Direct Mail
November 23, 2020 | by


It’s about the value. In the direct mail & print services industry, pricing is delivered in a cost per piece (CPP) unit of measurement. In other words, number of pieces mailed, multiplied by price per piece = project investment. The cost, when extrapolated can seem like a significant investment – and with constricted budgets, it can be. However, helping deliver a positive return on investment or ROI, will always be an important factor in the buying process.

Marketers view project costs as investments in their brand’s futures. They are short-term costs balanced against projected long-term revenue. Cost, Response & Conversions – are metrics used in developing an ROI but perhaps the most meaningful key performance indicator (KPI) is lifetime value, or LTV.

In layman’s terms, LTV = Estimated long term revenue or “share of wallet” that can be realized from a marketing conversion.

Direct mail & print services providers need to adopt an ROI over CPP mindset when engaging with their clients. Uncovering ROI is not difficult, but it does require a shift in mindset. The value that direct mail and print services providers deliver in the forms of quality, total services offered, customer service and consistently meeting drop dates are critically important in the execution phase. However, direct mail and print services providers need to look deeper to uncover the complete ROI. However, to do so, it helps to look at the entirety of a direct marketing campaign and ask the right questions.


Those projects you bid on – they are smaller pieces of a larger program. It may be a customer acquisition, retention, cross-sell/up-sell or reactivation campaign. These programs are designed to increase revenue through effective consumer engagement and each of those carry different ROI goals.

Keep in mind – your client is leveraging short term activity to realize long-term gains. Do some probing and ask the following questions:

•   What type of revenue impact do you see by converting an acquisition responder?

•   Once converted – what types of programs do you execute to move them along in their customer journey?

•   Retention – on average, how long do you retain a customer and what percentage increase purchases vs. drop off?

•   What types of programs do you run against each of those scenarios?


While companies invest in the data science and analytics portion of their business – basic file hygiene, such as CASS/NCOA and deduplication, can be neglected. A recent CMO by Adobe found more than half (54%) of companies say their biggest challenge to data-driven marketing success is the lack of data quality and completeness.

As a result, marketing audiences are missed or should not have been marketed to in the first place. In short for every wasted marketing dollar spent, your client’s ROI drops.

Fragmented data points are an example where ROI is directly affected by CPP. A reduction in print and postage cost will provide an immediate savings. Then add to it the value the organization sees in the forms of who to market to; or equally as important – who not to market to.

Remember LTV? Think about the missed potential by not communicating with your high value customers.


Data is everywhere and printers see it every day in the form of variable data printing. Data exists in the forms of variable offers, images, calls to action and even legal terms and conditions.

Personalized mail pieces are driven by insights gleaned from an organization’s data scientists. According to CMO by Adobe, 53% of marketers said ”a demand to deliver more relevant communications/be more “customer centric” is among the most important factors driving their investment in data driven marketing. What this tells us is companies are invested and committed to leveraging data to maximize program ROI.

Organizations have varying abilities to mine for knowledge and trends. Some companies use foundational analytics to create customer profiles or segmentation. Others use complex algorithms based on consumer behavior to develop marketing communications strategies.

Each of these approaches and disciplines are designed and applied to pull customer engagement levers and increase engagement within overall marketing communications.

Why is this important to direct mail & print services providers? Because data-driven insight drives personalized communications – a large portion of that is direct mail. In fact, according to an ANA/ DMA Response rate nearly 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences.

Take advantage of the data analytics feedback from your client to identify areas where your digital variable printing capabilities can help boost ROI.


That name on a printed piece of mail, it has value to both the brand and the recipient. Direct mail delivers results. It is personalized, unique and with the advancements in ink, paper stocks and interactive format designs – it is highly engaging. Statistics show 92% of direct mail is opened.

From the consumer’s perspective, it is a welcome form of communication. 56% of people perceive printed marketing as the most trustworthy of all communications channels. According to an Epsilon study, 73% of American consumers say they prefer being contacted by brands via direct mail because they can read it whenever they want.

Stop and think of the various channel options brands use to communicate with their audiences. Digital, social, print, mobile – all effective channels but marketing fatigue is real. Consider email for instance. FrontPage notes that the average person sends and receives 124 work emails every day or 620 emails every week – on average we spend 1.1 minutes on each email. Organizations understand the value of an audience or individual – that is why they are communicating through the direct mail channel.

The printing and production information you gain from the questions and answer sessions you have with your client are important. It allows you to price appropriately and schedule accordingly. It also allows your company to execute the program as the client envisioned it.

However, you need to show your client you are interested in their overall business. Demonstrate you are a partner as opposed to a vendor. Challenge yourself to understand their ROI, because I guarantee, in the long term, it is more valuable than a CPP.

To understand your client’s ROI metrics, you must do a little digging. You must be comfortable in broaching topics you may have not talked about in the past – and that is OK. Often times, your client will be open to sharing marketing performance information. And… you do not need a degree from MIT to understand the numbers. However, expect to do some number crunching as you uncover response and conversion metrics.


These are key drivers in developing an ROI and measuring the success of a direct mail campaign. Begin by asking questions such as:

•   What types of response rates have you seen in the past?

•   How are those rates tracking against your campaign expectations?

•   Have you tested multiple direct mail formats to increase response rates?

•   If so, are you seeing an uptick in engagements from one group vs. another?

•   How is that trending – are you seeing more conversions as opposed to other campaigns?

The more you know about their business, the more recommendations you can provide. It may be presenting personalization options, unique format designs, taking advantage of one of the USPS’ Postal Promotions or even automation. It is important to be cognizant of the fact that even the smallest modifications can provide an increase in ROI.


Think of the LTV (lifetime value) of a responder – it is an important indicator in present and future performance. Conversion questions you should ask include:

•   What is the LTV of a conversion?

• On average, how often do they purchase and at what increment?

• Conversions have various values over the course of their engagement with you – what types of marketing are you doing to move them up the customer value chain?

Direct mail has a strong presence. It gets noticed and allows for greater control by the recipient. This, in turn, makes it an effective way of reaching a large group of people – now THINK BIG PICTURE – think omni-channel. A recent study by CompuMail states, when direct mail and digital marketing is combined, marketers can see a 40% increase in conversion rates, 63% increased response rates and a 60% increase in ROI.


There is value to the individual name printed on the direct mail piece. We know this because your client’s goals are to generate interest via responders and increase revenues through conversions and deliver an impactful ROI. Data analytics and data integrity play significant roles as well as quantified information are metrics in the creation and measurement of marketing programs.

Knowledge is power and being able to understand and articulate how you can add to a client’s ROI will separate you from your CPP competitors.

Click here to learn more about Quantum’s direct mail solutions.

Joe Holleman is the Director of Marketing and Strategic Solutions at Quantum Group, located in Morton Grove, IL. He is responsible for brand strategy and the development of strategic marketing solutions. His experience includes senior level marketing strategy positions within companies such as: RR Donnelley, Epsilon, InteQ and The Allant Group.

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