Programmatic Direct Mail

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A perfect marriage of online analytics and offline media

Direct mail is the original data driven media channel and is still hugely popular in the UK. Indeed it is currently the third largest communication channel, with a spend of around £1.2 billion a year.

Direct mail cuts through the digital traffic to deliver your message with a physical presence and without the faff of spam and the risk of hackers and scams.

Over the last ten or so years the digital boom has led to a new way of interacting, communicating and making decisions. As we browse the web in search of information, entertainment, products and recreation, our passage is tracked and data collected about all aspects of our lives and preferences. Shopping activity in particular is scrutinised and digital media channels provide data insights to inform future marketing activity that turns interest into sales.

Traditionally, digital data has only been used for digital campaigns, sparking emails and display adverts at every click for items of perceived interest. This data tells an advertiser who we are, what we like and crucially what our current interests and needs are.

As brilliant as this development in data capture is, the digitally driven campaigns (email, videos, display adverts etc) all still share the same pitfalls as any online marketing message, the biggest of which is trying to stand out in a saturated market.

So, what if we take the digitally captured data from the web and deliver responses physically into homes? This is where many businesses are now mopping up and enjoying some pretty impressive conversion rates indeed Royal Mail says its possible to recover a further 14% with direct mail following a digital campaign. Building on the established and proven qualities of mail but with added intelligence from the web, a digital DM mix allows for highly targeted, timely and relevant communications with a physical presence, delivered with less media competition into a sustainable environment – it’s the smart way to get a competitive edge.

How does its work?

Programmatic mail as defined by Royal Mail is “direct mail that is triggered by a fully permissioned customer action” These actions originate from website activity and a response is triggered in accordance with pre-set queries. Once triggered the relevant response is automatically carried out.

The process happens through online analytics that sit at the back end of your website infrastructure. Coding can be geared around pretty much anything you want, but most often campaigns tackle abandoned shopping baskets, improving conversion rates, retaining customers and making the most of new customer opportunities.

One key thing to remember is that you will need customers who have subscribed to your site with permissions and address data, whether as existing customers or whether this forms the first part of your online marketing process.

For example:

Product Sales

A logged in customer visits an e-commerce site, after browsing, places items in their shopping basket but then fails to complete the purchase. This action triggers an immediate programmatic mail response, in the same way it would for email marketing. But the response instead of triggering in an email, is sent to a mail partner who prints and mails your pre-designed, personalised communication to your customer. The mailer arrives and prompts them to reconsider the items in their shopping basket.

Customer Retention

Tracking the complete user journey, analytics show us which customers have visited pages that detail how to cancel their subscription (typical scenarios might be a mobile phone contract, TV package or gym membership). Once this activity has been flagged it can trigger a mailing that reinforces benefits of the service and perhaps offers an incentive to remain.

Customer Relationships

Again tracking the user journey we can build a profile of the type of products that interest the consumer and tailor a direct mailing piece to suit, such as a discount on previously purchased product, or notification that its on sale. Campaigns don’t always have to be fast response to online activity, sending a birthday card to customers with a special discount can be triggered in exactly the same way.


Whether you are looking to improve on your existing response rate from digital mailers or are starting sales and marketing campaigns from scratch its worth familiarising yourself with the benefits a programmatic direct mail response can add:

Arguably the most important factor to note is that multi channel campaigns show a 37% increase in response over single channel campaigns. (Source Varda Tirosh, “The Numbers Are In: Multi-channel Campaigns Are 37% More Effective,” Optimove, Jan. 12, 2017) and Royal Mail state an extra 14% increase in sales when a digital mailer is followed with physical mailer. So when considering multi channel, programmatic mailings need to be on your agenda.

Programmatic mailings are triggered at critical stages of the buying journey, making them highly targeted and relevant. Consumers use websites to research purchases and 90% of the intent data happens online, reaching buyers at this stage will help make sure you remain in the running.

Businesses can get a step ahead and offer a pre-emptive strike to customers that are thinking of leaving/cancelling their subscription with you.

These highly targeted mailers provide the opportunity to connect with customers about specific items you know they are interested in, building a relevant relationship and allowing you to offer targeted incentives.

By their nature programmatic mailers are automated, meaning once the parameters have been set up there’s virtually no input needed from you. Your chosen mailing house will be able to provide you with reports and stats on completed mailings when you need them.

In order to send a direct mail piece your customer needs to have subscribed in some way and given permissions and address details, this fact alone means that you can be 100% certain that your mailer is not unsolicited and will be welcome – thats half the battle won!

Programmatic direct mailings really are the best of both worlds integrating digital and physical media. Combining the power of digital tools and data capture with the proven benefits of physical mail, bringing real time analytics to offline media, beating adverts and avoiding traffic.

Get in touch now to see how we can help set the wheels in motion for your business. We can handle every aspect from designing your mailer and helping to set up your website coding to printing, sending and supplying reports at a time that suits you.

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