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April 12, 2022

A Guide to Direct Mail Attribution

by 
Guest Author

In the rush to implement an omnichannel strategy, many brands are executing campaigns without fully considering the results. Most companies want to reduce churn, increase  customer lifetime value, and optimize campaigns both on and offline, but it can be easier said than done. Savvy marketers know that all activity should be carefully tracked and measured. This is where attribution shines. Measuring direct mail attribution plays a key role in accomplishing your bottom-line goals.

What is direct mail attribution?

Direct mail attribution is a method for measuring the true ROI of your direct mail campaigns. If you send out multiple campaigns per month, it can be difficult to decipher what's moving the needle and what isn't. Unfortunately, this lack of clarity all too often leads to overspending on the wrong types of marketing materials that don't give a high return on investment. Opportunities to reach the right customers can easily be wasted without data on your side. Fortunately, there's an attainable solution. If you feel like your marketing decisions are not truly data-driven, a sound attribution model can change that.

If you're familiar with how digital marketing attribution works, simply apply this same concept to direct mail. Brands need to know which aspects of their marketing funnel are strong and which ones have the opportunity to improve. Touchpoints are assessed to determine which results in the best conversion.

In the digital world, companies rely on various attribution models, including first touch, last touch, even weight, and time decay, among others. There is often a misconception that this can't be done with direct mail. While measuring direct mail attribution is done a little differently, that doesn't make it any less effective.

How to measure direct mail attribution

With a typical email campaign, results can be determined within a few hours or days. By comparison, direct mail takes a bit more time. It may take anywhere from 30 to 90 days to see the full results of a direct mail marketing campaign. Some consumers will put an offer aside and respond days or weeks later.

And, even though you may use QR codes, personalized URLs, and other promo code tracking, customers may forget to enter the code and simply make an online purchase. Despite these obstacles, there are ways to improve the accuracy of campaign attribution so you can understand what's converting and what isn't.

Control groups

Control groups are an effective way to track direct mail marketing and prove ROI. Control groups in this context are just like control groups in research studies — they are a group of customers who are not given any unique treatment. Let's say you are looking to find out if a campaign generates more sales from a particular audience segment, like people who have purchased in the past. You'll simply send that campaign to that group and track the results. But you'll need a control group to compare it to. Control groups also allow us to test whether a statistical model is doing its job correctly and measuring what it should measure.

Matchback analysis

Matchback analysis is another valuable method for assessing your direct mail advertising. This analysis shows how each audience segment responded compared to your sales data. Shipping addresses, billing addresses, email addresses, and other data are tracked to detect matches between mailings and sales. If your goal is to find the link between direct mail and digital conversions, a matchback is a great tool. You'll discover:

  • How each audience segment performed
  • How specific segments compare to one another
  • The best and worst-performing segments on your list
  • How and where direct mail is driving online sales

Matchback analysis makes it easier to link specific campaigns to specific sales, which is what attribution is all about. With clean and well-formatted data, companies can track as many matches as possible and achieve a high level of ROI accuracy.

Multitouch analysis

Multitouch is a method that helps you determine the value of each touchpoint. For every interaction with a customer, whether online or in-person, you can assign a value to it. So if you're running Google Ads, native social media ads, direct mailers, and email promotions, you can see how customers interact with each. With this critical data, you can easily reallocate ad spend to where it counts and get a full picture of the customer journey.  

Marketers can decide between a direct or indirect attribution model, each with its own pros and cons. While direct attribution is similar to how email campaigns are tracked, indirect attribution is similar to how broadcast ads are tracked. One measures the specific impact of a campaign, while the other measures the associated lift in sales after a campaign. A direct mail automation platform can help determine which approach is best depending on your objectives.

Increasing ROI with attribution

Are you looking for a clear avenue for getting more out of your direct mail campaigns? Then measuring attribution is your holy grail. At Lob, we help companies upgrade from legacy direct mail workflows to build a true omnichannel customer experience. If you're ready for an automated direct mail platform to level up your direct mail we'll help you get started.

Schedule a demo and join the direct mail revolution of the future.

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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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