Getting the right message to the right person at the right time is the holy grail of engagement marketing, and something that automation technology promises. It has been utilised by sectors such as retail that want to reach, for example, potential customers who abandon their shopping baskets with follow-up digital ads and emails.
In Europe, almost eight out of 10 consumers abandoned their online shopping cart at least once within a six month period, according to 2016 research by B2C Europe. Online retailers seeking to reduce abandonment rates in order to drive greater returns from e-commerce will often retarget customers online through banner ads and/or emails.
Yet with up to 22% of consumers deploying ad blocking software in the UK, according to 2017 IAB figures, and with popular email providers such as Gmail and Hotmail filtering out promotional content the impact of such activity has dampened.
The power of print – planned like digital
Integrating online and offline has been much discussed. Automation, or as the postal industry calls it, programmatic mailing, proves the added value. Programmatic refers to specific online actions that trigger sending a physical mailing. Such a trigger could be an abandoned cart online, no reaction on a e-newsletter or a visit to a special page on the website. The mail piece sent as a reaction to this trigger is personalised and includes products or offers. With automation software and digital printing all of this is possible.
Speaking at the recent Power of Print seminar Seirian Hanner, who heads up the insight team at Britain’s Royal Mail MarketReach, described how mail can be delivered programmatically. She said it could be planned like digital, tracked via Mailmark, personalised and mailed to customers within 24 hours.
Early results are promising. UK retail brand JD Williams, owned by online fashion retailer N Brown Group wanted to consider a new channel in its fight to lower abandoned baskets: direct mail. It wanted to know if physical mail could improve its retargeting response rates and deliver greater cut-through than email or banner ads.
Every piece of direct mail creative that was sent out carried a picture of the item in the customer’s basket at the moment they abandoned. Contact data such as address details, imagery and product details were sent digitally to its printer daily, who then printed, finished and mailed the pieces to the customer within 24 hours.