Marketing Automation

What is Direct Mail Marketing Automation and How Does it Work

April 3, 2018
Abram Isola

We get this question about automated direct mail a lot at Inkit. The answer: When you combine sophisticated direct mail software with a marketing automation platform, you can automate direct mail—triggering postcards as easily as automated digital ads.

Direct mail marketing automation strategies use digital marketing and analytics, event triggers and personalization to power what is already one of the strongest performing marketing channels out there.

Using Inkit as your direct mail marketing automation provider, you simply:

  1. Design a postcard in our plug-and-play builder available in the direct mail software.
  2. Set up a trigger in your CRM / automation platform to mail as needed. (Check out our integration partners here).

Now you can start printing and mailing automated direct mail with the direct mail software.

The entire process is very similar to creating triggered emails and adding them to your campaign builder. The difference, of course, is that instead of your message potentially languishing in an inbox unread, it’s going to get directly into your customer’s hands. (The vast majority of Americans open their mail daily).

This is a far cry from how direct mail used to work.

What Direct Mail Marketing Automation isn’t

Before we tell you more about how automated direct mail works, let’s dispel some direct mail myths.

Many digital marketing specialists shy away from direct mail – let alone direct mail marketing automation tools – because they just don’t know that much about it. When they think of postcard marketing and sending direct mail, terms like “junk mail,” “snail mail” and “dinosaur” may be tossed around, and for good reason.

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Until pretty recently, direct mail was all of these things:

  • Expensive. Traditionally, direct mail has been a cost-prohibitive marketing channel. From the creative postcard design process, to the printing, to the postage, it took significant overhead to send a postcard. This led many companies, especially brands immersed in online marketing, to neglect to even consider direct mail as one of their marketing channels—even though it performs better than most digital channels combined. With any marketing effort, you need to be able to ensure your online and offline campaigns are not only cost-effective but generate ROI. Now, you can do exactly that with a strong, modern, direct mail marketing automation strategy.
  • Sluggish and manual. Sending personal postcards used to take months of lead time for brands to send a postcard, and it can still take this long if you use traditional direct mail vendors and an old-fashioned process, using spreadsheets and CSV files instead of CRM direct mail integrations. At Inkit, the speed-to-market of direct mail marketing automation is similar to that of email automation. In fact, we’ve sped up everything except the actual delivery. (Sorry—we can’t make USPS deliver your mail pieces any faster!)
  • Poorly targeted. In the past, direct mail marketers primarily blanketed zip codes, sometimes hitting specific demographics, with broadcast mailers. Often, marketers purchased mailing lists from address brokers for this purpose. While this can still be a fine strategy in certain scenarios, it’s not always cost-effective to cast such a wide net. With Inkit’s direct mail automation software, you can use your CRM to cull highly targeted, built-in audiences, or trigger one-off postcards based on events.
  • Inaccessible. Because of the significant resources involved in sending direct mail postcard campaigns, direct mail as a channel has remained largely inaccessible to small- and medium-sized businesses. Mail marketing campaigns were expensive and most printers required huge batch sizes (meaning you needed a mailing list of 10,0000 or more addresses). We changed that—Inkit’s direct mail software will even mail just one postcard at a time if that’s what your campaign calls for.

To put it simply, in the past the messy logistics involved in sending a piece of direct mail gave marketers a choice of either disengaging from the channel or devoting significant resources to a highly manual process.

Mail automation software has changed it.

Benefits of Direct Mail Marketing Automation

Inkit offers software that automates direct mail, tackling all of the challenges listed above and making it easy for companies to automatically send personalized targeted postcards at scale. Marketers can save lots of time and effort, but still enjoy high response rate, get all the benefits of data analytics, and re-engage the existing customers using lists from your CRM.

With Inkit, direct mail marketing automation is:

  • Omnichannel. Let’s say you’re part of an e-commerce company that has invested in segmentation, personalization and building digital campaigns to reach customers online. With the right technology and integrations, you can use this same data to find your audience offline. Direct mail marketing automation with Inkit should not be separate from your online marketing efforts—with Inkit, direct mail is cross-channel. Simply upload your postcard into our builder and add direct mail triggers where you need stronger open or response rates in your workflows. Set up your mailers using trackable links, QR codes or redemption codes so the data feeds back into your CRM for a truly cross-channel direct mail experience. Integrated direct mail is a unique chance to impress your customers.
  • Customizable. With the plug-and-play dashboard available in Inkit’s direct mail software, you can personalize mailings with very little effort, using dynamic content, increasing your response rates. (In fact, we’ve seen redemption rates as high as 18%). When you automate tailored mail campaigns with direct mail software, you can create ongoing revenue streams. NatureBox sent the personalized postcards below (noting each customer’s specific store credit balance) as a retention effort.
  • Triggered. Maybe you are a retention marketer for a subscription business and you’re sending an email newsletter and SMS messages, but you’re struggling with low response rates. Even with adequate segmentation and triggers, many consumers are becoming adept at tuning out digital ads. Study after study shows that direct mail gets better response rates than digital in the age of email overload, and now you can make triggered direct mails a part of your retention campaigns (and other marketing campaigns, too).
  • Testable. Let’s say you’re a fintech marketer charged with making sure you not only regain ad spend but show proof of concept for every campaign idea. Because of some of the limitations of traditional direct mail, postcard marketing has not always been very trackable or testable. It would definitely cost you if you wanted to know for certain which CTA, design or offer performs best. With Inkit, you can easily track, test and optimize mailers. We encourage you to run A/B tests on direct mail pieces on an ongoing basis.
  • Optimized. Are you a marketer who currently manages mailings manually? Sending a piece of direct mail can involve a lot of work behind the scenes. Some marketers work hands-on with printers in order to ensure processes run smoothly. When you use Inkit’s direct mail software to design and automate direct mail, we deal with the printers for you. All you have to do is upload your postcard, insert it into your campaign and hit “send.” You focus on the marketing, we’ll handle the logistics and delivery of mail pieces.

Direct mail marketing automation with Inkit allows marketers to spend less time transmitting information into spreadsheets, negotiating with printers and managing other logistics and more time analyzing and improving their direct mail campaigns. Our direct mail software allows you to customize and automate direct mail campaigns and create effective, positive offline customer experience for your brand.

How to Get Started with Automated Direct Mail Today

Companies have a couple options when it comes to automated direct mail. We recommend integrating Inkit with your CRM for the most seamless, cross-channel direct mail experience. This will truly allow you to make sending automated direct mail as easy as sending an email.

We are working to add automated direct mail integrations with all of the best CRMs to make this approach accessible to more marketers. Please contact us if you don’t see your CRM listed on our integration page. We will let you know where it is on our schedule and how to set up direct mail automations workarounds in the meantime.

Sending automated direct mail with Inkit’s software will make your direct mail marketing campaigns faster and more effective.  

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Send personalized direct mail automatically based on customer actions.
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