What is Programmatic Direct Mail?

by | Oct 11, 2022

Programmatic direct mail is an automated type of marketing that sends a targeted piece of direct mail to visitors on your website.

Because it is relevant and timely, it has a great chance to change customer behavior. It starts with the customer taking an action online.

What action?

It could be anything, such as visiting a social media site, or abandoning a shopping cart. If the trigger calls for it, a pre-designed (and possibly customized) direct mail piece is printed and mailed to the customer, arriving in almost real-time.

Actionable data points drive conversion.

What data points?

They could be anything, such as a price, an item or SKU, even an image.

Until now, digital channels were the only game in town when it came to providing insights on consumer behavior online. Marketers served shoppers expressing interest or intent with cookies, popup display ads, or emails.

But today, programmatic direct mail uses data on shopper behavior to drive the printing and fast delivery of mail pieces intended to convert.

The keys to success with programmatic mail are:

  • Relevancy – Reference the item or service viewed online
  • Recency – Send out a direct mail piece with an offer ASAP
  • Personalization – Use variable data printing (VDP) to capture the customer’s attention and highlight the offer’s relevancy and recency

How is Programmatic Direct Mail Different from Traditional Direct Mail?

On the surface, programmatic direct mail looks just like any other mail sent out in the last several decades. But it differs from traditional direct mail in several different and important ways.

  • It starts with the customer taking an action online
  • It is mailed out only as required by its triggers
  • It is sent out in low volume because it targets only higher-value prospects
  • It is not invasive or off the mark
  • It makes a high-impact because it is print
  • It uses only first-party data
  • It is reserved for high-value campaigns with a greater potential ROI (despite a higher possible cost per piece)
  • It is trackable, and therefore measurable

In short, programmatic direct mail is a triggered and tailor-fit real-time response to your prospect’s or customer’s online behavior.

It flips around the usual dynamic in direct mail as it is based solely on their interests or intent. And it requires even more devotion to data accuracy than traditional direct mail. The offer and message must be precisely relevant to their wants and needs. And the mail piece has to engage them at that level.

How Can Programmatic Direct Mail Help Your Business?

When planned and implemented properly, programmatic direct mail provides many benefits to your marketing campaigns. Cost and especially performance improve for companies of all sizes.

Here’s a quick rundown on the advantages of programmatic direct mail marketing.

  • Fast – A highly-impactful piece of direct mail is printed and mailed, arriving at your customer’s doorstep within a few days of their visit to your website – while it’s still fresh in their minds.
  • Builds on existing relationships – Unlike other shopping experiences that end when a customer leaves the site, programmatic direct mail continues the conversation. It uses data to keep them engaged and ready to consider a purchase and makes your brand more credible and trustworthy.
  • Relevant – The mail piece gets the customer’s attention and makes them consider a purchase because they’re only a few days away from thinking about buying the first time.
  • Physical – A tangible marketing channel such as mail makes an emotional connection in the brain, requiring less cognitive effort for a purchase.
  • Reduce abandoned shopping carts – Using a mail piece to finish the sale gives it a leg up over a possible glut of digital communications competing for the shopper’s attention.
  • Data analytics – Analysis of customer behavior online (e.g., pages visited & frequency of visits, and time on site) and their response to triggers provide insights on how to build models and run tests that improve website experience as well as programmatic mail efforts.
  • Boosts ROI – By giving your customer or prospect a second chance to buy with another channel, you’re getting more bang for the buck on your website investment.
  • Real omnichannel marketing – Instead of siloed or even multichannel efforts launched separately, programmatic direct mail uses automation to analyze shopper behavior, respond to a trigger, and print a physical mail piece to send quickly to the customer.

What to Keep in Mind When Setting Up a Campaign

Lots of possible applications exist for programmatic direct mail. Before really getting started with actual campaigns, though, it’s important to run simple tests to ensure that all of the moving parts work together to get into the mailstream and drive conversion.

These are some important considerations:

  • Review your sales cycle – A print impression lasts longer than a digital one. Studies have shown that customers keep a direct mail piece on hand for 17 days, so make sure that the offer and message are still relevant for people who wait before acting.
  • Partner with a direct mail printing service provider that handles VDP and batches programmatic pieces into their daily workflow and entry to the USPS.
  • Use web analytics and other business metrics to identify your key opportunities for reaching customers with the highest conversion potential. Work with statistical modeling and variables to determine who should get a mail piece, what it looks like, and when.

Wrapping it up

Programmatic direct mail, when done right, delivers relevance, speed, and a higher response rate. It bridges the gap between online and offline As a powerhouse direct mail provider, mailing.com can help you plan and build a marketing campaign that achieves the same results. We can work together on mail that makes the right offer to the right customer at the right time. Contact us today to discuss how you would like to meet your goals with data-driven direct mail.

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