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November 08, 2017

2018 Planning: How to Increase Efficiencies & Maximize Your Direct Mail Budget

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The temperatures are dropping, the days are getting shorter, and almost all the leaves have fallen. It can only mean one thing: Budget planning season is upon us. Your primary goal in 2018 should be to increase production efficiency in order to maximize your direct mail marketing dollars to their fullest. 

Before you put together your 2018 budget, review your 2017 campaigns and look for areas where there’s room to improve efficiencies. Increased production efficiency for direct mail campaigns means more money leftover in your budget for other initiatives, like adding more campaigns to your 2018 line-up or investing in more integrated digital tactics.

Sound like a good plan? Here are five places to start looking for efficiencies in your direct mail program:

1) Intelligent Inserting

Intelligent inserting uses cameras and 2D barcode technology to send variable components to each record on a mailing list. Using selective inserting allows you to accomplish in one mail stream what would otherwise take multiple jobs to accomplish without the right technology. Choosing to work with a mail vendor that has intelligent inserting technology will allow you to achieve greater targeting at a lower cost for your direct mail campaigns.

2) Integrated Reporting

Using the same camera and barcode technology, an intelligent machine can scan and verify that every mail piece in the stream has been printed and produced correctly. Not only does this create efficiency through verifiable accuracy, but the machine uses integrated reporting software to generate a comprehensive data file that can be used to integrate the direct mail campaign with other channels or provide proof of mailing for organizations in regulated industries. Integrated multi-channel marketing gives your campaigns more power.

Download now: Direct Mail Production Checklist

3) Database Cleanliness

Simply cleaning up your database and list segmentation can help you gain back some efficiency in your direct mail program. An “unclean” database is more likely to contain duplicate contacts, have missing data points, or outdated information – all of which waste resources. Don’t waste money mailing to an old address or contacting someone about the wrong product. Use data appending and data hygiene practices to update your database and start sending more highly targeted, integrated campaigns in 2018.

4) Size and Format

Sometimes, changing the format of your direct mail piece by as little as a quarter inch can be the difference between a cost-effective campaign and one that pinches your pennies. That small change won’t make a noticeable difference to the look and feel of the piece, but it will make a huge difference in the overall cost. Ask your print vendor to compare costs for different sizes and formats before you send your campaign to production.

If you’re looking to experiment with new direct mail formats in 2018, we encourage you to check out Launch Room, our new collection of direct mail inspiration and ideas.

5) Consult Your Vendor

One of the most common direct mail production mistakes is failing to consult your vendor before sending a campaign to print. It’s an all too familiar scenario for our production team here at Streamworks: A client sends us the file for a beautifully designed new campaign, only to learn that it doesn’t comply with postal regulations, which means that it will either need to mail at higher rates or that it can’t be mailed at all. Either scenario means your campaign just got more expensive.

To save yourself time, money, and headaches in 2018, loop your print vendor in early in the process of developing a new campaign – or even outsource the design process to them altogether, if they have the capability. Their expert knowledge of USPS regulations will increase efficiency in the long-run.

For more tips on production and efficiency, download our free Direct Mail Production Checklist.

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