Direct Mail Outlook: Still Best Marketing Value
That’s not to say 2012 was not a challenging campaign. Some softness in the financial markets—i.e., credit and insurance—impacted direct mail volume universally, Coyle notes. It defrayed some of the momentum enjoyed in 2011.
RR Donnelley stepped up its efforts to ensure clients get maximum value with the installation of its new variable color imaging technology, ProteusJet Multiweb. The technology provides full page, 100 percent customization, eliminating the need for print versioning, plate changes and the small postal strings which, at low densities, add much cost. Coyle believes the ProteusJet technology additions have delivered relevancy enablers, too, which have translated into a higher response rate at a lower cost per response.
“Clients have readily adopted the use of variable digital imagery to enhance consumer appeal,” he notes. “This has led to a shift in the creative departments of our largest clients, which now write, design and create art for numerous individual socio-demographic segments. They draw on our imaging flexibility to implement sophisticated business rules that pull in the required copy, offer and graphics.
“Once executed, the final mass-produced mail piece really does deliver a message designed for one reader at a time. The ultimate dividend of our R&D and capital investments has been the expansion of production capacity to manage end-of-year surges of marketing mail volume.”
The uncertainty surrounding the USPS and its financial woes has done little to temper the enthusiasm of clients or to alter their mailing patterns, according to Coyle. The evolution that continues to take place is the multi-channel integration, with campaigns featuring e-mail teasers and followed up with post-mailing electronic reminders. Both e-mail and direct mail contacts often ultimately drive consumers to a PURL, where a transaction is often closed.
Coyle adds that RR Donnelley is preparing clients to take advantage of the new promotional programs offered by USPS in 2013 that leverage social media, Internet technology and geo-targeting. He commends the Postal Service for its willingness to experiment with marketing programs more typically associated with commercial enterprises.