One of the great things about data is the amount of information available to marketers and fundraisers. At no point have we known so many details about individual customers and their buying and giving patterns.

In the past if you were going to launch a direct mail campaign, it meant creating a single direct mail piece and sending it to a defined mailing list after a lengthy planning and production cycle.  Also the cost per piece went down with volume so larger campaigns almost always seemed to be the right way to go.

But this approach is like blindly firing buckshot in the general direction of a forest and hoping a deer happens to be passing by.

But with Variable Data Printing, the new standard for Personalized Mail (the new Canada Post SmartMarketing brand for admail) means each piece you send out is customized with messaging and images that speak directly to recipients based on their history with your organization.   

We produced a short explainer a while back showing how it works.

Today we can use all sorts of trigger events to send out custom pieces that are delivered when they are most relevant to the receiver and in much smaller targeted runs. One piece might even be an effective batch size in some cases.

The other week I used the example of a retailer of baby goods. I said that based on buying patterns and the stages of child development, they could reliably predict when parents are likely to be looking for specific products. They could then create marketing material and special offers that are not only customized, but actually delivered at the appropriate time (i.e. the move from bucket seats to larger car seats).

Imagine the power of receiving a direct mail piece about a product or service you are already thinking about buying! That’s about as close to mind-reading as you’re likely to get. Last summer I blogged about a company called Symeta,[link to that blog post] in Belgium, and they are using loyalty card shopping data to help print and mail the weekly shopping flyers. This means that each flyer is customized to the recipient’s shopping habits. And using some predictive modeling they can also estimate when you need to pick something up.

Other trigger events can include dates such as birthdays or purchase anniversaries. They can even  be “hey, we haven’t seen you in awhile” reminders with enticements.

Another type of trigger uses external data — like localized weather.

Canada is a big place. So, for a national retailer, custom triggers based on local weather can make a big difference to the bottom line.

A snowstorm heading into Halifax triggers admail featuring snowblowers and other winter gear, while at the same time in Vancouver, a forecast of a dry, warm weekend automatically generates a piece with a heavy focus on gardening. Same retailer — different messaging based on weather [link to my earlier blog on weather triggered marketing].

The point is fundraisers and marketers are no longer bound to broad-stroke, one-size-fits-all messaging. We can now touch people at very specific moments in their lives when they are most likely to embrace and engage with our messaging.

So what triggers are you currently not using that would make a difference in your next campaign? Call me and I’ll help you maximize your marketing dollar by taking your custom message and matching it to the moment it will be most effective.