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We know that direct mail is coming back. We know it from the USPS Household Diary, and we know it from marketers who have learned the hard lesson – online and mobile marketing alone will not maximize a brand’s appeal in the eyes of consumers. That tangible touchpoint, the mail delivered to the home, is the third leg of the marketing stool that creates a steady platform for promoting everything from national brands to local restaurants. The rise of online and mobile marketing has only enabled a new understanding of how to target prospects and how to care for current customers using demographic and loyalty data to inform campaigns.

One of the techniques that have evolved out of the rise of data analysis is hyper-targeting. Arriving on the marketing scene more than a decade ago in the form of Facebook ads and website pop-ups, hyper-targeting relies on a combination of personal profiles, buying history, and demographic data to create focused offers.

To achieve this level of marketing requires more than a mail merge, it requires automation. In this case, smart automation, which is exactly what it sounds like. Smart automation can process and match data at incredible speeds, allowing companies to respond to events and interactions quickly. Leveraging smart automation properly can create automated intelligent mail – or smart mail. So, how does it work?

There are several ways to take advantage of hyper-targeting techniques. It all starts with understanding what types of data are available, what kinds of data are legal to leverage, and what data is valuable when it comes to augmenting customer profiles. The goal is to leverage existing knowledge, augment it with profiling technology that can build a more focused picture of the campaign target, and create content that will be overwhelmingly intriguing.

Begin with the basics because the principle of direct mail marketing has not changed. Marketers send personalized mail pieces intended to connect with the right reader. With a bit more work and applied technology, they can have a much better picture of exactly who this ideal reader is. Consider this scenario: Companies with a website should have data that matches customers to their website traffic, so they can better connect customers to exactly which products they seem interested in.

By understanding exactly who is on the website and, more importantly, exactly which products they are interacting with, the marketing can make meaningful connections far more easily. Link that data to customer buying profiles and it is possible to create generic personas that build pictures of how customers with similar buying profiles behave and apply them to prospects so that prospecting campaigns focus on more relevant wants and needs in the target mailing group. In short, smart mail usage can transform website visitors into physical location visitors. When marketers connect devices to identities and can better understand consumer behavior and buying triggers, they have fully harnessed the power of smart automation.

Why Mail is the Best Medium

Mail is alive and well, and more importantly, effective. Numerous Keypoint Intelligence studies have shown that mail is part of the customer preference profile for every age group. Younger generations, including Millennials and Generation Z, respond to direct mail. The key is personalization. Based on Keypoint’s research from a 2018 consumer marketing survey, 52% of respondents stated they spent more time reviewing printed direct mail that was personalized and relevant to them.

If marketers maximize this channel, the odds are their response results will improve. Remember, only 39% of respondents in North America receive well-focused direct mail frequently, despite efforts from organizations like the USPS to convey the value of hyper-targeted direct mail pieces. Do not get caught up in the myths regarding mail usage and old habits. To be most effective, marketers must connect the physical and digital channels to achieve maximum effectiveness. Direct mail is effective, especially when it has been hyper-targeted to appeal to the user. Digital data collection makes it easier to find out who these users are. Bringing the two together, engaging with the data to find the right audience, can lead to smart mail – an AI-enabled future that will make direct mail marketing campaigns more effective at driving sales and engaging with the right audience.