Case study: How we created an award-winning direct mail campaign

Extend Your Reach created an award-winning campaign that paired direct mail and technology. This case study is an overview of what went into the campaign.

Extend Your Reach is honored to be a recipient of the 2015 Mail Technology award from the United States Postal Service. The award recognized 20 companies throughout the nation who have taken steps to implement new technologies and best practices to maximize efficiencies in the mail industry.

So what exactly did we do to deserve the award? Here’s a look.

NOTE: For the sake of confidentiality, business names and details have been omitted or changed.

Our customer is a large company with several offices and representatives throughout the state of Texas.

The main objective of the campaign was to encourage prospective customers to schedule an in-person appointment with one of the company’s representatives. With this, our customer needed a campaign that would:

  • capture attention;
  • demonstrate the value of scheduling an appointment; and
  • make it as convenient as possible for recipients to schedule their appointments.

True to our roots, Extend Your Reach recognized the tangible value our customer could achieve through a direct mail campaign.

Delivered straight to a prospect’s home, a postcard is a personal way to connect with potential customers, and a highly visible canvas on which to share our message.

With the above objectives in mind, however, we decided that a simple postcard would not do. Instead, we needed to create a mailpiece that would engage potential customers and move them beyond simply looking at the postcard toward conversion.

A potential hurdle to the campaign revealed itself in the number of different mailpieces our customer needed. Each postcard mailed would need to be personalized, based on the address of the recipient, with a local representative’s photo, office location and contact information. Some representatives would offer an incentive (a gift card) for scheduling an appointment, while others would not.

Additionally, the direct mail piece would be sent to prospects based on seven different criteria – which called for seven different versions of the artwork.
Variable data printing. To accommodate the need for many different versions, Extend Your Reach used variable data printing, a technology which allows text, graphics and images to be changed from one piece to the next during the printing process.

VDP uses a series of if/then statements to customize a direct mail piece for the recipient based on data. Using VDP, Extend Your Reach is able to print and send a single mailing to thousands of recipients each month and have every person receive a postcard that is tailored specifically to them.

To create a piece that was attention-grabbing and valuable to the recipient, Extend Your Reach used VDP and developed a postcard template that could be completely customized for each person. Each postcard included:

  • An image that corresponded with the trigger for reach recipient (where the trigger is a life-event that might qualify the recipient for the services offered by our customer)
  • A personalized URL (pURL) (directing recipients to a custom landing page)
  • A variable QR code
  • A photo, office location and contact information for the representative whose office is nearest the recipient’s address
  • A custom driving map from the recipients’ address to the nearest office location

The personalized details of the postcard were not used simply to capture attention, but also to demonstrate the value of the offer. Relevant and timely, the artwork and personalized copy of the postcard would help the recipient recognize how he or she might benefit from requesting an appointment.

Integrating print with digital. With the ultimate goal of getting prospects to request an appointment, we needed to adapt our strategy to accommodate consumers’ busy schedules and ever-shrinking attention spans. We recognized that it was important to remove any barriers that might prevent prospects from becoming customers.

Keeping this in mind, we focused on using technology to make it more convenient for recipients to request an appointment.

Personalized URLS (pURLs) offer countless ways to engage prospects beyond the mailpiece. In this case, we used the pURL to guide the recipient to a personal landing page with a form through which he or she could request an appointment.

Because each recipient had their very own landing page, we pre-filled most of the information for the appointment request, saving the recipient time in the conversion process.

As part of the campaign, a process was developed to notify the corresponding representative once a form has been completed, via an automated email. The representative is then able to access a customized portal to accept the appointment request and proceed with scheduling the appointment.

Also included on the postcard was a QR code that linked to the recipient’s personalized URL. The QR code was included as another means of connecting the direct mail piece to the digital landing page, further removing any barriers to conversion.

A sample of a custom landing page, similar to the one we created for our customer.
With so many factors comprising the campaign, we recognized the need for measurement along each step of the way. For this reason, we created a portal through which the various stakeholders can track the results, including:

  • Delivery rates
  • Visits to each personalized landing page (via the pURL or QR code)
  • Submitted appointment requests
  • Completed appointments

Challenged with creating a campaign that would result in appointments scheduled, Extend Your Reach found an innovative way to marry direct mail and technology. Drawing on the strengths of each medium, we developed a campaign that is relevant, engaging, efficient and award-worthy.

And the campaign results proved it: in the year that we ran the integrated campaign, our client saw a 600% increase in conversions over the previous year.

The takeaway: Direct mail certainly does work. The key is to find the right balance between the direct mail and digital worlds.

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