By: Rick Miller, Business Development Director – Valid USA
As postage costs continue to rise, it is incumbent upon marketers who integrate direct mail into their marketing efforts to utilize data management solutions to ensure their direct mail campaigns are delivered in the most cost effective way, and that the most responsive target audiences are mailed.
In this blog, we share five data-driven approaches you can incorporate into your direct mail campaign production to help counteract rising postage costs.
Address and Data Quality
Develop, implement and adhere to address and data quality methodologies for both house and outside / purchased lists. By utilizing US Postal Service solutions such as Change of Address, CASS Certification, and DSF, marketers can improve deliverability by enhancing and updating delivery addresses, identifying and removing undeliverable/vacant addresses, and appending Zip+4 codes to reduce postage costs. Leading service providers offer both licensed and proprietary products marketers can use to optimize results.
Best Kept Record Scoring
Develop and utilize a custom scoring algorithm during merge/purge processing for direct mail campaigns. By ranking address quality, presence of Zip+4, gender, transactional data, and other available data points incoming records are assigned a score. As duplicate records are identified, this score is applied to decide the best record to keep for mailing and/or response purposes. For example, a record with a Zip+4 requires less postage than one without a Zip+4, so that record would receive a higher score and be selected from a duplicate group.
Tracking promotion history allows marketers to identify the overall number of times previously non-responding records have been mailed. Through testing and analysis, marketers can develop business rules to suppress individuals/employees, or households/businesses after a specific number of times mailed with no response. This eliminates package and postage costs for non-responders. Marketers may also want to consider tracking promotion history at an enterprise level if they are using direct mail across multiple brands to the same prospective audience.
Household and Company Penetration
Using advanced record linking technologies, marketers can identify multiple unique individuals within a household, or employees within a business address. Through testing and prior campaign analysis, marketers should establish a maximum number of contacts to promote within a campaign. Consider limiting direct mail to one piece per household and a maximum of three per company depending on the offer.
Licensed and Proprietary Suppression Files
B2C and B2B marketers should utilize all suppression files available to them where applicable.
Files such as pander/do not mail, correctional facilities, deceased, profanity, and others allow marketers to identify and suppress these historically non-responsive records from campaigns.
In addition to these files, marketers should utilize compiled data sources to prescreen records ahead of the merge/purge process. Appending income, age, other demographic data can help validate list selections and suppress records from outside the target audience.
Rising postage costs, as well as ever increasing production costs, are a challenge to direct mail as a channel. But done effectively with a data-driven approach, direct mail proves to be a valuable component of a brand’s marketing strategy today, and will remain so going forward.