Mail has the power to drive business and convert customers in different stages of the marketing life cycle. It’s an especially effective medium when it comes to acquisition. Countless companies are leveraging mail and working with USPS in new and exciting ways to do just that. Since finding new customers is a major goal for any business in any industry, we decided to sit down with Adam Solomon, Chief Product Officer at PebblePost, to get a better understanding of acquisition marketing and the role mail plays in that equation.
PebblePost is the inventor of Programmatic Direct Mail™, which transforms real-time online activity into dynamically rendered, personalized direct mail that’s sent out every 12-24 hours. The company leverages data, proprietary advertising technology and mail to win new business and drive their digital marketing partners’ ROI. Though their solution is a digital platform, mail plays a crucial part in their campaigns’ success. Read on as Solomon talks in-depth about how technology, messaging, and personalization help convert new customers.
From your perspective, what are the benefits for using mail for programmatic advertising and customer acquisition?
At PebblePost, we solved a very interesting problem for both brands on the one hand and for consumers on the other. From the brand side, there’s been a lot of innovation when it comes to using data and programmatic technology to understand what consumers are doing in real time on their websites.
The challenge in digital has been the delivery vehicle, whether it’s desktop sites, mobile sites or mobile apps. It’s become a very busy Times Square experience, where ads are just jumping up in your face and really aggravating consumers. This has been proven out by the rise in consumers using ad blockers and all the news we see about consumers getting frustrated with advertising.
Not only is the digital ad experience lacking, there’s also a challenge over whether consumers are in the right frame of mind and in the right modality to receive those messages. Are they ready to transact and take action at the moment that the digital ad or technology is delivered?
Tangible media sent to home is a very polite, respectful and effective vehicle. Consumers check their mail maybe once a day. There’s some ceremony they go through to collect the mail and sort the mail. And if it’s a relevant and compelling offer, they’ll act on it on their own time. So the combination of using a strong real-time signal, which is a digital action that shows consumer intent, and other capabilities of digital and programmatic, in addition to the effectiveness of sending tangible media to home—literally delivering digital with feeling—that’s something that we brought together. We’ve found it in practice, in the last year, to be highly effective.
How does PebblePost leverage its technology to acquire customers?
In Q4 2016, we launched what we called our Website Prospect Remarketing solution. These are prospects already visiting the marketer’s site, but the marketer doesn’t know who they are. They’re not logged in; they’re not existing customers, but they’ve already raised their hand in some manner. There’s some call to action somewhere that has brought them to the site. So they’re already moving in the right direction as far as the brand is concerned, but the brand still needs to seal the deal.
We pick up on that signal. We recognize the fact that someone is not a customer, but a prospect or “new to file”. We have the same ability to use a strong real-time digital signal to qualify a user for a campaign. Then we leverage the power of the proprietary technology on our side that allows us to create connections between an individual visiting a website via a cookie and where to send the mail and find their postal address.
We’ve seen a lot of success with that solution, because this is a prospect that’s already moving down the funnel and we use this very effective tangible media vehicle to push them over the finish line and convert them into a customer.
You mentioned 3 things that I think are important to touch on: messaging, personalization and behavior. Let’s start with behavior. What kind of online behavior are you looking for when you’re seeking out new customers for acquisition?
We have a set way that we think about a user journey on a marketer’s website. If you think about book ends, on one continuum, someone visits the homepage. On the other end of the continuum, someone puts something in their shopping cart. That’s one step towards conversion.
Since we’re mostly focused right now on retail and ecommerce, the in-between pieces are when a user searches for something, maybe goes on a category page. Then they go a little deeper, they’re on a product detail page, then they put something into their carts and they convert. We have a set methodology that we go through, in terms of using a human effort and also machine learning and technology. The deeper someone goes, the more qualified they are.
However, even if someone is going deep and looking in a shoes category and looking at a particular pair of shoes, it doesn’t mean that they want to get a postcard or catalog in the mail just with that pair of shoes. They may just be in the shoe category in general or that might be completely wrong. You may want to promote a cross-sell. If they’re looking at shoes, you may want to promote belts, for example.
When it comes to customer acquisition, would you say that your messaging typically includes offers or is that just one tactic you take?
It really depends on the brands we’re working with and what their goals are. If a brand’s goal is customer acquisition, then we highly recommend as best practice that they have a very strong call to action and a very attractive offer. If it’s a Programmatic Postcard™, the offer should be displayed on the front and back. It should be perceived by the consumer as something being highly valuable, whether it’s the offer itself, or it’s the inclusion of a promotion code or a custom promotion code just for them. “Summer30” is clearly to a consumer a promotion everyone gets, but if it’s a specific number, they know, “Hey, it’s just for me.”
Another interesting thing about creative and the messaging of the offer is we can drive individuals from online to home back to online. We can also drive individuals from online to home to store. This is something you cannot do with a banner ad. People are not printing banner ads, putting them on their fridge and walking them to a store. That’s just not consumer behavior.
When it comes to mail, or what you’re referring to as tangible media, consumer behavior is completely different.
Right. If you get a card in the mail that’s a special offer that you can walk into a physical location that you can hand to a cashier and you get your $15 off or a certain percentage off, that is being perceived as very valuable to the consumer. It also affects behavior in a way that traditional digital cannot. We think PebblePost has a unique opportunity here, because over 90% of strong digital signals picked up today comes from online as people are surfing around websites, searching and taking action. All this signal is being generated.
About 90% plus of all purchase decisions are made in the home. And, though ecommerce is growing, about 90% of all commerce occurs in the real world, in physical store locations. So PebblePost connects through Programmatic Direct Mail™, the strong signal which comes from online, the purchase decisions which are made in home, and then we have the opportunity to drive back to digital, but most interestingly drive individuals to physical stores and complete that loop which is very compelling to marketers.
As PebblePost has shown, mail can be a powerful tool for customer acquisition. Though the company is a digital solution with data-driven decisioning and programmatic principles, it uses mail to get segmented, personalized messaging into customers’ homes. Leverage these principles to acquire more customers than ever before.1