One of the biggest challenges that marketers face is waste—regardless of channel or medium. If you’re investing in content marketing, you may run the risk of creating collateral too quickly. Scaling acquisition and retention campaigns is important, but it can’t be the end-all be-all goal.
In other words, don’t resort to “spray and pray” marketing—the idea that if you advertise to a broad audience at a massive scale, something is likely to stick. While this approach works for some marketers, it’s often limited to pure chance: conversion rates tend to be low, with these campaigns operating as leaky buckets. The stakes are even higher for direct mail marketing strategies that incorporate postage and printing costs. Take one wrong turn, and your company could waste hundreds of thousands of dollars without even realizing it.
At the same time, marketers are under immense pressure to build high-performing growth engines—and thanks to automation, targeting, and personalization tech, this goal is more than feasible. With a few clicks of a button, it’s possible to integrate data sources between your CRM and third-party vendors, align your messaging to your most engaged audiences, and track the performance of every campaign.
But it’s important to remember: as the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You need to take a steady, methodical approach to building your direct mail growth engine from the ground-up. Here are 3 simple steps to follow:
1) Before launching any campaign, sanity-check the integrity of your list + your messaging
The success of any direct mail campaign, especially one that relies on automation, starts with the integrity of your list. The problem with most lists is that they can become outdated very quickly. One way to check the integrity of your email list is through data.
- Cross check your list with your CRM data, and sanity check on a small sample. Do behavioral patterns and characteristics match up? Instead of just doing this manually, try working with your engineering team to run an algorithm that cross-checks attributes.
- Work with a third-party list provider or broker. These companies are built around high-integrity, high-quality lists with accurate user data. Rather than collecting and maintaining this information yourself, you can license what you need to make sure that your list is high quality. For a guide to building, acquiring, and optimizing lists, check out this guide from Lob, here.
- Use social media data to understand your target audience’s preferences and behavioral characteristics. Here are a few ideas:
Once you’ve conducted a basic sanity check, you’ll be ready for your next stage—deployment.
2) Run a series of small pilots to identify your wins and losses
The Lob team recently published a guide to setting up and running a direct mail pilot, here. Step one begins with validating your list. Step two involves creating a personalization strategy—a process that you will have begun by setting up your messaging strategy (i.e. by conducting research on social media, by browsing through your CRM data, and by partnering with list brokers). Now, you’ll want to run a series of small deployments by taking the following steps:
- Choose a segment of your list.
- Take a small sample of that segment (between 10-25%).
- Cap your budget for you campaign (between 10-25% of your overall campaign budget).
- Deploy your direct mail campaign.
The goal of these steps is to determine your campaign’s strengths and weaknesses. What works? What doesn’t work?
If you notice points of friction, you may consider interviewing your target recipients by conducting a series of qualitative interviews. The key is to keep iterating on your segmentation, list-optimization, and messaging process from step 1, until you find a formula that clicks.
No matter how much you feel like you’re hitting a wall or points of friction, it’s important to persevere. Take the steps that you need to reconfigure and course-correct your efforts. In the world of marketing, patience is the ultimate asset.
3) Scale your wins while cutting the cord on your losses
Here comes the fun part of your direct mail strategy. After conducting a series of small pilots, you’ll have a clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t. From here, your goal will be two-fold: (1) put an end to your campaigns that are unprofitable and unsuccessful and (2) double-down on your successes.
That’s where automation enters the equation. Rather than dealing with the lag time of building your campaigns manually, you can scale your successes very, very quickly—cutting through the noise of your competitors and reaching your target audiences more successfully.
By using an automated solution to scale your direct mail campaigns you can:
- Use your CRM to make your message more personalized
- Grow campaigns quickly, so that you can become profitable faster
- Run A/B tests to improve upon messaging on the fly
- Create look-alike campaigns
The bottom line is that scaling up is easy and cost effective. That means no more spreadsheets. You can create performance improvement systems that run on autopilot, regardless of your role and team.
For example, Caviar uses Lob’s API to target new audiences in each launch’s new city. The company routinely runs optimizations related to messaging, CTAs, and discounts. This postcard has food that is specific
What happens after you’re up and running?
At this point, you can put your campaigns on autopilot. Once you have a direct mail engine up and running, you can build another. You can grow your business efficiently and sustainably. It will be a smooth-running system. Want to get started? Reach out!