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How to Use Direct Mail Impressions to Optimize Campaigns
March 2, 2022

How to Use Direct Mail Impressions to Optimize Campaigns

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Kim Courvoisier

Direct mail has been proven to deliver significant ROI for marketers. in fact, 74% agree that direct mail shows the best ROI of all the channels their company uses today. In the past, measuring the impact of direct mail was a challenge but we now have more sophisticated tracking abilities and KPIs. The 2023 State of Direct Mail report cites that:

Campaign effectiveness is measured with a variety of metrics with revenue and ROI leading the pack.

  • 86% believe their company can determine the ROI of its direct mail efforts and accept that typical methods used to measure it are generally reliable
  • 60% say their company’s methods of measuring ROI are more reliable than typical methods

Using direct mail metrics, you can find out exactly how effective your campaign is and make optimizations based on your findings. One of the most important metrics that will help you understand the effectiveness of your next campaign is direct mail impressions (DMI). In this article, we'll take a deeper look at DMIs and how to determine whether you're getting the most out of your direct mail campaigns.

Recommended reading: Optimizing direct mail for maximum performance

What's the difference between reach and direct mail impressions?

Marketing reach is the number of people who were exposed to your message, and marketing impressions are the number of times they were exposed. Marketing impressions can also be called exposures or views. Impressions make up a large part of the total amount spent on direct mail and represent actual visibility and brand awareness. Now that we've distinguished reach from impressions, let's look at impressions.

The value of direct mail impressions as a metric

There are dozens of angles from which we can look at the value of a direct mail campaign. But all too often companies overlook the basics and try to plunge into more detailed data without a foundational understanding of what's happening.

The number of times your target market becomes aware that you’re advertising a product or service is the most critical metric to measure when determining overall awareness for a particular campaign. It’s an ideal figure because it's simple and consists only of those who know about your product or service. With these numbers, you can then calculate response rates and ROI more accurately.

Frequency builds relationships

Direct mail impressions are an important metric when it comes to tracking your ROI. If you drop mail in multiple waves, it gives your target audience several opportunities to get more familiar with your product or service without overwhelming or annoying them.

Direct mail impressions can be used to calculate the average number of 'exposures' a customer needs to take action. A key benefit of mailing to the same list more than once is an increase in ROI due to a decrease in cost per piece. Simply purchasing a multiple list discount means the cost of your mailing will go down because you are using a list more than once.

After a consumer sees an advertisement, the frequency of their exposure to it will affect how they respond to it. Some people are more impulsive than others are; if they see something they want on sale, even though it's not exactly what they're looking for, they’re going to buy it on the spot. Other people might need the re-enforcement of a postcard campaign before making the move. In other words, certain demographics will require more direct mail impressions before pulling the trigger and making a purchase. It's a fine line between under-sending and over-sending direct mail, which is why paying attention to your impressions and their subsequent results is key.

Making your direct mail impressions count

Direct mail marketing campaigns can succeed or fail depending on their timing and how they’re sent out. If you always send the same type of postcard during certain months, it may not be effective (e.g. If your target audience gets many similar messages around that time). Then again, some campaigns don’t succeed because there is no set pattern to their delivery—It's too random and forgettable.

Marketers sometimes make the mistake of getting lazy with their messaging and offers. You mustn't send the same message over and over again. No amount of impressions will make up for a lack of strategy and proper sequencing—It's not just repetition that matters.

Long story short: DMIs are the bedrock of all other metrics. They are counted each time a potential customer sees one of your messages. Without quality impressions, other data points within the campaign can be misinterpreted. To make use of every impression, try personalizing your mailing, creating urgency when appropriate, using time-based offers or promotions.

Making every impression count

Begin with your base of loyal customers and remember that nurturing cold leads takes time. Research shows that 68 percent of consumers automatically discard any materials from a company they don't recognize. 76 percent of consumers said they would be pleased to receive something from a company they have done business with before. If you have a solid offer, your chances of attracting new customers increase.

Do direct mail better

Coupled with consistent and powerful digital marketing, direct mail plays a key role in raising brand awareness through impressions. One study showed about 64 percent of people have visited a website after receiving a direct mail offer. In tandem with digital marketing, direct mail helps brands create a true omnichannel customer experience, increase revenue and ROI, and reduce churn rates.

If you aren't getting the most out of direct mail, you're not alone. As consumer expectations change, the advertising industry is changing along with it. This opens an opportunity for new, more effective direct mail campaigns with measurable results.

Get a copy of the 2023 State of Direct Mail and schedule a demo to see how to level up your direct mail with automation.

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