Triggered Direct Mail Gets Results for Marketers, Revenue for Printers


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More and more printers are re-charging their revenue by complementing their print offerings with marketing services that take advantage of the personalized data and immediate responsiveness of digital communications. Among the top offerings: triggered direct mail, a service that when done well, gets the right message to the right person at the right time.

The service works by responding to various consumer activities with targeted and personalized messages, usually sent within 24 to 48 hours, while the action and motive are fresh in the consumer’s mind. This is likely to capture the attention of a highly qualified prospect at the peak of their purchasing probability.

The key technology enablers of these programs are intelligent, automated workflow systems and high-speed, high-quality digital presses—both of which are readily available in today’s market. Beyond that, the programs are built around data. Understanding what data is available and what can be done with it is where the triggered direct mail strategy discussion begins.

Data Drives Triggered Direct Mail
Different types of businesses generate and maintain different types of data that can be relevant to a triggered direct mail program. Consumer activities on a business’s website can be a good source of behavioral data, whether from a landing page visit, the downloading of content or an abandoned shopping cart.

Another good source: routine sales and marketing processes, such as call center queries, product demoes or event attendance. And maintaining customer accounts opens up additional streams of data that can be used as triggers, such as new customer enrollment, inactive accounts and loyalty memberships.

Data also can be acquired through purchases and partnering arrangements or by building a campaign to collect it. And seasonal behaviors could come into play in any of these categories.

Whatever data is available, the triggered direct mail concept remains the same: using action-related data from one behavior to send a physical piece in the hopes of generating another behavior while interest is high and active. Frequent processing of actionable data helps ensure the communication is timely.

Guiding the Customer Journey
Trigger strategies can be set around many types of behavior, and they will vary by business type. Healthcare, real estate, financial services, education all have different customer journey touch points that could trigger a postcard, letter, self-mailer, catalog, magalog, loyalty offer, service coupon or other direct mail piece.

For example, car dealers usually have robust data on their customers, so they know when a vehicle needs servicing, and can send the customer a timely reminder with a tempting coupon. Similarly, banks know their customers’ loan balances and can choose the right trigger moment to send a letter offering re-financing.

Triggers can also be based upon customer and prospect activities. A retail customer who signs up at the store for a branded credit card offering purchase discounts could trigger a catalog or a coupon to be mailed, potentially driving another visit to the store. A loyalty club member who’s been inactive might get a reminder to use existing points, sweetened by an offer. A visitor to a cruise website could automatically trigger the mailing of a postcard offer. And so on.

Customer Lifecycle Management
Print service providers with specialties in certain industries may already have insights into the data their customers can capture for these programs. For example, AutoPoint, an industry-leading automotive marketing and services provider, offers car dealers a multi-channel, trigger-based customer lifecycle management program.

Its customer journey touch points begin with a “thank you” for a recent vehicle purchase. Then come efforts at purchase-to-service conversion, service retention, service reactivation, and, when the customer is buying his or her next car, service to sales conversion. The journey is designed with a strategic cadence of communications and offers, distributed across different channels, and orchestrated, personalized and produced with XMPie software. XMPie connects to databases and provides automation, campaign management, a portal for results tracking, and analytics for assessing campaigns that deliver personalized communications across print and digital touch points.

The XMPie-based solution is one of AutoPoint’s heartland offerings and has helped improve campaign turnaround to less than four hours from as long as eight to 10 days.

Making the Case for Triggered Direct Mail
Print providers should present triggered direct mail to their customers as an ongoing strategy, because the universe of active customers and prospects continually refreshes. Ongoing, relevant trigger responses that deliver more revenue to the customer’s bottom line should resonate for them as a convincing proposition. And the beauty of the system is that data it collects and analytics it generates can be used to refine and optimize the triggered responses at any time as the campaign proceeds, potentially improving results.

From an operational perspective, the application is well suited to a digital press that’s set up for producing high-quality on-demand and personalized, variable-data mailers. Inkjet presses, in particular, can bring fast, high-quality personalization to a clients’ multichannel marketing at low cost. And advances in inkjet production, workflow and personalization software make it possible to run a lean operation that minimizes waste, further reducing operational costs.

That all adds up to a profitable application that produces an ongoing revenue stream, fosters a partnership relationship with customers and delivers positive results for both parties.

To learn more about triggered direct mail, download an in-depth guide here.


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