Programmatic Direct Mail

Programmatic Direct Mail - the future or just another buzzword?

Written by Jon Tolley
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Originally published
May 11 2017,
July 3 2020

Whenever I hear “programmatic” I can’t help thinking of John Travolta ripping off his leather jacket, swinging it around his head, and breaking into a rendition of that song from Grease,

 “Why this car is automatic, it's systematic, it's hydromatic, why it's greased lightning…”

But perhaps that’s just me! Originally borrowed from the concept of programmatic ad buying, this particular “matic” is a term that’s worked its way into the marketing lexicon to now be applied across a range of channels.


Programmatic Ad Buying

Essentially, programmatic ad buying uses an automated system to make media-buying decisions using a multitude of data, rules and algorithms. The result? To serve up relevant ads to those most likely to be interested in them.  

With such a plethora of variables it’s a process which would be impossible to navigate manually and programmatic cuts human intervention, biases and time from the process.


Programmatic Email Marketing

Fast-forward a year, and following the introduction of a new “Best Use of Programmatic” category to its awards, an article appeared on the DMA’s site2 that posed the question, “Is there a place for programmatic in email marketing?” Well perhaps, but what exactly is it?

More than simply advanced automation, an ability to serve and optimise ads dynamically within an email itself as it is opened is sophisticated but increasingly possible. This content creation “on the fly” is significantly different from the “mechanics” of the triggering, generating and transmission associated with traditional email marketing systems (EMS). Hence the programmatic tag.


Programmatic Direct Mail

Anything online can do, print can do too. When website visitors are tracked, and the data on them accessible (and consented), triggered direct mail is a valuable tool to counter site bounces, journey interruptions, even cart-abandonment. Re-targeting using a medium that customers prefer, without the “creep” or irritation factor of the digital channels.

Yeah, that’s Greased Lightning!


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