Transactional mail or transactional direct mail is, quite simply, direct mail that is sent out by either a business or mailing houses.
The transactional mail could be sent out on behalf of customers, via mailing companies, and completes a transaction for the customer. The direct mail service is a loose term that covers a wide range of actions. However, the essential focus of transactional direct mail is that it is a one-to-one automatically generated communication with an individual. Transactional mail conveys personal information about their membership, purchases, preferences, legal requirements or changes to the services being used.
At WDM Ltd, we regularly provide direct mail services, including transactional. Here are fifteen common uses of transactional direct mail.
Order receipts are a common use for transactional direct mail services. A customer purchases from a company, automatically generating a personalised confirmation, thus providing an itemised account of what has been purchased and the price.
Bolt-on marketing messages can often be found on order receipts that encourage the customer to further actions. The call-to-actions can be joining a rewards club, purchasing further items using personalised offers and encouraging interaction with social media and the organisation.
‘Thank you’ transactional mail is a simple but often overlooked activity. The thank you can be for almost anything; visiting a blog post, joining a rewards club, renewing a service, referring a new customer, and even, believe it or not, for complaining. Thanking someone, even for a complaint, is a hugely personal touch that promotes a healthy respect for, and helps customers think kindly of, the brand and customer service. In turn, this form of direct mail services could encourage them to purchase again, and is an excellent example of B2B direct mail.
Direct mail invoices are, of course, crucial to many businesses. Although they serve no marketing purpose, unlike emails that can be easily ‘ignored’ or ‘filed as spam by accident’, paper invoices are a physical reminder to the customer that they must pay their bills. As bills are rarely unopened, they generate the most attention. A well laid out paper invoice, clearly stating why the customer has been invoiced, for what items, at what cost, and with clearly stated terms of payment has incredible impact. Working with mailing houses that also understand this impact, and have experience of doing so is also crucial. This impact can not be reflected digitally, so it’s worth investing time into looking for the right mailing house.
Statements often include an itemised breakdown of money in hand, services used and payments paid. As such, they are similar to invoices. However, whereas invoices only show what payments the customer owes at that time, statements provide customers with an overview of their relationship with a business. Transactional direct mail is ideal for this because it offers a physical snapshot of the situation that can be stored, unlike a digital record that is constantly updating.
Transactional mail is often used for debt collection because of its physicality. An email requesting payment can remain unopened or deliberately avoided, but it’s harder to deny an urgent letter demanding urgent action. This sort of transactional mail service is regularly employed.
Another form of B2B direct mail are renewal letters and cycles. Many business services are subscription based, with either a monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annual renewal. Transactional direct mail is commonly used to alert the customer of the impending cancellation of service date, and the need to renew or set up an ongoing direct debit payment. This can be handled manually, but it’s more common for renewal cycles to be automatically generated from the billing or central management system. As these are, typically, sent out in bulk, you could save your time and money by sourcing mailing companies for the task.
Transactional mail can be sent to a customer to confirm any change of account details. The direct mail service could also be used to alert the customer if someone has been impersonating them, and making alterations to the customer’s account settings. By sending something physical out to the customer, a business is showing that they treat the customer’s security seriously. This is a major reason as to why transactional mail is also employed for B2B direct mail.
Businesses often need to make alterations to agreement terms and conditions that they have with customers and their employees. Transactional direct mail is ideal for this as it provides a physical copy of the new terms that are hard to ignore. The recipient sometimes has to re-sign the agreement and return it to the business, but more often than not, the business has a duty of care to make the recipient aware of the changes.
An often forgotten opportunity for using transactional mail is to contact the customer after they have set up their communication preferences, to confirm them. Not only does this show care and consideration, but it also offers the business an opportunity to tweak how often the customer wants to be contacted. You can also find out what sort of messages they would prefer, as well as highlighting any key help and support mechanisms.
Mailing companies often deal will a lot of transactional direct mail requests, and welcome packs are a big part of that. Welcome packs are crucial tools for marketers. They can help cement a good relationship with a customer, confirming that the activity they have enrolled in has been successful and they’ve made the right choice. This direct mailing sets their expectations of what to expect from future communications, providing them with the first instalment of what they’ve purchased. As a medium, direct mail is perfect for doing this. It is the most tangible of transactions – I’ve paid you for X, and in return you have supplied Y.
Transactional direct mail is absolutely essential for some activities; applications and letters of authority are two of these. They’re particularly useful in cases where it is not enough to have an electronic signature or ticked box. Again, this is because of the nature of transactional direct mail, and its tangibility. The very act of having to complete a form signals to the recipient that the matter is important; nothing can be more important than their signature.
Transactional mail is often used to confirm a customer’s details in a comparable manner to email verification. This is often used when a customer needs to resurrect an existing account or re-validate security.
One of the most often used forms of transactional direct mail is to provide an access or PIN number separately from a card or login details. It adds an additional layer of security to the process.
Without a doubt, the most common transactional direct mail is the act of purchasing goods. Each item of goods needs to be physically fulfilled and mailed to the customer, alongside all necessary documentation.
Duty of Care is a unique use of transactional direct mail, rarely utilised to its full potential by marketers. Put simply, Duty of Care takes place when a business feels it must alert a customer of something. Direct mail, due to its tangibility, lends an air of importance to the communication that is not as possible with digital channels. Despite the obviously high readability of a Duty of Care Alert, marketers seemingly neglect this opportunity to provide additional ‘soft’ requests, such as communication preference changes, promotion of business social media names, and support.
There are many types of transactional direct mail to choose from. These fifteen are just the tip of the iceberg, and are generalisations, so it’s important that you consider carefully which are the most appropriate for your organisation and marketing strategy. While they might not seem as important as direct mail marketing or digital campaigns, they can still be game-changers, with each incremental change adding an additional reason to buy, repeat-buy, or renew. More importantly, they help keep your customers happy, safe in the knowledge that you are looking after them and their interests. Transactional direct mail from mailing companies could also save time and money for your company, as postage is bought in bulk with mailing houses. For even more reasons to outsource to a mailing house, you can check out our comprehensive guide.
If you need help understanding the opportunity of transactional direct mail, Washington Direct Mail (WDM) Mailing House is on hand for you. We can advise you on data management, direct mail marketing utilising transactional data, personalised digital printing, fulfilment and reduction of your mailing overheads.
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