What is Programmatic Direct Mail?
Programmatic Direct Mail ® is a platform, founded by PebblePost that transforms real-time online activity into a dynamically rendered, personalized direct piece of mail that is sent to a consumer’s home within 12-24 hours.
Based in New York City and founded in 2014, the primary goal of platform is to “seamlessly connect real time interest and intent data with in-home tangible media.”
For example, a shopper is searching for a dress to wear to a wedding this summer. They click on a turquoise blue lace dress but decide to abandon cart and keep shopping instead.
Programmatic Direct Mail will register that shopper’s data history (via desktop, mobile or mobile app) and in less than 24 hours will retarget the shopper with a printed mail piece advertising the same blue lace dress. Creative for the document is provided by the advertiser and can include additional discounts or special offers on the product of interest.
After 10 years founding and leading one of the largest seed stage venture fund investing primarily in ad tech and ecommerce solutions, PebblePost CEO / founder Lewis Gersh said he felt it was time to “develop a programmatic solution for an entire marketing channel.”
According to Gersh, “Direct Mail came to us as a big and powerful one that had experienced very little innovation in a long time, and we challenged those who said it couldn’t be done.”
Prior to PebblePost, Gersh founded Gersh Venture Partners, focused primarily on B2B marketing and ecommerce technologies, especially those bridging online data with traditional markets.
Gersh later changed the name to Metamorphic Ventures, adding two partners who continue to manage the fund and built one of the largest portfolios of companies specializing in retargeting, ecommerce and database marketing.
Prior to Metamorphic, Gersh founded Worldly Information Network, a database direct marketing company leveraging user-driven segmentation. Worldly became the largest provider of free investment newsletters on the web.
We spoke with Gersh on the impact of Programmatic Direct Mail and how he predicts it will influence the future of retargeting.
Q. How does Programmatic Direct Mail work?
A. “Our business offers marketers the ability to send messages to active customers, those who have recently visited their website, that are based on behavioral activity such as search, cart abandonment or dwell time; product segmentation such as shoes, pants, belt; and campaign rules such as audience tagging, a/b testing, control groups, etc.
We then dynamically render a personalized piece of physical media – mail – that is delivered into a postal hub within 12-24 hours of the site visit.”
Below is an example of Boxed.com – an online wholesaler who improved their email response rate by 35% thanks to Programmatic Direct Mail campaign:
PebblePost can identify and retarget the visitor through a previous login, purchase history or via cookie. Once they have identified the browser, they use a customer relationship management platform to pull the street mailing address.
In terms of response – Pebblepost tracks the follow up to their mail campaign when a cart abandoned or previous browser returns to the website, mobile, mobile app or places a call order.
Q. What is the value of Programmatic Direct Mail?
A. “We combined the most powerful parts of digital marketing data – real time interest and intent behavioral activity from user driven segmentation, with the most powerful part of direct mail – physical media into home.
The two combined produce over 20% response rates – that’s 10x higher than traditional direct mail at 2% and 200x higher than digital retargeting at .1% CTR.
Our customers universally view Programmatic Direct Mail® as a completely new marketing channel.”
Q. How do companies benefit from Programmatic Direct Mail?
A. “Performance is job #1 with conversion rates orders of magnitude higher, increased AOV and faster velocity of transactions. We also solve huge pain points of ad fraud, viewability, ad blockers, disruption of user experience, etc.
It is a one stop shop integrated programmatic platform including data driven decisioning with high levels of automation that continuously enhance efficiency and efficacy.”
Q. What trends in programmatic advertising have you seen so far?
A. “Programmatic advertising is a broad category. Search was the initial Web-based entry into the business. Once exchanges developed, it started with display, then email and then video.
Now traditional media/marketing channels – like TV, Out-of-home (OOH) and direct mail are also applying data and automation to the process of targeting marketing to consumers.
Programmatic is not really a phase or a trend, it’s the continued application of highly automated data driven decisioning to the marketing industry, and its changing the way marketers work with agencies, tech vendors and media companies.
One other major trend we are enabling is the ability to offer programmatic creative. Despite the ease of creating digital ads, the digital advertising industry still struggles to present ads that are dynamically personalized on the fly. We have a solution to that for direct mail that will help leapfrog the direct marketing industry’s current approaches.”
Q. What do you say to those who believe direct mail is no longer a viable channel?
A. “That’s usually a sign of inexperience. Direct mail is the second largest ad spend next to TV, has the highest response rate of any purchasable media, and is growing.
It has been the workhorse of the marketer’s “complete breakfast” for many decades and is becoming more important.”
Q. How do you track your reporting efforts for Programmatic Direct Mail?
A. “We monitor quite a few things in our dashboard. We focus heavily on response rate back to the site based, conversions, average order value, return on ad spend, geographical performance and many other variables.
We also keep track of those who receive mail based on a particular day sent or type of creative. Because the platform is built like an ad server, there are virtually infinite analytics we can develop to tune the performance to the marketers goals.”
As for the future of Programmatic Direct Mail – PebblePost is experimenting with a variety of new features including international expansion, social media-based data and the introduction of micro-catalogs (targeting shoppers with products they are likely to be interested based on their previous search history).
“Our Programmatic Direct Mail® platform is incredibly robust after having invented the space, yet in some ways we are just getting started,” Gersh said.
“We have a jam-packed product and market development roadmap going out years. There is a lot more to come.”
For more on Programmatic Direct Mail, email [email protected]