When it comes to getting your product or service to the masses, being first matters. In marketing terms, it’s known as time to market or first-mover advantage. That usually refers to a company’s handling of an innovative new idea or product. They’ll try to move as quickly as possible to not only get consumers interested in their product, but to persuade them to buy it as well.
You can apply the same principle to all your direct mail marketing efforts. It stands to reason that when your direct mail campaigns arrive in mailboxes before your competitors, you have a distinct advantage in gaining a consumer’s business.
Take loan companies as an example. They oftentimes buy credit bureau data from the same providers. Because this information is typically released at the same time, when they mail an offer to consumers, the first one to arrive in mailboxes usually “wins” that customer’s business. Why? People tend to get jaded by so many offers. Thus, they will commonly select the first one they received.
Being first has its advantages, so here’s how you can speed up your direct mail time to market for an improved ROI.
Use Clean Data to Maintain Accurate Mailing Lists
If you want to speed up your time to market, it’s imperative that you have clean data to work with. That’s why data hygiene should be a top priority. One study generated for marketers in the B2B technology industry showed that 40% of leads contained bad data. That means you, too, could have bad demographic information, faulty data entries, and other flaws to deal with. To avoid this, check your lists for errors.
Here are a few tips that will help:
Assign One Person as Your Data Ambassador
Your lists will be much easier to manage if they’re maintained by one person—a sort of data ambassador for your organization. The more lists, the more direct mail campaigns, and the more people involved with inputting data means you have a greater chance for problems. When one individual is in charge, it reduces the chances for error. Of course, it’s wise to have a backup plan in case that employee is sick, on vacation, or if they leave, retire, etc. Find another staffer that can step in when necessary.
Create Standards for Your Mailing Lists
How are you going to manage and maintain your mailing lists moving forward? What standards will you abide by? What processes will you use? Have a written plan in place and follow it. Your direct mail campaigns will generate the highest ROI when you have an accurate list.
Use the NCOA Database
Check with the USPS’ National Change of Address database to make sure your list is up to date. The NCOA list includes those individuals and businesses who completed a change of address form at some point in the past four years. When the NCOA updates your database, you’ll get rid of outdated contacts and have the correct addresses you need for your next mailing.
Merge and Purge
Duplicate addresses are the thorn in the side of any smart marketer. After all, who wants to waste money sending two of the same direct mail piece to one person? When you merge and purge effectively, you eliminate most of these bad addresses.
Mailing List Rental Advice
If you rent a list, know who you’re working with. Obviously, you want a legitimate list owner or broker. Whether you get a response list or a compiled list, ask your provider where they got their data and when the list was last updated. Be sure they offer data hygiene and optimization as part of their service. This will provide you with the cleanest list possible.
Best Practice: Ongoing Mailing List Maintenance
To maintain an accurate mailing list, it helps to stay on top of data hygiene. Rather than performing a one-time data cleansing when it’s time to do a mailing, focus on ongoing data maintenance, at least once every three months. That way your data will always be up to date and ready when you need it. You’ll avoid common problems like incomplete records and inactive contacts.
Improve Time to Market with Marketing Automation
Direct mail marketing automation allows you to condense your repetitive tasks and speed up your pace of production to improve your time to market. Modern-day technology allows you to simplify your workflows and better manage your direct mail printing, personalization, and tracking.
Consider these productive process points. You can:
- Slash your direct mail management time by 80%.
- Drop your monthly administrative time from 40 hours to 13 minutes.
- Reduce your direct mail cycle times by 50%.
These numbers are possible with a smart, technology-enabled software solution. That’s why MSP developed Direct Mail Panorama.
Try Direct Mail Panorama
Managing direct mail programs can be challenging and time-consuming. With Direct Mail Panorama, you can develop scalable campaigns in a high-volume production facility. You’ll reduce your cycle times and streamline the direct mail process with a panoramic view of all your direct mail metrics. This leads to a faster time to market. Here are some of the highlights of how it works:
Direct Mail Lookup
This feature benefits your customer support staff when they take calls about your mailed offers. They can search for a piece of mail from the production dashboard and find out exactly what was delivered and when. Furthermore, you can track your cost per piece for each of your direct mail campaigns and as your list grows—even into the tens of thousands—the software grows with you.
Simplified Editing and Approvals
An automated proofing system speeds up the editing and approval process. It detects changes, figures out what templates the changes apply to, and sends only the necessary proofs to the appropriate users for faster approval. The software even provides an audit trail to track the activity.
Do you know the results of your latest direct mail campaigns? Direct Mail Panorama allows you to track and analyze every part of the mailing process. In-depth reports allow you to evaluate production, delivery, and engagement so you can improve future mailings.
MSP offers the latest marketing automation technology so you have the tools you need for successful direct mail campaigns, no matter how large or small. Automated data processing reduces your cycle time and improves your time to market while working hand-in-hand with your digital marketing efforts. To experience the power of Direct Mail Panorama for yourself, contact MSP for a free consultation.
Postal Optimization: Work With a Direct Mail Expert
Postal optimization often refers to an attempt at saving marketing dollars, but it also helps get your direct mail campaigns delivered faster. To achieve this level of success, it pays to work with a direct mail expert.
MSP has the ability to optimize your direct mail campaigns for delivery via the USPS by reducing the usual production cycle by days. Plus, you’ll benefit from the best Marketing Mail postage rates. We’ll analyze what’s best for your direct mail campaign using a mix of presort, consolidation, and commingle.
If the postal system doesn’t have to sort through your mail, there’s a reward. You’ll save time and money by presorting, or grouping your mail by zip code in the same bundle or tray. Here’s how it works:
- Each address is certified using CASS software. This process adds the +4 to your zip codes (if they’re missing), corrects bad zip codes, and adds a two-digit code to specify particular mailboxes.
- To be automation compatible, your direct mail will need to meet certain size specs. The most popular sizes are letters, self-mailers, and flats. An MSP representative can help you determine what works best for your mailing.
- When you presort, each address will need an Intelligent Mail barcode. This is a code the USPS uses to sort and track your direct mail.
- Finally, your mail is sorted and bundled into trays by its 3- or 5-digit zip code. The tray is wrapped in a sleeve, secured with a strap, and tagged according to USPS specs. Each tray has to have a label with proper documentation.
If that sounds complicated, it is. When you work with MSP, however, we take care of this for you. Our in-house mailing center is staffed by postal regulation and logistics experts.
When you consolidate, you combine skids of mail with other clients’ mail, regardless of the size of the mailing. It’s a cost-effective solution, but it also provides targeted delivery windows, which can help to improve your campaign’s time to market and response rates.
When you commingle your direct mail, you combine it with other companies to generate a discount. It’s one of the creative ways marketing professionals deal with annual postage increases. The mail is combined and sorted by zip code, bundled into trays by zip code group, and then delivered to a USPS National Distribution Center or Sectional Center Facility.
In addition to the cost savings, when you commingle direct mail, you also reduce your time to market by eliminating several stages of transportation, each of which could have its own delivery time variation.
The mailing process can be confusing. Rather than wasting time trying to figure out all the different ways you can save money and get your mail into your customer’s hands before your competition, MSP can advise and assist you throughout the entire process.
How to Improve Your Direct Mail Time to Market
Like the first-mover advantage in a market segment, when your direct mail campaigns arrive in your customer’s mailboxes before your competition, you have a better chance of securing a sale. That’s why you should find a marketing method that allows you to speed up your time to market and improve your ROI. When you have a plan in place that improves your marketing strategy, you’re giving yourself the best chance of success.
It starts with clean data to maintain accurate mailing lists. Assign someone as your data ambassador and create strict standards for your lists. Use the NCOA database to make sure your list is up to date, and be sure to merge and purge to get rid of those bad addresses. If you rent a list, make sure data hygiene and optimization is part of the service agreement. Then make a habit of keeping your list current.
Use marketing automation to streamline your workflow as you manage the personalization, printing, and tracking of your direct mail marketing campaigns. MSP’s Direct Mail Panorama can play a major role in your success. With Direct Mail Panorama you’ll have more control and a better understanding of your direct mail marketing campaigns than ever before. The editing and approval process is drastically simplified. Customer service staff can track each piece of mail individually. And the transparent reporting process allows you to track and analyze each step in the mailing process.
Finally, postal optimization techniques like presorting, consolidating, and commingling will enable you save money and improve your direct mail time to market. MSP will help you find the lowest postage rate for your direct mail marketing campaigns while also meeting your time to market requirements. Let’s get started. Contact us for a free consultation.
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