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The Future of Direct Mail and the Power of Targeting

The Future of Direct Mail and the Power of Targeting

To reach today’s consumers, targeting is the name of the game. In fact, the power of targeting lies in the way it unlocks a host of other beneficial tactics that are otherwise rendered ineffectual. The future of direct mail is inextricably tied to targeting, and in today’s post, we’re going to show you some of the reasons why.

The Power of Targeting

When it comes to mass marketing, getting your message in front of just nine million of the right people is better than spending the money to put it in front of 60 million of the wrong people. The way you manage to do this is through targeting, whether it’s on a massive scale or on a hyper-targeted individual scale. Targeting is, quite simply, the segmentation of your audience into meaningful chunks that let you understand them more thoroughly, from their overall needs to the way they expect to be able to engage with your brand and on to other more nuanced perspectives.


While it’s true that “personalization” is the new black, it’s not without reason. A survey by IBM last year showed that 50% of consumers expect to see personalized promotions online. This is unquestionably related to the hyper personalization of devices — gone are the days when you were restricted to sharing the TV at home; instead, you can record shows to watch them when you want, or better yet, just stream them from your mobile device. Thus the days of having to cast a truly wide (and generic) net and hope to catch the right customers. Targeting means that you can actively engage a customer on their level, at the right stage of the consumer journey, on the channels they use, with the message they want to hear, and in the moment that they need you.

Efficient and Effective

What this works out to is that targeting audience segments helps save you unnecessary losses in ad spend. Why? You’re only spending money on putting the most effective marketing in front of the audience it’s most likely to influence powerfully. You’re able to craft marketing creative that speaks directly to your audience — a very specific audience — in order to see the best effect.

It’s All About the ROI

Did you know that 75% of Millennials have made purchases resulting from materials they received in the mail? It’s because most Millennials see print as an authentic form of communication. The real question is, do you know which of your Millennial customers feel that way, and if so, are you leveraging it to your advantage? Targeting is what lets you key into all the important ways to influence your audience toward conversion in a meaningful way. This, in turn, will impact your bottom line with improved returns. Take email segmentation, for example: the average open rate for email campaigns sits at about 22.5%, and proper list segmentation can boost those rates between 20% and 40%. Now consider the fact that direct mail offers a response rate that’s three times better than email. Targeting combined with direct mail makes for a strong bottom line.

How Targeting Works for Direct Mail

If you’re wondering “What IS the future of direct mail?” you’re probably not the only one. In the digital era, it’s easy to believe that traditional methods may be outdated in the face of innovative, mobile-oriented options. Perhaps in part that could be true, eventually, but right now direct mail is still extremely successful. And it’s all thanks to the power of targeting.

Omni-Channel Experiences

One of the big buzzwords in business right now is omni-channel marketing. That’s because the consumer journey has fragmented into a thousand micro-moments and brands must fight for customer attention one touchpoint at a time. You probably already understand that you need a seamless brand expression across channels — i.e., the brand customers encounter on your Twitter page should look and feel like the same brand they find on your website or in your TV ads — but what you may not realize is that it also needs to be across mediums. Consumers expect a digital and physical convergence of brand experience, something that 95% of retailers already acknowledge as being necessary. Part of that is going to be your brick-and-mortar location, if you have one. But part of that should also very much be the tactile experience gained from physical, direct mail. The emphasis here is on the customer’s experience of your brand, and targeting will tell you which customers will be enamored with which kinds of direct mail outreach.

Social Media Driver

Direct mail is a beneficial tool in your marketing mix that can not only push conversions on its own merit, but boost digital traffic too. In this case, social media a key tool in a consumer’s research phase in addition to the post-sale moments (e.g., customer support). By including your social media handles, taking advantage of tools like hashtags, and even using calls to action that involve sharing experiences regarding your brand on social media, you can promote brand awareness, brand advocacy, and conversations about your brand and your industry that become vital touch points in the way customers and their followers find and approach your brand.

Targeting will help you determine which customers are active on social media, which platforms they choose to be active on, and how they expect to interact with your brand there, allowing you to send them only the materials that promote exactly what they’re looking to experience.

Tech Tools for Tracking

Direct mail offers just as many tools to track and engage customers on a specific level as the digital world does, presuming you understand how to leverage them. For instance, through our Valpak brand, we offer unique imprinting that provides tracking at point-of-sale and the security to ensure discounts and coupons are only redeemed once. We can also ensure that each customer gets customized deals, so you understand what a specific customer is using (or isn’t using) without having to deliver an offer to an entire region. And these are only a few of the mechanisms that make direct mail trackable, not to mention open to faster responses within the customer’s time frame. While a display ad may be dismissed because they aren’t interested in the moment, your direct mail, which features a QR code or individualized URL, can sit out as a reminder to be taken advantage of the moment they’re ready.

Now that you understand the power of targeting and the role it plays in the future of direct mail, you can audit your current targeting tactics and how they define your approach to a multi-channel marketing outreach. Direct mail can and should be a key part of your modern marketing mix, especially if you’re using targeting at its full power.