What's the Highest ROI Marketing You Can Do?

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It's has many names depending on which guru you pay attention to. Some call it triggered marketing, behavioral marketing, CRM or even lifecycle marketing. It's really all the same thing. 

The basic idea is you send an offer to somebody who's bought from you or subscribed to your list in the past. You make it extremely relevant by timing campaigns to your customers’ behavior, and enticing them to buy.

Say you have a new customer.

They’ve just discovered your brand, and have signed up for your newsletter or started a shopping cart. Perfect time to hit them with a sequence of new subscriber/welcome emails that entice them to make their first purchase. For new customers who are wandering away from the site, you create a browsing or cart abandonment campaign to get their attention again.  

Once a customer buys from you

You can send your first purchase campaign. Cross-sell products related to things they’ve already bought. After time, these customers will naturally lapse and stop buying from you. This is where you your win-back campaigns come into play, to pull them back to your store. 

So when a customer first comes by, you say, “Hey, I want to hear from you.” Eventually, you tailor campaigns to different customer behaviors: If the customer buys product A, you market product B. If they bought yesterday, they get one campaign. If they haven’t been around in 180 days, you might market to them in a completely different way. 

Essentially it’s all about the right message, to the right person, at the right time. This helps you to increase your customer lifetime value. 

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The most common way to deliver these kinds of campaigns is through email and/or Facebook marketing. But to get even more ROI from your marketing dollars, use postcard marketing instead or in addition to your Facebook and Google spend. 

Adweek research has shown that conversion rates on direct mail can be 36 times higher than on email (4.4% versus .12%). And PostPilot makes it easy, plugging right into your Shopify store so you can create and automate campaigns that work. 

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How to Get Started with Postcard Marketing

So you’re ready to dive into postcard marketing (smart!).

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If you don’t already have a campaign you can import, you’ll first want to build out a very simple campaign. And you probably want to start with the two biggest problems facing most ecommerce businesses: abandoned carts and first-time buyers


The First-time Buyer Problem

This is something a lot of ecommerce retailers face, especially ones that aren’t subscription businesses.  

Let’s say you're running marketing at Patagonia and you get your first order from a new customer. The average revenue off that order might be around $100. But you also need to factor in the COGS to secure the product, such as sales and warehouse costs. So let’s say the revenue off that sale is $50.

But you haven’t factored in the cost of acquisition. On a typical prospecting campaign, that can be high—around $40—leaving you with a gross profit of just $10, or 10%. If you subtract out whatever you're going to pay yourself, your team, and for rent, that quickly goes to zero. This is the first-time buyer problem, and it’s why a lot of ecommerce companies have trouble scaling: They don't make a lot of money on that first order. The solution is simple: Get your customer to make a second purchase.

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A second purchase with a much lower customer acquisition costs (ideally zero) fetches you a lot of gross profit. You can then take that same customer and get him or her onto your email list, a Facebook marketing list or a postcard list. You're then left with a much higher gross profit on the second order.

How do you get that second order? You send out a campaign that pushes products that are cross-sold or related items to their first purchase. Patagonia has been sending out a “15% off your next purchase” postcard campaign for a while, and it's done extremely well for them in driving profits.

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Using postcards to address this problem keeps sending costs low and the process automated. Setting it up is simple: Download PostPilot, create a second purchase campaign, and set it up to send a coupon or related item to every new customer, 30 days after their first purchase. Watch the ROI over time and adjust as needed.


The Abandoned Cart Problem

On average, about 70% of carts get abandoned—left sad and hanging, used as a wishlist or to check pricing somewhere else. Ultimately forgotten.

Many ecommerce insiders know that the solution is a cart abandonment campaign. These campaigns work for almost every ecommerce retailer, and data show that you can get a 10-12% lift in return customers.   

Bonobos, a men’s clothing brand, solved their abandoned cart problem with a simple email prompt:  “Hey, you forgot something! Come back and complete your purchase.”

Dollar Shave Club, which was bought by Unilever in 2016, made waves when it started running abandoned carts through their Facebook marketing. 

And then there’s Boxed, the company that sells food and home supplies in bulk. A handful of years ago, Boxed was experiencing a high cart abandonment rate. Instead of turning to Facebook or Google ads or even email, they rolled out their abandoned cart promo via a postcard. They did really well with it.

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Postcard marketing changes the marketing game. As long as you have a physical address for your customers, you can reach out to them via postcards. With PostPilot, it can be easier to set up than a Facebook or AdWords campaign. 

The PostPilot app plugs into your Shopify account, pulls out your customer data, and allows you to design, build and send automated postcard campaigns. Set the campaign up once and then they run in the background. And if you’re not on Shopify, that’s OK too—you’ll just have to manually upload your customer lists. But you still get to see the dollars pour in. 

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Your New Marketing Secret Weapon is Totally Old School

What do brands like Uber, Blue Apron, SeatGeek, and Jet all have in common? 

It’s not VC, UX, or BS—it’s that they all use postcard marketing to drive their top line.  

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Some of today’s most successful brands use an analog and often overlooked marketing channel to acquire new customers, retain existing customers, and get stale customers to come back and buy. Here’s why…


Less competition 

Consider the marketing channels most ecommerce businesses use. Facebook ads are great in that they let you identify the exact audience you want to go after. But guess who else is bidding for the same audience? Not just your competitors, but countless other businesses. Thank them for driving up your marketing costs.

Benchmarks provide by  WordStream

Benchmarks provide by WordStream

While email may not be getting more expensive, it’s a more crowded field than ever. According to a DMR report the average number of emails an office worker receives each day is 121. That’s a lot of emails. More email means the higher the chance your message will be deleted, lost or ignored--and the lower your response rate.

Believe it or not, not everyone is on Facebook or email. And even if your customers are on email, they may not subscribe to your email list. But you can reach them with postcards. 

Snail mail is a different story. According to the United States Postal Service, 79% of households scan or read advertising mail. A mailing is likely to end up on a counter or table where it can be seen again and again. Unlike with email, you might have multiple customers looking at a single mailing.  


It’s cheaper

Back in 2005, we were paying five or 10 cents a click on AdWords. Today, the cost per click has gone up 10x or more.

Benchmark provided by  WordStream

Benchmark provided by WordStream

But with postcard marketing, your cost is limited to printing and postage—that’s it. And the more you buy, the lower your prices get.


It’s HIGH ROI

Research has shown that the average email campaign has a response rate of 0.12%. Mailers to existing customers, on the other hand, achieve an average response rate of 3.4%. Postcard marketing campaigns can be a whopping 28x more successful than email campaigns. 

If those two benefits aren’t enough to convince you to try postcard marketing, Adweek conducted a survey in which they looked at email vs. direct mail conversion rates. They found that the conversion rates on direct mail were about 36 times higher than on email (4.4% versus .12%). 


It’s easy

Back in 2005, when we started using postcard campaigns execution was a horrible. Every month we’d export a customer list into a CSV file, then import it into a postcard provider. Next, we'd have to configure the cards, add coupon codes that let us identify each customer and then send them out. Once the cards were mailed, we’d track coupon redemptions in a spreadsheet and calculate my return, if we had one. And we’d do it again the next month. 

But now there’s PostPilot, a fully-automated postcard marketing platform. 

PostPilot integrates seamlessly with Shopify to let you easily create and send postcard marketing campaigns. It works even if you’re not on Shopify (you just have to manually upload your customer list), and makes it super-simple to turn your existing Klaviyo, Mailchimp or Facebook campaigns into mailers. You design your card, we handle the rest. 

PostPilot lets you grow your business without blowing your budget.

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Why Ecommerce Businesses Are Switching to Postcard Marketing

As an ecommerce business, you’re constantly inundated with offers to advertise. From social media advertising to local publications, there are endless opportunities for you to try something new. However, you’re also working with a limited marketing budget and you have to make every single dollar count. We get it—after all, we’re business owners ourselves!

That’s why we made PostPilot, a service designed to make postcard marketing attainable for ecommerce stores like yours and ours. Once we did, we started seeing business owners throughout the ecommerce industry try it out, then make it a regular component of their marketing initiatives. Check out these 5 reasons that ecommerce businesses like yours are switching to postcard marketing.

Reason #1: Postcard marketing maximizes on existing customers.

There’s a great scene in NBC’s The Office where the boss, Michael, asks his temp, Ryan, to quiz him on what he’s learning in business school. Ryan lobs him a softball question, “Is it cheaper to sign a new customer or to keep an existing customer?” Michael gets it wrong—his bumbling inadequacies are why we love him, after all—before Ryan points out that signing a new customer is exponentially more expensive.

Marketing to existing customers is smarter, cheaper, and more effective than trying to land a new one, and postcard marketing is one of the best ways to reach those customers. According to a recent infographic put forth by Nowsourcing for Direct Mail, the typical email campaign sees a response rate of 0.12%. Mailers to existing customers, on the other hand, have an average response rate of 3.4%. Direct mail’s response rate is a whopping 28 times that of your typical email campaign!

In other words, you’d have to send out approximately 2800 emails to get the same response you’d see from 100 mailers. As an ecommerce store, you can easily accumulate 100 contacts, but 2800 would take quite a while. Direct mail allows you to maximize the efficiency of your business’s established contact list, no matter how big or small it may be. 

Reason #2: Postcard marketing is “sticky.”

No, this don’t mean your mailer should be covered in an invisible super glue that binds your ad to your customer’s hand forever. When we say “sticky”, we’re referring to the way that direct mail seems to “stick” with a customer for far longer than the average email.

Nowsourcing for Direct Mail tells us that the average person receives 125 emails per day. No one has time to read that many emails, so what do they do? Delete. Delete. Delete. 

Take your own life for example. When do you check email? Are you trying to sort through your inbox quickly in the morning so that you can get started on your day? Are you scanning email titles quickly on your phone over lunch to see if you’ve missed anything urgent? If you’re like most people, you rarely check your email at a leisurely pace, and you can delete what you perceive as dozens of “junk emails” in a matter of seconds—or move them to your spam folder so the sender will never get through to you again. 

Of course, there is no spam filter for your actual mailbox, and the United States Postal Service tells us that 79% of households scan or read advertising mail. 

Again, think about your own routine with checking the mail. Perhaps you flip through the stack your spouse left on the kitchen table or read through each piece on a leisurely walk back from the mailbox. Wherever you are, you’re far less likely to be in a hurry, and your eyes welcome the break from staring at a screen all day. Your defenses are down, so you’re more likely to notice and absorb each message you’ve received.

If an offer catches your eye, what do you do? You keep it, maybe filing it in a kitchen drawer, sticking it on the refrigerator, or tucking it away in your wallet to be used later. On the other hand, if you don’t respond to an email offer right away, it’s going to be forgotten and buried below hundreds of other messages by the end of the day.

That’s what we mean when we say direct mail is “sticky”—it can stay in front of your customers for days and weeks, not just seconds.

Reason #3: Postcard marketing complements what you’re already doing.

One common marketing mistake ecommerce businesses make all the time is to have a “this or that” mentality. They believe that they have to choose between emails and direct mail when research shows that they would benefit most from embracing both. Nowsourcing for Direct Mail reports that customers spend 25% more when businesses combine digital and direct mail marketing. This is why large, nationwide companies haven’t stopped sending mail in the technological age. They know it works for them—and it will work for you, too.

To make the most of a multifaceted marketing strategy, your direct mail should reinforce the offers you make in your emails and vice versa. The more often you can put your name and offer in front of your customer, the more likely you are to break through the thousands of advertising messages they see and hear every day and catch their attention.

If you already send targeted emails to past customers by segmenting your list according to number of orders, time since last purchase, total amount spent, geographic location, etc., simply use the same segmentation to maximize the response rate on your direct mail campaign.

You can also apply the tests you run on email marketing and social media advertising campaigns to your postcard marketing. Split your segmented list into two groups to send two similar postcards and use discount codes to track which one performs best. As you test, refine, and repeat marketing campaigns over time, you’ll glean valuable information about your customers—information you can use not only in future direct mail campaigns, but also to sharpen your email, social media, and other advertising efforts as well.

Reason #4: Postcard marketing helps you save money by retaining customers.

One of the first rules of business is that it costs more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. Invesp reports that customer acquisition costs 5x more than customer retention—yet only 18% of companies focus more on retention than acquisition. Furthermore, the probability of making a sell to an existing customer is 60-70%, while you’ll only sell to a new prospect 5-20% of the time.

No matter how you look at it, your advertising strategy is most effective when you focus on those who have made the decision to purchase from you before, and postcard marketing is an ideal way to get those customers back in the door. If you see a surge in customers at certain times of the year—maybe they shop for new clothes when school starts back or buy more gifts closer to the holidays—you can use direct mail to draw them back with a compelling offer during your lulls. This is far cheaper and more effective than trying to drum up new business in slower seasons when fewer people are looking for new brands or products.

Reason #5: Postcard marketing lets you compete with the big guys.

Big retailers with massive marketing budgets have been capitalizing on the power of direct mail for years, but many ecommerce business owners have never even considered it as part of their marketing strategy. The research shows that direct mail works for ecommerce businesses, so why isn’t your competition already using it? 

The answer is simple. Before now, direct mail has been prohibitively expensive for small advertising budgets. Large direct mail companies have minimum job sizes and hefty set up fees, making even a test run a significant investment. On top of that, the company would have to pay an agency or freelancer to design the mailer in the first place. For small businesses who believe in making every dollar count, it just doesn’t make sense.

PostPilot is the first direct mail company designed to cater to ecommerce businesses and, more specifically, Shopify stores. With no minimum job size, no set up fee, free and easy-to-use mailer templates, and affordable prices, ecommerce businesses can finally discover the power of direct mail to boost their business. 

Because direct mail has only recently become attainable for most ecommerce businesses, there’s no better time to stand out from the competition. After all, your customers are used to receiving coupons from big names stores like Costco and Bed Bath & Beyond, but a personalized, targeted postcard from an ecommerce business is a fresh and interesting offer that’s sure to catch their eye.

Are you ready to get a leg up on your competitors who are still trying to stand out in overcrowded email inboxes? With PostPilot, you can start competing with big companies who have been using mailers to grow their profits for years.