Using Direct Mail to Power your Digital Marketing


Until recently, marketers loved direct mail. It offered low costs and strong returns, and it combined precise targeting with a broad overall footprint. That all started to change with digital technologies. USPS mail volumes are down almost 30% since 2006, and direct mail budgets have been in decline for several years.

Despite this, direct mail tactics and data remain useful to digital marketers. That’s particularly true if you implement addressable geo-fencing on programmatic ad campaigns. With addressable geo-fencing, brands can serve ads to users based on their street address — just like direct mail.

This opens up a world of possibilities for brands with robust CRM databases built via offline marketing. All of that offline location data can now be harnessed for programmatic campaigns.

Plus, you have the option of coordinating these campaigns with offline marketing efforts. You can even run campaigns where programmatic ads and direct mail materials work in tandem.

Addressable Geo-Fencing: What It Is & How It Works

If you run programmatic ad campaigns, you should already be familiar with geo-fencing. This method allows you to target devices within a specific geographic area. Typically, this is a city, a neighborhood, or a single targeted area. You define the area, and ads get shown on devices with GPS coordinates that match the target area.

Addressable geo-fencing takes this concept and makes it even more hyper-specific. It works by geo-fencing individual properties. Instead of targeting a single geo-fenced area, it targets a series of street addresses by geo-fencing the property of each address. Marketers upload a list of addresses, and ads get served to users and devices associated with that address.

There are several advantages to addressable geo-fencing. But the biggest, by far, is the opportunity to harness existing CRM data. Now, marketers can use street address data for digital campaigns. This way, they can start transitioning offline data to digital campaigns. Or they can develop coordinated digital/direct mail campaigns.

Using Addressable Geo-Fencing for Programmatic Ads

There are a number of ways that marketers can use addressable geo-fencing for programmatic ad campaigns.

One way is to simply replicate direct mail tactics for programmatic ads. If you have a list of addresses that you’d normally use for direct mail content, you can start serving programmatic ads to these households.

If you want to target prospects and leads more granularly, you have a few options. You could narrow down your list of addresses using your existing CRM data (e.g., targeting past customers who bought a specific product or service). You could add additional parameters to your programmatic campaign (e.g., targeting users in a specific age group). Or you could do both!

Things get really interesting when you look at coordinated campaigns that include both programmatic and direct mail content. Let’s say you run a furniture store that puts out a quarterly catalog. Here’s a quick, 3-part example of a coordinated direct mail/programmatic campaign:

  1. The week before you send out your catalog, you run a programmatic campaign targeted at customers on your mailing list. This ad announces your upcoming catalog and gives a sneak peek of key products or deals.
  2. Your catalog is sent out to your mailing list. Thanks to your initial ad, customers are expecting the catalog and eager to learn more about this quarter’s selection of products. In it, you include an attractive limited-time deal on a sofa.
  3. A few days after your catalog arrives in customers’ mail, you run a programmatic campaign for this deal. The ads highlight the sofa, the savings, and the limited-time offer, with a call-to-action that gets customers to your store.

This is just one example of how addressable geo-fencing can be uses to bolster direct mail campaigns. More importantly, it shows how valuable offline data can be harnessed for online marketing.

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