The Smarter Way to Do Direct Mail

Last updated: April 27, 2020 | By Mike Davis

Direct mail and technology… there’s a long-standing perception that these two mediums exist at opposite ends of the marketing spectrum. As the CEO of a direct mail company, I hear it all the time: Print is outdated. It’s hard to measure. It lacks the targeting/retargeting capabilities of digital, and so on. Once, this may have been true, but like the rest of the marketing industry, direct mail has, and continues to, evolve.

I joined Valpak in 2017, eager to learn everything I could about direct mail marketing. Although new to direct mail, I wasn’t new to navigating a changing industry. Having spent years in the music and entertainment business, I’ve seen my fair share of industry disruptions. That’s OK though because a business can’t grow without change and that’s exactly what we’re doing at Valpak.

Bridging the Gap Between Solo & Co-op Direct Mail – Smart Envelope

Traditionally, there have been two types of direct mail: solo mail, which is highly targeted but comes with a hefty price tag, and cooperative mail, where shared envelope space makes advertising more affordable but with limited targeting capabilities. For 50 years, Valpak has been the recognized leader in co-op mail, helping millions of local businesses see marketing results on limited budgets. However, we saw a growing need to make print more personal and set out to create some waves with our Smart Envelope.

Smart Envelope technologies, like address matchback and selective targeting, bridge the gap between solo and cooperative mail, providing advanced targeting at a cost-effective price. Advertisers can now target up to four unique demographics within our 10,000-home mailing areas, at one-twelfth the cost of solo mail. Imagine sending loyalty offers, dangling retention perks and reaching new customers all within the same mailing. This level of segmentation hasn’t been done before in the cooperative mail space.

If you know me, you know I’m a huge believer in the power of data, which is why I get especially excited about the Smart Envelope. With address matchback, advertisers can now identify customers by mailing address via a unique ID printed on each ad. These IDs, captured at point of purchase and matched back to the consumer’s street address, enable the hyper-accurate measurement of consumer response. Data collected also offers valuable insight into the profitability of each household and empowers advertisers to develop deeper relationships with customers through personalized retargeting campaigns.

Valpak is truly taking 1:1 marketing to the next level:


It’s Personal

Personalization is essential in today’s customer journey as evidenced in a 2017 Epsilon survey that found:

  • 80% of respondents were more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences.
  • Consumers who want personalized experiences are 10x more likely to display brand loyalty (and they make 15+ transactions per year).

With nearly 80% of a business’s revenue generated by the top 20% of its customers, companies can’t afford to ignore the widespread desire for personalization.

This isn’t a new marketing concept either. Companies like Netflix and Amazon have provided personalized user experiences for years. However, a recent Evergage report found a disconnect between efforts and results when it comes to implementing a more personal marketing approach:

  • 98% of marketers agreed personalization helps advance customer relationships.
  • 87% of marketers report a measurable lift from their personalization efforts
  • But only 12% are extremely satisfied with their efforts.

Take a closer look at these numbers, and you’ll find advertisers almost exclusively focus on digital platforms to foster deeper relationships with consumers. This begs the question: what about print?

What’s Next for Print Advertising?

When Valpak launched Smart Envelope, we knew we had to prove its value in the marketplace, and most importantly, that it worked. To date, more than 75% of the envelopes we mail employ “smart” technologies and that number continues to grow. Our advertisers are capitalizing on these targeting opportunities and seeing returns as high as 3x their initial investment.

Valpak’s award-winning Smart Envelope has laid the groundwork to build even more sophisticated direct marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes. In the same way Amazon and Netflix customize user experience, Valpak is creating a future where each envelope we mail is tailored to the unique needs, desires and buying habits of the household that receives it. Delivering a truly personal experience for audiences is the future of direct mail. We’re proud to be leading the way, one Smart Envelope at a time.