Why Data-Driven Retailers Are Learning To Love Direct Mail

As retailers pump more data into traditional marketing channels, they’re uncovering more about how their online and offline marketing interacts.

The luggage manufacturer and retailer Tumi last year started working with PebblePost, a startup that connects website cookies to home addresses to automate retargeting via direct mail, and found 96% of the sales driven by the home mailings occurred in a Tumi store.

“That 96% rate is interesting because it demonstrates the relationship between online activity and store sales,” said digital marketing director Taryn Rayment. “It’s the first time we can effectively confirm that connection through the numbers we see from our own ad campaign.”

Confirming those cross-channel sales can be arduous.

PebblePost starts by tagging online browsers who visit a product page or abandon a shopping cart. Then it tries to connect those visitors to a home address by matching them against the client’s CRM data, PebblePost’s own database and third-party data onboarders, converting about 70% of site traffic to a postal address, according to founder and CEO Lewis Gersh.

PebblePost also works back to connect transactions to home addresses, which it can do if the purchase was made through a retailer loyalty program or with a credit card issued by a company, like Chase, that allows some data to be matched for in-store attribution.

Cash payments and some credit cards are completely untraceable, but online sales can have spotty attribution as well, Gersh said.

Safari browsers and Apple device users, for instance, disappear behind a privacy wall, and “being in an app is a huge blind spot,” he said.

PebblePost must go through a convoluted process to demonstrate its own ROI, but the product has also helped Tumi rethink aspects of its broader approach to retail attribution, like the way it applies attribution windows.

“One thing that really struck me looking at results was that we were seeing some conversions 70 days after mail was sent out,” Rayment said. “We have a higher-price product and it’s something people want to feel and try out, but this does give a new perspective on how long that customer consideration funnel can be.”

Parachute Home, a bedding and home supply company that started online and now operates two showrooms, is testing PebblePost, and along with it best practices for the nascent brick-and-mortar business.

Push notifications, for instance, are an increasingly popular way for retailers to target omnichannel shoppers, said Luke Droulez, Parachute’s head of digital. PebblePost gives Droulez a clearer picture of whether a push notification generated unique value or whether a vendor just took an undeserved cut from a likely sale.

Droulez also said PebblePost’s product helps with the digital balancing act between reach and targeting as in-store sales – only about 5% of overall revenue – become a bigger piece of the pie.

“We’ve honed it now where we’ll target based on geo or on product page visits, but not for both,” he said, since the direct mail itself is costly (actual paper and printing, compared to virtual paper and printing) and thus requires scale over precision to cover the investment.

“We’re looking for ways to incorporate online conversions to capture the full revenue picture,” he said. And Parachute is onboarding the attribution service Visual IQ, which will help draw out those connections.

“It is also a matter of velocity,” Droulez said. “As we open more retail locations it becomes more important to unify the channels.”

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1 Comment

  1. It isn’t completely true that cash payments and some credit cards are completely untraceable. The point-of-sale renaissance offers merchants an opportunity to better connect direct mail campaigns and sales for retailers sending postcard marketing campaigns.

    A savvy marketer who is sending a postcard will use unique promo codes that can be redeemed at the point of sale and track the purchase back to a household. We use unique promo codes at Cardigent all of the time to track ROI.