BTB Speaker: Personalized Mail Worth the Cost

TUCSON, AZ — Richard Sand opened his session at the B-to-B Marketing Conference here yesterday by asking attendees whether they knew the average number of mailboxes that each person has.

The answer: six, including physical mailboxes and e-mail at home and at work along with devices such as cell phones, pagers and voice mail.

Though that may seem to offer marketers plenty of selection in reaching recipients, the director of business development at Heidelberg USA Inc., Kennesaw, GA, then delivered the bad news: 78 percent of mail goes in the trash.

“A lot of the pieces … do they really focus on you as an individual, or as a certain demographic?” he said. “The beauty of what's happening today is that technology is allowing us, through print … to focus on an individual or a group, to allow the mail to have much more relevance to each of you when you receive it.”

Using variable data printing, Sand said, “the ability to take images and text and graphics and photos and be able to create an individual piece for each person or a particular group is very easy to do,” he said. “The success rates for fully customized pieces [are] three times higher than standard 'Dear occupant' [or] 'Dear resident' direct mail.”

He also said that response times rise tremendously along with response rates and repeat orders through personalization and variable data printing.

An example he cited involved a $30,000 budget comparing a nonpersonalized (100,000 pieces mailed with a “very generous” 2 percent response rate) and a personalized version (50,000 pieces “based on the data that we have and very specific person that we're going to send this information to” with a 10 percent response).

The nonpersonalized piece generated 2,000 leads and 300 orders. The personalized effort drew 5,000 leads and 750 orders. The bottom line: revenue of $120,000 for the nonpersonalized campaign versus $300,000 under the personalized effort, based on the order of a $400 item.

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