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Key Drivers of Direct Mail Success: Automation

Automation
By Ethan Bukowiec November 14, 2019 No Comments

Direct Marketing teams face a daunting assortment of clunky, tedious and time-devouring Direct Mail deployment processes to get engaging mail out the door. Complicating things further, they have to manage multiple stakeholders and vendors — from copy and creative execution to print and mailing partners to the USPS and data operations — at every step along the way. Direct Mail consistently proves its value, but it’s no wonder that we’ve seen so many marketers struggling to make the best of the process while asking, “Isn’t there a better way?” 

The answer is “yes,” when activating a key feature of digital transformation: Automation.

Direct Marketers can now use automation to standardize marketing operations, reduce Direct Mail deployment times and increase personalization and engagement. Automation helps create a smoother journey to a more profitable destination.

Direct Mail: Performance & Pain Points

Direct Mail performs but executing and optimizing it can be painfully complicated and time consuming. The more complex the marketing strategy, the more time, data, project management hours and communication between stakeholders is required to take a Direct Mail campaign from pro-forma to in-home delivery and measurement.

Enterprise marketing organizations invest tens to hundreds of millions of dollars annually in Direct Mail through an offline patchwork of people, systems, phone calls, meetings and point solutions. While these tools and processes may have sufficed in the past, they are taxed and challenged to support the complex versioning and personalization required to implement modern Direct Marketing strategies.

Complex Direct Mail campaigns demand a lot — teamwork, information exchange, data, money and hundreds of hours — but legacy processes and point solutions make it hard to collaborate because they require information to be stored and actioned in various disconnected systems.

These campaigns also require stakeholders to follow inconsistent processes, and communicate and collaborate through phone, Excel sheets, email, and SFTP sites. This creates long cycle times, budget waste, a lack of operational transparency, information silos and reporting delays, and inhibits shared learning and retention of institutional knowledge within organizations.

Marketers have long reported that it is frustrating, to say the least. But it’s changing.

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Automate & Innovate

Innovative Direct Mail Marketers are now using automation to deploy a higher volume of targeted campaigns into market, while also increasing speed-to-market significantly.

Using new Direct Marketing technologies that power the automation of complex Direct Mail campaigns, enterprise marketing organizations are digitally transforming their Direct Marketing capabilities to increase campaign profitability and operational transparency. These teams get campaigns out the door faster and avoid many costs associated with manual operating models. Automation lets them rely less on all those resources to execute Direct Mail while reducing deployment times through automatic data management, artificially intelligent quality control and progressive multivariate testing. 

Marketers can take back the power from the old processes.

When the marketing and data operations for Direct Mail testing, personalization, creative development, campaign deployment and reporting are automated, enterprise marketing organizations can spend less time working on manual execution and invest more resources in marketing strategy tied to testing, personalization and campaign analysis. Teams work faster and smarter and feel more valued when marketing automation assumes menial tasks and frees them to rise into thinking roles to guide more successful Direct Marketing campaigns.

Enterprise marketers can automate Direct Mail content creation and digitize consistent processes across their vendors, creating an on-demand supply chain with standardized workflows and full transparency to ensure vendors are following the enterprise’s universal process and compliance requirements — not their own.

Teams can internally self-generate highly complex Direct Mail campaigns, and intelligently distribute instructions, data and campaign print assets to the most optimal vendor for a particular campaign. Automation lets vendors focus on their expertise (print production in this case). Eliminating their role in marketing strategy reduces project management time, increases quality and reduces overall campaign cost.

And, vendors enjoy the benefit of receiving real-time project updates, consistently accurate data, complete instructions and final marketing assets to print campaigns much faster. It’s a win-win.

As the following story shows, it can be the kind of win that transforms businesses.

Automation Pays Off for Fortune 500 Company

KleerMail was called in to help a Fortune 500 company that relies on Direct Mail to drive customer engagement and more than $1B in annual revenue. With that much at stake, they couldn’t afford to be slowed by a clunky process.

Under their old model, Direct Mail had to be planned nearly six months in advance so it would be in-market at the proper time and meet strategic requirements. Using legacy technologies, staff was limited in their ability to test, adjust and personalize Direct Mail. There was no denying it: This execution model simply didn’t keep pace with growing demands.

Stress levels were going through the roof. To deliver billions in revenue, each campaign had to be planned and executed perfectly. If one campaign faced a major delay and didn’t get to market on time, it was basically a wasted effort and meant even more would be riding on the next campaign.

It’s a recipe for disaster — one we’ve seen many times — when manual processes from Legacy Direct Mail operating models create so much room for error.

Recognizing the opportunity that digital transformation and automation represented to their marketing operation, the organization set out to:

  • Minimize their time to market
  • Increase the quality and variety of Direct Mail content so they could differentiate from competitors
  • Integrate Direct Mail touchpoints with digital communications for added engagement opportunities
  • Maintain compliance and strict regulatory and cybersecurity requirements

Before investing in further external resources or various technologies, senior management defined a vision-state Direct Mail capability and outlined the process overhaul and technology roadmap that would properly transform their business — with automation playing a central role.

Next, they invested in an enterprise Direct Mail platform suited to support staff in testing, planning, production and reporting. And they developed custom integrations with internal marketing technology infrastructure. 

That careful assessment and action results in this group experiencing:

  1. Increased personalization of Direct Mail to deliver 10-20% increases in engagement
  2. Direct Mail deployment windows dropping down to as fast as 1 week
  3. Eliminated content errors and quality issues with Direct Mail campaigns
  4. The ability to focus on testing, personalization and customer experience rather than marketing operations an vendor management

The company’s reaction?

“This digital platform is the most transformative improvement we’ve ever made to our Direct Marketing capability.” — Senior Vice President, Fortune 500 Marketing Executive 

Interested in leveraging automation to send highly personalized Direct Mail at scale? Submit a Request for Consultation and a KleerMail Solutions Specialist will contact you.

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