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Engineering
September 14, 2022

Convince Your Boss!

by 
Walker Palecek

Content from our ebook "Expanding Audiences through Print Mail: A Resource for Developers to Decision Makers." View it here.

Introduction

Sending personalized direct mail can be as simple as dispatching an email campaign. Plus, switching to an API-powered, automated direct mail solution is easier than you may think.

Lob’s solutions integrate with your own applications to create mail using your existing digital images, text, and customer information. You can send your mail digitally, track your campaign, and personalize each piece, all while ensuring compliance with your industry regulations. We will show you how you can do all this with APIs that integrate with your favorite programming languages, user-friendly templates, and other digital tools.

The enduring relevance of print mail

Direct mail is one of the most potent means of communicating with audiences and customers. With the Lob API, you can customize print content as freely as digital content, using the same familiar tools for creating and editing digital assets.

Lob can integrate into existing software to generate mailpieces on-demand and dynamically incorporate customer information to add a personal touch. Organizations can rapidly repurpose existing digital assets for print, synergizing their digital marketing and direct mail strategies. 

Sending automated direct mail with Lob

Lob’s RESTful API offers a lightweight integration that acts as a seamless addition to existing applications. Simple API calls handle creating, sending, and tracking print mail. With various SDK options available, developers can select from popular languages, including DotNet, Python, PHP, Java, Typescript, Ruby, and Elixir. Developers can also access the Lob API through cURL from any application. (Read our API reference.)

Lob’s features can also be integrated without help from its SDK. Middleware solutions that support basic authentication (such as MuleSoft) can be used in conjunction with Lob’s API to minimize the need to write custom code using the Lob SDK.

Because Lob sends mail with just a few basic API calls, it’s easy to integrate into an application’s logic and event flow or create custom workflows in a middleware solution. You can trigger mail based on a user’s specific actions or software-defined conditions. You can also trigger the API on-demand or on-schedule, allowing software to send mailpieces as needed and on the fly. API calls can originate from anywhere in the application, allowing you to incorporate print mail as part of your automated workflows and send mailpieces to customers based on where they are in their customer journey. 

Creating mailpieces

Lob’s API automatically translates a variety of digital formats into print mail. Since we can accept standard image formats, such as PNG and JPEG, as well as PDF documents, the Lob API offers a shortcut for developers hoping to translate digital assets to print rapidly. Plus, Lob’s HTML templates enable you to maximize control over appearance and content, to design mailpieces tailored to your audience’s tastes.

Traditional direct mail campaigns are often impersonal. You may be sending generic advertisements to the broadest possible audiences, hoping to appeal to the lowest common denominator. In contrast, Lob’s HTML templates enable you to combine print mail with modern digital marketing methods. Rather than blindly sending broad appeals, each piece of mail you send with Lob can include personalized details about the recipient and their interests. This personalization enables you to send highly targeted campaigns that get results versus mass campaigns that deliver low results.

With Lob HTML templates, every piece of mail begins its journey as HTML and CSS code. Web pages and email campaigns include customer information to personalize their look. So too can each piece of print mail. Automated systems leverage the Lob API to create highly personalized direct mailing campaigns. These campaigns consider factors such as purchasing history and known interests and behaviors to create personalized mailpieces for every customer.

Creating a ready-to-mail HTML template is easy for anyone. Familiar tools such as HTML, CSS, and a web browser help developers and designers create new designs or quickly update existing templates. (View our template gallery.)

We provide specific guidelines for creating different mail templates, including postcards, letters, and self-mailers. These best practices enable the Lob API to consistently and accurately render custom HTML templates as beautiful print mail pieces. Although the API handles most of the heavy lifting when preparing content to print, designers need to consider the final piece’s dimensions and printing quality. Before printing a piece of mail, the Lob API renders a preview that users can download and review, providing an opportunity to fine-tune the final product before it makes its way into the mail system.

Reusing digital assets

Digital content, such as images, text, and video, represents a substantial marketing investment by modern organizations. Companies continuously create these digital assets en masse.

While not all of this content translates well to print mail, a lot of it does. Your marketing team can repurpose images for advertisements, use graphics to add some flair to direct mailers, and condense or summarize text content, like blog posts or newsletters, as part of a mailing campaign.

In an era with so much digital focus, physical mail is unique. Content initially created with digital mediums in mind may find new life in print. For you to maximize your return on investment, content should be available to the broadest possible audience. By reusing digital assets, print mail can help expand your organization’s reach without your writers, designers, or marketers spending time starting from scratch.

Repurposing digital assets for print is an innovative strategy for maximizing content production’s return on investment. When you use them appropriately, recycled marketing materials can deliver a consistent brand voice, ensuring your customers get the same experience no matter what channel they use to engage with your brand. Creatively using established brand language and imagery fosters a lasting connection between the business and customers.

Sending mail digitally

Lob takes care of the physical side of mail printing. After you upload a template to Lob and request to send mail, Lob prints, fulfill, and ships every piece of mail. Your organization doesn’t need to take any physical action to prepare or send mail. You do everything digitally using the Lob API.

The logistics of printing and handling direct mail at scale are well outside the scope of many businesses, leading organizations to seek partnerships with commercial printers to manage their direct mail campaigns. With Lob, access to print mail is available on-demand, enabling you to incorporate direct mail without committing to an extensive contract or assuming the responsibility for sending mail in-house.

Instead of negotiating with a commercial printer, managing a team of designers and copywriters, and setting up analytics to track the results, the Lob API enables you to hit the ground running immediately. 

Lob’s on-demand direct mail model is ideal for businesses at any scale

Whether it’s launching a massive direct-mail advertising campaign to acquire customers or simply sending a few physical letters to satisfy regulatory compliance, Lob’s toolkit scales with your organization’s needs.

In addition to being on-demand, Lob’s API also lends itself to being event-driven. The simplicity of Lob’s API and its supporting SDKs allows it to integrate easily into almost any software and respond dynamically to events occurring within the application. A user signing up for a service or purchasing a product and calendar occasions such as birthdays or holidays can trigger events that send mail via the Lob API.

When it integrates with rich customer data sources, such as customer relationship management systems (CRMs), print mail can become part of robust marketing workflows. These workflows can send mailpieces based on specific events and provide customized content based on what data the CRM has about your customers. 

Tracking direct mail with webhooks

After you send a mailpiece via the Lob API, Lob’s webhooks track its journey toward delivery. Webhooks can integrate easily into any application, providing notifications in real-time when mail delivery events occur. Track events such as mail sent, out for delivery, delivered, or returned. With webhooks, applications can track the most critical steps and inform relevant parties when the delivery status updates. (More on what you can do with Lob webhooks.)

While webhooks help keep an eye on mail making its way to delivery, they reveal little about direct mail campaigns’ efficacy and return on investment. Advertisers have long relied on techniques to observe the results of individual non-digital advertisements. With Lob’s HTML templates, you can automatically add campaign-specific information such as QR codes, phone numbers, promotional offers, and personal URLs to every piece of mail, providing detailed metrics on the efficacy of direct mail efforts.

Tracking who responds to direct mail offers — as well as when and how they respond — provides additional data for you to refine your customer journey and fine-tune direct mail campaigns. Through webhooks and tracking techniques, you can use Lob’s capabilities to track the results of direct mail empirically. Webhooks provide insights into delivery success rates, and personalized tracking codes offer detailed information about response rates. 

In addition to webhooks and personal URLs, Lob includes a built-in analytics dashboard. Lob’s analytics help inform decision-making by offering real-time information on mail delivery and essential statistics such as delivery rate.

Sending compliance mail

Organizations that handle sensitive data (such as medical or legal information) must observe strict rules to comply with legal requirements. These regulations include specific procedures for how these organizations handle print mail. Organizations must store and transmit data securely and employ safeguards to protect sensitive information going through the mail system to comply with regulations. (See more about our security measures here.)

Lob has expertise serving the financial, insurance, and healthcare industries. Lob offers HIPAA, GDPR, and SOC2 compliance, allowing businesses that must observe these strict legal requirements to take advantage of the Lob API’s capabilities. In addition to following compliant mailing practices, Lob maintains full data encryption during the mail production process.

Personalizing the customer experience

Combining the customization potential of Lob’s HTML templates and the power of tracking methods, you have the opportunity to create unique experiences for every customer. You start with a piece of mail that includes the customer’s name, then add some tailored recommendations based on their purchasing history, and include some content likely to align with their interests.

By integrating the Lob API with existing CRM data, you have the opportunity to create campaigns that are uniquely customized for each individual, delivering a one-to-one experience. This personalization is unheard of if you are working with a traditional printer. One Lob customer sent over 200K different permutations in a single campaign! Try that with your legacy printer.

Personal URLs are helpful for far more than simple tracking. Instead of sending mail directing readers to generic landing pages, unique URLs and QR codes can deliver customers to specific landing pages. Because the Lob API can automatically change mail content using software, each piece of mail can easily include a personal URL directing respondents to landing pages relevant to their interests.

Reaching existing audiences & acquiring new ones

The Lob API reduces all the complexities of printing and mailing down to a few simple API calls. By removing the burden of handling the physical side, Lob’s platform enables you to maximize your reach by adding print mail to your existing marketing channels.

Designed for simplicity, the Lob API integrates easily into virtually any application with minimal development time. The API’s on-demand nature enables you to send print mail from anywhere within your software, responding to events that users trigger or sending mail on a fixed schedule. 

Lob enables you to make greater use of your existing assets. You can repurpose digital assets for print, enhancing the return on investment involved in producing content. Print mail enables you to reach customers physically, casting the widest possible net for capturing audiences’ attention, old and new.

The most successful marketing campaigns operate at the intersection between direct mail and digital marketing. Rather than thinking of them as two opposing channels, you should seek out and embrace opportunities to synergize the two. Lob makes it easy to keep one foot in the analog world. When print mail begins its life as HTML and CSS code, modern software is free to work its customizing magic on every individual piece of mail and repurpose digital assets for print with minimal hassle.

“Amplifying your message by coordinating exposure across channels is essential today. One touch doesn’t do the trick today. You need multiple touches, so coordinate your messages across channels.” — Chad White, Head of Research, Oracle

Interested in discovering how your business can leverage print mail? Reach out to learn more about Lob’s automated direct mail platform and experience just how easy it is to expand your marketing reach. (Contact us!)

Share this link or click here to view the ebook.

This blog provides general information and discussion about direct mail marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.

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