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    January 23, 2023

    Dave Fink of Postie: Is Digital Dead? Why It’s Time for Brands To Embrace an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy

    Written by: Satta Sarmah Hightower
    "While I would never suggest, ‘Hey, let's move away from those channels entirely,’ my philosophy is that we have to move to a more omnichannel approach without giving up our addressability, our measurement capabilities, and our efficiencies that we've worked so hard to build into our marketing stack … In the offline world, direct mail is a channel that has a lot of similarities with these newer, modern digital channels."                                               — Dave Fink, CEO and Co-founder of Postie

    In recent years, brands have shelled out more and more ad dollars on digital channels, as noted by The Washington Post. In 2019 alone, digital ad spend exceeded print and TV ad spend by $20 billion.

    That figure would lead any reasonable person to believe that print advertising is practically dead. But it appears that in 2022, print — or specifically, direct mail — is making a comeback.

    Dave Fink, CEO and co-founder of direct mail platform Postie, joined a recent episode of the "Unpacking the Digital Shelf" podcast, "Going to the Post Office To Drive Growth," to share why this old marketing channel is new again.

    Here’s Fink’s take on why brands need to focus on an omnichannel marketing strategy and how direct mail can give them an edge in an increasingly crowded and noisy digital advertising landscape.

    Developing Your Omnichannel Marketing Strategy: Why Direct Mail? Why Now?

    With more competition for attention and increasing ad rates on Facebook, Google, and other digital channels, the return on investment (ROI) of digital advertising is beginning to wane.

    "We've been able to be really addressable with our advertising spend, speaking to very targeted segments of prospects or consumers. It harnesses all of our first-party data to gain insights into why consumers are engaging with us as a brand or as a product or service," Fink says. "That's been great for many years, but we're all feeling the pain that's coming from the mass amount of ad dollars that have been shifted into a few key channels and the lack of efficiency that we're now seeing."

    Enter direct mail: an old marketing tactic that Fink argues offers many of the same advantages as modern digital channels in terms of targeting and measurement.

    "We have to move to a more omnichannel approach without giving up our addressability, our measurement capabilities, our efficiencies that we've worked so hard to build into our marketing stack," Fink says. "In the offline world, direct mail is a channel that has a lot of similarities with these newer, modern digital channels."

    How Postie Is Innovating Direct Mail

    For decades, there’s been a lack of innovation in the direct mail space, which is probably why many brands have shied away from or underinvested in this channel.
    Fink says direct mail has traditionally had three key pain points that Postie addresses for brands. First, targeting hasn’t been as streamlined with direct mail as it has been with digital advertising, which leverages data science to do complex targeting relatively easily.

    Measurement and execution are also challenges. While direct mail has always been measurable, brands typically have performed tracking manually using spreadsheets, which isn’t always accurate. Execution is also cumbersome because of the amount of paper and postage involved in the process.

    But Postie is making this analog channel digital. Postie’s technology helps brands run direct mail campaigns just like they run digital ads — with the push of a button. The integrated platform offers all the capabilities brands need to run their campaigns, from operations and logistics all the way through to reporting and campaign tracking.

    "We're all still on Facebook and Instagram and Google, but we've seen ad rates go through the roof … The data and the targeting are still there, but the rates are going up, and it's becoming harder and harder to find efficiency in those channels." — Dave Fink, CEO and Co-founder of Postie

    Brands can create look-a-like and custom audiences, geo-target or geo-fence by zip code, seamlessly execute their campaigns with automated printing and personalization features, and access a dashboard with comprehensive analytics to measure campaign performance.

    The Value of Direct Mail for Your Omnichannel Marketing Strategy

    Fink says direct mail offers several critical benefits for brands, such as helping them:

    • Take full advantage of their first-party data to more effectively target their audience;
    • Discover new audience segments;
    • Strategize to support geofencing and location-based marketing;
    • Minimize waste outside of their addressable market as they seek to expand their audience; and
    • Better compete in new markets with compelling and relevant creatives.

    Brands also can be more timely in their marketing efforts and execute daily trigger campaigns for new residents in a particular geography to reach them with relevant messaging as quickly as possible.

    Fink says direct mail can be valuable for most companies to incorporate into their omnichannel marketing strategy, but he’s seeing telecommunications companies with very specific addressable markets flock to this approach.

    Direct mail also can be beneficial for industries with high-consideration products, such as the automotive, insurance, and consumer lending industries.

    "Having a weightier way to engage with those prospects makes a lot of sense as a core channel out of the gate," Fink says.

    Putting Direct Mail to Work: Use Cases

    Direct mail also can drive value for omnichannel retailers.

    Fink says this group has migrated toward micro-level segmentation based on historical transaction data for years, so they have a wealth of first-party data they can tap into.

    Instead of engaging through email or SMS, brands can use the data they have on consumers' buying behaviors and preferences to build targeted direct mail campaigns in the same way they would build complex programmatic campaigns.

    "Instead of optimizing towards an A/B creative test, they're thinking about how to paint in tiny little micro-brushes in a very dynamic fashion so that this specific piece of creative you may receive may be very different than what I receive because we live in different regions, we have different frequencies of purchase, and we purchase different product categories," he says.

    For example, a skincare company could run a direct mail campaign where it advertises a specific lotion based on the climate of the region where a consumer lives. One consumer who lives in a drier climate may receive a creative for a different skincare product than another consumer who lives in an area that is really moist and rainy year-round. The same rule applies to a fitness apparel company marketing to consumers in different parts of the country.

    Therefore, when it comes to targeting, direct mail can be just as potent as any digital channel.

    Is Direct Mail Right for Your Brand?

    Fink says brands who want to lower their customer acquisition costs and expand beyond walled gardens should consider adding direct mail to their marketing mix.
    With the efficiency and return of digital advertising gradually declining, focusing on an omnichannel marketing strategy can drive profitability and growth for brands. Fink says direct mail performs as well as any digital channel outside of branded search.

    "But the little gem of a surprise, even better than that, this channel competes head-to-head with any digital channel," Fink says. "Time and time again, the lifetime value of customers acquired through direct mail proves to be noticeably higher than the lifetime value of customers acquired through digital channels. But I can tell you definitively it is as performant as any of the digital channels, and there are times when it's more performant. It's stable, it's consistent, and it gets more efficient with scale — not less efficient."

    To hear more of Fink’s perspective on the value of direct mail advertising, listen to the full episode.