Direct Mail in a Digital World: From Customization to Long-Term Value
In today’s digital world, anything a consumer does leaves behind a footprint in some form. Through this critical data, we can determine a lot about how to meaningfully connect with someone, based on where and how they behave, what kinds of lives they lead and the kind of experiences that ultimately draw them in. The reality is that complex consumers require a certain level of customization when it comes to their experiences with brands, and this holds true for both digital and offline marketing. As we mentioned in part one of the series, enhancing the customer’s experience of direct mail, and in turn building potential for profit, comes with the application of data to tailor the message.
We talk a lot about the value of in-house, customer level data. But imagine you’re a big box retailer working with a database of millions of customer records. That’s an incredible amount of data to mine through, and it leaves many marketers feeling as though they can’t move from simple aggregation to utilization of that data to make the customer experience a positive one. When the goal is to both nurture relationships with current loyal customers, while simultaneously pulling in information about new ones, the environment can become pretty chaotic. Nonetheless, it’s critical to apply a strategy that allows you to build and segment custom audiences – the more targeted your campaign or specific message is, the more likely it is to create a connection.
Mine Your Database to Build Out Custom Audiences:
Most modern customers are good at detecting the difference between a brand that leads with a customer-centric approach versus one that doesn’t. There’s an expectation of brands to truly know their customer, regardless of how long the relationship has been, or how and where it started.
For a retailer of any kind, tailoring the offer to an individual requires more than just demographic data and even basic personas. Marketers must keep track of complex behavioral queues throughout the customer journey, which means looking at that customer with a true 360 view. Even before you get to third party data providers, the first and best place to start is within your own CRM. If these internal data sources are aligned, you can actually pull a tremendous amount of valuable insight to understand how your current customers are interacting and what products they gravitate to. More below…
Marry Creative & Copy with Behavior:
A large part of tailoring the message, both in terms of copy and visuals, comes from a keen understanding of who your customer is. For example, Customer A might be browsing a certain style of high heels on your website, while Customer B shows an affinity towards organic snacks and health products. Maybe Customer C has subscribed to your special member services, which includes exclusive access to content and offers. You can detect these kinds of behavior by using your own internal resources, and it can ultimately drive the creative direction of the mail you’re putting in front of these different individuals.
That works well for your house file, but to take it a step further to attract prospective customers, now is a good time to bring in third-party data sources. To find names like your Customer B example, use third-party sources to find health-conscious customers, like those who prefer Organic brands or those who may lead a more holistic lifestyle. Combining online shopping behavior with real-life, offline behavioral data helps to guide what offers someone is going to identify personally with. And that’s the key to building the relationship.
Personalizing Offers a Better Chance to Maintain the Relationship
If you want to make a true impact in your direct mail campaigns while having it compliment performance across your other channels, it’s going to involve a pretty significant investment. This means both time and budget – this kind of strategy isn’t just a “one and done”. Cultivating valuable relationships with customers requires the time and dollars to get to know them, and then create an experience that makes it worth it for them to continue engaging and buying from you. And we all know that direct mail isn’t cheap. But all this being said, the more effort you put into nurturing the relationships, the more dollars customers will likely spend with you, and the better long-term value they’ll offer.