Multi-Channel Approach. Colatriano points out that by combining direct mail with targeted e-mails, personalized URLs (PURLs) and other forms of communication, clients can reach their customers “when and where they’re most likely to pay attention.”

Paper Proves Costly

Colatriano noticed an uptick in volumes as 2006 progressed and believes clients were feeling the pressure to raise response rates. An increase in paper costs, he says, likely factored into a slower summer period.

It was a busy year for Vertis Communications, which purchased 10 Océ VarioStream digital printing systems for its Bristol, PA, facility. USA Direct, of York, PA, was acquired, and the company developed solutions for enhancing direct marketing campaigns, such as ¡Alcance! Hispanic tools, and the Vertis OnDemand Web portal enabling print-on-demand fulfillment of direct mail and marketing communications. The company also expanded its variable data digital color capabilities at two of its production facilities.

Despite some negative external influences being experienced by direct mail marketers, Colatriano believes the key lies in targeted messaging. “There is no panacea, but clearly making a message more relevant and efficient in targeting recipients is something direct marketers should be doing regardless of postal rates,” he says.

If done properly, this is a more efficient way of achieving the desired results. Highly personalized messages that acknowledge the customer’s recent inquiry, request, life event or purchase, achieve greater responses.

“Our variable data technologies, in concert with more precise data, allow us to put meaningful messages in the hands of the target audience. This enhances relationships and loyalty. The improved response rates will offset the rising costs associated with direct mail production that have been predicted for 2007,” Colatriano adds. “We do, however, need meaningful postal reform and the industry should continue to back legislative efforts to push it forward.”

The 2006 campaign proved to be a profitable one for IWCO Direct of Chanhassen, MN, as marketers continue to understand that customers and prospects prefer direct mail solicitations compared to e-mail and telemarketing, notes Jim Andersen, president and CEO. In fact, he points out, a number of IWCO Direct’s clients identified direct mail as their most important channel for solicitation mail. Thus, many are testing direct mail for highly targeted customer retention and loyalty programs.

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