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Legacy Hassles: 7 Reasons to Take Direct Mail Digital

Legacy Hassle_Taking Direct Mail Digital
By Brandon Beatty April 05, 2021 No Comments

Direct Marketers are investing heavily in Direct Mail with their traditional offline system because it drives a significant chunk of top-line revenue. But they’re probably doing it through an extended team that consists of many separate resources — decentralized teams, external agencies, printers, and specialized vendors — that need to be directed and managed.

This means there’s a limit to what they can do. Their teams don’t have the tools to efficiently test and refresh Direct Mail content or integrate Direct Mail with other communication channels. So, while their Direct Mail may be reliable, it’s not necessarily successful, and the goal of true omni-channel capabilities remains out of reach.

The fact is, in today’s hyper-targeted, hyper-speed market, legacy Direct Mail operating models can’t keep up. Here are seven reasons why:

1. They're inefficient.

Extended cycle times and cost inefficiencies limit the quality and velocity of the Direct Mail content that a marketing organization can distribute. KleerMail’s Direct Marketing Survey revealed that most marketing organizations require three to nine months to plan and execute an effective Direct Mail content strategy. Meanwhile, 90% of survey respondents reported dissatisfaction with the variety of their Direct Mail content.

Definitive Guide to Digital Transformation in Enterprise Direct Marketing

2. They're risky.

Legacy Direct Mail operating models expose marketing organizations to unnecessary financial and operational risks, while legacy methods for managing data also create cybersecurity risks.

3. They don't leverage personalization.

As noted above, marketing execs are increasingly unhappy with the restrictions they face in varying content for Direct Mail. Marketing operations are optimized for ease of execution, but they don’t meet strategic demands for more personalized and integrated communications that can be quantitatively tested for performance. As a result, most Direct Mail is sent in bulk to broad audiences with static, non-personalized content that is largely undifferentiated from that of competitors — even though increased personalization improves campaign profitability.

4. They're not integrated.

Legacy models store data in disparate and disconnected hardware and systems — both within and outside the marketing organization. This contributes to the long average cycle times (ACTs) associated with Direct Mail, but also creates a lack of operational transparency, information silos, and delays in reporting. It also inhibits shared learning within organizations.

5. Outsourcing is a costly fix.

Who can blame the Direct Mail team heads? The easiest way to avoid managing the minutiae of Direct Mail is to make it someone else’s problem.

Even organizations with well-developed Direct Mail capabilities tap creative agencies or printers from time to time. But outsourcing comes with trade-offs. It can increase their Direct Mail budget by 30-40%. It reduces transparency. And it gives them less control of their Direct Marketing investments.

Expert Direct Mail capabilities are increasingly rare among top-notch agencies. Scaling activity means scaling fees and mark-ups to service providers. Teams must rely on third parties for campaign information, project updates and reporting.

6. Multiplying traditional resources is a dead-end.

Most enterprise Direct Mail teams rely on a combination of internal bandwidth and Microsoft business applications to run their campaigns. Without proper tools, they may employ inconsistent processes that yield inconsistent results, or invest months coordinating the piece parts and approvals required to produce successful Direct Mail. It can take three to nine months to get messages in-market.

Scaling activity or complexity requires a higher headcount. Using a patchwork of printers, processes and point solutions creates data security risks and information silos. Without automation and technology, marketers can’t capture and archive institutional knowledge, so they must pay to re-invent the wheel with every campaign. Ultimately, it’s a dead-end.

7. Direct Mail demands its digital due.

Tech-savvy marketing organizations use data management platforms for easy access to customer and offer data. Marketing resource management tools help their teams manage workflows. Marketing automation simplifies creating and distributing email, social and web communications. But when it comes to Direct Mail, the wheels start coming off.

Digital platforms are not equipped or designed to create, manage, produce, and distribute offline content. Creating, producing and distributing Direct Mail campaigns involves dozens of people, specialized processes, and a complex supply chain. At the same time, Direct Mail sits in an offline silo, disconnected from the digitally-powered marketing activities.


Results from KleerMail’s Direct Marketing Survey reveal that organizations leveraging marketing technologies for improved automation reported average cycle times that were 70% shorter than less tech-savvy peers. In addition, technology-equipped Direct Marketing organizations experience 50-60% reduction in costs related to Direct Mail content creation, production and distribution, and up to 1.3X increase in content engagement.

Not only are the benefits clear, so is the pressure: Recently surveyed Fortune 500 marketing executives revealed that scaling Direct Mail personalization is among their highest investment priorities over the next 12-24 months.

Despite all the hassles, marketers continue to invest in Direct Mail because it delivers strong, reliable results. But as the limitations of legacy operating models strain their patience -- and their ROI -- marketers are looking to streamline their Direct Mail campaigns, align their Direct Marketing channels, increase their capabilities and improve their performance by taking their Direct Mail digital.

Discover how Direct Marketers can break through the limits of legacy models and experience the benefits of increased consumer engagement and lower costs of content creation and distribution. Review The Definitive Guide to Digital Transformation in Enterprise Direct Marketing.

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