by Daniel Zhao, Operations Lead, Lob

Automated Direct Mail Adds a Personal Touch To Digital Marketing

One company who is helping businesses add a personal touch to their digital marketing is Lob – which makes sending a postcard as easy as an email. The Lob team recently visited Autopilot‘s San Francisco headquarters to talk about how their Physical APIs are enabling businesses to scale faster than ever before. A Physical API is a set of instructions that allows computers or automated systems to perform offline tasks that people have traditionally done manually – in this case printing and mailing postcards via the postal service.

Personalized emails are powerful

Don’t get us wrong, email remains incredibly powerful. Marketers have long-used triggered emails as a tool to engage customers based on an action taken by, or directed towards an individual.

Triggered emails are powerful because they enable marketers to automatically send personalized touchpoints to the right person at the right time. By performing a specified action, such as clicking an email or logging in to their SaaS application, customers identify themselves in way that enables marketers to deliver the right content to help the buyer advance through the decision-making journey. Imagine the possibilities if it were as easy to automatically send a postcard as it is an email?

Is API + automation bringing direct mail into the fold?

Contrary to what many marketers may believe, direct mail is very much alive. It remains arguably the most powerful communication channel in terms of open-rate and conversions. Of the $42B in direct marketing spend in the US, direct mail is the #1 channel–bigger than search and display combined! 

Sure, mail may cost more per impression than traditional digital marketing, but when done well, mail has a higher conversion rate. According to the Direct Marketing Association, response rates for an existing customer average 3.4% for mail vs. 0.12% for email–a 30-fold difference!

So why isn’t everyone ramping up their direct mail efforts? Physical mail has been lagging behind modern digital channels in terms of technical innovation. The main obstacles that hinder companies from using mail are:

  • Difficulty and costs to get started
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Poor quality content

Partnering with traditional print companies is a long and arduous process–sometimes it can take up to 45-60 days. Just to get started, you have to find the right print company, negotiate a price, develop assets, and set up a custom automation solution. It often costs thousands of dollars and several months before you can send a single letter.

Not to mention that once everything is set up, there is the iterative process of setting up different templates, making minor changes, approving proofs, and checking quality.

If direct mail were as easy as automated emails…

However, direct mail can be easily achievable. When implementing Lob for direct mail, all you need is a physical address and HTML. That’s all it takes to create a physical mail piece.

With everything being done in-house, marketers can make changes on the fly, rapidly launch campaigns, and scale their mailings on-demand. By integrating Lob, a single developer can now build and control their company’s entire print and mail workflow, regardless of size, directly from their terminal. You can now truly send physical mail as effortlessly as email.

Direct mail gives you the personal touch that an email lacks, and can help close new customers, nurture fragile leads, and win key customers back. Take a webinar for example: after a customer attends a webinar, a marketer will typically send a thank you email. With a Physical API like Lob, we could look up the business address of every attendee and send a customized postcard– all using the same amount of effort it otherwise would take to send an email.

Lob API + Autopilot = automated direct mail

Autopilot and Lob believe that communication in the offline world should be as effortless as it is online. Being able to deliver consistent messaging and brand experiences across many channels – online, offline, mobile – allows companies reach new audiences. But doing so is often difficult to manage. Coupling Physical APIs like Lob with Autopilot’s easy-to-use automation solution offers an instant-on way for marketers to create consistent buyer journeys that are at once creative and personal.

Author Daniel Zhao, Operations Lead, Lob

Daniel Zhao is the Operations Lead at Lob where he is making on-demand printing a reality.

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    • Tim Bingham

      So does this allow us to add LOB to a journey and send out an automated post card?

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