Programmatic Direct Mail

Digital and direct mail – get with the programmatic!

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
October 3 2018,
September 26 2020

When we’re looking for direct mail insight, an obvious place to start is Royal Mail’s MarketReach. Their research around how consumers and businesses respond to direct mail is fascinating. And invaluable. The International Post Corporation (IPC), an association of twenty-four postal operators, delivers similar inspiration but based on learnings from across the world.


Direct Marketing Guide

Its 2018 Direct Marketing Guide is hot off the press. Current and comprehensive, it has a wealth of mail-based information.  What sparked our imagination in particular was the section on “Programmatic”. More usually associated with digital, marketers are switching on to its uses and benefits for direct mail too.


What is it?

Ever expressed interest in something online and then been stalked by it wherever else you browsed? That’s programmatic advertising right there. Using tracking, algorithms and automation, brands are able to buy advertising space on websites – all in real-time. Clever and annoying in equal measure.

Programmatic direct mail on the other hand uses the same rules and logic to trigger printed pieces that nudge customers to action, without the annoyance and with less chance of being ignored.


Its uses

Programmatic direct mail has a plethora of uses. These are the five main ones suggested in the report: -

  1. Browse but no sale – a user visits your site, shows significant interest but selects no products

  2. Abandoned baskets – adds to cart but doesn’t complete checkout process

  3. First time purchasers – a means of opening dialogue and reinforcing brand with a new customer

  4. Customers stop buying – lapsed or lapsing customers you’d wish to remind and bring your brand “front of mind” again

  5. Loyal customers – rewarding their custom and showing appreciation


How it works

Typically, programmatic direct mail relies on just 5 steps for success

  1. Set campaign objectives – as with any other type of marketing campaign, you’ll need to determine what it’s designed to achieve. Create a new customer? Complete the checkout process? Download some content?
  2. Tag key pages – if your call to action (CTA) is online a specific landing page (ideally a pURL) will be needed. Of course, the recipient may wish to interact offline, by telephone for example. If that’s the case, you’ll need a way of tracking the response to accurately measure success.

  3. Upload assets – the data and content (images and copy) need to be in place to populate the printed piece.

  4. Direct mail is triggered – based on the action, or inaction, data and content is merged, print swiftly produced and despatched.

  5. Performance reporting – campaign is analysed, and success measured based on the objectives set out in 1. above.


Programmatic direct mail weds digital to print and is a marriage made in heaven!

Talk to us if you’d like to learn just how simple it can be.

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