Lob has had a front row seat for all the mistakes customers make when they begin to build out a direct mail operation. We're laying out this guide because we believe mail is a powerful communication channel when used the right way by enterprises, and we also believe the way it's being used today is not maximizing its potential.
Companies need to have a clear strategy when using direct mail to engage a user base. Know who you're trying to incentivize, and what exactly you are trying to get them to do. The guide below should help you start on the right foot when scaling a direct mail operation.
First and foremost, be imaginative. Whether the use case is in marketing, operations, or product, don't let "real-world challenges" get in your way when building a direct mail operation.
Based on your finalized use case, come up with a design that delivers the right data to elicit the right response from your target demographic. Make sure the design flexes on the different triggers or timings you want to use.
A well-designed mail piece allows for fluidity, customization, and personalization.
No two users should get the exact same artwork. Personalization is often a multiplier of ROI with direct mail: a little effort to make the recipient feel specifically noticed goes a long way. In the example below, ezhome maps out recipients' properties and includes a fully custom quote on their postcards.
Dynamic done well: every ezhome postcard is relevant only to the recipient.
A good mail piece is easily iterated upon. A/B testing is vital, and can lead to small but meaningful improvements. We highly recommend that companies leverage tools like HTML to build and render their artwork for all mail types.
HTML offers a lot of flexibility, allowing you to quickly and easily change data to generate truly dynamic content. This will allow you to quickly iterate on existing designs and launch new ones that are just as flexible and adaptable to your triggers.
There are two key dimensions to evaluating a production & fulfillment partner:
Word of advice: you'll find a lot of partners who are good at 1 or good at 2. Take the time to find a partner who is good at both. When you're truly ramped up and cranking out cutting-edge direct mail campaigns on par with email, the search will have been worth it.
Finally, to do direct mail well, you need to play by the same rules you do with email. Time is of the essence, no matter what your use case is. Any time spent setting up supplier relationships takes away from time spent figuring out how to optimize your mail pieces. Sending a special offer in a birthday card that arrives two weeks late is a self-defeating exercise. That's doubly true for transactional mail like financial or medical bills.
If you're not able to A/B test and iterate on mail as easily as you can A/B test and iterate on email, your direct mail operation will become a liability rather than an asset. The key to all of this is leveraging an analog channel without all the baggage of doing it the old-fashioned way.
If you've worked through these 4 steps, you've done the hard part. When it comes time for implementation, a mail partner's job should be to help you execute without bogging you down.
At Lob, we're building the best technology platform possible to help our customers architect direct mail solutions the right way. Learn more about our print and mail APIs here.