Digital MarketingEcommerceDirect mail goes programmatic

Direct mail goes programmatic

Direct mail might seem like a vestige of the past, but for many marketers looking to cut through the clutter and reach consumers, it is still an important and productive channel.

But old-school channels like direct mail have the potential to be improved, and numerous companies are applying digital technologies and techniques in an effort to make them more productive. Case in point: New York-based PebblePost, a startup that is combining direct mail with digital.

In 2014, the company launched a digital-to-direct mail platform it calls “Programmatic Direct Mail” and now it has launched the PebblePost Ad Server, an ad server that uses data gleaned from digital sources to generate and deliver “dynamically rendered, personalized mail pieces to existing or prospective customers.”


Previously, PebblePost gave marketers the ability to trigger the delivery of direct mail to customers based on a basic set of events, such as the abandonment of a shopping cart. Now, those marketers can apply behavioral, audience and intent-based targeting without limitation.

For example, a marketer could create a campaign that specifically targets existing high-value customers who have viewed specific products but not completed a purchase, or customers who exceeded a set dwell time.

PebblePost will then generate and mail a standard 4.5 × 6-inch postcard based on templates created by a marketer. Postcards are personalized for each customer, can include unique promo and discount codes, and are printed and in the mail within 24 hours.

In addition to its targeting and personalization options, PebblePost gives marketers budgeting, frequency capping, geo-targeting, list suppression and A/B testing capabilities. It also provides a real-time analytics dashboard so marketers can track send volume, response and conversion rates, and campaign ROI. Put simply, PebblePost’s direct mail retargeting campaigns function much like digital retargeting campaigns.

According to PebblePost, its programmatic approach to direct mail can deliver conversions 80 times higher than traditional direct mail, and 250 times higher than digital marketing channels.

Offline is online

While PebblePost is providing a comprehensive platform for programmatic direct mail that appeals to companies seeking an all-in-one solution, it’s not the only company demonstrating that few channels are truly offline today.

Lob, which offers an on-demand API for the printing and delivery of postcards, letters and checks, counts brands like Amazon and Square as customers, and is used by companies in a variety of industries, such as lending, to programmatically send marketing and non-marketing postal mail. Lob has integrations with marketing automation platforms like Marketo and Autopilot, allowing users of those platforms to incorporate postal mail into their customer journeys.

Thanks to API-based services like Lob, marketers should expect more and more offline channels to function more like their online cousins in the coming years.