A promotional email drops into your inbox.
A push notification from an app awaits engagement.
A text message from a political campaign. A notification from a friend suggesting dinner plans. An “Arbor Day sale” alert. And that’s only what’s cluttered your phone screen before lunch.
In 2023, digital noise surrounds us and pulls our gaze in a dozen directions at any moment. Even the news we read online and the apps we engage with regularly are disrupted by flashy banner ads and pop-ups.
That’s why Lob believes in the power of direct intelligent mail.
“A physical piece of mail stands out because the digital world is so noisy,” said Kim Courvoisier, senior director of content marketing. “Imagine: In the middle of the pandemic, you would get up out of your seat from working on a screen all day, walk down to your mailbox and pick something out of it that was a physical thing intended just for you.”
According to Courvoisier, marketers and brands harness intelligent direct mail to deliver relevant content to someone that is customized, personal and intelligent. It might feature a scannable QR code — but it’s a unique one-to-one code directing the customer to an intentionally designed landing page. “We noticed you haven’t been in the store in a while. Remember that sweater you bought back in November? Here are some cool jeans that go with it. Here’s the map to your closest store.”
“That’s not your typical experience,” Courvoisier said. “That’s the power of direct intelligent mail fueled by relevance.”
PHYSICAL MAIL IS THE MOMENT
Lob connects the offline and online worlds through direct mail automation. The platform’s print/mail and address verification APIs help companies save time that would have otherwise been spent physically processing and sending mail, leading to scalability and a significant boost in ROI. “Direct mail is such a known term in the industry, but sometimes direct mail can be associated with junk mail,” Courvoisier said. “We want to wave goodbye to junk mail and say hello to intelligent direct mail.”
Lob’s goal isn’t to challenge digital marketing, but to work in tandem with digital capabilities to sharpen the customer experience. By adding intelligent direct mail as an asset to the channels marketers already use — social ads, SEM ads, email campaigns and SMS campaigns — pieces of paper become the Swiss army knife of advertising. And for many brands, knowing where to start to launch direct mail outreach is half the battle in 2023’s digital landscape.
“Everybody is knowledgeable and equipped to tackle digital channels today, but less equipped on how to send direct mail — or even if they can do direct mail,” said Director of Growth Tim Marks. “Our job is to integrate into customers’ existing systems, creating more trigger-based programmatic sends and relevance around their campaign goals. We can even help them acquire new customer lists with updated addresses and bring additional transparency into their native systems.”
For sales teams at Lob, creating awareness around intelligent direct mail is essential. For millennial and Gen Z consumers, physical mail is often associated with flyers cluttering mailboxes, if there’s any mail at all.
“Through Lob’s direct mail campaigns, this is the first time that many customers are getting direct mail that’s actually relevant to them, and they’re getting it at a time where they’re spending much of their day, week and year on screens,” said Josh Roth, vice president of sales.
“A physical piece of mail stands out because the digital world is so noisy.”
According to Roth, people have a work screen, and then they have a reward screen, working out on a Peloton or through TV and video games. When they’re going to websites, they’re inundated with advertising they don’t want and it’s all done solely through the sense of sight.
“Direct mail allows a physical component of touch to the rest of the communication channels,” Roth added. “That’s where the Lob difference lives.”
Built In caught up with three Lobsters — Courvoisier, Marks and Roth — pushing the envelope of what’s possible through intelligent direct mail for insight into the challenges they’re overcoming through relevant marketing.
‘Killing junk mail’
Josh Roth spends his days as VP of sales speaking with customers and finding solutions to help them win. It’s a welcome challenge and an ongoing passion project, like “improving test scores after proving that intelligent mail works.”
“Our work is all about understanding who you’re speaking to, how they like being spoken to, and the medium in which they speak and communicate,” Roth said. “I’m showing that direct mail can get even smarter, and you can spend less money than before to get more insights on your customers to send more relevant content.”
For example, a customer can visit a brand’s website for up to 10 seconds and if they hit specific pages, it triggers an automatic piece of direct mail to their mailbox.
A popular hotel chain recently launched a campaign with Lob that would send a postcard featuring a striking picture of the hotel and its amenities to the customer as a reminder to book, and to make the experience more personal. This is the first step in bringing direct mail up to speed with modern intelligence, Roth said.
“Intelligent direct mail genuinely kills junk mail, because the premise of junk mail is swarming ZIP codes door to door with the same thing,” Roth added. “It’s wasteful, it’s not targeted and customers don’t appreciate it because it’s not relevant to them.”
FINDING BALANCE OUTSIDE OF WORK
“Balance is often a word people don’t think of when it comes to working in tech, because it’s always about the hustle and the grind,” Courvoisier said. “I’m a single mom, and I have a teenage daughter with a chronic illness, so being able to have a job that provides me work-life balance is priceless. Working remotely gives me the flexibility that I need to be an incredible advocate for my teenager’s health, as well as an incredible employee because I can bring my full self to both of those jobs.”
‘10 pieces of mail or 10 million’
Historically, Lob has focused on the developer persona. For more than nine years, its tech team has built out a massive API infrastructure and a network of printers across the country, making it easier for customers to send direct mail campaigns.
In 2023, Lob has their sights set on expansion.
“We still have our developer persona, but now we’re going after the enterprise marketers, so it’s the non-technical user,” Marks said. “It’s about showcasing how easy it is to get set up with Lob and send 10 pieces of mail or 10 million. You can send your campaign out, see the analytics at the end of the day, and report on how well your mail performs.”
“It’s about showcasing how easy it is to get set up with Lob, and send 10 pieces of mail or 10 million.”
For Marks’s growth department, they’re also focused on creating awareness around which industries can harness the power of intelligent direct mail.
“Many legal compliance and fintech customers have to send compliance notices to customers, and with Lob that process can be programmatically automated,” Marks said.
Marks recalled recently being on a call with a user who experienced another unexpected convenience because of intelligent direct mail. Previously, if one of their customer’s renewal dates was approaching within the next month, they would have to send a letter with a return envelope for the customer to make a payment. The customer demographic was older, and they still preferred to pay the same way they had over the past 30 years.
“It was a painstaking manual process where they would have to send each of these personalized envelopes out,” Marks said. “Now, these could be generated programmatically through Lob to the recipients based on the renewal dates in their customer relationship management system.”
Lob’s mission isn’t just sending out the mail; it’s giving clients a new interface to witness the full feedback loop on their mail campaigns. Through Lob’s dashboard, users can observe how the mail performed and gauge the total return across digital channels.
Even though Lob is nine years into its product journey, Marks believes that the sky’s the limit for what his team can accomplish.
‘Pretty damn powerful’
According to Kim Courvoisier, working at Lob is all about balance.
Digital outreach alone can be siloed, or get lost among notifications. Without metrics and complimentary digital interactions, direct mail can feel impersonal or fail to achieve relevance. Physical mail needs to be balanced with digital marketing, and each method amplifies the other’s capabilities.
Direct mail also gives brands an opportunity to repair lost connections with customers that may have hit “unsubscribe.”
“What we’re finding is that some of the most effective win back and reactivation campaigns are based on direct mail, because you’ve lost their email address but can reach them at their physical address,” Courvoisier said.
As part of Lob’s impact measurement strategy, the company annually compiles a State of Direct Mail report and a sister report called the State of Direct-to-Consumer Insights. Courvoisier’s role is to connect with consumers about their perceptions around direct mail — and to her surprise, she’s found that customers want more intelligent mail.
“Of our polled audience, 44 percent of consumers told us that it’s a great way for a brand to establish a relationship with them if they don’t know what the brand is, and 85 percent of people who receive direct mail take action on it either immediately or the same day they get it,” she said. “That’s pretty damn powerful.”