Direct Mail

Automated Direct Mail: What is it and How it Works?

By 2 May 2022May 3rd, 2022No Comments
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Automated Direct Mail

Traditionally, direct mail has been viewed as time-consuming, cumbersome, expensive, untrackable, poorly targeted, and manual. However, modern direct mail is none of that. Automated direct mail removes these unpleasant factors and replaces them with modern features like automated printing and mailing, real-time tracking, accessible campaign insights, and so much more.

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Let us have a quick look at some statistics that show how direct mail is profitable.

  • 87% of people are influenced to purchase something online
  • 75% of businesses that use direct mail marketing agree that this marketing medium offers a positive ROI

These results are possible only through the modern way of conducting direct mail campaigns, and there is no other way of doing so than using direct mail automation.

So what is automated direct mail? It is nothing but switching to the online and automated way of handling direct mail, where you don’t have to do anything manually.

An automated direct mail API like PostGrid can integrate with your CRM or a marketing tool to help you print and mail directly from there. It can help you draft, print, and ship in an automated way altogether without waste of time and effort.

Direct mail automation allows marketers to save time they would otherwise spend on transmitting information into usable spreadsheets, contacting printers, comparing quotes, hiring a designer, managing logistics, or guessing and analyzing campaign results manually.

Businesses need a marketing medium that can be tracked and measured. Direct mail automation companies allow your direct mail marketing efforts to be targeted, well-crafted, relevant, and automated.

Features of Automated Direct Mail

Direct mail automation tends to remove the manual labour involved in processes like mailing letters, postcards, welcome kits, and more at scale through a service provider. It allows you to integrate their API into your working systems, automation tools and launch trigger campaigns. Below are a few features to consider when opting for direct mail automation:

1. Address Verification and Data Management

PostGrid’s direct mail API can help you autocomplete, standardize, correct, validate, and verify addresses. No more guesswork or sending mail to the wrong addresses.

Traditionally, there are very limited options to collect addresses and check whether they are deliverable. Your employees probably have to call up every customer and cross-check the address to see whether it is correct. But, this process can be extremely time-consuming and hectic. Moreover, with modern solutions being easily available, manually doing these things makes no point.

Automated direct mail can help you verify all your addresses instantly and offers peace of mind that your mail items will be rightly delivered. Moreover, it enables you to manage your data efficiently and build new mailing lists. Targeting and mailing lists segmentation is also possible through PostGrid’s print and mail automation API.

2. Scalable Solutions

On-demand and bulk printing and mailing are both possible with the help of direct mail automation. PostGrid’s API is scalable and can grow with your growing needs. It is an ever-expanding solution for all your direct mail marketing requirements, which means that you can add an unlimited number of locations, users, templates, campaigns, mailing lists, integrated campaigns, messages, designs, and contacts.

Furthermore, it has the ability to process thousands of API calls in one go, without any slowdowns or crashes. Hence, you can rely on an automated direct mail solution to accommodate your print and mail needs to any extent.

3. Campaign Reports and Analytics

Determining your campaign budget and ROI needs some considerations and a lot of planning. However, you need some statistics and details that can act as a base to make such considerations.

Direct mail automation enables you to access your campaign analytics which contains all facts, numbers, and other details that you need to know. It also gives you insights into various things and tells you what works and what doesn’t work. You can collect all this information and make reports that act as an informatory and advisory base to make informed decisions about your upcoming campaigns.

4. Integration

An automated direct mail API can seamlessly integrate with your CRM, accounting software, human resource management software, and more platforms that you use for managing your daily operations. By integrating them, you allow quick import and export of data and avoid manual input of information. For example, you don’t need to enter all your customers’ names and addresses for conducting a direct mail campaign.

The API allows you to import the details from your CRM and automatically uses the information for designing your direct mail campaigns. Similarly, for sending paychecks to your employees, you don’t have to enter employee details all over again. Simply integrate and start mailing.

5. Variable Data Printing

Variable data printing is more than a feature. It is the need of the hour. Basically, it allows you to print different colours, texts, links, and graphics on every mail item. The basic format remains the same, but certain elements keep changing.

For example, if you are sending out invoices to your clients, it is obvious that you aren’t going to send the same invoice to everyone. The date, bill amount, client name, and payment terms are all different in every invoice. Variable data printing allows companies to print personalized mail items without undergoing any cumbersome methods. You can even personalize your postcards, letters, cheques, and other documents easily. Direct mail automation makes variable data printing possible and simplifies personalization.

Businesses can add personalized URLs, coupon codes, and other trackable features that are unique for every customer. Such personalization makes the customer feel special and makes it easy for you to track responses and engagements.

6. Omni-Channel Marketing

Omni-channel marketing is when you combine several marketing campaigns, for instance, combining direct mail campaigns with social media marketing or email advertising. These campaigns work in unison to reach out to a wider audience and yield better results. They work in an integrated manner to showcase your brand consistently across several marketing channels.

If a person misses your email, your direct mail can help get their attention and vice versa. Moreover, if a person views your advertisement on social media and receives a personalized letter from you on the same day or week, getting a response becomes easy as they remember your brand well. Constantly advertising your brand across more than one channel is an effective strategy to capture more markets and boost up brand awareness drastically. Automated direct mail can help you conduct omnichannel marketing easily.

Types of Automated Direct Mail

Direct Mail Marketing Automation tool assists in automating the process of mailing letters, invoices, postcards, and any other form of physical mail. These tools are most used by marketers, enabling the creation, personalization, sending, and tracking of direct mail campaigns.

Marketers can tailor every communication to a specific situation through direct mail marketing automation. Following are the types to know before launching a direct mail marketing automation campaign:

1. Letters

Letters are the most personalized type of direct mail. You can change your entire text for every letter as per the needs of your customers. Letters offer companies a chance to establish a one-to-one connection with their audience. You can opt for single-page, dual-page, or multiple-page letters depending on your content and required space.

Direct mail automation can help you with the letter templates and enable you to choose from different letter sizes. Oversize envelopes are known to perform well. Again, with direct mail automation, you can design professional and personalized letters in oversize dimensions.

2. Self-Mailers

Self-mailers are basically letters that can be folded into an envelope. They don’t require a separate envelope and can do the function on their own. Hence, you can save the money spent on envelopes, and people don’t have to tear open anything to view your mail, which boosts open rates.

You can make use of unique folds like roll fold, z-fold, booklet fold, or the multi-panel gatefold. These types of folds are attractive and make your customer pay more attention to your self-mailers.

Automated direct mail can help you design and send out attention-grabbing self-mailers in no time. Include a perforated coupon or return card as part of the self-mailer design to persuade customers to reply.

3. Postcards

Postcards are cost-effective, eye-catching, pleasing, and capable of driving conversions. Even after being the cheapest option, many large corporations use postcards for their direct mail marketing campaigns. It is because postcards create a nostalgic feeling among people and mark the beginning of a special bond between a brand and its customers.

Sending postcards with beautiful background images can induce people to store them or probably attach them to their refrigerators. Postcards communicate your message in simple words and perhaps offer the most exposure compared to other direct mail types. Some popular sizes include:

  • A5 postcards
  • A6 postcards
  • 148 mm x 25 5mm postcards

4. Bills or Invoices

Invoices are timely documents that need to be delivered to your clients on time. A payment collection system can work smoothly and efficiently only by having a proper invoice print and mail solution in place. If your company sends invoices after weeks of a transaction, getting a payment against your invoice can likely be tricky.

Similarly, you might also have to send follow-up letters and duplicate invoices as payment reminders – only then will your company’s revenue stream flow continuously. PostGrid’s print and mail solutions can help you send invoices on time without you having to do anything manually.

5. Statements

Banks send bank statements to their customers, hospitals send medical reports or statements to their patients, and retail businesses send transaction statements to their clients. In short, all businesses of all sectors need to mail statements to their customers or clients. Drafting, printing, and mailing statements is not a one-time job. Companies need to do these tasks on a regular basis, and having an automated direct mail solution in place can come in handy.

PostGrid’s direct mail automation API can help you draft statements speedily and effortlessly. You can then get them printed and mailed altogether with a few clicks. You can track your statements in real-time and see them moving through the postal organization’s system. This way, you are better informed about your mail’s whereabouts and can make any follow-ups accordingly.

6. Cheques

Gone are the days when writing cheques had to be old-fashioned. In the olden days, companies waited for their banks to mail them chequebooks. They entered amounts, signatures, and client details into cheques manually, stuffed them into envelopes, sealed them, affixed postage, and took them to a nearby post office.

Yes, some companies still go by this traditional method which is extremely time-consuming and boring. It can affect the morale of your employees and also lead to certain mistakes.

Automated direct mail allows you to autofill cheques with the correct details pulled from your CRM. The printing and mailing are done in an automated manner, so naturally, you don’t have to worry about any inventory stocking. Sending cheques as direct mail can save time, effort, and money. Plus, it allows accurate and safe mailing.

Benefits of Using Direct Mail Automation

Why use direct mail automation? If you still aren’t convinced that direct mail automation can do wonders for your company, read the benefits below and know what you can do with it.

1. Build Brand Image

Mouth publicity is really impactful, and you can create a spark with your well-designed and accurate direct mail campaigns – which is now possible due to marketing automation. Maintaining your brand reputation is likely to result in better responses and increased sales. Furthermore, you get an edge over your competitors by connecting emotionally with people and having a personal bond with them. Prospects are likely to favour your brand over others if they have seen, felt, and heard about your brand first-hand.

2. Re-Engage Old Customers

Customer retention is equally important as acquiring new customers. You need to keep in touch with your old customers and persuade them to continue using your products and services. New customers may bring you business, but old customers bring you reputation and stability, along with the business.

Move onto the next level of gaining customer loyalty with automated direct mail. By integrating an automation API into your marketing tool, you can send the right type of mail to the relevant audience at the right time. Regularly sending direct mail to your prospects and customers according to their life stages can induce them to buy your products or services and remember and talk about your brand. You can even run customer reward programs through direct mail easily using automation.

3. Facilitate Ongoing Revenue Flow

If you send a postcard at the right time, like during the last week of your customer’s subscription plan – there are high chances that your customer or subscriber will renew the plan for yet another year. It is called taking advantage of an opportunity or an event to create a flow of ongoing income. Direct mail marketing is the best way to bring this plan to life.

Using automation, you can set up reminders, and the API can enable you to send direct mail at regular intervals without your intervention. Hence, you don’t have to plan and send direct mail every now and then. Just feed in the dates, draft a relevant mail item and leave it on the API to get it printed and mailed on the right date.

4. Eliminate Manual Intervention

How much time do your employees spend in loading and unloading papers in the printer, stuffing letters in envelopes, sealing them, sticking address labels, affixing postage stamps, and taking them to the post office? As said before, all these steps are involved in printing and mailing envelopes or anything else like invoices and cheques. We haven’t even included many other steps like purchasing ink cartridges, calculating postage, and making space in your office to store all your direct mail pieces.

Bearing these things in mind, any company would like to get rid of all these manual steps and switch to the smart way of doing things. Automated direct mail campaigns do not demand hours of your time or effort. You simply need to make some selections and launch a campaign – all using a few minutes of your time and a few clicks. Your mail items will be printed and mailed through Royal Post in just two days.

5. Track Mail in Real-Time

Tracking is a very useful feature of automated direct mail, and it has more than one benefit. It enables you to know about your direct mail items’ progress, which in turn allows you to follow up at the right time. For example, your company plans an omnichannel marketing campaign wherein email alerts are supposed to be sent to every customer immediately after receiving your direct mail. In such a case, real-time tracking is a blessing. You don’t have to keep wondering whether your mail has reached the recipient.

Furthermore, you don’t even have to manually enter long tracking numbers on the Royal Mail’s website every time you want to track your mail. Just go on the API dashboard and see all your mail pieces’ status in a single view.

6. Save on Designing Costs

Designing can be expensive as some designers even charge up to $100 per hour. Moreover, companies also pay a lot for making edits, and these steps can take up a lot of your precious time. There’s no spontaneousness in the manual mailing. Everything demands time and effort. Automated direct mail, on the other hand, is instant – if you want to make any changes like changing the tagline, you can simply open your direct mail artwork and make the edit yourself.

All of this is possible with PostGrid’s in-built templates that are professionally built to suit your marketing needs. There are many portrait and landscape templates available. You can select one that best suits your message and offer. Apparently, you save on design costs, make edits speedily, and form the base of an efficient and cost-effective campaign.

7. No More Lost or Delayed Deliveries

As discussed earlier, PostGrid’s postal API allows you to verify and validate addresses. Hence, you don’t have to worry about sending mail to the wrong people at the wrong addresses.

With PostGrid, all addresses are automatically standardized according to Royal Mail’s database – speeding up deliveries. Since the addresses are exactly as per the postal provider’s database, it is very easy for them to process, sort, and deliver. These things enable you to replace your incomplete, incorrect, and unverified data with the deliverable validated and verified mailing addresses that can be a valuable asset for your business.

8. Test and Measure

With the help of automated direct mail, you can design various types of direct mail speedily for testing. Make small batches of different direct mail items and send them out in order to test the effectiveness of each type. See what works best for your brand and use the same in your upcoming campaigns. Testing is essential; you should know what appeals to your audience and can gather more responses.

Simple testing techniques include adding different offers or different designs in your mail pieces. The test can therefore show you which particular offer induces people to complete the desired CTA. You can include expedited shipping vs. free shipping, free trial vs. 20% discount, or free gift card vs. store credit. There are many different types of offers that you can include for testing.

Similarly, you can plan two different campaigns simultaneously. For instance, you print and mail postcards to a random group of people. On the other side, you print and mail out letters to another random group of people. This way, you can check whether postcards work for you or letters. You can also add other variations like pairing with social media campaigns, sending back-to-back direct mail over a few weeks, and more. Once the testing campaigns are completed, you can track the performance of every campaign to compare results. Be sure to include trackable features in all your direct mail items like pURLs and dedicated phone numbers. Direct mail software can assist you in doing all these things without any worry.

Industries That Benefit From Automated Direct Mail

1. Healthcare

All healthcare institutions have to manage and deal with many medical documents like invoices, diagnostic test results, medical statements, consent forms, progress notes, patient instructions, prescriptions, and more. It is not easy to handle the printing and mailing of all these documents on-time to their respective patients. Hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare institutions have to keep up with their primary operations and cannot afford to spend so much time on such tasks. An easy way out? Use an automated direct mail API. It can help them draft all the documents quickly and order for them to get printed and mailed.

2. Finance

Banks and other financial institutions also mail out credit card bills, banking statements, policy changes, and other such letters and documents to their customers. Using an automated direct mail API like PostGrid, they can send out these timely documents accurately and efficiently, without any delays or troubles.

3. Non-Profit Organizations

As we already know, nonprofit and charitable organizations need contributions and help from donors and volunteers. They require these things on a continual basis, which is why direct mail marketing becomes a must. Direct mail helps them connect with people and calls them out to help the needy. Since they need to conduct direct mail marketing campaigns frequently, direct mail automation is smart. It enables them to focus on other areas of their work while handling the print and mail jobs.

4. Ecommerce

E-commerce businesses operate online, which makes people think that they advertise only on online platforms. In reality, many eCommerce websites use direct mail to reach out to their customers, induce them to complete checkouts, or simply connect with new customers and induce them to visit their website and purchase something. Direct mail is absolutely capable of driving online traffic. Therefore, eCommerce businesses also use this medium regularly. Automated direct mail can help them to design various types of direct mail items and connect with their offline audience.

5. Restaurants

From medium-sized food joints to huge chains of restaurants, direct mail is effective. Food joints can send out small, pretty postcards with their menu on the back, whereas large restaurants can go for something more creative and eye-catching. Restaurants can send out mail pieces with new dish launches, discounts, special holiday offers, dates of non-operation, new branch openings, and more. Automated direct mail can help them print phenomenal mail pieces that inform and advertise both at the same time.

6. Educational Institutions

Schools, colleges, and universities send out student reports, admission forms, policy notices, prospectus, and more such documents to students and their parents. Print and mail is part of their regular job, which is one of the main reasons why automated direct mail can benefit them greatly. They can save a lot of time and money while also having an efficient print and mail system in operation.

7. Others

Public relation companies, magazine publishers, gyms, social clubs, real estate, and many other businesses can use automated direct mail to send out marketing postcards, letters, and other transactional and compliance documents. All medium and large-scale companies who use direct mail advertising as part of their marketing activities can benefit from automated direct mail.

Automated direct mail integrates with your marketing tools or software programs to help you print and mail in an automated manner. There is no manual intervention or inventory stocking needed. You don’t have to purchase a printer or look for a designer. With in-built templates, outsourced printing, and speedy mailing – companies can really look forward to conducting direct mail campaigns effortlessly. Test, track, measure performance, compare results; direct mail automation makes these complicated tasks simple and easy to accomplish.

PostGrid’s direct mail automation API can help you integrate with your marketing tool and easily send postcards, letters, and cheques.

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