Programmatic Direct Mail

What is Programmatic Direct Mail

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
September 12 2019,
September 26 2020

Which came first? Was it the chicken? Or was it the egg? A recent piece by Devora Rogers of Murphy Research, “Direct Mail Shoppers are More Engaged Shoppers”* prompted the same question. Were shoppers behaving in a certain way because of the direct mail they received or, did they respond positively to direct mail because of the type of shopper they are?


Direct mail users

The study of 3,250 consumers was commissioned to understand how direct mail impacts consumer purchase decisions. It found that those classified as “direct mail users” displayed certain traits and behaved differently to non-users. In quantitative terms, users are:-

  • 13% more likely to have the retailer or promotion/sales in mind prior to purchasing
  • 16% more likely to make purchases on a regular basis
  • 10% more likely to make purchases in-store

While, in qualitative terms, they’re more likely:-

  • to be brand loyal
  • to have stronger opinions about and be more engaged with the shopping process
  • to enjoy shopping and view the shopping experience positively


What is Programmatic Direct Mail (PDM)

It determined that direct mail is clearly an important and effective tool. But programmatic direct mail, based as it is on real-time digital intent, goes even further adding an additional positive dimension and impact. This flavour of direct mail has been triggered by clear signs of the shopper’s interest – whether that’s simply searching and browsing, or selection and cart-abandonment – but where the journey to purchase remains incomplete.


The 90% rule

“Home is at the Heart of Commerce Marketing” * is another study undertaken by Murphy which throws light on the consumer’s path to purchase and the relationship between online and offline. While the journey might be a complex one, the statistics are both fascinating and simple: -

  • Around 90% of buying decisions are made in the home, are pre-planned and discussed with others
  • 90% of intent data is available online
  • 90% of purchases occur offline

Programmatic online display advertising and triggered emails use the same intent drivers as programmatic direct mail
but have a different effect. Because, while they may be instant, they’re not enduring. They reflect intent but don’t support the home/offline element of the consumer’s decision-making process. Both have a role, but print known to remain in the home for longer and to be shared within the household, has the greater ability to nudge consumers to action.


The “which came first?” question remain unanswered. Perhaps the more important one is, “does it really matter?” The figures tell the story and, if programmatic direct mail is bridging the online/offline divide and keeping the customer happy, engaged, active and retained, it’s clearly doing its job and proving its worth.

Bridging the on and offline customer journey.

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