you would normally consider, what they found is that people actually like that one, you know, there's something like really cool, but they love their letter that they designed. And then also because the offer came on is like a really great and authentic right. So like, for some reason, the letters work better for them, the postcards, postcards. So that's one thing that they've learned, and I encourage you to come together to the same, right. So you never know what's going to work for you as consumers.

Aaron Conant 41:05

And one thing I want to I want to get to, because I see we've got a few we're going to try to end this, you know, before the end of the hours. Are you tracking this? All? Right, I know, postcards, mailers, you know, are how do you know which one? And how are people tracking? You know, attribution conversion? You know, because that's going to be key, right? They, I mean, I love what you guys are doing. The personalization aspect, the ability to plug in, like an email or an SMS. To be very specific. The measurement side, though, is just, yeah. How do you guys look at that? They want to make sure that we get to that for sure.

Tatiana Afanasyeva 41:45

Yes. And that's actually like little The last thing I want to talk about today, and is curious to think so one, specifically. Now, just remember, you could put a unique code on each individual mail piece, right? So you can say, Okay, this is like, so this is a unique code that you can actually measure. Right, so how many of those codes were redeemed, and what you're looking for is a vendor at Sam's Club that can actually integrate back into your CRM or your automation system or to get that data back? Right? So imagine if you're currently working with Marketo, right? So and then in a very similar way, how you introduce like, Hey, here's all the codes that have been used, right, you can then see that attribution data, we can pass the data for it. So because the now the modern technology, providers can integrate back into your systems and tools, you can actually track that information back, right. And you can look through your, you know, if you're using some BI tools, so you can see that information there you can slice and dice said, right? So if maybe you use something like Salesforce, right again, right, so a model provider can pass all that information back. So because you're using their individualized QR codes, right, you can look into, okay, these are the members that were part of my campaign, right? These are how many redemption codes we actually had from this campaign. And you can track your ROI in exact same way how you can do for any other channel, Britta to me, it is really just replicating this same workflow that how do you track currently, right? So how do you track performance of your email? Right? How do you track performance of your digital, you can now do the exact same things, direct mail, because you can create individual QR codes and coupon codes right on each direct mail piece. And you can see how many of them are to being redeemed, and then all of that is tightly integrated in your existing technology stack. Right. So and that's really kind of like the last key takeaway is that in exact same way, how you do current attribution for let's say, your digital channels, you can do that with email alerts. And you can do that with direct mail. And we actually really, really encourage you to do that. Right. So if currently, maybe, you know, you want to invest in direct mail, but you have a really hard time demonstrating ROI switch into a more modern providers or that have a lot of this campaign management and tracking will allow you to do that. And what we're actually finding is now you know, a lot of customers that we work with, and that because they're now actually seeing the true ROI, versus you know, some of that kind of like what we thought the ROI was, they're now able to actually invest more and more, right, and what we're finding and like, one of the last data points we found is that when we serve a like key marketers in the United States, all of them invest the planet invested more into this channel, because they're now actually are able to track their ROI. And what they will also allow you to do is figure out things that are not working, some of your direct mail pieces are not performing let me tell you, that's right. So like and you don't know which ones right so and that was technology will actually be able to and then direct more money and more budget back towards things that work. And then overall but just invested in a you know, remember that going back to this 50 Step workflow, right? So with modern technology, most of that is eliminated, right? So you literally log into a tool your you know, you you have a list like you pull the list directly from your CRM system, right? So and everything is done really easily. So you're able to now sometimes No, for some of the large customers that we work with, they actually were able to take entire departments right and actually allocate them toward more business development activities. versus, you know, like going like back and forth, right? So on a lot of these manual steps, that's ultimately what's also going to improve your ROI. It's not just the performance of direct mail pieces, it's also the amount of money that you're able to save, right? So like on cost, right or on just like time. And that's, that's really just, you know, our key takeaways for today, right? So your biggest obstacles to direct mail are technical there. So it's not, you know, it's not a strategy. It's nothing else, right? It just, and it's all can be solved now.

Aaron Conant 45:26

No, I love that, because especially in the last point you're making, you know, I think like a lot of marketers in digital marketers and 2020, carry, gotta pass around that, you know, massive shift, you know, these are all the things you have to do, go just make digital work. And then now in 2021, it's very, very metrics driven, what's working, what's not, where do you spend the money? What was the ROI? How did you get it, and this is one of those areas, you know, the direct mail that at this point in time now can be addressed. And you can put attribution to it in, you can calculate an ROI, both on cost savings, as well as sales driven. So the

Tatiana Afanasyeva 46:09

exactly, the key takeaways is all possible to tackle the challenges of technical right, and those can be solved. And this could also be solved in phases. So I don't think it's like, Hey, I have to do all of this, right, you can start with one and just keep innovating on top. But especially if you're investing now in like, new, you know, direct mail that you know, you want to either increase ROI from or if you're actually trying to scale over it. So we definitely like kind of take a stab take a pause, evaluate if you're you know, if when you started you look, we're not into that 50 Steps workflow, right? This is literally hopefully this was helpful, because, you know, this is something that we do every single day, right? We partner with our, with our customers to help walk them through that process. But you don't have to be alone in that journey. Right. This is not just you, you know, we're there to help and support you.

Aaron Conant 46:51

Yeah. And everybody, you know, thanks so much. The questions that came in Tatiana, thank for your time today, thanks for being such great friends, partner supporters, the network, again, anybody who go there, and if you'd like to follow a conversation 100% You know, we're putting some time on the calendar with Tatiana the team over at Lob. They come highly recommended from a ton of brands and organizations throughout the network across a variety of verticals. And it's one of those, you know, these last pieces of digital that people are figuring out and it'd be time well spent. So I encourage anybody to do that. I'm sure they're more than happy to kind of walk through a deep dive on how you can optimize a lot of things that are going on. With that. I think we're going to wrap it up 10 minutes early here to get to time to everybody back. Hope everybody has a fantastic Thursday. Have a great rest of the week. Everybody take care stay safe and look forward to having you at a future event thanks again Tatiana, this is awesome. already. Be in touch.

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