If there's one weakness to the business of print marketing, especially now, it's the lack of speed and urgency. Not a snail's pace, but more like a lazy dog. While digital advertising can quickly and effectively display a targeted advertisement and then measure whether it worked in real-time, a print flyer takes a few days to process and deliver. When you're trying to attain the results of your direct marketing campaign, you can no longer wait for the people to come in. More importantly, there will be opportunities where you can capture a particular audience member on the fly, but only if you have the foresight and resources to respond, which usually isn't the case when working with print media.
With that said, a confluence of near-real-time response and effective print marketing is now possible. Utilizing the technology of programmatic buying and advertising, you can put a little bit of your spend on quickly responding to a particular customer's action and establishing a digital presence in your mailed materials. That will enable you to build a stronger relationship with the customer, keep your marketing spend under control and get a nice grasp on how your campaign's functioning.
Automation with paper
So what exactly is programmatic buying? As Advertising Age noted, Jimmy Kimmel wasn't far off when he called it the "gluten" of advertising. It's important, but nobody knows why at this point. It represents a wide range of technologies that automate market buys and placement. Instead of having to rely on humans to assess where and when to send out a flyer or place a digital ad, this process gets done automatically. You don't have to wait or guess when to send something, be it a targeted message or a general blast to a wider audience.
This process is the result of different technologies converging at just the right time. It's sort of like a happy impromptu party in the middle of Times Square with your friends who all just coincidentally arrived there. The rise of data analytics plays hugely into this, for it allows you to make informed decisions based on who scanned the QR code on your mailers. You can even use predictive analytics to anticipate how and when customers will reply to what you're offering.
Programmatic buying can make direct mail campaigns much more active.
Playing off each other's strengths
Of course, the benefits aren't immediately obvious to direct mail marketing campaigns. The trick is to take a hybrid approach, combining the chocolate of direct mail with the real-time peanut butter of digital campaigns to make a delicious peanut butter cup. This is something already underway, thanks to PebblePost. Direct Marketing News reported on the release of the new service, which combinesprogrammatic buys with reactive mailing strategies. To give an example, say a person goes on to Target.com and puts some sale items in her shopping cart, then abandons because her dog's chasing a squirrel for the third time in an hour. She forgets, but PebblePost doesn't. Within three days of no response, the service kicks in and sends a postcard with a personalized offer based on the sale and what items are in the cart. Suddenly, mail marketing just got a lot more personalized.
This isn't the only potential of real-time responses to mail, either. The U.S.P.S. began a roll-out of Real Mail Notification recently. Gary Reblin, a Postal Service executive explained to Direct Marketing News that the service basically allows people to look at their mail before it even shows up to their mailbox via email, thanks to image scanners at mail sorting facilities. That seems like a novelty, until Reblin explained that you can work with the post office by offering HTML code that links your direct mailer to an offer or promotion. That not only saves time and money, but offers chances of more specific offers that cater to customers directly. It opens up whole new worlds for marketing strategy, as well as food analogies.