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Direct Mail: The MVP of Customer Relationship Management

June 14, 2018

direct mail postcards

Customer relationship management (CRM), or the practice of managing and analyzing a company’s interactions with their customers, is a strategic blend of marketing efforts, sales, customer service and support. Examples include everything from a quick response time and helpful answer when a customer sends a query to an email that welcomes a new customer after they’ve made a purchase.

Managing a customer’s value by tracking things like purchase volume and history allows companies to adjust interactions in order to continually improve upon the relationship. In marketing, such information can be used to predict what a customer might buy next, in the interest of proactively promoting those products to him or her.

Because CRM relies on data, it is often solely associated with digital communications strategies. But using the data gathered from CRM systems is also highly effective for direct mail campaigns as an integrated, one-to-one approach to customer-centric marketing.

Take this example:

  1. You run a small online shop that sells different varieties of teas, and want to promote a new summer tea line through a direct mail campaign.
  2. You have a database of clients who have completed a customer profile, based on the reward of a free tea on their birthday.
  3. Identifying those that have a birthday in the summer months, you could send out direct mail postcards with a special birthday code inside that includes promotional copy for the new teas. You could also identify those that live in particularly warm climates and send a “cool down” card to them with product suggestions from the summer line.

Delivering direct mail postcards to a niche market based on customer behavior, instead of simply marketing to the widest batch available, will maximize cost efficiency as that specific demographic is more likely to buy.

CRM can also be used to manage new customer relationships. For example, it’s typical to send an activation email once a customer buys an online product or service for the first time. If there’s no response to the activation email after a month or two, send an activation postcard with a promotion for a product the customer might be interested in, depending on their past purchase history.

How to Track It

Good CRM must always be trackable in order to optimize return on investment and adjust strategies for future marketing campaigns. As in the example above, you can track direct mail response rate by adding a unique URL and a discount code to your mail piece, or perhaps a QR code. Track how many people received the card versus those who actually took you up on your offer. You could even A/B test (comparing two versions of a marketing campaign to see which performs better) different versions of copy to see which postcard garners a higher response, and use that information when creating your next campaign.

The Best of Both Worlds

By marrying CRM strategies with direct mail, marketers can more effectively segment audiences based off of behavior (and therefore likelihood to purchase), bringing about higher overall response rates. Direct mail slices through the noise of digital channels, providing a personal touch to both new and long-time customers, and implementing it into a strategic CRM approach will combine the usefulness of data with high-impact value in a way that reaps returns.