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Mail 2.0: Mail Doesn’t Suck, The Way You’re Doing It Does
April 25, 2018

Mail 2.0: Mail Doesn’t Suck, The Way You’re Doing It Does

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Harry Zhang

I recently had the pleasure of speaking at Lendit 2018 Conference about the future of direct mail. I’m excited to share my views on why we think direct mail doesn’t suck, but the way you’re doing it does.

Here at Lob we make it possible for companies to programmatically control and manage their direct mail through our print & mail API. We’ve found a way to modernize and optimize direct mail so that the best companies can utilize direct mail as a strategic weapon.

Effective Omnichannel is the Future

Before I get into Lob and what it is we do, I’d like to talk about omnichannel marketing and why the best companies are transitioning to omnichannel communication strategy.

To put it simply, effective omnichannel is the future of how businesses will communicate with their customers. Single channel marketing tactics no longer meet the needs of the modern consumers.

Omnichannel marketing is a strategic approach that combines consistent messaging across multiple channels with data & insights from customer behavior to deliver a unified experience to customers.

Today, companies have more access to data about their customers than they have ever had in the past. Utilizing this data to deliver the right message, at the right time, through the right channel, is how companies can cut through the noise and reach the hearts and minds of customers.

The New Era: Customer-Centered Everything

The reason why companies are changing how they approach communication with their customers comes down to one major point - customers have changed the way they purchase in the past few years.

Three major trends have impacted and led to this change to omnichannel communications.

Firstly, there has been a proliferation of technology. The rapid rise of software and technology has enhanced companies capabilities to interact with buyers in an easy way.

Secondly, there has been an evolution of buyer journey. This means consumers find out information from so many different channels and sources - it’s no longer a straightforward journey to learn about your brand or offering.

The last major trend is the changing purchasing behavior of customers. Today, customers have more flexibility in how they purchase and where they purchase such as delivery, on-demand or self-service options.

Today, customers expect a seamless, unified experience with consistent messaging across EVERY channel. The way to build trust and a solid reputation is by obsessing over every detail of your company’s experience.

Market dynamics have changed in the last several years and only companies that focus on the customer ahead of everything else will win in this new era.

Mail Works

This brings me into direct mail and how it can easily become a game-changer in today’s customer-centered era.

One major benefit of direct mail is simple - it works!

In the U.S. alone, $8.9 billion is spent on direct mail each year. To give you some perspective, that is the single largest channel of direct marketing spend. More is spent on direct mail than display ads or search ads.

One of the key benefits of direct mail is that it evokes emotions. Over 50% of people report that they like receiving mail and spend 30 minutes reading through it.

And lastly, with a 5.3% response rate, direct mail is the highest performing channel - no other channel even cracks 2%.

Despite these staggering statistics, somehow all we keep hearing about is how mail sucks and that it’s dying. Put quite simply, this could not be further from the truth.

Core Problems With Direct Mail

Along with its benefits, the old process of direct mail has its pitfalls. There are four major problems:

  1. Mail is slow and disjointed - companies were frustrated that campaigns would take weeks to set up and are not easily integrated with their other channels. Also, they found the process of making changes complex and difficult.
  2. Direct mail to be a black box - companies found it impossible to measure attribution and had no visibility into mail delivery process.
  3. Direct mail is impersonal - the third major problem was that traditional direct mail is impersonal with rigid templates that didn’t meet customer demands.
  4. Direct mail is not secure- direct mail raised internal concerns from IT teams due to ancient FTP transfers and its inability to meet new regulatory requirements like GDPR and other regulations.

These major problems prevented companies from utilizing this powerful communication channel. Until now. We gave mail an upgrade!

Welcome to Mail 2.0

Welcome to what we call Mail 2.0. - an intelligent print and mail solution that meets the demands of modern customers.

The best companies today have already begun using direct mail as a strategic weapon. Here at Lob, we’re focused on building this experience so that direct mail can be successfully integrated into your omnichannel approach.

A Modern Workflow that Makes Mail a Strategic Weapon

So what is Lob? It’s a programmatic solution that is purely API based and designed for Mail 2.0. Taking in mind the four core problems companies had identified with direct mail, we designed Lob to meet four critical needs. With Lob your direct mail will be:

  1. Automated and tightly integrated- 0ur API makes direct mail automated and tightly integrated to your existing workflows. You will have the ability to send triggered direct mail based on real-time events. Tied in with your other channels.
  2. Trackable and measurable - our API makes direct mail trackable and measurable allowing you to get insight into deliverability. Knowing when your mail is about to arrive is key to integrating this channel into your larger communication strategy.
  3. Secure and compliant - lob is fully secure and complaint. Our API meets HIPAA, GDPR and other compliance requirements and has a record for auditors.
  4. Highly personalized - Lob’s flexible HTML templates give you unlimited personalization opportunities. With Lob introducing new mailings and updating existing templates takes minutes.

Case Study: Onovative

At Lob, we tackled the challenges associated with direct mail in order to provide companies access to a powerful new channel for customer communications.

Let's take our work with Onovative as an example. Onovative is a software platform that helps manage customer communications for several banks and credit unions.

Onovative team wanted to automate and enable direct mail for their customers across various workflows: onboarding, privacy notices, loan docs, system conversions, etc.

The challenges they were facing with direct mail included manual campaign management, inefficient, human intensive handoffs, rigid templates with a lengthy setup and unclear status of mail delivery.

This is where our API comes into play - Lob provides a modern technology platform that is fully automated and integrated with operational systems and workflows.

By using our API, Onovative’s team was able to move away from batch to trigger real-time mailings whenever a business event occurs such as anniversary postcards or loan rates letters.

With our flexible HTML templates, introducing new mailings and updating existing templates went from taking several days to a couple of minutes. Lastly, by integrating with Lob’s API, Onovative eliminated all manual handoffs and human interventions. Onovative is a great example of how companies are taking advantage of direct mail and using it as a strategic weapon.

"All of our mail is automated and triggered by business events. It requires zero manual intervention and changing content takes minutes...not days. We can finally focus on other business problems!" Clay Turner, COO Onovative

Here at Lob, we work every day to solve the problems associated with what people thought was an antiquated system and make it into a key tool for success.

Contact us to learn how we can help you introduce triggered and personalized direct mail to your omnichannel communication strategy.

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