The Secret Ingredient To Lightning-Fast, Predictable Direct Mail

Nov 17, 2021 1:30 pm2:30 PM EST

Summary

The world moves fast and consumers expect personalized offers and experiences based on their preferences and purchasing habits. In this fast-paced environment, how do you balance the need for speed with the process of sending direct mail at scale especially when integrating it into your larger omnichannel marketing campaigns?

In this action-packed forum, Mike Tuffley, Director of Solutions Engineering, will introduce you to the secret ingredient to lighting-fast and predictable direct mail including a live demo.  You’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of the challenges and solutions that exist to turbocharge your direct mail programs like never before. Top mailers refer to it as the secret sauce to their success.

BWG Connect and Lob invite you to participate in an interactive discussion with your peers.

As always, there will be no sales pitches and there is no cost to join.

Discussion Topics

  • Low visibility
  • Fluctuating costs
  • Batch processing and its impact on targeted campaigns
  • Unpredictable delivery windows

Event Partners

Guest Speaker

Mike Tuffley

Director Solutions Engineering at Lob

Mike Tuffley is the Director of Solutions Engineering at Lob, a SaaS platform that automates and simplifies direct mail and address verification. Lob gives businesses greater flexibility, visibility, and accuracy of offline communications and data by providing insight into deliverability with piece-by-piece tracing and their proprietary Print Delivery Network. At Lob, Mike acts as the technical liaison to the sales and marketing team to support customer engagements. Before joining Lob, Mike worked in different tech sale roles for various companies, including Wonderware California, Photronics, and more.

Event Moderator

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. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

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Event Information

Nov 17, 2021 1:30 pm - 2:30 PM EST

Event format

Roundtable Layout
Featuring 20+ executives, where everyone can contribute, ask questions and learn from peers
On-Topic Discussions
Q&A format, moderated by BWG Connect with group interaction throughout
Make Connections
Opportunities to network before and after

BRINGING TOGETHER INFLUENTIAL EXECUTIVES AND SENIOR PROFESSIONALS

What is BWG Connect?

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

Key Discussion Takeaways

In today's fast-paced and data-driven retail environment, consumers love brands that understand them. They love brands that value their time, understand their preferences, purchasing habits, and deliver a great experience. Unfortunately, saturation and low visibility across digital channels make brands find this more challenging to achieve than usual.

Many are turning to direct mail for integration into their more extensive omnichannel marketing campaigns. However, there's a lot of uncertainty about whether direct mail can have the speed, visibility, predictability, measurability, and low, stable costs companies need to make it a core channel, just like email. Do you share those concerns about direct mail?

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant and Mike Tuffley, Director of Solutions Engineering at Lob, discuss delivering lightning-fast, predictable direct mail in the eCommerce space. Mike talks about the pain of low visibility through digital channels, direct mail as a game-changer, the challenges of direct mail, and finding a solution to your challenges with direct mail as a core part of your omnichannel marketing campaigns.

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

  • Mike Tuffley talks about prioritizing what customers want
  • The pain of low visibility through digital channels
  • Can direct mail be a game-changer?
  • The challenges of direct mail and how to solve them
  • Fixing your direct mail workflow
  • How to speed up your direct mail campaigns
  • Data gathering and analytics in direct mail
  • Demo: automating direct mail
  • Mike shares some automated direct mail use cases

Discussion Transcription

Happy Wednesday, everybody, my name is Aaron Conant. I'm the Co-founder, Managing Director of BWG Connect, or networking knowledge sharing group of 1000s of brands who do exactly that we network and now share together to stay on top of the newest trends, strategies, pain points, whatever it might be. I'm the Managing Director here will probably moderate close to 240 of the virtual events we do this year. And just you know, we're starting to ramp up our in person like small format dinners. So if you enter tier one city, you know, we'll probably do 100 dinners across the US next year, just kind of a smaller format, networking knowledge sharing as a whole across a variety of digital topics. So you want to be on the shortlist, just send us an email, we can kind of put that into our in our bank here. And then we'll just when we show up, we'll shoot you an email a couple weeks ahead of time to see if you'd like to join. This is going to cover a variety of topics. It's everything from Amazon to direct consumer, if anybody ever needs any advice or pain points that they want solved, or they need connections with service providers don't ever hesitate to reach out, we've got a short list provided by 1000s of brands in the network. So we can save you a lot of time across the digital landscape as a whole. Because some, it's actually I talked to 30 to 40 brands a week to stay on top of those trends would love to have a conversation with anybody on the line today. That's actually during those conversations, how a we come up with the topics for events, but be actually how we get recommendations for service providers to come help out and educate the group as a whole. And so it's gonna be a fun conversation today, a couple housekeeping items going to make sure we get covered number one, we want this to be as educational informational as possible. So at any point in time you have a question drop into the chat, drop into the question section or go ahead and email me Aaron Aaron@BWGconnect.com. The other thing is, is we're starting this about four minutes after the hour. And just so you know, we're trying to wrap it up with four minutes to go on the hour as well, I'll give you plenty of time to get on to your next BD without being late. And so that we don't want to kick this off. You know, as we look into what's happened over the past 16 months, a lot of brands previously had a huge focus on Amazon and growing it are now realizing maybe they're a little over indexed on Amazon as a whole. There's now this massive shift that we've been seeing across the board for brands to look into direct consumer sites, huge push building out teams, and then you know, trying to leverage everything they can to get people onto the site, obviously, but then maximizing the potential of any customer you get on it. And this was only been amplified with the iOS 14.5 update that came through, and everybody in the planet asking apps not to track. You know, getting that top funnel traffic has been a little bit harder. And so a huge focus on maximizing, you know, the current potential the customer on that direct consumer site. And so a really interesting topic started popping up probably about four or five months ago in the area of direct mail. So obviously, you know, email marketing has been huge for a while, you know, mobile messaging SMS has really taken off for the past 16 months. And then this direct mail, I call it like a digital age direct mail has been a top of people's minds, we had a ton of questions on it ton of, you know, just people just you know, enquiries about how it works and what it's like and is it effective or not. And we got introduced to great friends and partners now and supporters, the network over at Lob is doing some really cool things and came highly recommended. So we asked him to kind of jump on the phone today and on this webinar to help educate us as a whole. So, you know, Mike, I'll kind of kick it over to you. If you want to do a brief intro on yourself and Lob, that'd be awesome. And then they can jump into some of the content sound good?

Mike Tuffley 3:54

Yeah, thank you. Um, well, it's a pleasure to make everyone's acquaintance virtually. My name is Michael Tuffley. I'm the Director of Solutions Engineering here at lob, you know, if you had told me five years ago, that in a couple of years, I would be at the bleeding edge of direct mail, or snail mail technology, there's no way I would have believed you. But love really has created a really cool technology. In fact, the way that I would really frame and think about how what Lob really is, is it's probably more akin to receiving an email in your mailbox than it really is just getting a you know, your regular postcard or letter. And that's, that's really behind the the personalization aspects that you know, and the dynamic content that Lob has enabled all of our customers to unlock through, you know, leveraging the same exact technologies that you would employ in support of those other channels you just mentioned. So for example, you Email, just as with email, you know, we leverage HTML for the for the creative and supportive all of our direct mail pieces. Just like with when Twilio, when you're sending a text message, it's done through an API, it's the exact same thing. So really, the best way to think about our technology is, you know, taking that HTML creative, taking your data, mapping it together through an API request. And instead of getting that, you know, email that gets lost or buried, you know, just the the noise, the small signal and a lot of noise and somebody, you know, inbox. Instead, they're going to be getting, you know, a personalized, you know, postcard letter, self mailer, you know, in their mailbox. So just to give you a little bit of an introduction for what we'll be covering today, it's really about the secret ingredients to how do you produce lightning fast and predictable direct mail? Because if you were to look at all of those adjectives, that's probably not how we think about direct mail today. Lightning fast, definitely not predictable. I wouldn't even know where to begin. So what we're going to talk about is really, how do we combine these elements of personalization that I just alluded to, and the kind of responsiveness that our customers demands, with all of the, you know, that high response rate and ROI that you get from, you know, direct mail, because, again, right now, the email channels SMS are so saturated, it's hard to get, you know, maybe get your message seen in some of those other digital channels. So this, this webinar really is geared to any level of experience, any level of well, with with automation, with your digital channels with direct mail, I'm happy to answer any questions as we go. So feel free to drop those in the chat. But basically, I'll walk you through the main things that we're going to do to modernize your direct mail campaigns. And then we'll share some actionable tips and tactics to help you use direct mail in some pretty powerful ways. I'll be speaking for about 2030 minutes today, answering some of those questions. And then what we'll do is we'll dive into an actual product demonstration. And you know, basically, we will work towards incorporating this modern approach to direct mail into your Omni channel communication strategy. If you do have any questions, you can always reach out to me directly, either at Support@Lob.com or Mtuffley@lob.com. You know, as the head of Solutions Engineering, not only do I serve as the Technical Liaison to our sales and marketing team, you know, in support of all of our our customer engagements, but I also support, you know, all of our customers once that they've signed on. So one of the nice things that really keeps me honest and everything that I'm selling you here today, because ultimately I do have to stand it up and support it. So we've also shared some resources where you can learn more about direct mail, you'll find it in the webinar UI. And if you miss something, I believe this webinar is being recorded. So you'll all get a copy in your email afterwards. That is that correct? Aaron?

Aaron Conant 8:16

Yeah, we actually shoot over to have it like editing on the front end and back end. So yeah, anybody that wants a copy, just ping us and we'll make sure as soon as that takes place, you know, we'll get it over to you. Yep. 100% 100%.

Mike Tuffley 8:29

Awesome. So. So, just a little bit about Lob. And you know, before we dive in love provides a complete direct mail solution. So basically, we will, we will help you send mail smarter, we'll send it faster, we'll have it a more targeted, we provide basically a set of API's, and integration points for all of your print and mail, address verification services, and all of that fulfillment is supported by a nationwide printing network. So to in terms of automating your workflow, this decreases your, you know, your speed to market and vastly simplifies the end to end process and streams, streamlines it so that you can get your direct mail out the door, you know, usually we see something from you know, contract from, you know, anywhere from six to eight weeks to get a campaign out the door, really down to you know, two weeks. So

Aaron Conant 9:29

that's it like, I'm gonna go ahead and turn my camera off while you're running through this. And yeah, feel free you can as well if you want to keep it up either way, either. Good.

Mike Tuffley 9:36

Yeah, let me do that real quick. Sorry. All right. All right. There we go. what customers want. So marketers really have to always be thinking about what their customers need and expect, you know, are we we want a high touch approach or we want something that's more hands off low pressure. If you want something gets really deep? Or do you want something that's really simple, just basic answers. So there's, there's so many different options that you'd that marketers have out there. But there's one thing that every everyone can agree on. And that is that customers want their time to be valued. So this is a statistic from a recent Forrester study that shows 71% of customers said, valuing the time was the most important thing that a company can do, and what it means to value a customer's time, probably difference from industry to industry, or customer to customer. But we all have a pretty good idea of what that concept means. And what that concept means is, you need to be able to anticipate a customer's needs, and be able to optimize all of your assets, all of your workflows, and make it you know, really make it easy for customers to find you know, what they need and where they want to go to get it. So you need to provide a single consistent voice across many channels, and have them all be accessible, so that customers can get help share feedback on that channel, you know, based on whatever is most convenient for them. So that means you need to respond quickly and adapt to all of these changing demands. So you don't fall behind as the customers change, changes needs needs change. So that takes customer tracking and analytics. So you can anticipate the needs of you know, an individual customer, or maybe generalized customer groups are cohorts. But either way, you need to be able to personalize your content, so you can deliver the optimal assets and offers to each customer. So you need to adapt an omni channel or at least somewhat of a multi channel communication strategy. So you can provide a single accessible voice and a point of contact, you need to do lots of testing, and then optimizing and iterating to be more and more responsive. And of course, you need, you know, all the modern workflows and automation so that you can adapt those changing, the ever evolving customer needs be able to execute quickly. And then you know, informing that with that feedback loop, that that optimization path. So as we go on, no matter how much you optimize, digital response rates are challenging. So, you know, respecting your customers time really isn't enough to get results anymore. It's more like, you know, the minimum you can do and even if you're doing it right, you still end up with, you know, poor response, poor conversion, poor email, open rates, you know, recent Campaign Monitor study found that email, click throughs, average around 2.6%, again, you know, there's a, there's a small signal and a lot of noise. And other studies have shown even lower results. So, you know, and it gets even worse now, with, you know, the advent of Apple's you know, privacy policies that it's going to be instituting, it's going to be creating an even more challenging environment for some of these digital channels to be able to succeed. So, you know, we look even at the the studies of unsubscribe rates, and they usually peg those numbers somewhere around, you know, one and 3%. So, which means, you know, even if you are getting high, click throughs, immediately, you know, after a customer signs on your, ultimately your email list will get less effective over time and begin to diminish. Average Google search ad click through rates are only about 3.17%. So there's growing evidence, a lot of people clicking would have visited your site anyway. And again, going back to more and more restrictions around these digital privacy policies, this is going to get muddy the waters even further so. And then the last thing I wanted to touch on was, you know, a cart abandonment rates. And right now, there's somewhere between 55 and 84%. So, you know, depending on the study, the average rate is around 70%.

So, you know, companies use direct mail as a way to boost that response and ROI. So direct mail has some impressive stats behind it. It's a proven method that has a base response rate, that's 13 times 13 times higher than email. It also combines really well with your other channels, you know, as part of an omni channel strategy, with response rates, typically rising from six to 27%, when it's combined with email, but it does have some substantial limitations, or at least in terms of, you know, like the legacy workflows that most companies use today. And that really kind of keeps it as this niche tool and it really prevents it from becoming a core channel. Like you know, email. There's a lot of uncertainty about whether direct mail can have the speed and predictability, the visibility, the measurability and the low stable costs that Companies need to, you know, really need to make it a core channel, just like email. And that's really what this webinar is all about. It's about overcoming all those challenges that I just listed, that currently limit what you can do with direct mail. So you can actually use it as a core part of the way you interact with your customers, your leads and your business partners.

So here are a few of the most common problems that we've really seen companies have with direct mail. So it really does lack the speed and customization you need to like be really quick, really responsive to all of your customers needs. There's little to no visibility, you can't really gain a lot of insight into what's working and what's not. Cost can also be a huge problem in a few ways. Most companies contract with printers, bundlers, other service providers that you know, every time they want to spin up one of those batches of direct mail. And those costs can change, you know, substantially, you know, either based on the volume of that campaign, or all of the materials, the ink and paper selection, and a host of other factors. So it can be really hard to actually budget out for some of these, you know, plans direct mail campaigns over time. So, you know, batch processing itself really is also a limit on direct mail by because in traditional vendor relationships, direct mail becomes a lot more affordable when you're doing it in, you know, a big run than it is when you're doing something that's you know, smaller, more targeted campaigns. But, you know, the problem is that those smaller, more targeted campaigns are really what drive conversions. So having to wait until you can, you know, accumulate a sufficient batch to get those those pricing reductions, that can be a major downside, then you, you know, you roll that up with the, you know, unpredictable delivery windows. And there's just a ton of factors around that, you know, all the vendor timelines, fluctuating postal demands, weather, holidays, all those seasonality ease that can disrupt your workflow. And that stops you from effectively coordinating direct mail with your other channels. So you know, as it as it were, today, most folks when they send off an email, and then it's, you know, they know exactly when it's delivered when it's opened, when it's unsubscribed and they can move to the next sequence in that marketing automation campaign. Whereas with direct mail, you send off a letter or a self mailer or a postcard, and then you just put a pause for 14 to 21 days and hope that it was delivered when you do want to proceed with your with your marketing automation workflow. So you know, one of the other problems is that a lot of direct mail teens have limited, you know, customer data, you know, it's outdated data management processes, which make all of your direct mail campaigns less effective, because you don't know how much of that's going to be Returned to sender and that actually successfully land in the mailbox of the intended recipient. And all this is a, you know, creates waste. And that's due to the poor address data. And the finally, even if you make no progress solving all of those problems, you still have this lack of like automation and orchestration, which prevents you from really executing your direct mail campaigns with the speed and flexibility that you have with those other channels. So we're going to go through one of these problems at a time and address them. Within the lens of a lob workflow. So direct mail speed, let's start with one of the most important factors, which is speed. With your digital channels, your workflow is quick because you know, you just create the content, send the request, and that email or SMS goes off and it's received. Excuse me, you know, you could send out one newsletter to over 10,000 subscribers, and you could customize each and every email, and it works exactly the same. So your entire workflow is really just around designing your campaign, which is pretty quick, usually a week or two, although it's possible to go even faster than that with legacy direct mail. On the other hand, it takes like, again, six weeks to get a project out the door. And that doesn't even you know, count the delivery time. And there are a few reasons for this. The biggest problem is that you're responsible for the entire workflow.

You You've got to get everything printed address and sent out. You have to negotiate with all your printers, your bundlers, you have to acquire the email addresses, check quality, verify everything is completed. You know, which unless your company, you know, works in printing and logistics really makes no sense at all. I mean, if Imagine if email worked the way that direct mail works today, you know that you had to like manage with your email service provider to negotiate the rates of these 10 1000 newsletters and call up a digital logistics company to be able to transport them, it would be a real nightmare, right? So, you know, even with a regular newsletter, it would probably take a lot of sign offs, a lot of planning meetings, a lot of back and forth. It's very slow and efficient. And that's why, you know, folks don't necessarily want to contend with with direct mail as a channel, as it exists in kind of the legacy print and mail space. So the problem really is, is that it's just clunky. This is what a not uncommon workflow actually looks like we've documented this with a number of large, you know, fortune 100 companies, when we surveyed them and find out how their direct mail workflows, this is a lot of people and a lot of organizations, there's a lot of back and forth. I want to get my, my proof approved. So I have, you know, my digital creative sent down to the printer, get a proof back, it doesn't look right, then it has to go back to maybe to legal for review. And you know, the back and forth is really what attracts what this process out into that six week period that we just discussed. So direct mail isn't slow, because we're waiting on USPS. Direct Mail is slow, because these types of workflows are decades out of date, and they involve a lot of work that can really easily be automated. That's where lob comes in. This is a much simpler workflow diagram, would you agree, this is a picture of the lob workflow, you send us the mail, we do everything else, we automatically take those digital proofs, we send them to the printers, they manufacture it handed off to the Postal Service, the Postal Service then surfaces tracking data back to us, which we can then furnish directly to you. And you basically we get things printed in the mail within 48 hours from the time that that request is received. And our systems automatically will direct that mail to the printer that's closest to the recipient. So this effectively mitigates a lot of that time in transit. So to cut down on that delivery time, you know, if you know, it doesn't make sense to have a printer on the East Coast, mail something to the West Coast, because of our distributed print network, we can map it to whatever the closest printer is, and remove, you know, days if not weeks of time in transit. The other problem, low customization. So in legacy workflows, there's basically two main reasons you can't customize, you know, your creative adequately. So it's either the way your workflow is set up the way that printing services are typically priced. So a lot of factors that go into this thing. And in legacy workflows, the actual design process, you know, doesn't even often support, you know, a lot of customization or whatever it does support is very minimal. So you might have your workflow structured around these paper based designs where you circulate a paper proof, once it's completed, you send out a PDF, then that design is frozen. And then you have to specify, there's a lot of back and forth, you know, transactional direct mail, you might have some sort of like legacy billing system where you can only populate certain fields, and then everything else is kept standardized. So you're, you have a lot of constraints baked in. And if your design process isn't based around, you know, standardized mailings, you probably don't have, you know, any mechanisms in place that could actually, you know, allow you to track and trigger different customizations. So, you know, fixing your design process alone wouldn't even be enough, because you really wouldn't happen, you wouldn't have any way to apply some of these customizations or even be able to communicate to your printer, those customizations that you did want. And that goes back to the second point, which is price. So

when you do want to include customization into your print mail, it comes typically at a huge cost today, you know, they generally factor the percentage of each letter that is being customized. And high customization can actually get very expensive. So even if you do gain the capability to apply a lot of customization and you do have a very strong case for it. Because obviously, you're not going to pay the price if if there wasn't a reason not to provide that customization. You don't even really have any visibility into the process. So and we'll actually, you know, get into this in just a bit but we can actually show you how through customization, you can offset that cost, how you can justify that cost, you know, so even if you fix your design and workflow problems, you know, you still might be stuck with a lot with a lack of customization. Just because of the vendor pricing So, customization to make your direct mail is, you know, as customizable as possible, you know, or at least as customizable as your other digital channels, you know, you need three things, printer pricing that doesn't depend on all of those customization options, you need to have a very flexible design process. You know, one of the things that we've, as we'll discuss, we've unlocked with through HTML, any upgraded workflow to actually be able to support that process all the data pipelines to feed that customization, the printing piece isn't actually a technical issue, when you're talking about digital printing, it's really a matter of price structure. So Bob's price network actually provides a flat per piece pricing on all of our printed mail pieces, whether you're using literally 100% customization. So every single mail piece going out is is it on a one to one personalized basis, or it's all the exact same and totally uniform. And because we buy all of our capacity, you know, Apple for our clients, you know, the we get those economies of scale, so scale, so the prices stay affordable. So, fixing your workflow with lob. So how you adapt your workflow to an unlock that the flexibility of HTML really depends on your current workflow, your your tools, your appetite for change. Oftentimes, we see folks leveraging a lot of the HTML creative that's already being used in support of their digital channels, and just mapping it over to their their direct mail processes. So building an entirely new workflow internally, you know, could be complex and difficult, but really, only if you have these legacy elements in your IT system. Lob really does simplify this process in a number of ways. So we handle the work of production for you. So you only have to fix your workflow. You know, up until that design stage, we simplify the data flow in a very similar way. So we give you a lot of visibility, which we'll talk about a minute. And the ability to integrate this HTML, as this design element for your direct mail workflow, you already have it in support of your other channels. So lob really does work pretty flawlessly out of the box, with a number of these popular CSS CRMs, like Marketo, Salesforce, Salesforce marketing, cloud, iterable, braise, Simon data blueshift, and the list goes on and on. So really, hooking up your direct mail into your digital workflow is a pretty straightforward process. And honestly, it could take anywhere from, you know, a half hour call with, you know, me and my team, and then maybe for some of the more elaborate robust use cases, you know, four to six weeks. And and

Aaron Conant 27:54

I think that was one of the key questions that came in is like, you know, so a lot of people have a direct mail campaign, I think they're under utilizing it, because of the way once you kind of, you know, laid out their standard pain points, you know, you put that against the fact that the response rates that you had, were so high, why don't more people do it. It's all the pain points that the, you know, everybody's being asked to move a mile a minute, right, and then, you know, test and learn and test and learn and move and shift. And this is just one of those things that takes up so much time, effort, money. You know, people I think, want to simplify it, it's just that path to simplifying is kind of tough. So what is that again? Can you just, you know, I just had a couple people asked, like, what's the normal, like rollout time for? If somebody says, hey, I want to get this up and running, you know, is how long before the first campaign might go up? Absolutely. So, you know, I've,

Mike Tuffley 28:47

I've worked with, you know, a single marketer, not, you know, I would not an engineering level, you know, technical adeptness. And they, they were able to get the HTML creative, an integration through braze stood up, and under a week, this is one person. So they're able to take their, all this stuff that they already had in support of their other digital channels, we helped them get it into a letter format. We took, you know, 230 Minute Calls, and they had their first campaign out the door in under a week. On average, we see, especially for some of the larger enterprise customers, that process may be, you know, anywhere from four to six weeks, there are elements, you know, that can add dimensions, the complexity of the process, you know, elements like, you know, for your releasing production code, all of that, for the like, the more bespoke integrations, the sukin, the security requirements, the controls, processes, all of those things can add a little bit to the timeframe. I've we've we honestly we oftentimes see developers get their applications up and running in an afternoon. So it really is You know, as as simple or as elaborate as you want, but on average, we usually slave for, you know, four to six weeks of integration time. Awesome, love it. Great question. Yeah, I'm moving on, I want to make sure that we have time for the demo. So I'm gonna go quickly here, you know, visibility is a huge problem. So it's like, probably one of the most legacy of all the issues with, you know, direct mails that exist today. So you know, you get in your mail, you hand it off to your printer, they handed off to USPS and it really becomes a black box. At that point, you don't have any direct visibility into how your mail actually, you know, where is it at in the mail stream, you know, what, what's going on? When do I move to the next sequence in my my customer journey, you know, for my my nurturing campaign. And the other thing is that because you're somewhat limited with what those calls to action can be, that are actually printed on these somewhat static mail pieces, you don't have that resolution of, of information that you would in your digital channels for some of those attribution purposes. So for example, you know, we see folks using QR codes, and, you know, literally one to one, promotional codes, and all of these elements that are included on every single, you know, mail piece that goes out that are so personalized, that you're getting that direct attribution, because that QR code contains all the UTM parameters, that that link that you sent in the email that you get, that takes your customer to a very specific landing page, maybe a specific product that they had abandoned in their cart, or a form that they had, you know, failed to complete our or just even to the homepage, but it has all the UTM parameters, so you know exactly which creative, you know, all of the all of those details that inform the performance of your digital advertising your email and your other channels, you can now get that same sort of, you know, level of attribution through your direct mail.

So the other issues are, you know, obviously, cost it costs, it can cost a lot really to send direct mail. And, you know, we've already talked about how that structure can evolve. And you know, the lack of customization really disincentivizes it, but it also makes it really hard to budget. So one of the nice things is because we abstract all of that, that complexity away from your direct mail operations. And we you get, you have full transparency in how much mail you've you've sent, what that cost is, right? When you log into your dashboard, you know, budgeting for any of these campaigns, whether it's a daily campaign that sends out a couple of 100 postcards, or you know, a monthly or quarterly campaign where you're sending out several million self mailers, you'll know exactly how much that is when you go into budgeting for those, each of those individual campaigns. So, really, that's the beauty of, you know, direct mail as a service, because we provide this consistent per piece costing that gives you, you know, this the flexibility that you need to incorporate it is one of your core channels. And one of the other, you know, issues that we have to contend with when we talk about direct mail is, you know, how do we plan around getting our all of our mail in market at an appropriate time. So one of the nice things is because we can track mail from when it's handed off to USPS all the way through to when it's processed for delivery. We know exactly we can we can use those analytics for for data at scale to inform in a more strategic fashion. When do we need to execute our campaigns so that we can make sure that that Black Friday postcard lands in the mailbox, you know, the weekend before Thanksgiving? Because there's probably nothing more frustrating than squandering, you know, marketing spend on an offer that's already expired by the time that it arrives in someone's mailbox. So that's where we use automation and analytics to, you know, more precisely define these things. So, again, we have mail analytics, we have SLA s with all of our printers, so that, you know, you know, within two business days of when we receive that request, it will be in the USPS mail stream. I'm actually going to go ahead and just jump into the demo because I want to be mindful of time here.

Aaron Conant 34:44

Is he a strategy a lot of people are, you know, are interested in what does it look like? How does it tie in? What are the analytics that you get back? You know, all the data that can come it's not just you know, all of a sudden you're kicking out a flyer and you're wondering what's happening Right, it's

Mike Tuffley 35:02

exactly. And that's, and I know that that's how everything has been done traditionally. And I'm really hoping to shatter all those preconceived notions, you know, by walking you all through the demo today of how you can actually leverage direct mail, you know, again, in the same exact way that you're doing your digital channels. So the best place to start really is with our HTML templates, because this is really what's going to illustrate how we're going to be able to operationalize that. So this is an example of a letter, you can see here. Now, this looks just like a web page. And that's really all this eight and a half by 11 inch letter is, it is a eight and a half by 11 inch web page. In fact, if I take a look, this is what that web page looks like when it's rendered in my browser. And you can see here that we have these double curly braces, these are our notion of merge variables are effectively just placeholders where we're going to map in some custom text. Now, this text could be something that's printed on my letter or my postcard or myself mailer, like, for example, here, the toll free number or the custom landing page, it could be the personalization for the name, it could also be that promotional code again, so that you know exactly when something was redeemed, you know, what that call to action was, we have a QR code here. This one, this QR code is dynamically generated by some client side JavaScript. So we can pass in those UTM parameters dynamically. And every single one of these letters that goes out will have a unique QR code on it, to take them to a specific landing page or something, as I'll actually show here, shortly. Also, we have advanced merge variable functionality that allows us to iterate over lists and use conditional rendering so that you know if this person qualifies for this offer, we display this, if that qualifies for that offer display back, same with images and all of the HTML formatting. So this color can be customized, as we'll see here shortly. So when I go back to the dashboard, go up and just click preview. You can see here that these are the values from those merge variables, the the keys that are identified, and then these are the values that I want populated in there. So I go ahead and click Preview, all we're going to do is map that content into those placeholders. We render it just like a web page, then we take this PDF snapshot. And this PDF snapshot is actually what we send down to the print Network for Manufacturing and mailing. So you can see here we've mapped in the custom content, including the call to action, this QR code, my name, and bam. So that is how we use HTML to create a 100% personalized letter. So even if I send one or a million of these out, I have the potential that no two are going to be the exact same. So with that, I am going to walk you through what an execution model might actually look like for this particular for this workflow, so what I'm going to do here is, this is going to illustrate a someone coming to your website, they're filling out a form. So I'm going to go in here. I'm going to use Erin as an example for this particular demo. Aaron, what's your social security number? So just enter that. I know you're out in Michigan, I love

Aaron Conant 38:43

the demo by the shader divers have any kind of information.

Mike Tuffley 38:49

So I'm going to, I'm going to call this webinar. And then I'm going to enter our address. One of the nice things, you can actually see our address verification product in use here. So we have an autocomplete functionality. It populates this drop down menu with all of the addresses based on where I'm actually down in the South Bay. So anyone in the Bay Area, I'm located in Palo Alto, which is why all of these addresses have been aggregated to the top to be reflective of my IP address down in the South Bay. And as I type out our corporate address in San Francisco, I'm going to go ahead and click Next. Autocomplete automatically did, you know did all this stuff to standardize the address make sure that it was actually a deliverable address? Now let's just pretend for one moment that I don't want to complete this form. I'm just gonna close out. Um, you have a job running in the background that says hey, you know Every week we we run this micro batch where we want to send all of the folks that came to the website filled out a form, but then didn't actually sub get to that submission step or whatever. But we they at least entered their address information. Let's go ahead and send them out a reminder letter. That job runs on a regular basis for this particular demo, it just runs, you know, on some some JavaScript, I can come down to the letter section of our webpage. And you can actually see this is the letter that we just created. So when I open this up, I have a record, you know, this is a digital record that now exists indefinitely in the lob system, I have a proof of exactly what that letter looks like. It's got all of the address information I've got, I've captured all the information from the website. In fact, what I've, what I've set up here is I want this QR code to actually take when Aaron receives this letter, I want to take him back to that particular web form, so that he can finish submitting it, I'll go ahead and just bring up my QR code capturing tool here, bound that information, I can go ahead. And so now I've opened this up on my camera phone, you can see here, it's taking me right back to the webpage that I had already started filling out. Now this person, you know, maybe this was an abandoned cart, maybe this was someone filling out a form for checking applications in this demo, but either way, it took them back to a very specific landing page. Or it could have just driven website traffic. And at least I would know where the source of it was. But all of that that kind of technology can be driven through using, you know, things like dynamic, you know, vanity URLs, you know, the, like the bitly, or tiny URL type of, of CTAs, that give you that dynamic way of taking what you know, would exist, an email link is something that's like 100 characters long, and then shorten it down to something that's actually manageable for a consumer who feels comfortable, you know, transcribing that into their browser, saying with, you know, a block of specific block of toll free numbers, we know that this is going to automatically redirect them to whatever, you know, phone bank was, you know, handling all of the abandoned form letters. The other nice thing is when I finished that application process, I can go back and actually see,

you know, what some of the other steps are. So for example, here's that custom postcard that was created when I actually submitted my application, welcoming me to my new bank, giving me directions, you know, dynamically based on where my address was, and the location of the closest retail banking location. And again, we have the digital proof, we take the address data, we actually run it against our address verification software at the time the request is received. And what we do is we just check to see, hey, is this address deliverable? And then we have mail strictness settings within the platform that allow you to dictate, based upon that deliverability whether or not you actually want that mail piece created. So for example, if you have it set to strict, you know, only a purely deliverable address, you know, as deemed by USPS will actually be created. Otherwise, you know, we could send it to something like normal, and then a deliverable address that maybe just missing some apartment or suite information would still get delivered with a fairly high degree of confidence that would arrive, you know, in the mailbox. The other nice thing that we have are all of the details, we know exactly, you know how it was shipped, you know, when it was created, all of these records, create a full audit trail, what creative was used, we even have the ability to use metadata to actually tag every single mail piece going out. So we know what campaign was a part of what Which batch was this associated with, who was the demographic or the destination, City, State, and Zip, all of this information allows us to search and filter because, you know, we can apply up to 20 of these key value pairs to add this additional dimension to basically keyword index, every single mail piece going out. And it just allows us to search and filter within platform more easily. That allows us to get more granular with our mail analytics. So when I actually go back to our Postcards, I'm going to toggle over to our live environment. Because when our live environment, when you're doing all your testing your demoing, you do all of that in your test environment. When you're done with the development and testing, all you do is switch over to your live API keys. And all of those requests now will be directed to your live environment. And all of these records are actually real letters that went through the mail stream. So you can see here the noticeable difference is at the top, we now have this expanded timeline with all of these additional events. And what that allows us to do is, anytime one of these events transpires, not only do we surface that information here, you know, a location and the timestamp. But we also are able to configure web hooks so that these, anytime one of these events occurs, we can actually fire an API request back to your system, just informing you that yes, this postcard was delivered or this letter was Returned to sender or forwarded on to a different address, we have all of those capabilities baked in to automatically communicate back to your system. So as that, you know, mail piece is the digital record is created, and we handed down to the printer they handed off to USPS when it gets mailed. And every time that unique barcode gets scanned, we know exactly where it's at. And when, and you can be able to track your mail pieces normally on an individual basis. But also, as we'll see in the mail analytics section, you know, as an aggregate,

Aaron Conant 45:56

really, really quick, you know, a question coming in does a platform have a merge and or purge capability?

Mike Tuffley 46:04

Um, I, I would need a little bit more context around merge is, is purge, we're in that in in like a, like a data, redaction context.

Aaron Conant 46:17

You know, oh, wait for more info. And then I can also just connect you with them after the call. And you can kind of do a deeper dive. So

Mike Tuffley 46:22

yeah, absolutely. Thank you.

Aaron Conant 46:24

Yep.

Mike Tuffley 46:26

So I'm going to come up here to male analytics real quick, and just show you know, what this actually looks like in terms of, again, leveraging that data to, you know, more to better inform all of your, your campaign sends, so that you can execute them just more strategically. So I'm going to go ahead and pull up a couple of months worth of data. And what we're looking at here is actually our mail speed dashboard. So this shows me, you know, on average, how long is my mail actually spending in the mail stream, I can get even more granular with this. So for example, as I had alluded to, I can use metadata. Maybe I'm planning a select Market campaign, my eCommerce store is going to have a pop up in the bay area. So I want to send out a bunch of postcards to my San Francisco customers. But I also want to make sure that they get it at the right time, I want to know when I should send all of those API requests to lob so that they arrive, and with an appropriate amount of time. And you can see here, here's the average distribution, at least for this particular campaign. So we can also get even more, or I should say, a little bit less granular, in terms of, you know, just using looking our mail distribution dashboard, looking at what that actually appears at the state level, you know, how much mail Am I sending to California versus how much I'm sending to the East Coast. And I can see what those how those mail speeds may vary based upon the destination. So we have customers that if they're sending out a nationwide campaign of, you know, say, several million postcards, they want everything to land in the mailbox, you know, as rough as close to the same time as possible, they may actually stagger their send. So you know, mail going to California may actually get sent out a day earlier than mail going to New York, just because it gets there a little bit slower. And then lastly, is actually being able to track all of these mailed events in aggregate. So I can see, you know, at the the month level, I can if I were to actually dive in a little bit smaller time window, I can actually see what this looks like at the week level at the day level. All the mail that I sent out in August, you know, how much of that that aggregate of mail rolls up into each of these buckets. What was how much was mailed how much of it, it was successfully delivered versus still in transit, or maybe it was Returned to sender or forwarding on through this rerouted event to someone who filed you know, an NCAA with the US Postal Service. And one of the nice things is I can come here, I could look at each of my campaigns, it looks like I had 175 returned to senders, I could actually go back to, you know our postcard section, I could apply that metadata filter to pull up that specific batch that specific campaign. And then I can export that data. And actually, just show me those that were Returned to sender are rerouted. And I can actually go back and use this as actionable information to update my records to make sure that I only have, you know, consistent data that's high integrity when I'm sending out those subsequent campaigns. And all of this stuff can be fully automated as well. This can be done through the API. This can be done through web hooks. You can subscribe to all of these events so that you know exactly when a postcard is Returned to sender. So rather than having your PO box fill up With a bunch of returns postcards, now you can just have them destroyed,

export that report and then go up and take appropriate action. The other nice thing that we see with this, like web hook technology, everything is done in real time. So going back to how do we work in concert with some of these other digital channels, you know, here's an example that I have where, you know, when when a letter is successfully delivered, that webhook fires back to my system, my system then uses my Twilio account to send off a text message. You can see here, an example, Hey, Mike, check your mailbox for this exciting new offer. I know what the process for delivery events, so they should have received it within the you know, the last 12 hours. And our web hook contains all of the information that you would see in the dashboard, or in the original API response. So it has all the information about not only the tracking, but also like even, for example here and a digital proof itself. So this is what you should be expecting in your mailbox in the next, you know, a day. So the other use case that we see, in addition to this marketing automation workflow would probably be some of the more like the custom reporting, again, how do we measure all of that data? So if we can take, this is an example report I built in Google's Data Studio, because we're using Google Web analytics. I know I can import all of my data from blob to understand, okay, what was that distribution of in home dates? And then take my Google Web Analytics data, marry it up to that and actually determine and establish a you know, this measurable ROI, you know, the what was the response rate of all the QR codes that were uniquely printed on every single mail piece that I sent out? So I could tell through experimentation, exactly. Did self mailers perform better did six by nine or six by 11 postcards do do better? What was the best messaging? So all of the experimentation that you're running with your digital channels today, you know, a B splits hold out was the as the holdout group being able to experiment with with variations of creative, all of that stuff can be mapped over to your direct mail channel. And now because you have these these more highly optimized and and totally unique CTAs printed on every single mail piece, you can then measure them in the same manner as your digital channels as well. And Aaron, that is everything that I've got for today's demo. I know that was a mouthful. Any other questions?

Aaron Conant 52:37

No, actually, it's literally perfect timing, because we always like to end like three to four minutes early. We got the questions answered along the way that came in. I mean, it's just, it's fascinating. You know, how much this has evolved even over the past like two years. And I just want to say anybody on the line today, if you want to follow up conversation, you know, 100% worth putting some time on the calendar with Mike and his team at Lob, they come highly recommended from throughout the network. They're doing some really cool things and innovating in a highly profitable space, if you can figure out and get it right. And the other thing I think they come most recommended for it's just the data, the insights on the back end, that it's not just a mailer, that goes out and you wonder, you know, maybe you're monitoring in storage, adaption of coupon codes, or something like that. This is a really cool way of tracking and getting some data analytics. No, I mean, just, you know, as we kind of wrap up here, you know, look for a follow up email from us, more than happy to set some time, you know, I'd love to have a conversation with anybody on the line today. Figure out pain points or, you know, connect you with other top people across the industry. But also, that's how we get the topics for the calls as a whole or the dinners that we do as well. So, Mike, quick last key takeaway before we wrap it up here.

Mike Tuffley 53:54

Yeah, you know, the, again, I always like to go back to this parallel of like, what what is the one takeaway I want all of my my audience to, to walk away with from these presentations is, what is Lob Lob is basically mapping almost on a one to one basis, everything that we're dealing through email in terms of personalization, in terms of automation, and AI, mapping that through to a more productive channel through direct mail.

Aaron Conant 54:24

Awesome, love it. With that. We're gonna wrap it up. You know, thanks, everybody for dialed in. Thanks for the great questions. Hope everybody has a fantastic Wednesday, a great rest of the week. Everybody, take care. Stay safe. Look forward to having you at a future event. I look for a follow up email from us. We'll be in touch. All right, let's get my thanks, everybody. Already have a great one. We'll see

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