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Lobcast Podcast: Slide Into a New DM - Direct Mail & Daiquiris

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, peoples’ DMs are about to explode. Email fatigue is real, and people are bombarded with digital messages daily, so why not reach them where you’ll have their full attention? Their mailbox! Learn how to slide into a new DM: Direct Mail!

Listen to podcast

On this Lobcast Podcast episode, we’re talking about how marketers can slide into a new DM - Direct Mail.

Some key highlights include:

  • A recent study of 600 marketers proved that when adding direct mail to an omnichannel comms plan, marketing campaigns experienced a lift of 63%
  • Finding the right fit for direct mail in your marketing funnel, whether it’s top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel, or bottom-of-funnel
  • How to get buy-in from your CMO or executive leadership team to add direct mail to your marketing toolkit
  • Why you should pair direct mail with email, as it’s proven that when pairing these marketing channels together, the response rate can increase by as much as 27%

Meet the Speakers

Stephanie Donelson

Senior Content Marketing Manager

Summer Hahnlen

Senior Director, Industry Advisor

STEPHANIE: Hello, and welcome to the Lobcast Podcast: Mixers and Marketing. I'm Stephanie Donelson, your hostess with the marketing mostess, and I'm the senior content marketing manager here at Lob. I'm thrilled to be joined with our expert in residence, Summer Hahnlen. Summer, do you mind introducing yourself to our listeners again?

SUMMER: Sure I am the senior director of customer success here at Lob and also the expert in residence. I've worked in direct marketing for about 20 years within print buying procurement. I've also developed strategies and comms plans. I've run analytics teams, run acquisition programs, cross-sell programs, you name it. I've done a bit of a 360 tour, so I'm very excited to be part of the Lob team and to share my expertise with all of our Lobsters.

STEPHANIE: Awesome well, thank you so much for joining us again. So, today we're going to be talking about sliding into a new DM, direct mail instead of direct messages. And we're mixing up some great daiquiris. So if you want to make a strawberry daiquiri today, a single serving, you're going to need 4 ounces of frozen strawberries, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of simple syrup, a 1/4 cup light, four white rum, 1/4 cup of ice and an eighth cup of lime juice. And then a little bit of kosher salt. Put all the ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth, and then enjoy. And Summer, I believe you took a different take on today's recipe.

SUMMER: I did. I'm a big fan of the old school of prohibition-style cocktails that are very small and focused and quite dangerous, actually. And this is just three ingredients. So it's white rum, two ounces, one ounce of lime juice and make sure it gets on the camera here.

STEPHANIE: Pull it in front of you. There you have it.

SUMMER: And 3/4 ounces of simple syrup, you just shake over ice and double strain into whatever glass you prefer. It will look very small, but stick with one to start.

STEPHANIE: Very powerful. Small but mighty. All right, let's. Every marketing team that's out there right now. Well, Cheers. And again, welcome to the show.

SUMMER: Thank you very much.

STEPHANIE: All right. So since we're sipping on something cool, let's kick off this episode by talking about what makes direct mail marketing such a cool channel to add to your omnichannel marketing strategy. Summer, what do you regard as the top benefits of direct mail marketing?

SUMMER: Considering we have a time block here, I will keep it somewhat short and sweet. I believe wholeheartedly that direct mail drives the most efficient ROIs. It also has the longest consideration time. And what I mean by that is that the average piece of direct mail sits in someone's home for about 17 days. That might seem like a long time, but think about your actions just as a regular person and how often you go through your mail. Time and time again, you don't do that with email. It's tangible. It's personal. It drives a very strong response rate. And in my mind, it also seems to draw a stronger brand recognition because you're holding it in your hand as your recall is going to be much better. It is known for establishing deeper trust with consumers because you can't click on it and then be redirected to something you didn't intend to visit. It's also very highly targeted and personalized, and it really complements digital marketing very well.

STEPHANIE: No, that's awesome. I also really like your point about it establishing trust because I think about it too, like something that I am holding and looking at compared to just going through my email because every morning, you know, I have to go through my promotions tab on Gmail. And it's like, nope, nope, nope, nope, Nope. Whereas like my mail, I flip through it. I'm like, oh, that's a coupon. OK, I'm going to save that. Oh, this is a free shipping code. OK, I'm going to save that. Whereas the email might have had the same thing. But if I see your name in back to back to back eh, sorry, that's too much.

SUMMER: Not only that, when you think about it, most people have more than five inboxes and received more than 600 emails a day, which means think about two weeks down the line or the average of 17 days. Have you ever gone back to your inbox searching for something? We might have, because we do this for a living. But the average person does not

STEPHANIE: No, definitely! So thinking about marketing to the average person, what should some marketers keep in mind when they're adding direct mail to their marketing strategy?

SUMMER: Well, direct mail partners very well with a more omnichannel sort of approach. And by that I mean multiple channels focus on an individual's experience, which is different than multichannel. Multichannel is just putting a lot of channels out there and, you know, hitting randomly. It also complements email and display ads, particularly well. I did some research prior to this podcast and learned that a recent study of about 600 marketers proved that when you add direct mail to an channel, come stream marketing campaign results experienced a lift of 63% Now, that's not direct mail results. That's all campaign results. I did some further digging into it. I always like to make sure that these sources are relevant and trustworthy. And when I broke it out further, I found that the study determined that if the direct mail is a plain generic, non optimized direct mail piece, it drove a 51% overall lift. But when it was hyper personalized, it actually drove an 83% lift.


SUMMER: So the key to direct mail and personalize it.

STEPHANIE: Well, not even that. I even think, you know, you said 51% for just the generic regular one. I've talked on the podcast before. I believe it was an episode with Kim on, you know, comparing direct mail and email marketing strategies. And it was sometimes those generic ones still get you because the offer is still relevant no matter what. I think like I use an example of like, you know, yardwork or people coming over to plant trees and I'm like, OK, I need trees. Like, yeah, you're not going to know exactly the right type of tree to focus on that postcard. But it still catches my attention because the offer is still relevant. And it's a break in what could feel like the monotony of a whole bunch of email now, or even social media ads like I'm more likely to pay attention again from like a brand. I don't know, something that's a little bit more generic when it's right in front of me and in my hand. Whereas I'm so used to seeing social media ads that I just scroll right on by them. It has to be very clever or very colorful to catch my attention and keep my attention.

SUMMER: Absolutely we've found a way to disassociate because we have to because we are exposed to so much in the digital space now.

STEPHANIE: Yeah, I think the most recent ad that actually caught my attention was because it's for like an online store that specializes in like things from the 1990s that I'm like, ooh, that's a throwback. Like, I like that. Oh, I want that in my house. Otherwise, no, keep going.

SUMMER: And that's a niche market, so.

STEPHANIE: Yeah! Since we are kind of talking about bringing it into an omnichannel strategy, how does the strategy for direct mail differ from other, you know, strategies like, let's say for email? Or can marketers kind of bring the same approach to both channels?

SUMMER: It's a bit of a yes and no, so I'll explain when you add a direct mail to your established, proven program, marketers should leverage the same core strategy for direct mail as they do for email. By this I mean you're targeting your objective, your segmentation, and your focus on measurement. All of those things should hold true were direct mail differs is in the creative approach the ability to test different formats, the length of consideration time, and the length of measurement needed for true attribution, which when you talk to big brands, they say the benchmark they usually use is about 60 days. Meaning you can send out the mailpiece, you can have an offer that ends in, say, 10 days, 14 days, but give it 60 days to measure because people are still going to have that piece on their counter. They're still going to consider. And then they might click on a follow on email a month down the line, because they remember just seeing that piece and saying to themselves, wait a minute, I remember that from somewhere.

STEPHANIE: Yep no, I think that's really great cause I was going to say, you know, 60 days, they were a little short. But then, yeah, you do want to make sure that you give that opportunity because like, I'm notorious for getting an email and it's, oh, you know, we're having a sale. And I'm like, yeah, but then you're going to run like, here's an extra 10% off. So you wait for that, whereas you could tee up that interest with a direct mail postcard, hey, we're running a flash sale, and then they get that email, like, looks like you haven't taken advantage yet. Here's free shipping. You got my business.

SUMMER: That sounds like that might have worked for you in the past.

STEPHANIE: Maybe once or twice. Who knows? All right. So before we talk about getting started with direct mail specifically, I do kind of want to talk about bigger company-wide strategies, specifically ESG or Environmental, Social, and Governance goals. Those are really becoming a hot topic. With that trend, do you think that more marketers are going to rely on sustainable marketing channels like direct mail, which is carbon neutral when you send it through Lob?

SUMMER: 100%. There's no question. Like I said, I've worked in direct marketing for just about two decades, and I've seen a really positive shift from companies to focus more on responsible and sustainable means of communication. The trend really started in the nonprofit industry. I think about the first customer I ever had, which was the Nature Conservancy. Not a surprise that they would want to make sure that they're only working with partners who can ensure sustainability. However, there were not a lot of partners at that time, and there still are not a lot of partners who can ensure that. So I really love the fact that now some of the largest brands in the US are looking for carbon neutral solutions. And to your point, I'm very proud to say that all mail sent through Lob is carbon neutral from the entire lifecycle, meaning like raw materials to the ultimate disposal.

STEPHANIE: No that was a really awesome win when we were able to announce that and share that with everybody that, you know, it's not just relying on the customer to actually put that in the recycling bin. Like you can still send this mail knowing that it was sourced and created sustainably. So that was kind of a big shift in direct mail marketing. So let's talk about a stigma that has kind of stuck around, even though it probably shouldn't. And I'm going to have to bring up but spam. How do we make sure that our direct mail marketing campaigns are not equated as spam? You know, we already hear that the term junk mail is thrown around. So how can we as marketers make sure that we set up our direct mail marketing strategies for success without consumers seeing our mail pieces as junk or spam?

SUMMER: I think you hit the nail on the head there and it starts with your strategy. It's important to set up a strategy to make sure that you're targeting and your objective letter up. It's also very important to personalize your mail beyond the standard first name. When you think about your email inbox is think about how many of those emails have your first name. Does it feel personalized any longer? Feel like that ship kind of sailed? And consumers are very smart and they know when they're being treated like a number. And nothing says spam as quickly as sending a generic postcard peppered with all the reasons that your sale is the biggest, the best, the shortest in your brand is the best. I mean, everybody people know what this looks like. You need to think from your customers' perspective or your prospect's perspective and meet them where they're at, not where you want them to be, not where you're telling them to go. And you need to focus on the brand and the offer benefits, not the features of your company. So personalize your imagery, your offer, your copy, your CTA wherever possible, and make the communication about them a little bit less about you. Because the spray and pray approach went out of style a really long time ago.

STEPHANIE: For most people. I have still seen a few brands that specialize in it.

SUMMER: There are a few out there, that's just not what we specialize in.

STEPHANIE: No and we really shouldn't let it! This kind of goes back to the point you brought up earlier about the difference between omnichannel and multichannel marketing. They are different. And, you know, sometimes it can be kind of hard to understand that differentiator and that line between them. But it is making sure that all the messages are tailored for the right person on the right channel at the right time. And so they're just being like, OK, we sent out this tweet. It also went out on LinkedIn. We sent out this email that has the same messaging. A Facebook post went out that all does the same thing. Like, OK, but like, what's the next step? How do you actually get people to feel like this message was written specifically for me?

SUMMER: I'll just check the box to finish the task.

STEPHANIE: That's great advice for anyone, right? Let's dive into the good stuff and talk about how to get started with direct mail and then let's cover some best practices. So, Summer, how can marketers make a business case for direct mail to get buy in from the rest of their marketing team or potentially their CMO?

SUMMER: It might be a long answer, but I want to give a couple examples here. So you want to begin with understanding your target audience and your objective. That's just core 101 marketing. And then you need to develop a comms plan that drives an omnichannel approach, not a multichannel approach, where you can leverage your proven channels like direct mail, like email, like estimates, where they make the most sense. So for example, if a retention marketer is battling increasing opt out rates, leverage DRM to reach out to those customers you have not been able to reach out to for a while and drive the engagement and the sales with essentially almost like a warm prospect because they have opted out of your email communication or the communication that is cheapest for you to send. Yeah, that's a really easy sell to leadership because it's so effective. On the flip side, if you're piloting a new acquisition program, you always want to begin with the data and the targeting and you want to leverage direct mail from really your models top deciles. And when I say your model, you want to make sure that you're not just grabbing a list based on Geo targeting, and it's just this enormous list. You just start in the top and go down. You really want to look at something where you've worked with the data partner to build, say like a profile model based on your existing best customers. Like you really want to focus on the targeting first and consider the fact that your consumers or your prospects may have as many as five email inboxes, but they generally only have one home, generally. You're most likely to be able to establish a relationship with a prospect by reaching them at their home, not their inbox. And there are a lot of great tools out there where anonymous website visitors can be captured and you can attach that known home address and you're not going to get caught in someone's spam inbox from their fifth email that they only set up to catch that bath Body Works Christmas coupon, they can actually them in their home. So that is a very long-winded answer. But I feel like when you want to ladder up to your leadership, think about the ultimate business goal and where direct mail plays the most efficient role and because it's not the same role for every line of business.

STEPHANIE: No I really love your point, you know, about sending them something instead of appearing in their inbox. I had that exact same conversation on a previous podcast episode where I am much more receptive to getting something in the mail from a brand I don't know. And even our State of Direct Mail Consumer Insights found that to be true. That, I think is like 44% of people prefer to get communications via direct mail instead of an unwanted email. Whereas yeah, if you're getting into my inbox, I already have so many brands that are sending me messages, I don't need one more unless I have told you I want you to email me special offers. But if you appear in my mailbox and again you're giving me a coupon code to try you out or a trial run, something like that. OK now I'm going to go to your website and say, here's the rest of my contact information.

SUMMER: Or imagine someone who receives an SMS out of nowhere. We've learned. Don't click on those.

STEPHANIE: I know. It's like your immediate red flags go up because you're like, who? How did you get my number? Who is this? I don't I can't give you this link. So, like, oh, sorry, it's getting deleted.

SUMMER: Every, every business intel course you ever take, any company that you're onboard with says do not click on anything you don't know.

STEPHANIE: I mean, that's just good advice for every consumer out there. Especially my mother. All right. So if you are a marketer and let's say you got that buy in, and so now it's time to research the tools, the different providers. What would you say are the most important features or functionality that marketers should evaluate when looking at direct mail platforms?

SUMMER: Look for platforms that make your life easier. A marketer's job right now is harder than ever before. I think it's fair to say, actually, not even just a marketer's job. Anyone who works in any form of communication, whether it's marketing or transactional or legally compliant or mandated mailings you need to send out there, you are likely tasked with much more than you were tasked with three or four years ago, because a lot of marketing teams were product teams or communication teams have taken a pretty big hit on their team size and the resources. So you're probably finding things that you have to do that you never thought you would ever have to do. So find a way to make your life easier. You want to make sure that you're focusing your efforts on driving strategies and smart segmentation, not with printers, checking proofs, project, managing your job for every ad hoc campaign, making sure you get on someone's schedule and you get the drill. It's just it's a very manual process that has been around for a very long time. And it's just sort of understood that that's the way that it is, but it doesn't need to be. You you want to find a platform that supports your business goals by driving personalization wherever possible, while taking the guesswork out of your out-of-pocket costs so that your budgets are much easier to discern and also takes care of those watch outs around the manual direct mail process that can catch people out. Oftentimes that can be very costly.

STEPHANIE: No, I think we talked about that last time you were on the podcast on our budgets and beermosas episode, just making sure that again, like, like you said, we are all tasked with doing more with less and really making sure that you can have that consistent budget for a specific channel because sometimes it can be very hard to guesstimate how much the PPC ad is going to cost me or a social media ad depending on the targeting that I want. And it's either the trade off of campaign is not going to perform as well as it could because it's too expensive per click. Whereas you know that every piece of direct mail is going to have that fixed cost makes it a lot easier to work into your budget than being like, oh, it could be $50, could be $150, right?

SUMMER: Seasonality will play a part demand of all the things that are in the mail stream or demand of how many people are printing at a time. Imagine if you're trying to send something out and you only need to send out 10,000 or 20,000. You're hitting someone's minimums. You don't have to hit someone's minimums. You can find a better solution.

STEPHANIE: Yeah, awesome. OK, so now that we kind of know what we want in the platform, what about how we'll use the channel? Where do you think that direct mail marketing fits in the marketing funnel? So, if you could only choose to add direct mail to either the top of funnel, middle of the funnel, or bottom of funnel stages, where would you add it?

SUMMER: My answer is not going to be great because I feel like there's no solid top, middle, or bottom.

STEPHANIE: You love giving me complicated answers!

SUMMER: I'm sorry! So there's a simple question with a complicated answer. The truth is, it depends on your program and how you're running it and the effectiveness of your existing channels. So I'll give you a couple of examples. If you're running a retargeting campaign where you are capturing those anonymous website visitors, I mentioned a couple questions ago, you want to actually begin by testing top of funnel because you have a large source of names now with addresses because you can work with someone to help you attach those addresses and you want to make sure that you send out a campaign where you're either doing like a random select of those people where you can measure a lot of different learnings from the results of the campaign. And then potentially if it's gangbusters, you have an enormous source of prospecting that you can then tap into or you can rely upon. You can also, based on how people respond to that campaign, build your own response model where you can look at who responded and who didn't respond. You can work the analytics company for this. If you don't have it in-house and you can develop a model that tells you exactly what type of person you need to be looking for if you want that same positive impact, it will give you then deciles that you can dip into. And when you have a smaller budget, say, in a time where seasonality is impacting your budget, you just dip in one or two deciles, but then say at the end of the year, your leadership comes to you and says, you know what, we really need to tap into this well known well are customers. I have faith that if you dip into decile five or six, you know, it's not really going to hurt us, because we need to get those prospects through the door, because all the work that you've done prior to that has given you the tooling to modulate based on what your company's needs are in budget at the time. However, if you have a smaller initial budget and the tools to run a more highly personalized campaign, you might want to aim for mid or bottom funnel and leverage all already about your customer to ensure that the piece feels like a continuation of an existing conversation. So it's almost like I wouldn't say it's the position of the funnel, it's how you interact with the customer and how you leverage the results to build out your program based on where you're reaching them in the funnel.

STEPHANIE: No, I think you make a great point too, right? Direct mail really can fit in any aspect of the funnel. It's mostly just how do you want to wield it and what action do you want people to take. Is it introducing them to your brand? Is it getting them to finish their sale? Is it getting them to have that conversation with sales? How can you appropriately add this to all the other channels that you're already running? You know, maybe you do an ad on LinkedIn where they can get a copy of the e-book. Then that triggers a postcard of, hey, looks like you read the e-book. Are you ready to talk to so-and-so about your data needs? And then it just kind of helps flow through and takes them into an offline channel instead of just keeping them online. All right. If I'm going to answer my own question, honestly, I would have to say TOFU. And I also really want to say BOFU, who is I think there are some really great use cases for direct mail, aren't the answer. Right but again, I'm going to go back to the start from the State of Direct Mail Consumer Insights that people prefer getting communications from brands they don't in direct mail. And for me, it just it makes the most sense. It's a great way to introduce your brand, get in front of their face in a noninvasive way, because, again, you show up randomly in my inbox. That does not set the right customer expectation or experience with me, because now all I think is like, oh, you're really desperate since you're just spraying and praying and hoping that I click on your ad or your email. Whereas at least like social media ads, again, you can kind of scroll by them if they catch my attention. Great but it's not as personal as arriving in a box that I'm going to check every single day as I'm walking into my house. All right. So we kind of talked about all the different areas that it could fit. And again, no matter where you decide to slate direct mail into your marketing funnel, there are definitely some things that need to be coordinated first. So what things do marketers need lined up in order to execute their first direct mail campaign? Let's say it's creative, copy, UTMs, building that CRM program, what have you.

SUMMER: There's quite a few elements here to make sure you have buttoned up ahead of time. And the reason you want to make sure that you have them buttoned up is because you want to run a smart campaign. So the first thing that you want to do is develop your campaign objective. Now, that might sound like 1 to 1. Of course, Summer, that's what you do. But I have actually found with some of the largest brands that you're going to have competing objectives for a piece that had one objective when you started, when you built that creative brief, and then all of a sudden, somebody from higher up says, well, I also want to add this as like a footnote in the bottom, and then it takes over the whole piece. And the customer doesn't even know why you're reaching out to them because you're actually giving them two messages. Or like the idea of a, like a double question and people don't know where to start with the answer. So make sure your objective is sound and that the customer feels like they can understand what your objective is when you are reaching out to them. And you also then from that point want to make sure that your data is clean, your targeting is sound, you are leveraging segmentation wherever possible. And from that point, then you also want to make sure that you're creative and your copy aligned with that segmentation and your target set. And this is where you can do all the personalization in the world when your data is clean and when those data variables ladder in to say like you would think about your business rules for building an email, think about the same way for direct mail because you can do the absolute same thing with the platform.


SUMMER: And then last but not least, actually second to last, but not least, now that I think about that, I want to make sure that you firm up your attribution methodology before you send anything, because the idea of sending something out there that you don't know if you can measure in this kind of economic climate with increasing postage rates that will continue to increase. That just isn't a very sound way to approach it. So you want to make sure that you have all of that buttoned up ahead of time, but somewhere in there also you need to make sure that you think about testing because if you're going to do all of the work to get the campaign basically shored up and able to measure easily, you should really add a test in there so you are learning more than one thing at a time.

STEPHANIE: No, that's great advice. I actually when we were talking about the objective reminded me of a company I worked at where every single time we wanted to send out a promotional email, our higher ups, when it came to reviewing it, it was like, well, can we also add this like this button that leads them to this page? Oh, and can we also do this here? And I'm like. Again like what? What action do we actually want the person to end up taking? That is the focus of this and especially in a place like direct mail where you can't just add like three different CTA buttons. You really want to make it streamlined and say, here's the message now here's what you need to do.

SUMMER: Exactly. And if it's part of an omnichannel campaign, that objective, that creative approach needs to align with your other touches.

STEPHANIE: Definitely! Oh, that leads really nice to our next discussion item because we direct mail doesn't operate in a silo. No marketing channel does or it shouldn't, and it works best when it's paired with digital channels. So, Summer, what digital channels do you think are best to pair with direct mail?

SUMMER: When running a marketing campaign, best and easiest, which is always helpful for people, is email. It's proven that when you pair direct mail and email together and you think about them mindfully as a combined pair, response rates can increase by as much as 27% for both channels. So again, don't look at your channel response in a silo. Think about the positive halo effect that one has on the other. I've also seen some success with Facebook and display ads taking the learnings from a direct mail champion in a big creative win, or even being timed for when it hits the customer's mailbox. Then the display ad will be fed through in the next 24 to 48 hours becauseif it's pairing the exact same image, that's the brand recall factor right there.

STEPHANIE: No, I love that. I absolutely love that having worked in social media management for so many years, like, well, that's music to my ears right there. Now, I'm going to ask you probably a question that you're going to give me another complicated answer to. But let's say I'm running a marketing campaign and I am going to pair email and direct mail. Is there a secret sauce to whether which piece should come first? Should I tease the direct mail asset that's coming with an email, or should I send the direct mail and then say we'll be following up via email? Or does it matter?

SUMMER: It doesn't matter. You can test test into it depending on your volume. You can do you can split your audience 50/50. You just make sure it's random and you can try both. But one of the tactics that I've seen working really well right now, especially for a prospect or a warm lead or even a win back program is start the DM piece. Because as you said, if you're reaching out to somebody who maybe hasn't worked with you in a while or has cut off ties, a direct mail piece is a little bit less intrusive, it's more trustworthy. And then you can follow up with an email and especially working with the law platform, because when that piece reached the inbox. Then do a follow on direct mail piece. So listening, it started with a 6 by 9 postcard just to get their interest up, followed up with an email and said you would provide them with more information. Then you can follow up with that direct mail piece. That might even be a letter that provides them with either, you know, personalized letter addressing the reasons that they left or the client's letter that speaks to why their business could really benefit from working with your brand.

STEPHANIE: Yeah no, I love that! I think there's something still a little special about getting letters in the mail. Like, you kind of feel like a kid again being like, ooh, someone wrote me.

SUMMER: Especially when you have an evergreen envelope. And for people listening, evergreen means just plain. It's the idea of piquing someone's interest because you have, say, a single or a double window envelope that doesn't have your brand on the outside. It feels less marketing, feels a little bit less salesy, and especially if you're doing B2B, much more likely to get through that gatekeeping at the very front and reach the person that you actually need to reach.

STEPHANIE: I love that. That's great advice. Thank you for going back to early this year. In the first podcast that we dropped of 2023, Sam Braverman and I were talking about 2023 marketing trends, and one was a big focus on the customer experience. So how do you think marketers can leverage direct mail to improve the customer experience?

SUMMER: I think direct mail, as we've spoken about throughout this entire time, will develop a relationship based on trust. Some of the recent studies that I've seen have stated that Gen Z and millennials are more likely to respond to direct mail than digital channels. Mostly, I think, because so many people have been burned by clicking on the wrong thing that either creates havoc with their device or sends them to a place they never intended to visit. The home doesn't have a history of that type of experience and has a history of being reliable, of being trustworthy, of getting to the point and when personalized in a very smart way, can initiate or strengthen relationships built on trust between a customer and the brand.

STEPHANIE: No, I love that. And I think again, like going back to our sustainability conversation, you know, it's not relying on somebody to drop it in the recycle bin, but it's almost like that's the worst that can happen with a direct mail campaign. Someone just tosses in the recycling, doesn't look at it again, but online have people can unsubscribe or report you as spam. I can go in and say, I never want to see ads from this brand ever again on Facebook, and you are slowly losing all those different channels that you could use. Whereas yeah, if you come in with like a softer sell, get me interested and then I start getting followed around online with your remarketing ads. OK I'm a little bit more likely to go investigate your product or service because you've already kind of made that introduction and again, a noninvasive way. All right. So lastly, before we talk about measuring the success of direct mail marketing campaign, let's share some quick tips in terms of setting up your campaign for success. Summer what would be your top three best practices for direct mail?  

SUMMER: Top three. Number one, focus on your data. Make sure that you're up front. Targeting has strong segmentation and a plan for an omnichannel approach. If you don't start with the data, it doesn't matter how pretty your pieces. And in fact, actually, the more that I've studied this, I've learned that the data, even for retention campaigns, but also especially for acquisition campaigns, can make up to 70% of your success of the entire campaign, up to. But it's important more than I think a lot of people give the data credit for. And I would follow that up with your strategy and your creative. And I put those together because I feel like they have to go together and your creative needs to really ladder up to your strategy. Don't forget about the objective and the strategy of your campaign as you're developing your creative or as your agency is developing the creative, know your objective, make the CTA very easy to find, very clear, use that negative space and focus on the customer benefit, like we've said and not your company's features. Yeah, the consumer might not necessarily care why you're the best. They want to know why you're the best for them and why it matters to them. Yeah and the creative only makes up about 25% to 30% of your ROI as far as like the impact. And last but certainly not least, is the proper analytics and attribution methods to ensure that you are measuring the true impact of direct mail. And that can be done best with measuring incrementality. So holding out a control group and then looking at how your treated group is responding in the marketplace. And by doing that, you're able to control for what's happening either, you know, in the world or within your space. And goodness knows, a lot of things are being thrown at us right now, just as human beings. So control for what you can control, and that way you can really measure the true impact of the channel.

STEPHANIE: Yeah I feel like for the last three years and I expect for the next three years, it seems like the economy's in a weird time. Like when aren't we? Tell me when we're back to a normal time, please.

SUMMER: I'll wait for that news alert.

STEPHANIE: All right. I'm going to chime in and say that my top three would be the KISS model. So Keep It Simple, Silly. So direct mail, especially postcards, are a small messaging format. You need to keep your message straightforward and to the point. You know, you can't be overloading your mail piece with lots of copy, which is saying something as I am a writer and I am notorious for overwriting, but when I look at it, I always apply the rule of like, you know, writing for metadata. You have to keep it a certain character amount or it gets cut off. So imagine that your message is just going to run off the edge of the postcard. Make sure that you get the main point across as fast as you can. And then I completely agree. I call it the WIIFM (What's In It For Me), which apparently I just love acronyms. But the what's in it for me and like you said, it's all about the end customer. How they benefit from partnering with your brand and how you benefit from selling to them is about how their life is going to improve by working with you. And then finally I'd say, look, kind of like you mentioned, you know, setting the right goals, having that right objective, and that way you can accurately measure its impact. You know, we were talking earlier about people coming in. I mean, like, oh, can we also add this and oh, what about this secondary CTA? And it's like, but then you're diluting your campaign and you can't accurately say like, yes, this CTA drove this many conversions. Here's why we need to test it next time. Or, oh, this creative really worked well, whereas this method did not. And making sure that yes, you are accurately attributing results to the right campaign as it would be like, I don't know, we sent a bunch of postcards. People replied and we got some results, right?

SUMMER: That's really going to help you fight for your budget next time around, right?

STEPHANIE: Right? Having worked in government, I am very good at fighting for a budget.

SUMMER: That's true. Yeah spend it then.

STEPHANIE: Yup, yup. Or you spend it on December 31. Right? Since we are kind of talking already about attribution and measuring impact, let's move on to our final discussion topic of the day direct mail measurement and reporting. So Summer, when you're thinking of a direct mail marketing metrics, what are the first few ones that come to mind?

SUMMER: This is going to be my theme of the day, it feels like, but it really does depend on the line of business. If you're running a transactional or legally mandated or a compliance campaign, you're looking at proof of deliverability and return to sender metrics being as low as possible. Those are your keys. If you're running an acquisition program, it's cost per incremental ad. If you're measuring incrementality or it's CPA. If you're just measuring based on a metric program, if you're running a retention program, an upgrade campaign would be measuring incremental upgrades or upgrade lift. But a pure engagement campaign might even measure something like save lift. Just to ensure that people are staying with your brand. So the KPIs really depend upon the line of business. And generally you just want to make sure they ladder up to your objective.

STEPHANIE: Awesome I love that. So do you have any quick and dirty tips of how marketers can maximize the ROI of this channel while they're looking at all those metrics?

SUMMER: I feel like I'm maybe repeating myself here. In fact, I'm actually sure that I am. But it's all about setting your campaign up with like, solid strategy and targeting creative copy are important. But like I said earlier, they only make up for up to about 30% of your campaign success. So make the most of your direct mail touch by personalizing wherever possible and ensuring you have proven measurements to set up that campaign and measure it at the very end as well as the next setup of your future campaigns. It never begins and ends with one campaign. And please don't forget the importance of testing wherever possible. Every campaign is an opportunity to learn something, so why not learn more than one thing? Especially considering that this channel has an out-of-pocket costs to get more bang for your buck and leverage that test Intel to make your marketing program stronger and make sure that you leverage that testing also for your other channels.

STEPHANIE: Cool so since we're already talking about A/B testing, what kind of tests would you recommend that marketers use to improve the performance of this channel?

SUMMER: There's a number of options, but I think the easiest ones for people to begin with would be testing direct mail format. So if you're looking at the question of does a letter work better, does a postcard work better as a 4 by 6 versus 6 by 9 work better? Just make sure that when you're doing that type of test, you keep the exact same content. I don't mean necessarily that your postcard should all just be black type and spaced out exactly the same, but make sure that the core content is the same. I would also recommend testing your call to action. I think that there's a lot of room for testing how you state all the action and even how you give your customer the option of reaching back out to you. Is it a unique toll free number? Is it a vanity url? Is it a QR code and another option? Is it a goodness knows? Like a way for them to scan something and find the nearest store? There are lots of options out there, but you want to test into them versus putting four options on a postcard. So the thing about the A/B testing though, is that you want to test one thing at a time. So that you can prove out what actually move the needle. I've seen myself even make the mistake early in my career and maybe not even just so early of getting into that trap of, well, we want to try a whole bunch things and we'll just figure it out. But then in essence, you kind of wasted your test. So you want to make sure that you're only testing one element at a time wherever possible. And to expound upon that, you want to make sure that when you're doing that, because that's the clean way to AB test, you are able to reiterate upon it, build upon it and almost have what I would call a racehorse mentality of have this when you already have the next campaign set up and ready to go and you launch. And when that one's launching, you read the results of the first one. So it's like just making sure that you're ready to go at all times.

STEPHANIE: No, I love it. I think it's such a good reminder. I think I've been on so many marketing teams where we launch a campaign and then it's onto the next one. Like we may have run an A/B test, but we haven't built that time in to actually measure it. So it's like, oh, OK, we know a subject line B works better, but what does that actually tell you? What does that mean? How can you take that learning and apply it to your next campaign or even to other channels? Which kind of opens us up to the next conversation topic of how can you use the results of those A/B tests to inform other marketing tactics? Like we have a blog on the website talking about all the different data sources that you have, how you can use the learnings from interpreting that data to apply better campaigns in the future. Like looking at your email information and saying like, here are the things we should test on social media, or looking at your social media results and saying like, why doesn't our customer newsletter kind of follow this? So how would you recommend that people use the results of an A/B test on direct mail and apply it to other campaigns or other tactics?

SUMMER: I've seen a lot of great success when you can leverage quick turn email results and deploy those within your upcoming DM strategies. On the flip side, I've also seen the creative informing social media and Facebook ads, so the possibilities are really limitless and it doesn't have to begin with direct mail or end with direct mail. It could be vise versa or both. And I think you want to also consider the importance of segmentation and all of this did a segmentation that proved out happen in another channel? And can you leverage that for the way they need that you segment say a direct mailpiece email in direct mail can be segmented very much the same way because it's targeted. It's trackable. I mean, there's so many things about it that are very similar. And can the learnings of one that gets out the door first help inform the other or vice versa?

STEPHANIE: No, I love that, and I think, you know, that's also something that we don't think of as often is just that segmentation, especially in channels like email and direct mail. You know, I've gotten both emails and pieces of direct mail that it's like, OK, you obviously have all this demographic data about me. Why aren't you using it a little bit better? Like, there was a webinar I did with Paul Bobnak from Who's Mailing What! where we talked about acquisition and using direct mail on that channel and we compared some pieces of direct mail and one was, you know, let's say a retail company that sells eyewear. I was like, why wouldn't they have swapped in a photo of a woman wearing those glasses? Since they obviously know I'm a woman, I might be more likely to be like, Oh yeah, those are kind of cute. Instead of seeing them on a man where I'm like, that doesn't tell me what that's going to look like on me. And there's that opportunity to personalize it. And again, use your data, harness your data to really craft a compelling message.

SUMMER: Or include a QR code where you can scan it and then you're virtually trying on glasses.

STEPHANIE: Right? Love that. All right. So do you have any final thoughts or anything you'd like to share that we didn't get to today?

SUMMER: My my final thought really quickly is I'm sorry my answers were so long-winded and maybe not like cut and dry, but I think that really just speaks to the importance of testing within your own organization, within the line of business that makes the most sense and then just taking it from there.

STEPHANIE: No, I love your long-winded answers! That's what you get with experience and wanting to share all that you've learned over the years so other marketers don't make the same mistakes, right?

SUMMER: Possibly what you get with daiquiris!

STEPHANIE: Probably I've still got half mine left!

SUMMER: Yeah, you didn't have very much of it.

STEPHANIE: Yeah all right. Well, Thank you again so much for being on today's episode. To our listeners, Thank you so much for joining us for drinks and a chat about direct mail. If you want to dive deeper into the topic of direct mail metrics and AB testing, please feel free to download your complimentary copy of the e-book, The Modern Marketer's Guide to Direct Mail Analytics and Testing at lobdemo.co/analytics-guide that's lobdemo.co/analytics-guide. Our next Lobcast Podcast episode will be a big one where we talk about the 2023 state of direct mail marketing report. So join us for some spritzes as we see what's trending in the marketing world as it concerns direct mail. As always, you can browse our library of episodes over at lobdemo.co/lobcast. Thanks for listening. And that's all, folks.