Personalised direct mail is growing enormously in popularity, due to the increased use of customer and prospect data, appended with data from website and digital advertising interactions and purchases, as well as open data from government and public body sources. Therefore, the actual printing of each direct mail piece is usually outsourced to a reputable mailing house.
The reasons for outsourcing this are clear: personalised digital printing presses are expensive to purchase and expensive to run and maintain. Marketing teams and agencies simply do not have the internal skills, experience or budget to bring them in-house. In addition, they do not have access to the levels of stock needed for the printing process or the logistical knowledge to manage the task. It is usually more convenient to outsource these tasks and responsibilities to a reputable mailing service, such as Washington Direct Mail Limited, or WDM as it is known, in the North East of the UK.
When selecting a UK Mailing House, it’s best to remember they come in all shapes and sizes, as some may specialise in one type of mailing service. For instance, ‘transactional direct mail’, or ‘polywrapping’, or in ‘two, three or four-way matching’. As direct mail print technology and communication has developed over the past five years, the more up-to-speed mailing companies and direct mail service providers have started to provide a rounder, more complete service. WDM is one of these. They offer a full-service, from cleansing, appending and segmenting data, through merging and digitally printing personalised direct mail pieces, to auto enveloping, hand-packing and posting out campaigns. This means that marketing teams need only ever deal with one point of contact and can set Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) up, to ensure they get the best possible customer service.
This trend towards full service is only likely to continue as improvements in technology increasingly allow marketers to use direct mail in a comparable way to email, ie: on-demand and in a hyper-personalised manner.
The easiest way to decide which mailing company is for you, is to determine exactly what your marketing team or agency can deal with internally, and what needs to be contracted out.
1) Is your marketing driven by data? Is it likely to be driven by data in the future? Will you be wanting to create personalised and hyper-personalised direct mail marketing campaigns, and will you want to integrate them into your digital strategy? If the answer is ‘Yes’, then you will almost certainly need to outsource the actual printing of the mailers at the very least, and – in the UK – you should be looking for a reputable provider of mailing services/ This is, likely, someone who holds ISO9001, ISO14001, OHSAS18001, and ISO27001 certification, is GDPR data regulation ready and who can provide reference customers and case-studies.
2) Do your graphic designers, or does your design and marketing agency, have the knowledge and software to create variable digital print ready artwork? If ‘Yes’, keep it in-house. If ‘No’, you might do well to ask your designers to work with the mailing house’ graphics team. Personalised Digital Print artwork can be complex at the best of times, but this way, you are encouraging and helping your staff to grow their skills, whilst ensuring you get the results you want with the best possible advice and support.
3) Do you have a suitable facility for holding printing stock and printed material? If the answer is ‘No’, you should try to understand how fast the despatch for your campaigns will be, and whether the mailing house should be approached for storage between mailing. This is an often forgotten part of the process and can cause real complications if not handled well. It’s important to determine how much room the mailing service provider will offer you inside their warehouse, for the materials and safe keeping, and for how long.
4) Do you have the internal facilities to fulfil and mail out the campaign at the lowest possible postal rates? If the answer is ‘Yes’, then you might need to investigate their capacity, what current work slots they have, what type of fulfilment they would recommend, if there is an internal ‘cost’ to the service and what procedures they follow. If the answer is ‘No’, it’s certainly going to be easier to consult with a mailing service provider on their fulfilment services. Make sure you ask them all the same questions in every assessment.
5) Do the direct mail printers or fulfilment houses have pre-determined job size requirements? This is essential, as a minimum order size might increase your overheads.
6) Do the direct mail printers or fulfilment houses sub-contract any of their services to other partner companies? This sometimes causes complications when the client expects part of the job to be actioned with speed, only to find that that part necessitates a sub-contractor being briefed and contacted.
7) Are the direct mail printers or fulfilment houses who they say they are? Request a tour. If you can, you should personally see their warehouse and printing area.
Personalised direct mail is the customers’ most favoured direct marketing medium. It’s immensely effective when created and mailed correctly. Spend time researching to find the best possible digital printing and fulfilment partner that can advise, support, and help you achieve your objectives.
Mailing Companies like Washington Direct Mail Limited (WDM) have the skills, the experience, the digital presses and the fulfilment equipment to handle any size of personalised direct mail campaign for marketing teams. They’re backed up by enterprise class certification, can provide reference customers, have the warehouse space, and they’ve been around continuously since 1983. For more reasons on why to choose a mailing house, you can read our guide here.
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