INtelligent Data: Why Direct Mail is Important to Data-Driven Marketing

Data-driven marketing has graduated from buzzword to a baseline for savvy marketing professionals. Born of big data, data-driven marketing can be (and has been) defined and re-defined many ways since its birth as a term in the early 2010s. At its core, data-driven marketing is a set of strategies built on insights from consumer data collected through previous interactions to better target customers and prospects.

The 2017 DMA Stat Book found that personalizing the customer experience and acquiring new customers are the most important goals of a data-driven marketing strategy, while the ability to integrate data across multiple platforms provided the biggest barrier to success. Data-driven marketing is often attributed more to digital marketing, but modern direct marketing tactics should include direct mail, an important channel in the overall marketing strategy.

Today, the average consumer has access to over seven connected devices, and they use three or more daily. Marketers are constantly searching for innovative ways to get their messages in front of their customers’ and prospects’ eyes. Whether you know the terms or not, odds are you have experienced the following as a consumer. For this exercise, let’s pretend we are looking to purchase a new soccer ball for the upcoming season.

Paid search:

Open your browser and search for “purple soccer ball” and you will see advertising within the sponsored area for retailers that are paying each time their ad is clicked (pay-per-click) or the ad is displayed (cost-per-impression).


After clicking on the retail store closest to me, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and looking at a variety of color and size options, I get distracted by work and have to close my browser window. When I open a new window to check on a breaking news story, I now see an ad for soccer equipment available at the same retailer “reminding” me I should to go back and shop.

Dynamic ads:

Rather than make the purchase online, I decide to visit the store. But first I need to stop at the grocery store next door. When I pull up my web email to check my shopping list, I see a banner ad on my device for Dick’s. Dynamic ads use location, time and device type to sense what ads should be served.

Triggered/Targeted Email:

Now that Dick’s knows I made the ball purchase, an email cadence is triggered to motivate or remind me I will need other equipment. For example, it would be logical to email a coupon offer to save on soccer cleats or other apparel. The message could include the exact ball I purchased and show complementary products or equipment I am likely to need.

As consumers’ inboxes, apps and browser windows are flooded with more and more marketing messages, it is important to recognize the potential of direct mail to reach customers with personal and relevant information in a timely manner. In her recent blog post in our INtelligent Data series, Wild West of Digital Marketing, author Jenny Lassi discussed the technology allowing marketers to get additional messages in front of their customers’ eyes while they are still in the consideration phase.

As she stated, when you visit a website that uses a tracking pixel and serves a cookie, the cookie collects information about your visit to that specific website. It knows how you entered (Google, Bing, Direct Traffic, etc.) and each page visited during the session. There are cookie databases that have your information from previous cookie sessions from other websites visited, and collectively, this cookie data across many cookie databases is combined and made accessible for marketers if using a Direct Mail Retargeting technology.

Even if you are not prepared to utilize a web visit to direct mail technology to programmatically send mail to anonymous website visitors, mail should remain a part of your data-driven marketing strategy. Here’s why:

-Almost everyone enjoys getting mail. How often do you get excited to open an email? Exactly. As marketers have shifted budgets to online ads and email communications, consumers have been inundated with digital messages while the original inbox (aka mailbox) has less noise and more interesting information. According to the USPS, 64% of millennials would rather scan useful information in the mail than email, and 84% take the time to look through their mail.

-According to the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) Response Rate Report from 2017, direct mail had an average house list response rate of 5.1%, compared to 0.6% conversion on email.

-Direct mail can be tracked by online activity, telephone, coupon redemption, match back, sales transactions and more.

Research has shown that brand recognition was 40% higher with a direct mail follow-up compared a single media campaign.

-In our real-world experience, when used as a part of a strategic, multi-channel campaign, direct mail has proven to provide significant lift in response. Check out this Polaris work to see how Infinity Direct helped increase response by 102% over the control group.

Direct mail is an integral component of any data-driven marketing campaign. It is a trusted medium that can be highly targeted to show significant increase in response when combined with other tactics. Whatever your motivation or goals around using data-driven marketing, direct mail is an important ingredient in your marketing mix that can enhance and personalize your customers’ experience along their purchasing journey.

Big Datadata-drivendirect maildirect marketingstategy

Trent Weber • January 12, 2018

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