Why Every CMO Needs a Sending Platform

By Dan Frohnen on August 27, 2019

The majority of a person’s time is spent in front of a digital screen. 

As marketers, we already know this. Smartphones, computers, tablets, and other electronic devices occupy almost 11 hours of our days, which is why we’ve been shifting more and more marketing spend to digital channels. 

But when the majority of marketing tactics around the world are focusing on digital, those channels inevitably become oversaturated. In fact, they already are: The average person sees 5,000 ads, receives 120+ emails, and more robocalls than actual phone calls every single day—the latter of which is forcing people to simply stop answering their phones altogether.

This massive amount of noise has made digital channels less effective than ever. Not only are consumers deleting half of all emails they receive, but more than three-fourths have unsubscribed from emails because they felt a brand was sending too many. 

What’s even worse? The newfound “digital overload” is creating terrible experiences for our current and prospective customers. Almost 75% of people feel overwhelmed by the number and frequency of emails they receive, and one in five are outright angry or frustrated by it. Can you blame them? 

Managing my own inbox is certainly no joyride (quite the opposite). And as a marketing technologist, I’m saddened to see so many digital strategies resort to spam because it’s easy and cheap. We’re making people’s digital lives noisier by the day, which is a strategy that simply cannot succeed in the Experience Economy. (Don’t believe me? Studies predict that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator as soon as next year.)

Our buyers deserve better. It’s as simple as that. 

So, what now? 

Half of our days are spent in the digital world, but our lives happen in the physical world. We have meaningful experiences, create personalized connections, and build lasting relationships in the real world. Sure, they might start in the digital world. But that tangible aspect of being offline might explain why strategies like direct mail, corporate gifting, and merchandise marketing seem to work so well. 

And work well, they do. Research from Gallup found that 83% of people say they enjoy receiving packages, while a whopping 94% report that they enjoy receiving letters and cards. On top of that, sending direct mail creates a genuine two-way relationship between brands and their audience: 57% of consumers say that receiving something in the mail makes them feel more valued

These physical experiences translate into emotional ones. That’s a powerful form of marketing, especially considering that consumers who connect emotionally to your brand have 3X higher lifetime value.  

A few more data points to consider, as well: 

  • Campaigns including direct mail are 40% more likely to deliver top-ranking acquisition levels. 

At this point, you’re likely asking yourself one of two things: “If direct mail works so well, why isn’t everyone doing it?” Or, “Why would I want to send cheap postcards to my audience?” 

Great questions. Important questions. Stick with me for a little longer and I’ll address them both. 

The rise of the Sending Platform

Companies have always known that sending physical items can be a highly successful business strategy; just look at the $42 billion going into direct mail and the $125 billion industry of corporate gifting. “Sending,” if you will, is a $150+ billion-dollar industry. 

But sending is hard to scale. 

Let’s say you want to send 100 items in a campaign targeting top prospects: First, you have to sort through dozens of vendors to find one who has quality items that won’t be broken when they finally arrive at your office. You need to purchase boxes, packing material, shipping labels, and tape. Then you have to carefully pack, tape, and address each of those 100 boxes (some teams form factory-style assembly lines to make this happen). Want to personalize the message? Include a handwritten note! But you’ll have to write 100 of them. 

After sourcing comes logistics. You’ll need to find a way to get those 100 boxes to the nearest FedEx or shipping center and then collect a tracking number that’s tied to its recipient for each box (this will come in handy later when tracking ROI). Next, you’ll need to create a spreadsheet with each recipient, their box’s tracking number, and the name of the person (likely a sales rep) responsible for following up. Then check the package’s status daily to stay up to date on when it gets delivered. 

Once a package is delivered, you can mark it in your spreadsheet and alert the appropriate person to follow up. Check back with them a few days later to make sure follow up was sent. Then mark in your spreadsheet each recipient that was followed up with. If you want to measure the ROI of your campaign (and as a marketer, I’m sure that you do), create a campaign in your CRM for this direct mail send. Add each contact in your audience to that campaign and be sure to mark their status as “shipped” or “delivered” per your tracking spreadsheet. 

Depending on your sales cycle, run a CRM report after 30, 60, or 90 days to see how relationships with those contacts have evolved: Are they part of open sales opportunities now? Did they close? Were they a customer that ended up renewing? Then it’s simply a calculation of the cost of investment in the campaign vs. the value of its return.

Yikes! Given the number of time-consuming steps and fragmented processes involved with these types of campaigns, it actually makes sense why everyone isn’t doing them. 

Or … it used to make sense. But in recent years we have witnessed the rise of a very new type of technology: the Sending Platform. This cloud solution fuses automation with logistics so that companies everywhere can easily source, store, ship, and measure the ROI of anything they ever need to send. 

And marketers everywhere are rethinking their ideas of what’s possible.

What this means for the future of marketing

Without the tedious, time-consuming, and manual work involved with sending, marketers are able to bridge online and offline brand experiences. They can create a truly omnichannel buyer’s journey that continues outside a digital screen. And they’re challenging the status quo of what’s traditionally considered “direct mail.” 

We’re long past postcards. Companies are sending video mailers, pop-up boxes, handwritten notes, wine, plants, sweet treats, personalized gifts, coffee, experiences, and more. What really solidifies the Sending Platform as a staple in your tech stack is the ability to measure ROI. Direct mail isn’t price-prohibitive any more. CMOs can tap into the massive attribution potential, both as a standalone tactic and complement to other channels. 

The results are difficult to ignore: 

  • Demand generation managers are seeing 60% responses rate to packages and $1,000 ROI on pipeline 

More importantly, they’re creating amazing brand experiences that multitudes of organic, word-of-mouth marketing (often amplified by social media). 

What we’ve also found is that the Sending Platform effects organizational change. 

Marketers may create the direct mail, the gifts, the swag, but they can make it available to any team in the company via the Sending Platform, a solution which also offers the ability to create user groups, assign budgets, and track inventory in real-time. Suddenly, every person in your organization can serve these curated, marketing-approved brand experiences at scale. 

As society continues to change, so will our buyers. We need to be willing to change with them. Brand may be the sum of every experience a customer has with your company (as former Slack CMO Bill Macaitis says), but the Sending Platform is the vehicle for creating it. One brand. One voice—creating that consistent and connected customer experience across the entire lifecycle.

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