Skip to content
Home Marketing Marketing Measurement

First-Party Data Can Help Power Direct Mail Campaigns

Article - 5 Min. Read

First-party data—the customer data you already own—can provide valuable information on customers’ online behavior, allowing you to create personalized, automatically triggered direct mail campaigns.

A monochromatic blue illustration with a person and various icons representing customer data.

One of the secrets of online marketing is that your customers are already telling you what they want, if you only know how to listen. This information is buried in what’s called first-party data—customer data you already have on hand that you gather directly from your customers and their interactions with your brand. It could start with their names, physical addresses and email addresses, but can scale dramatically depending on the sophistication and scope of your marketing and tracking efforts.

Because you own your first-party data, and because it consists entirely of information your customers have generated about themselves, it can be very powerful. Analyzing and using first-party data will yield important insights about every customer’s shopping behavior and purchase intent. Those insights let you customize your marketing efforts to give each individual customer what they want and need.

It’s important to remember that this digital data isn’t just useful for digital outreach. In fact, an omnichannel approach that includes not only digital marketing efforts but offline channels like direct mail will reinforce your message, no matter where it appears.

How Is First-Party Data Collected and Used?

First-party data typically includes information like a customer name, street address, email address and phone number. But it can also include any information you’ve gathered in digital, in-person or print interactions with a customer or prospect.

Pro Tip: The term “first-party data” implies the existence of second- and third-party data. Second-party data is data about your customer that’s been gathered by a partner company, such as a credit card company that can report your customer’s entire purchase history. Third-party data is information that may be incidental to your customer: If you know that your customer has recently purchased a house, third-party data might include a rented list of furniture stores or moving companies in your customer’s area.

If your company is new at using customer data for marketing, you may find that first-party data is spread around and isolated in data islands: your email data in one application or database, your transaction history in another, contact information in a third. Your data will be far more manageable if you gather it all into a customer relationship management (CRM) or customer data platform (CDP) system.

Like most data, customer data is most useful when it’s aggregated in one place, allowing you to make associations among data points. When you associate it with corporate data such as inventory levels—allowing you to target special sales to customers who are most likely to take advantage of them—you can start to see how powerful first-party data can be.

Using First-Party Data for Retargeted Direct Mail

With first-party data, you can make your online and direct mail marketing efforts work together. This is called retargeted direct mail (sometimes referred to as programmatic or automated direct mail).

Retargeted direct mail sends mailpieces in response to specific customer actions or behaviors. If a customer looks at a particular product page, for instance, that page view can be registered by your CRM, which in turn commands a direct mail automation tool to send out a leaflet, postcard or other mailpiece supporting that page view.

Your customer gets the mail soon after they’ve interacted with the digital channel; the mailpiece may include a special offer, a QR Code®[1] driving back to the product page, or just a reminder that they looked at the product.

This highly relevant direct mail leads to higher response rates and makes your call to action more relevant. Leveraging these kinds of automated processes for direct mail can lead to significant cost savings and ROI for direct mail campaigns.

Increasing Address Accuracy

Direct mail can’t be effective if the recipient’s address isn’t correct. Even if your first-party data includes addresses, it’s surprisingly common for them to have seemingly minor errors that delay the mail or make it undeliverable. Address verification software can help ensure that the mail you send will reach its intended destination.

Reducing Processing and Delivery Times

By creating automated triggers, you can choose which of your customers’ behaviors will make direct mail an effective part of your marketing strategy. Your direct mail works with other marketing channels to make your campaigns more personalized and relevant. Rather than sending mail to a broad list of people who may or may not be interested, you can target customers based on the exact desires they’ve expressed in their online activities. That saves you money and raises response rates.

How Veteran Marketers Reinforce Messages Across Platforms

Consistency in branding is key to success with retargeted direct mail. Your design presentation and language should be the same whether you’re marketing on a website, social media, billboards, TV, newspapers or direct mail.

The more channels you use, the more important consistency becomes. Consistency reinforces your message across multiple channels, which leads to stronger brand recall. A catalog should look like the website to which you’re trying to drive traffic, to increase recognition and avoid consumer confusion. And conversely, a retargeted direct mail piece should look like the website that triggered it so the recipient will recognize and trust the source.

Retargeting works: An online jeweler discovered that sending a postcard based on online shoppers’ intent while it was fresh provided a valuable, tactile reminder and offline branding opportunity. The postcard, featuring a prominent product image and logo, was a lasting reminder of the consumer’s intent to purchase. The jeweler reported a 9x return on ad spend and an 85% lift in conversion rate.[2]

Key Takeaway

By aggregating first-party data—the proprietary information you’ve collected about your customers and their behaviors across all touchpoints—you can learn important lessons about their needs. And that data can be used to trigger retargeted direct mail that reinforces your brand and drives purchasing while you’re already on your customers’ minds.

  1. [1]QR Code is a registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED.
  2. [2]“Mejuri grows total revenue with a multi-level strategy: Retargeting, Lookalikes, and Graph Mail,” PebblePost.

Related Content