Real-time Data Meets Direct Mail Marketing - Pel Hughes print marketing new orleans

Despite a global transition to everything digital, direct mail marketing continues to dominate. Direct marketers continue to spend $45 billion each year in the United States. 80% of consumers engage with direct mail, and 95% of 18-29 year olds claim to have a positive response when receiving direct mail.

Given the high performance and preference for direct mail, there are still ways that marketers can use technology to ensure even better marketing success. Companies can use big data to strategically plan their direct mail campaigns, and a tailored strategy can enhance marketing effectiveness by targeting consumer behaviors.


Digital vs. Direct: Is There a Clear Winner?

There are many advantages to digital mail marketing. Digital mail uses intent data to pinpoint prospective consumers that are actively researching a product or topic online. Companies can use this data to increase relevance of a product and immediately send a message to a potential consumer regarding that product. Digital mail can also be optimized instantaneously based on consumer response rates, as well as their reaction to external factors (e.g., news or ads).

However, the instantaneousness of digital mail also means that companies risk overburdening the consumer with messages. Moreover, the ease of creation of a digital message may create a weak brand impression to a consumer that may see 10, 20, or 50 of these a day.

On the other hand, direct mail is tangible and physically brought into a consumer’s home. The consumer can hold the piece of mail and refer back to it when needed. It also allows people other than its intended recipient to see the message and companies to expand their brand awareness.


Shopping Cart Abandonment

There are benefits to both digital and direct mail. However, with a response rate of 5.1% for direct mail vs. 0.6% for digital, a winner begins to emerge. But this isn’t the end of the story. What if you could take the best aspects of the digital world and apply them to direct mail? Well, you can.

A great example of this is shopping cart abandonment. We’ve all been there. We’re browsing our favorite shopping site, add a product we like to the cart, then an email comes in – or the phone rings – or the kids start arguing. We abandon what was in the cart to tend to whatever lives throws at us.

According to the Baymard Institute, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is about 70%. This percentage increases even more to 85.65% for mobile phone shoppers. Unsurprisingly, the most common strategy for cart abandonment reminders are follow-up emails. And as noted above, these digital messages often wear thin on a digitally-fatigued consumer.

“This is very typical in any market, whereby there [is] a certain level of fatigue that had been reached with email. When you send something, it could be a targeted email…the conversion reaches a level which is very hard for a brand to beat or to move into a higher performance,” says Dan Dunn, CEO of the marketing company Paperplanes.Companies can overcome this fatigue by combining the efficiency of real-time data with the personalization and effectiveness of direct mail.

A recent case study by Paperplanes measured the success of such a situation. Paperplanes took the non-responders of an emailed abandoned basket campaign and followed up with programmatic direct mail within 48 hours. What they noticed was significant: a 14% increase in abandoned basket recovery and an 8% increase in average order value.


In a world that is going digital in virtually every facet of life, mass communications sent out via digital mail are making consumers more and more wary. The personalization and level of connection consumers feel with direct mail can help overcome their caution and overall distain for mass digital communications. By using real-time data to analyze consumer action, businesses can expand on the direct mail medium, and turn it into a practical and powerful marketing tool.