With many direct mail marketing software services, it can be overwhelming to find the right fit. Some direct mail vendors offer manual processes, while other software services run more like marketing automation platforms with various levels of user-friendliness.
In order to find direct mail marketing software that fits your requirements, you’ve got to ask the right questions. But before interviewing or evaluating direct mail vendors, first make sure you have a solid grasp of the direct mail framework you need.
Before You Research Direct Mail Marketing Software Providers
There are a few considerations to review when gauging your direct mail marketing software needs. We suggest that before even looking at direct mail vendors, you:
- Define your direct mail goals. What is your direct mail use case? What do you plan to achieve with postcard marketing? Will you send high-volume, broad-scale campaigns in batches? Or will you send highly targeted, triggered direct mail, automating cross channel direct mail campaigns? This is important to determine at the outset. Some of the lowest-cost direct mail providers only offer batched, high-volume sends, often with long turn-around times. So while these vendors may seem to offer you a cost-savings, they’re not able to provide the timely, highly relevant direct mailings that drive ROI.
- Take an inventory of your direct mail resources. Which resources do you have in-house and which do you need from the direct mail marketing software? Do you have a clean direct mail list, or will you trigger one-off mailings based on behavioral data? Do you have a designer on staff or do you need software with a postcard design interface? How will you collect and measure direct mail performance?
- Look at your direct mail data-points. Direct mail postcards can be static, with the same copy and design on each piece, or personalized much like email. Your ability to customize direct mail depends on whether you collect customer/prospect data and whether the direct mail software allows personalization. Using Inkit, for example, you can easily personalize direct mail whether or not you sync our software with your CRM.
Now that you have a clear idea of what you need, let’s talk about evaluating direct mail software services.
4 Questions to Ask Direct Mail Marketing Software Vendors
This isn’t a complete list of questions, but it is a framework to hold your direct mail software vendor to the highest standards.
1. What Direct Mail CRM Integrations Are Available?
To truly automate direct mail, you need to integrate direct mail software with a CRM. This allows you to trigger direct mail based on behavioral events. This isn’t as important if you simply want to run independent direct mail campaigns, rather than integrate postcards into multi-channel marketing strategies.
If you plan to do things like add postcard closers to cart abandonment campaigns, boost customer loyalty with direct mail and bring offline customers online, choose a direct mail vendor that works with your CRM. You can find a complete list of our CRM integrations here, but know that we’re always building new direct mail CRM integrations. Please let us know if you’d like us to add your CRM to our list.
2. What Are The Direct Mail Marketing Software’s Printing Capabilities?
If you followed the previous section, you’ve defined your direct mail goals in terms of design, volume and timeline. Once you know whether your strategy calls for postcards, letters or other forms of direct mail, make sure to find a vendor that sends the same format. Many software providers offer just one format, utilizing either digital or offset printers depending on that.
Because Inkit specializes in data-driven personalized postcards, we use digital printers. These presses use digital files, much like emails, allowing for a high level of customization and expedient printing. This empowers marketers to trigger postcards based on a customer action, and get the postcards into their customers mailbox while the message is still relevant.
3. How Much Does it Cost to Send Direct Mail, and What is the Expected ROI?
Pricing strata varies widely from one direct mail software provider to the next. When comparing costs, make sure to account for potentially hidden fees such as postage, subscription fees, color printing, design costs, set-up fees, personalization, customer support and more.
Many of the vendors that appear to offer lower costs have processes that only allow high-volume scheduled sends. This means you’ll have to meet a minimum batch size, and have a broad timeline, which translates into casting a net so wide that your ROI narrows. Vendors that seem to cost more upfront, contrarily, may allow you to send hyper-targeted mail likely to yield higher response rates.
At Inkit we’ve seen cross-channel, hyper-specific win-back mailings result in response rates as high as 18%. Be sure to consider both the costs as well as the expected ROI of the different types of mailings in your cost-benefit analysis. (Of course, no direct mail software provider can guarantee your marketing campaign’s ROI).
4. Who Owns Your Direct Mail Artwork? You or the Direct Mail Marketing Software Vendor?
This is a very important factor that too many marketers neglect to consider. If you use direct mail software that provides design consulting or services, make sure to ask them who has the rights to your artwork. If you don’t own the design outright, you could find yourself in a difficult position if you switch printers or want to use the art elsewhere. If not mapped out ahead of time, issues over design rights can lead to inefficiencies, added costs and branding inconsistencies down the line.
Are You Considering Inkit’s Direct Mail Marketing Software?
We urge you to hold any direct mail marketing software service you consider to high standards. Direct mail is the top channel for direct response marketing, however it is challenging to realize the full potential of the channel without the right partner.