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How to Use Direct Mail When a Customer Unsubscribes
Direct Mail
August 1, 2023

How to Use Direct Mail When a Customer Unsubscribes

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It's inevitable — people will unsubscribe from your email list. However, that doesn't need to be the end of your relationship. Instead of losing the ability to communicate with these consumers, you can tap into other channels within your omnichannel strategy, like direct mail.

Direct mail is unique because it offers a physical touchpoint, helping you stand out amidst all the digital noise. For those who want a break from the barrage of emails they receive daily, direct mail offers another less frequent communication option to stay in touch with the brands they do business with.

Here's how to use direct mail to communicate with customers who may unsubscribe from your email marketing.

A customer unsubscribes — now what?

If you have been trying to determine the "best" marketing channel, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Each channel offers advantages; combined, an omnichannel strategy is even more powerful. This approach especially shines for reaching unsubscribed customers because it offers an alternative channel of communication. For example, direct mail marketing tactics can help you boost retention rates when customers unsubscribe from your email list. Plus, consumers are highly receptive to physical mail pieces.

The average American receives 88 emails daily, yet only 17 or 18 mail pieces weekly. So, it's no surprise that 48% of consumers ages 18-34 say that receiving direct mail from a brand feels special. Also, compared to low digital open rates, 71% of consumers read direct mail immediately, or the same day they receive it.

The secret to saving customers when they unsubscribe?

Offer direct mail as an option when the customer goes through the unsubscribe process which usually involves clicking an unsubscribe link and visiting a preference center to manage his or her preferences. You can easily add the option to receive less frequent physical mail pieces instead of email and then remove them from your email list and add them to your direct mail list. You can also add automation this process by setting up a triggered direct mail piece that goes out when someone unsubscribes and encourage them to subscribe to your direct mail, instead. You can include a QR code to scan to visit the preference center and subscribe there. This strategy is scalable, personalized, and measurable.

The online clothing marketplace, thredUP, is the perfect example of how personalized direct mail can help reduce churn and reactivate customers. The company launched a reactivation campaign using A/B testing, sending a 45% off code to those who subscribed to email and those who had unsubscribed. The company increased ROI by 128%, and the unsubscribed group had a far higher incremental conversion rate than the subscribed group.

"The biggest takeaway is that direct mail worked well for the unsubscribed group," said Brittany Reano, Sr. Manager of Growth Marketing. "The letter from the CEO was the top performing creative, and the unsubscribed group had a far higher incremental conversion rate than the subscribed group."

Read more: Discover how thredUp uses direct mail to engage its unsubscribed user base.

Why customer retention via direct mail matters

Prioritizing customer retention can help you significantly boost your bottom line, as there is a 60-70% chance you'll sell to an existing customer. In contrast, the odds of you closing a sale with a new customer are just 15-20%.

Research from Harvard Business School shows that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase company profits by 25-95%. So, the ultimate goal is to transform first-time customers into repeat customers. When you achieve this, you maximize customer lifetime value (CLV) — but what do you do when customers hit that unsubscribe button?

While many strategies exist, depending on your most effective channels, direct mail marketing is an invaluable option for companies across various industries, including financial services, healthcare, and retail. The benefits are vast. However, one of the primary areas where direct mail shines is its ability to boost ROI, whether your focus is acquisition, retention, or reactivation.

Try these direct mail re-engagement strategies

The effectiveness of customer retention via direct mail is clear, but how do you get started?

The reality is you can't win everyone back. However, when you craft the right messaging, you can re-engage and rebuild a lasting relationship with former subscribers, who could become loyal customers instead of falling off the map.

The key is sending highly targeted content that grabs attention. Take the following steps.

  • Identify who your unsubscribers are, and if you can, collect data on why they chose to unsubscribe. Create a strategic form using your email marketing software with the next steps in mind. Ask subscribers why they have decided to unsubscribe. The more data you have, the better.
  • Create a trigger-based campaign, integrating your email marketing platforms and your automated direct mail platform. When someone unsubscribes, you can trigger a mail piece. That's the power of integrations, as it makes everything seamless. However, timing is everything here. Unsubscribing from your email list should trigger an immediate mail piece to keep your company fresh in their minds.
  • Decide what type of mail piece you'd like to send and your message. For example, will you send a personalized offer to engage inactive customers? If you're unsure what message, offer, call-to-action, image, or size will work best, segment and test. There are also many formats to consider, ranging from postcards to self-mailers.

Discover more: The Modern Marketer's Guide to Reactivating Customers with Direct Mail

Get started with Lob

Lob is leading the way, as it is the only automation platform transforming direct mail into intelligent mail.

Connect your digital and direct mail channels to level up your omnichannel marketing, targeting those you risk losing. With Lob, this process is truly as easy as 1, 2, 3. You can send a million mailpieces or 100 with just one click.

We welcome you to read The 2023 State of Direct Mail to see how marketers are leveraging this marketing channel and get a demo today!

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