8 Steps to Successful Direct Mail

Direct mail can be a powerful marketing tool, but incorporating it into omni-channel efforts can seem daunting—especially if you’re running a small- or medium-sized business. In this comprehensive white paper, we show you how to create a highly actionable campaign, helping you decide whom to target, what kind of message to send and how to measure overall effectiveness.

Metered Mail 101: The Benefits of Digital Meters

In the frenetic pace of our digital world, physical mail has secured its position as a credible communications channel with staying power and popularity. In fact, a Royal Mail study of mail users in the United Kingdom found 87% of customers rate mail as believable, compared to 48% for email, and 65% of customers are likely to give it their full attention.1

Small and medium-sized businesses know this. Sending invoices and other client communications by physical mail is a daily occurrence for them, but many are generating unnecessary costs. Without knowing the exact postage for a mailpiece, senders find themselves estimating costs, resulting in postal surcharges and delays or even returned mail.

Metered mail can help prevent all these issues. Read on to learn the value of this service when it comes to postage and the benefits of using digital meters.

The Perks of Metered Mail

Metered mail allows small and medium businesses to use a meter to print postage on mailpieces as proof of payment. By leveraging this service, businesses could easily simplify their mail process. They could also improve accuracy and save money.

A meter’s built-in scale is designed to accurately weigh everything from postcards to packages, removing the guesswork and ensuring senders pay exactly the right postage every time. Meters also offer discounts unavailable in a Post Office™ retail location or when using stamps. As of January 2019, using a postage meter saves $0.05 per piece for envelopes up to 3.5 ounces, lowering the cost of your postage to $0.50 for First-Class Mail® letters weighing 1 ounce or less.

Save Time and Boost Your Brand

Replacing manual mail operations with a meter saves time, the most valuable asset. In a Pitney Bowes study, 37% of small businesses said that finding time to go to a Post Office retail location was their biggest hassle in regard to sending mail.2 Meters eliminate this, giving businesses back valuable time that can be spent on growing their business.

Meters also boost the professional look of business mail, as a company logo or personalized message can be printed on the envelope, boosting brand visibility.

The Next Generation of Meters

Today’s meters integrate advanced digital technology with design innovation. Some models even use Android® operating systems, so it’s as easy as using a smartphone, with convenient functionality and a simple interface. It helps businesses select the ideal sending option for every letter, flat and parcel they send, while delivering savings and helping track costs.

Older analog connected meters still have a place in many mailrooms across the world today, and for some organizations, they are a viable and effective option. However, it’s worth taking some time to consider the benefits of digital meters.

  1. 1

    Digital is faster and more flexible.

    A dial-up Internet connection can vary from 1.2 to around 56 kilobytes per second. A digital connection is 100 megabytes per second, which could make it up to a thousand times faster than the connection of an analog meter. By connecting to Wi-Fi or Local Area Networks, digital meters don’t vie for Internet access with your other communications technology. Also, if you connect via wireless and switch offices, your meter can move with you.

  2. 2

    Rate changes and software updates are simple and precise.

    These inevitably require preparation and attention. Without a meter, businesses must remember to accurately factor in the cost of the new rates into their postage. With an analog meter, time is spent establishing a connection first before information can be transferred, then there is the additional need to wait for the downloading and installation of new rates for a rate change, for example. A digital system is always connected, so rates can be updated anytime.

  3. 3

    Digital meters provide enhanced accounting.

    They allow you to track how much your business spends on postage down to the product level. You can also measure what time of the year your spending goes up or down.

  4. 4

    Digital connections are reliable and future-proof.

    If an analog line disconnects while trying to credit your meter before a mailing, it can cost you time and productivity. The copper analog network can also be costly to maintain and vulnerable to service outages. In the future, service providers are likely to become less willing to provide and support analog connections. Digital meters help alleviate this concern.

  5. 5

    Digital meters can generate additional savings.

    An analog-connected meter requires a dedicated phone line, which for most businesses is an incremental cost they often overlook. Many organizations are already paying for broadband, so there is no additional cost for a digital meter connection, and no need for the analog line.

Key Takeaway

Today’s connected customer draws information from a diversity of platforms but the value of physical mail remains. Postage meters help ensure that businesses continue to benefit from this vital customer engagement channel, while optimizing their budgets.

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Looking to learn more about metered mail? Speak to a USPS representative.
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4 Ways to Grow Your Business with Metered Mail

Mail is a cornerstone for many successful businesses. Sending monthly statements and occasional postcard campaigns helps companies grow and thrive.

As the volume of mail grows, many businesses find it hard to get to a Post Office™ location to calculate the exact postage for each piece. Instead, they estimate postage to save time, which ends up costing them.

One solution to save time and money? A postage meter. This tool makes sending mail quicker, less expensive and more customized. Here, we’ll highlight four benefits of having your own postage meter.

For a more in-depth analysis of metered mail’s benefits, see our article, “Metered Mail 101: The Benefits of Digital Meters”.

Save on postage

Instead of estimating postage by using traditional stamps, you can weigh each piece you send—whether it’s a letter or a package—and pay the exact postage required.

Plus, as of January 2019, USPS® offers businesses that use postage meters a $.05 discount on every First-Class Mail® letter they send. The savings adds up: a small business sending 1,000 mailpieces a month could save about $600 a year by using a meter.1

Avoid surcharges and delays

When you estimate the cost to send an item—especially one that is large, weighs more or is unusually sized—you may underpay for postage by using stamps. This leads to surcharges that could delay delivery or make an item undeliverable entirely.

With metered mail, you’re always paying exact postage, which helps to ensure that your mail gets to its recipients without costing you time and money.

Drop off mail and skip the line

Finding the time to get to the Post Office location can be tough, according to 37% of small businesses who participated in a Pitney Bowes study.2 With a meter, you don’t need to go out of your way or wait in line.

Once the metered postage for your mail or packages is printed on your pieces, it’s ready to mail. Drop mail in the nearest blue collection box or at a convenient drop-off point and get to the next thing on your to-do list.

Boost your brand

Meters can print more than postage on your mailpieces. You can add a personalized message or your company’s branding to envelopes, too, which boosts your visibility.

Envelopes with messages specific to the recipient—as simple as “Kate, your offer is inside!”—are shown to be effective: 84% of consumers surveyed said they were more likely to open a piece of mail if it is personalized to them.3

In Summary

Metered mail offers true value for small and medium businesses. By using a postage meter, you can save on the cost of postage, cut down the time it takes to send out mail and focus on growth.

Interested in how metered mail works and how it can benefit your business? Read our article: “Metered Mail 101: The Benefits of Digital Meters”

Best Practices for Retargeted Direct Mail Campaigns

Effective marketing means getting the right message to the right person at the right time. With retargeted direct mail—sometimes referred to as automated direct mail— companies can now connect digital behavior with personalized direct mail. Retargeted direct mail can be seamlessly triggered, personalized and sent based on customers’ digital behaviors. This makes direct mail as easy to send as email.

Better yet, by leveraging programmatic technology, each piece of mail can be sent while products are still top of mind. One company saw conversion rates as high as 40% using this strategy.1 If you have the budget, consider contacting a mail service provider who can help handle the fulfillment, shipping and tracking of your automated direct mail campaigns.

To optimize an automated direct mail campaign, companies must identify the right digital behavior triggers for their marketing needs. Below, we dissect the triggers and messaging that can help you create effective retargeted direct mail for four different marketing stages.

  1. 1

    Awareness Stage

    A common trigger for this marketing stage entails a user browsing an e-commerce site without making a purchase. The programmatic technology behind automated mail can capture a number of events for this purpose: customers browsing the homepage, category-level pages, and product pages. To drive conversion, a business should tailor messaging to the user’s activity. For example, send a mailpiece as simple as a postcard that speaks to trends or sales in a category they were exploring.

  2. 2

    Consideration Stage

    Users in this marketing stage have a slightly different behavior. Possible triggers for these customers include: consistently browsing the same product pages over and over or signing up for a retailer’s email list. To drive conversion in this case, send a mailpiece that highlights the specific brand they were interested in with an offer to help first-time customers make a purchase.

  3. 3

    Purchase Stage

    In this marketing stage, the telltale trigger for purchase behavior is the abandoned shopping cart. Over 4 trillion dollars of merchandise is left unpurchased in digital shopping carts each year.2 When creating mailpieces for these customers, it’s important to remind them what’s been abandoned. Up the ante of the message by offering the customer a discount on their next purchase.

  4. 4

    Loyalty Stage

    Following the Pareto principle, 80% of sales come from 20% of customers. That means loyalty mail can have a lasting impact on your bottom line.3 The trigger for this marketing stage is simple—once a customer makes a purchase. Use direct mail to upsell products that complement their recent purchase or deliver information about your loyalty program, if you have one. If you choose the latter, describe the perks of joining the program and the long-term savings customers can see.

In Conclusion

Retargeted direct mail sits at a powerful crossroads of digital and direct mail, thanks to programmatic technology and personalized print messaging. With the right marketing strategy, the right triggers, and the right message, any size business can begin targeting and converting prospects into customers.

Combine the Power of Direct Mail with Email

With the Informed Delivery® app, email notifications and dashboard, USPS® turns direct mail into a digital experience. Consumers can see what’s coming in their mailbox from their inbox. They can also tap into interactive digital elements—all from their smartphone or desktop. Let’s explore the process from start to finish.

Informed delivery step‑by‑step

  1. 1

    Your business creates a direct mail campaign.

  2. 2

    You provide USPS with the required digital content for the mailpiece—a ride-along image and URL for promotion.

  3. 3

    You send your direct mail campaign to your targeted list of recipients.

    88%

    of users check their Informed Delivery notifications 4 to 5 times per week or more.1

  4. 4

    While routinely checking their Informed Delivery app, email or dashboard, a recipient gets a notification and sees a digital preview of the letters in their mailbox that day, plus the interactive content attached.

  5. 5

    The recipient clicks on a ride-along image below an image of your mailpiece to take advantage of an offer.

  6. 6

    The recipient returns home to retrieve and respond to the direct mailpiece in their mailbox.

    68%

    of Informed Delivery users say they act on digital promotions from emails at least once a month.2

Make an impression—Three times over

The Informed Delivery feature gives businesses three opportunities to break through to consumers and ultimately convert them.

First Touch
When the consumer checks the Informed Delivery app, email or dashboard and views ride-along content below an image of their mailpiece.

Second Touch
When the consumer opens the same piece of mail at home.

Third Touch
When the consumer takes advantage of a special offer included in the mailpiece.

Deliver your message straight to a consumer’s inbox and mailbox. Learn more about this new service at informeddelivery.usps.com

Direct Mail Retargeting for Fintech Companies

In a competitive market like financial technology (fintech), where growing startups brush up against traditional finance companies, marketers need a way to differentiate and convert customers. One way to turn prospects into customers is through retargeted direct mail.

By observing the actions of prospects on your website or mobile app, you can trigger personalized direct mail that is sent out within 48 hours of the interaction.

Direct Mail Has a Huge Impact

Reaching people in their mailboxes can impact growth.

In fact, one financial services company found that 90% of borrowers were acquired through offline channels—the largest of which was direct mail.1

Compared to emails and display ads, direct mail:
Generates 10% more customers2
10%
Has a 90% or higher open rate (compared to email’s 30%)3
90%
Drives 60% of consumers back to the website4
60%
Has a house-list response rate of 5.1%
(compared 0.06% click-through rate on digital ads)5
5.1%

Mail is also secure. There are more than 200 federal laws enforced by the Postal Inspection Service to protect Americans from fraud.6 This assurance, as well as the less intrusive and more tactile experience of direct mail, leads 76% of consumers to trust direct mail when it comes to purchasing decisions.7

Retargeted Direct Mail Converts Prospects

When you use data gathered from digital channels to inform direct mailpieces, you get the best of both worlds. You can understand what a visitor to your website or mobile app is interested in based on what they looked at, then send a personalized piece of direct mail to help convert them from prospect to customer.

7 Reasons to invest in Retargeted Direct mail

1

Combining the scale of digital and the efficacy of direct mail yields close to a 40% conversion rate.8

40%

In a space as competitive as fintech, where customer acquisition costs are high, conversion rates matter. When a company sends a personalized email, conversion rates hover between 1% and 5%.9 A physical direct mailpiece is 8 to 40 times more effective, converting close to 40% of prospects into customers.8,9

2

Used together, digital and direct mail can result in 20% or higher response rates.10

20%

That’s 10 times higher than the response rate for all digital channels combined and more than 200 times higher than the click-through rate for digital retargeting.10 To get prospects to invest, borrow or bank with your business, consider using retargeted mail to translate digital behavior into an opportunity to engage and ultimately convert prospects.

3

Multichannel campaigns saw a 37% increase in response over single-channel campaigns.11

37%

On its own, direct mail outperforms other marketing channels. But combining direct mail with other digital media, such as email, gives you a greater chance of reaching your customer with the right message at the right time. A site visitor may not be ready to sign up today; if you send regular reminders to their inbox and mailbox, response rates could see growth.

4

One study showed that using direct mail and digital media together increased customer purchase or signup intent by 10x.12

10x

Fintech businesses need a sustainable customer base to survive. When digital media and direct mail are used in conjunction, one large study of a telecommunications advertiser showed a brand-to-customer connection that is 10 times stronger than digital-only campaigns.12 This translates to greater rates of consideration or intent to sign up and could mean a strong opportunity to capture and convert consumers in search of investing, borrowing or banking services.

5

Research has shown that campaigns that use direct mail and digital together produced 10% higher brand recollection than single-channel digital campaigns.13

10%

Brand recognition is vital for fintech companies solidifying their place in the market. Using well-branded content across digital and direct mail channels has been shown to increase a customer’s recollection of a business: Brand memorability in one study was 5.5 times higher after an omni-channel campaign than that of a digital-only campaign.12 When a person recognizes a brand in a competitive market, they are more likely to give that company their business.

6

Recipients of omni-channel campaigns paid 39% more attention to the messaging than to that of single-channel campaigns.12

39%

Messaging helps differentiate your fintech business from competitors. When you use a mix of digital media and direct mail to communicate a consistent message, people will pay more attention than they would if you were using just one channel or the other.

7

Research has shown that integrating digital and direct mail in campaigns resulted in 5% higher emotional intensity than single-channel digital campaigns.13

5%

Ninety-five percent of purchasing decisions are made subconsciously, based on emotional connections and brand recall.14 It’s possible that positive emotions could correlate to an increase in a prospect’s likelihood of investing, borrowing or banking with you instead of your competitors.

Key Takeaway

Combine your rich digital data with effective direct mail communications to create a comprehensive marketing campaign that works. You can convert prospects visiting your site into customers at a higher rate and build a strong, loyal customer base that will help your fintech business stay ahead of the competition.

USPS® Can Help

Looking to learn more about retargeted direct mail? USPS representatives can help you find the best solution for your business needs.

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Make Your Direct Mail Smarter This Holiday Season

The months leading up to the holidays can be a particularly demanding time for senior-level marketers.

For some retailers, the holidays can account for as much as 30% of annual sales.1

And with customer expectations at an all-time high, marketers are increasingly accountable for their spending and under pressure to show clear-cut business results.2

Fortunately, by implementing various technologies, marketers can better reach customers, and track campaign success to understand what is and isn’t working. Read on to learn how you can use technology to make your direct mail campaigns intelligent for the holiday season.

How to make your holiday mail more sophisticated.

By marrying print and digital, you can ensure that your direct mail campaigns yield powerful insights.3 Consider implementing the following technologies in your next direct mail campaign:

Add a QR code to your mailpiece.

Quick Response (QR) codes, which look like barcodes, can be scanned with a smartphone, prompting a related app or website to open. Think of QR codes as a way to provide your customers and prospects with additional value. In one example, a grocery store retailer used direct mail to send food-themed magnets with QR codes, which, when scanned, allowed customers to instantly buy grocery store items from the comfort of their home.4

Include an NFC chip in your direct mail design.

Embedding Near Field Communication (NFC) microchips in your mailpiece will allow you to instantaneously transmit information through short-range radio waves to NFC-enabled smartphone devices. Unlike QR codes, NFC does not require users to download an app or open a separate web browser, enabling a seamless experience. In one example, a musician engaged her fans by embedding an NFC tag on a mail piece that gave them access to extended album content, including song lyrics, photos and videos.5

Consider incorporating Augmented Reality (AR) in your design.

With AR, you can transform a piece of mail into an interactive experience by layering digital graphics over a physical mail piece. In one example, a surf camp sent a mailpiece featuring an image of waves as the AR trigger that prompted recipients to download the AR app. This in turn, activated the AR experience, which concluded with a promotional offer.6

With each of these technologies — QR, NFC and AR — you’ll be able to gather a rich pool of data and learn about your most-interested customers, allowing you to refine and better target your future direct mail campaigns.7

Add a PURL to your direct mail design.

A PURL is a personalized URL that features the recipient’s name in the link and leads them to a personalized landing page. By including a PURL in your direct mail copy, the recipient can access and complete a response form prepopulated with information from the direct mail. This is a surefire way to capture leads.8

Go one-step further by adding a remarketing code to your PURL.

After a recipient views your mailpiece and visits the personalized landing page, you can then tag them with a cookie so that they can receive an ad later while browsing the internet, redirecting them back to your website to help drive conversions.9

Send your direct mail to a targeted group.

Similar to the above approach, you can serve online ads to the targeted niche group that received your mailpiece to leave a lasting impression.10

In Summary

Direct mail is more intelligent than ever before. Each of the technologies described above can provide you with a rich pool of data, allowing you to better target your customers with more relevant messaging, ultimately resulting in a stronger return on investment.11 Consider how implementing smarter direct mail campaigns can help you reach your marketing and sales goals.

3 Companies Talk Holiday Shopping, Abandoned Shopping Carts and Retargeted Direct Mail

Abandoned shopping cart rates are a burden for many businesses, especially so during the holidays. In fact, three out of four shoppers never complete the intended purchase on a site.1 And with the holidays driving a frenzy of online shopping, those rates can be even more problematic.

To combat this problem, companies have turned to a new marketing tool: retargeted direct mail or, in simpler terms, automated mail triggered by programmatic technology. Programmatic technology monitors users’ digital behaviors to trigger personalized mail that’s sent within 24-48 hours while brands are still top of mind. We spoke to three vendors about the role retargeted direct mail has played in their clients’ marketing. Read on to hear from executives at Printing for Less, Amazingmail and Amplified Mail.

What is a common holiday concern for the brands you work with?

“We recognize there is always a percentage of people [who] prefer to shop around and add products to the shopping cart for future orders. We find holiday time intensifies abandoned shopping cart rates because people are purposely window-shopping and holding before making an educated purchase.”
—Devin Smalley, director of program management, Amplified Mail

“Abandoned shopping carts are certainly a concern and big focus for our B2C customers year-round. B2B customers don’t necessarily have abandoned carts but are often concerned with abandoned sales cycles or deals that have suddenly gone cold.”
—Frances McCutchon, director of marketing, Printing for Less

“Shopping cart abandonment is a significant issue for our brands. Many employ a cross-channel strategy to address it.”
—Dave Olesen, executive vice president, Amazingmail

How do you leverage retargeted direct mail to target abandoned shopping cart rates and lower them?

“Overall, we work on constant improvements to lower abandoned shopping carts. It can be difficult to accomplish. Our focus continues to be re-engaging potential customers with [retargeted] direct mail or email to bring them back quickly for a completed shopping cart order. On average, we wait two days before sending an email if the mailpiece is First-Class. Waiting time is longer for standard, marketing-class mailpieces.”
—Devin Smalley, director of program management, Amplified Mail

“Both B2C and B2B businesses combat abandoned shopping carts and sales cycles by triggering direct mail through our company’s customer relationship management system (CRM) and marketing automation platform (MAP) integrations. When the CRM or MAP signals that an item has been left in a cart, [retargeted] direct mail, or tactile marketing automation as we like to call it, triggers a data-driven direct mailpiece to be sent.

Retargeted direct mail leverages variable fields which populate text and images unique to the receiver. In the abandoned shopping cart case, you could automatically populate the direct mailpiece with an image of the item left in the cart and the person’s name in the copy.”
—Frances McCutchon, director of marketing, Printing for Less

Why is retargeted direct mail an effective medium in this regard for combatting high abandoned shopping cart rates?

“People are growing more and more conditioned to ignore digital messages—and are especially overwhelmed by the quantity of messages during the holidays—so a personalized print piece stands out and gets noticed. Print is inherently more engaging and memorable too, so customers are more likely to follow up and complete a transaction.”
—Frances McCutchon, director of marketing, Printing for Less

“We believe [retargeted direct] mail is not effective on its own. There are analytics that show segments of our population are impacted by direct mail. We have seen for years that adults 50 and older tend to have higher direct mail response rates than younger age groups. However, recent numbers show us that 25- to 35-year-olds are responding well, specifically when it comes to [retargeted direct] mail. Our goal is using direct mail as our primary medium, but its’ essential to integrate additional mediums based on what we know about the consumer.
—Devin Smalley, director of program management, Amplified Mail

“It has been demonstrated by USPS®-sponsored neuroscience research that digital and physical advertising are complementary.2 In the case of cart abandonment, buyers hesitate for one reason or another. There is pause and reservation. The use of a physical advertisement has been shown to have ‘a longer-lasting impact than digital’ and may serve to increase confidence in a brand. Moreover, there appears to be a ‘greater subconscious value and desire for products advertised in a physical format.’2
—Dave Olesen, Executive Vice President, Amazingmail

Do you have real-world examples of companies who have succeeded at lowering abandoned shopping carts with retargeted direct mail?

“We have one customer who focuses on selling blinds and curtains. They use [a marketing automation software] to listen for cancelled consultation appointments and also for people who have not purchased 20 days post-consultation. Those data points trigger personalized postcards that include a limited-time discount offer.

The customer just started with this program, so no hard numbers yet, but it is a great example of how tactile marketing automation helps you to send relevant offers to those who it will impact most. Customers not only automate their direct mail programs and cut out messy spreadsheets, but they can optimize their direct mail spend by letting the data dictate who deserves a printed piece.”
—Frances McCutchon, director of marketing, Printing for Less

“Yes, we have seen success using [retargeted direct] mail for [an automobile client’s] web portal software business. One of our web portals for the company produces millions of mailpieces on a monthly basis. We measure users and web actions on our portal and make decisions to contact them based on mail templates they look at and other data fed to and from the website.

In another area of the business, we leverage car technology to trigger direct mail. Consumers around the country drive [these] vehicles with connected systems that track vehicle performance. When an alert lamp comes on in a vehicle, our website is notified within minutes. In some cases, this data triggers direct mail to be sent to the consumer with a call to action and offer personalized to the consumer’s dealer and service needs.”
—Devin Smalley, director of program management, Amplified Mail

In Summary

The holidays are a crucial time to convert customers and lower abandoned shopping cart rates. Thanks to the quick turnaround of retargeted direct mail, companies have been able to move the needle on this important statistic. By sending timely direct mail based on a customer’s digital behavior, you too can help your holiday business with this marketing tool.