Email marketing is thriving. Spending is expected to increase by $1 billion before the end of 2019. But direct mail is far from a forgotten medium. It continues to provide real results, with the marketing statistics to back up its effectiveness. Direct mail response rates have been consistently on the rise over the past 10 years. That’s why you can’t trust your marketing campaigns to just any direct mail printing services provider.


You need a “one-stop-shop” that offers the latest equipment, technology, and resources to get your direct mail marketing campaign printed and shipped accurately and efficiently.


Here are 10 things to look for when you’re shopping for direct mail printing services.


1. Modern Direct Mail Printing Equipment

direct mail printing services equipmentThe only limit with your next direct mail marketing campaign (if any) should be your imagination, not the capacity of your direct mail printing services provider. You want the latest equipment and data-processing capabilities working for you. That means web offset, color continuous form inkjet, envelope, digital sheet-fed color, and large format presses—which lets you select from an assortment of printing possibilities for your marketing messages. Here’s what each of them brings to your marketing strategy.


Web Offset

The web offset printing process uses roll-fed paper, which can be sheeted or re-wound. It’s long been a popular way to produce high-quality direct mail components and publications like magazines, newspapers, catalogs, and/or brochures. Web offset is a great option for larger quantities because the more you print, the less expensive the cost per piece.


Continuous Color Inkjet

This printing method uses rolls, but unlike web offset printing, every page printed can be produced in full variable color so you can personalize the forms with information like names, dates, and more.


Variable Envelope Printing

If you want to capture your direct mail recipient’s attention right out of the mailbox, try using personalization on the outside of the envelope. When you add a person’s name along with a colorful design, you can increase your response rate by as much as 135%.


Digital Color

Modern-day digital print technology is a far cry from what it used to be. Today’s digital color is comparable to offset printing and it’s ideal for shorter runs or where variable color personalization is important. Digital color is a great choice when you’re on a tight deadline because there’s no plate setup necessary. There’s also typically less waste.


Large Format Press

What happens when you need to print on something other than a piece of paper or an envelope? Maybe you’re looking for a grand opening banner or unique marketing collateral, like a point-of-purchase display, trade show sign, or product box/wrapper. Perhaps you’re considering a jumbo billboard advertisement? Large format printing technology allows you to print on almost any rigid or flexible media—from acrylic and aluminum to vinyl, window clings, cardboard, plastic, magnets, and more.


As these technologies evolve, so should your direct mail printing services. Make sure your print provider is up to speed (literally and figuratively) with the latest printing methods and equipment.


Direct Mail Printing Terminology

Having some trouble wading through some of this direct mail printing terminology? Our Printing Terms Glossary can help!


2. Direct Mail Volume Discounts

You should never have to worry that your next direct mail marketing campaign is too large—or too small. Whether it’s 10,000 pieces or over 10 million, you deserve the best solution for your marketing efforts, which includes the discounts that come with producing large quantities.


No matter how many individual direct mail pieces you’re sending, look into presorting your mail or mixing the mailing with other direct mail marketing companies to save money. It’s called commingling and it will help you get the best possible USPS discounts. Here’s how it works. All the combined mail is sorted according to zip code, then it’s entered deeper into the USPS system resulting in discounts. It’s a straightforward process that’s efficient and cost-effective.


Another option is co-palletization. This is a similar process to commingling, except you’re sharing trays of mail on a pallet, rather than individual pieces of mail in a tray.


3. Personalization and Variable Data Printing

direct mail printing terminologyMore than 84% of consumers say they’d probably open a piece of personalized mail over something that’s not personalized. Personalization builds a connection with your customer. When you address a customer by name, you’re demonstrating how important they are to you.


With variable data printing, you can create as many variations of a direct mail piece as you want. VDP is personalization at mass-production rates. You’ll enjoy the benefits of personalizing your direct mail marketing campaigns without sacrificing time.


4. Direct Mail Production Process

You don’t want to put a lot of effort (and finances) into a direct mail campaign, then have it sit in a customer queue for days before it’s printed and shipped.


Your direct mail printing services should include around-the-clock management of all the materials involved in your direct mail project. With a staff that’s dedicated to your schedule rather than their own, you’re sure to have your direct mail campaign printed and delivered when you need it.


5. Direct Mail Automation Technology

You can achieve more through automation. That’s why today’s marketing leaders use it. Indeed, marketing automation is expected to grow over 30% in the next year, according to research. That’s why you should look for it when you’re shopping for direct mail printing services.


Marketing automation software helps ease repetitive marketing tasks. The technology of marketing automation allows your emails, social media posts, and other website actions to happen according to a planned schedule.


So, how’s this associated with direct mail?


When you apply a multichannel approach to your marketing efforts, you’re enabling traditional and digital channels to work together. Automation helps you:


  • Save time.
  • Retain your current customers.
  • Turn prospects into new customers.


When you use triggered direct mail responses, you’re reinforcing the other channels you use. Here are a few examples of direct mail marketing automation at work:


Customer Reactivation


When a customer hasn’t made a purchase from you in a while, send them a friendly reminder message. This type of direct mail is triggered by the length of their absence. You can set the time for whatever you feel is appropriate, let’s say six months. With this type of direct mail automation, it helps to include some kind of motivation, like a discount, for reactivating their account.


Customer Thank Yous


Send a printed thank-you note to a customer after they make a purchase. This direct mail is generated by a specific purchase. One particularly effective type of thank-you message is a handwritten note. This is a great way to create a personal connection with any customer.


Customer Reminders


Send a reminder to a customer based on their buying habits. If you’re a veterinarian and you want to let a customer know that it’s time for their pet’s checkup, you can set a date that will trigger a reminder postcard mailing. You can also use a personalization technique (like including a picture of a dog or cat) to make the reminder more thoughtful.


6. Cross-Media Marketing Strategy

omnichannel marketing

Direct mail shouldn’t have to work on its own. Almost assuredly, you’ll improve your results if you combine it with digital marketing. Half of multichannel marketers say they usually (or always) reach their financial goals with a cross-media marketing strategy.


Here’s an example of multichannel marketing in action. Before you deliver a direct mail campaign to your mailing list, send an email telling each recipient to be on the lookout for it in the coming days or weeks. This type of integrated effort is very effective when you keep the brand’s image, tone, and customer experience consistent throughout the process.


That’s where omnichannel marketing comes in.


When using an omnichannel approach (meaning all your online and offline channels are working together), you’re giving your customers a variety of ways to interact with your business. Imagine your physical store, telephone number, website, mobile app, social media accounts, and mail-order catalog all working in unison. Now that’s a powerful omnichannel marketing strategy.


However many channels you have, it’s worth the effort to ensure they’re working together. Companies with a strong omnichannel strategy see a 9.5% year-over-year (YOY) increase in annual revenue.


7. Direct Mail Marketing Experience

Look for a direct mail printing services provider with a successful history. A company that’s been around for decades has had time to streamline its processes. In other words, they know the direct mail marketing profession inside and out. This means faster production and quicker time to market for your business.


Also, look for a company with a track record of successes and past clients who can vouch for their work. A potentially unstable operation that might be out of business tomorrow could leave your project up in the air without a backup plan. Your marketing efforts are too important to risk working with a questionable provider you can’t trust.


8. Dedicated Customer Support

 mail printing services providerA direct mail printing services provider should focus on building relationships with their customers. This includes a dedicated contact person at the business who will take care of your needs during every step of the production process. You want someone you can count on to be there when you have a question or issue to discuss.


Great businesses don’t see customer service as a cost. Rather, they see it as a sales opportunity, and a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors. The result is repeat business.


9. Direct Mail Tracking and Analyzing

By measuring your results, you’ll find out if your marketing campaign was successful. Your direct mail printing services provider should be able to help you connect your direct mail efforts to revenue for your organization. If something isn’t working correctly, you need to know what adjustments to make before your next mailing.


Direct Mail Panorama

Direct Mail Panorama is an innovative new software solution developed by BlueSky ETO to help you better manage your direct mail marketing campaigns. This game-changing program streamlines the direct mail management process, improves your campaign’s time to market, and provides valuable production insights.


Learn more about Direct Mail Panorama.


10. Optimized Direct Mail Delivery


Ideally, your direct mail printing services provider should have the ability to optimize your campaign for delivery via the USPS. It helps to have important mailing data verified in-house to save time and money. Direct truck delivery saves you a trip to the postal sorting center and gets your mail into your customer’s hands faster. When you speed up your time to market, you have a better chance of staying ahead of your competitors.


Choose Your Direct Mail Printing Services Provider


Is it possible to find ALL the aforementioned benefits with one direct mail printing services provider? Thankfully, there is. MSP combines more than 65 years of experience and innovation to help you get the results you’re looking for.


As one of the most respected, privately-owned direct mail facilities in the country, MSP’s aim is always to provide marketing solutions that excite and engage your customers. We operate under a 160,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility with our own in-house print division, and a team of experts in postal regulations and logistics. Plus, we provide direct mail services to our customers 24/7, with dedicated support staff to be sure you’re satisfied throughout the entire direct mail marketing process.


From direct mail production to automated direct mail marketing, web to print marketing materials, personalized mail, and dedicated customer service staff, MSP can help you achieve your marketing goals.


Contact us today for a free consultation.

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