In previous blog posts about data-driven marketing, I’ve touched on some of the key elements needed to ensure your campaign is set up for success, such as data hygiene, avoiding the Big Brother effect, and achieving true multi-channel integration. But a blog post recently published by my colleague, Mike Dietz, about factors influencing direct mail design in 2018, got me thinking about how the creative process is evolving thanks to data-driven marketing and how this too can impact your campaign’s success. Here are three strategies you can use to help design a data-driven direct mail campaign:
1. Build for an automated environment.
In order to support a truly one-to-one marketing strategy, we have to consider how our design will accommodate automation. As web designers have been doing for decades, we in direct mail must now think about our pages of physical paper as a wireframe in order to accommodate the infinite number of iterations that can be output based on data.
When data is taken into consideration up front, we can leverage a combination of wireframe zones and individual design assets to generate creative on the fly. Our dynamic content management tools do the work of interpreting exactly which pieces of copy, graphics, and imagery are appropriate for each target based on the multiple data points we have available, and then populating them into the zones like puzzle pieces. The result is a highly-targeted, personalized mailpiece that resonates with the recipient and drives response—and faster speed to market.
2. Make your asset library your biggest advantage.
A picture is still worth a thousand words—or maybe even more—in today’s marketing environment. Consider this: Stacy Bingle, consumer trends consultant at market research firm Mintel, states that 47% of millennials have used ONLY images to communicate. Think about your social media feeds, text messages from friends, and even email advertisements that you receive. Growing emphasis has been placed on photos, videos… and emojis. 🤷
How does that translate to an offline channel like direct mail? Consumers are being trained to expect highly visual, easily digestible content. Thankfully, data-driven marketing allows us to be exponentially more relevant with the images we place in our campaigns—ensuring it will get our message across with just a quick glance. Instead of relying on manual versioning to swap out four-color imagery or graphics at a segment-level, our content management platforms can now pull in the appropriate asset based on data at the individual level.
3. Always prepare for the worst-case scenario.
As mentioned, one of the many benefits of dynamic, data-driven creative is the elimination of manually created versions. It’s a huge time-saver! However, it’s important to remember that even though you’re not physically designing all the versions, your wireframe still has to account for all the combinations of copy and imagery that will be produced by the content management platform.
Once you have a base template that you’re happy with, test it by populating it with all the longest offers, copy blocks, URLs, etc. Does everything still fit appropriately when every zone in the wireframe is packed with the worst-case scenario? If not, it’s time to go back and re-work the layout. This may sound like common sense, but I’ve seen the 11th hour chaos that can be created when this easy quality assurance step is skipped. As you can imagine, it’s so much easier to make these adjustments up front than during the production phase.
Marketers’ ability to design direct mail that appeals to individual audience members is critical to remaining relevant amid the barrage of content they receive each day. Harnessing this capability through dynamic content management tools and our immense digital production platform has allowed IWCO Direct to remain at the forefront of creating data-driven direct marketing campaigns for our clients. To learn more, contact me today.
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