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Key Takeaways From the Getting Ahead of Direct Mail Technology Trends Webinar
Direct Mail
March 21, 2024

Key Takeaways From the Getting Ahead of Direct Mail Technology Trends Webinar

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Stephanie Donelson

We were fortunate enough to have Sheila Holman, VP, Marketing, USPS join us recently for a webinar where we talked all about direct mail technology and trends shaping the state of direct mail marketing today and in the future.

Tyler Dornenburg, VP, Strategic Sales at Lob, sat down with Holman to get her insights and unique perspective on the landscape of direct mail marketing technology. From AI to Informed Visibility, these two highlighted some great tools, resources, and best practices marketers need to know to send effective direct mail.

Let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways from the conversation!

3 key takeaways from direct mail form factors webinar

Quote by Tyler Dornenburg

1. Direct mail is digital marketing too

Dornenburg is this close to creating his own line of Lob merchandise with his phrase, “direct mail is digital too,” right on it. Direct mail isn’t just in the real world, it’s online as well. Dornenburg and Holman discussed how direct mail is digital these days and had quite a few thoughts on the subject.

Dornenburg kicked off the topic by saying, “I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Direct mail is digital too. For digital native marketers and those who depend on an all digital omnichannel approach, I think this is especially important to hear - but even for those who have been sending direct mail for decades, if you can’t categorize your direct mail as a digital channel, it’s time to start rethinking your program.”

Holman agreed and shared how marketers can add a digital component to their direct mail marketing directly through USPS. She talked about the advantages of Informed Delivery, the service that sends an email preview of mail to about 60 million consumers. She said, “What you may not know is that Informed Delivery gives marketers the opportunity to gain an additional digital impression and response mechanism to their direct mail piece, at no additional cost. This is essentially a free ad unit for marketers!”

Marketers have the option of doing two things to the images of the mail that they send in Informed Delivery:

  • They can change the scanned black and white image to a color image of the mail piece to make it richer and pop more.
  • They can add what we call a ‘Ride Along image’ – a rectangular image that is shown below the scanned image that, when clicked, takes the consumer to the URL of the marketer’s choice. And typically, these images contain call to action buttons to encourage consumers to click on them, taking the consumer to their web page. So the marketer’s direct mail piece has just become digitally enabled.

Holman also explained another USPS service that can connect direct mail and digital marketing that not many marketers know about or take advantage of: Informed Visibility.

She said, “When you mail with us, we can tell you when that mail piece is expected to arrive, and we can update you on its progress all the way until its delivered. That means if you want to get a customer excited that their catalog is about to arrive, you can target them with display and social media ads for the few days before. Or if you want to send them an email when the mail piece arrives, you can trigger that communication when the mail piece is delivered.”

Quote from Sheila Holman

2. The biggest advancement in direct mail technology is the ability to personalize at scale

Holman did have a tough time nailing down what was the biggest advancement in direct mail technology as there have been so many great advancements, but she focused on personalization.

She said, “The biggest advancement in mailpieces is the ability to personalize them. With the growth of data and digital printers, it is possible to print mail at scale that has personalized color images and personalized text for almost the same cost as unpersonalized mail.”

She and Dornenburg did also touch on the use of QR codes in direct mail, which was a big technological advancement in the last few years.

Recommended direct mail marketing resource: The Modern Marketer’s Guide to Personalization

Quote by Tyler Dornenburg

3. You can’t spell mail without AI

Dornenburg had all his fun one-liners ready to go for this webinar with USPS!

He and Holman discussed how AI is changing direct mail marketing and how marketers can leverage the tech to send more impactful campaigns. Holman had some excellent insights into using AI to generate creative and use it to analyze past campaigns and data collected to provide actionable insights for future campaign planning.

She then discussed how USPS is using AI itself to improve its customer service. She said, “We are shortening help center wait times by using an AI-powered Virtual Assistant that we call AIVA to handle many queries. AIVA is continually learning based on interactions with our customers. One of the things that AIVA can do is to let you know when your package will be delivered. AIVA analyzes our historical scan data from millions and millions of packages that we have delivered to predict how long your package will take to be delivered based on the countless packages that have been in the same situation.”

Quote from Sheila Holman

Catch up on the latest trends in direct mail marketing

In about 30 minutes, you can watch the recording to hear all about the latest trends and technological advancements in direct mail, such as list purchasing, targeting, and using QR codes.

Plus, you’ll learn all about cost-savings through USPS programs - such as a 30% credit on the growth of 2024 mail volume compared to last year’s baseline, as well as a proposed sustainability promotion, pending PRC approval.

Watch the recording: USPS and Lob: Getting Ahead of Direct Mail Technology Trends

Webinar invite: Getting ahead of direct mail technology trends

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