Complete this sentence:
The road to highly personalized direct mail is paved in
- Complex, headache-inducing spreadsheets
- Intricate, unwieldy matrices
- Time-consuming, expensive data processing changes
- All of the above
If you answered any (or all) of the above, you’re not alone—in fact, you’re in good company. Direct mailers everywhere struggle with these very scenarios on a daily basis. But there is light at the proverbial end of the tunnel.
It’s called Messagepoint, and at Polaris Direct, it is one of our most trusted tools for delivering targeted, consistent messaging from one direct mail cycle to the next, and from one channel to another.
Rather than relying solely on complex data spreadsheets, this fully integrated digital workflow platform streamlines and automates personalization from start to finish using a set of business rules and logic that are applied throughout the production process.
This automated, templated approach allows for easier, faster changes and affords the following advantages to mailers:
- Precise personalization and targeting. As much as we love direct mail, we also know that it will only remain in the marketing mix as long as it is relevant to the consumer—and relevancy comes from personalization. Four-color, variable data inkjet printing has gone a long way towards addressing the need for highly personalized mail, but with inkjet technology comes the need for a more streamlined workflow to facilitate the process. A tool like Messagepoint allows us to quickly and efficiently add targeting rules to drive complex personalization, as well as to customize the message based on the requirements for individuals across various segments—from copy to imagery and offer and beyond.
- Consistent messaging across channels. Consistency in brand and messaging is a crucial component of successful marketing, but getting there can sometimes be a challenge. Text, image collections, and other assets like logos are often stored within silos that are difficult to access. With Messagepoint, however, all content resides in and is managed from a central location—a library, if you will. Direct mail assets and rules are shared across touchpoints (any method of communication, like a letter or email), allowing for easy multi-channel integration. Pulling from one location rather than multiple sources ensures consistency across channels—from direct mail to email, from mobile to web content. Moreover, templates can be used from campaign to campaign using the assets already stored in the library.
- Improved cycle time and expanded content control. By leveraging pre-existing templates from one mailing to the next, cycle time is often reduced—a huge win for our clients. Changes to existing templates can be made at a faster pace, which shortens turnaround time so data remains fresh and accurate. More than that, the ability to make changes only to a specified zone within a template decreases programming time and gives the user expanded control, eliminating human error and ensuring quality at all stages.
- Streamlined testing and approval. One of the biggest benefits of an automated workflow tool is that it replaces the need for countless audits and long approval processes. Messagepoint provides a variety of online testing options, from on-demand message previews to touchpoint proofs containing multiple variants, as well as data-driven tests and simulations. In a simulation, test data is run through a decisioning engine to determine the effectiveness of various targeting rules. For example, if a marketer is looking to send a letter version to customers over the age of 50 who have bought a product in the last six months and live in a specific region, a Messagepoint simulation will evaluate how often this scenario would occur—or “play out” across the overall mail file. This offers mailers insights into the validity of targeting rules prior to production.
So while the challenges of delivering highly personalized mail through variable, dynamic content are very real, there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel for direct mailers. Whether you are looking to reduce dependency on intricate spreadsheets, increase speed-to-market, or simplify the proofing process, the advantages are many.
In an age when personalized, precise direct mail is no longer a luxury but rather, a necessity, streamlining content and campaign management will become more and more crucial. As they say, “Work smarter, not harder.” By implementing tools like Messagepoint, we are able to do just that—deliver smarter, more streamlined marketing campaigns across channels.
About the author: Melanie Williams is Creative Supervisor/Copywriter at Polaris Direct, a nationally acclaimed high-volume direct marketing services company in Hooksett, NH.