How Good Data Makes Direct Mail Great

In an age of email, social media, and big data, marketers have many choices for engaging their customers and prospects. By leveraging multiple channels and consistent messaging across all of your marketing touchpoints, you’ll quickly be able to see why direct mail is one of the most impactful channels you have at your disposal.

Although many might say they believe in the power of direct mail, a common question that often arises is, “How can I make my direct mail marketing piece effective?”

The answer to that is simple: you need good data and a great message.

Build a Solid Foundation

Your approach to any direct mail campaign should always focus on data first.

Like other marketing channels, the need for accurate and pertinent data is what builds the foundation of your campaign. If your data isn’t accurate and relevant to your target audience, your return on investment (ROI) results will be inadequate. Remember, the quality of your data is crucial to not only engaging your current clients but in prospecting for more of them.

Here are two key factors to keep in mind about your data:

1. Data is a Matter of Trust: Trusted Facts and Trusted Relationships.

Making sure your data is accurate and up-to-date is essential to maintaining the trust of your customers.

Data is not something that’s freely given anymore. Like trust, it’s something you need to earn. In fact, according to Bardess Group: “the implementation of a Data Quality Initiative ultimately leads to increases of 15 to 20% in revenues and 20 to 40% in sales.”

Here are three actions you can take to make sure you’re working with quality data.

  • Save money and ensure data accuracy with CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System).
    CASS is used by your mail house to ensure accurate addressing and to meet the USPS requirements for lower postage rates.
  • Guarantee delivery with DPV (Delivery Point Validation).
    If an address is not matched during the DPV process, two things happen. First, the postage for that piece will end up being higher than an address that did match. Second, the chance of that mail piece being delivered drops by nearly 75%. Your mail provider should be able to send you the DPV results, and you can look at the addresses that did not match. Be sure to take the time to get these records updated in your system by contacting the customer. The savings can be significant by not mailing to the records that don’t match.
  • Update, update, update! Over 40 million Americans change their address annually, so if your list has not been updated in over a year, chances are up to 20% of your list is no longer at the address recorded. That’s where the NCOA (National Change of Address) comes in. Once your list is run through the NCOA database, your mailing provider should be able to send you any required new addresses. Make sure to take the time to update your database with the NCOA results. By implementing a system for these records to be updated, you can reduce your undeliverable mail and save money by not buying print or postage for these records.

Remember, putting in the extra effort on the front end to properly review your data will reap tremendous benefits as you associate facts and events with your prospects and customers.

2. Once you have your internal data cleaned up, use it for prospecting.

It’s easy to buy data for prospecting, but how do you know what data to buy?

A data modeling program is an excellent tool to help guide you and takes the guesswork out of determining who your best customers are. The goal of data modeling is to define a company’s target customers and leverage their most important characteristics to establish an optimal audience for marketing efforts. This process typically includes both an in-depth profile of your current data as well as a statistical view of the targets.

Keep in mind that many times, what clients think about who their best customers are is inaccurate or too broad. A data modeling vendor can take your list and run it through their algorithms to find demographics that stand out. Once they have run this process, they will deliver a report showing the characteristics that make up your best customers. This information is useful in two ways: First, you can use that model to find new potential customers, and secondly, you can now market to your current customers in a more targeted way.

Data is the lifeblood of any organization. What are you doing to treat it as such?

Written by

Don Bowman

Director of Marketing Technologies, BP Solutions

Don R. Bowman is the Director of Marketing Technologies at BP Solutions Group in Asheville, NC. He has been in the printing industry for over 18 years and has a BA in Marketing from Georgia State University in Atlanta. An Augmented Reality guru, pizza expert, and self-avowed geek, Don currently holds certification as a USPS Mailpiece Design Consultant and has extensive experience in digital/variable printing, targeted data, and multi-channel marketing campaigns. He currently resides in the beautiful city of Asheville, NC, with his amazing wife and 2 sons.