Hosted by top 5 banking and fintech influencer, Jim Marous, Banking Transformed highlights the challenges facing the banking industry. Featuring some of the top minds in business, this podcast explores how financial institutions can prepare for the future of banking.
With the increasing popularity of digital marketing, many financial institutions have shifted their focus away from direct mail. But is that a mistake? Some believe a well-designed and targeted direct mail campaign be a secret weapon in your marketing arsenal.
At a time when banks and credit unions are looking to break through the marketing message clutter, The Data & Marketing Association revealed direct mail may be the most effective marketing channel to drive engagement and ROI.
We are fortunate to have Dave Fink, CEO & Co-founder at Postie on the Banking Transformed podcast. Dave shares how direct mail can turbocharge your marketing campaigns, how to leverage modern technology for traditional channels, and why multichannel campaigns perform the best.
Hello and welcome to Banking Transformed, the top podcast in retail banking. I'm your host, Jim Marous, owner and CEO of the Digital Bank Report, and co-publisher The Financial Brand.
Jim Marous (00:22):
With the increasing popularity of digital marketing, many financial institutions have shifted their focus away from direct mail. But is this a mistake?
Jim Marous (00:31):
Some believe a well-designed and targeted direct mail program can be a secret weapon in your marketing arsenal.
Jim Marous (00:37):
At a time when banks and credit unions are looking to break through the marketing clutter, the data and marketing association revealed that direct mail may be the most effective marketing channel to drive engagement and return on investment.
Jim Marous (00:53):
We are fortunate to have Dave Fink, CEO and co-founder of Postie, on the Banking Transformed Podcast. Dave shares how direct mail can turbocharge any financial marketing campaign, how to leverage marketing technology for traditional channels, and why multi-channel campaigns perform the best.
Jim Marous (01:11):
Listeners to the Banking Transformed Podcast may not be aware that a major part of my career in banking was being a direct marketing agency executive serving in the financial services industry in the U.S. and Canada. While the industry changed quite a bit during my 20-year tenure in the business, it was always focused on generating measurable results from one-to-one communications.
Jim Marous (01:35):
So Dave, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your journey, and most importantly, your company, Postie?
Dave Fink (01:41):
I think many guests may find it interesting that while Postie is a seven-year-old company right now, and we focus solely on bringing technology and marketing capabilities in kind of a 2023 era to the direct mail channel, the vast majority of my career, while in direct response marketing, in quant marketing and startup land was not in offline media. It was all in digital.
Dave Fink (02:09):
So, I started my career probably 1999 and in the digital revolution. And what I fell in love with were probably some of the same things about quantitative marketing that marketers in the direct response, direct mail world fell in love with before the internet, which are the ability to actually leverage creativity and testing and optimization and feedback cycles in order to understand what's working, what's not working, and feel some level of control over your media spend and your ability to grow your business.
Dave Fink (02:50):
So, throughout the first, call it 18 years of my career, I either was involved in building marketing technology and whatever emerging digital channel was relevant of the day. And that ranged from lead gen, to email, to SMS, to programmatic display, to influencer marketing, to social, you name it.
Dave Fink (03:19):
And then really the other half of the businesses that I was involved in building were consumer brands that all could be competitive with much bigger competitive brand sets because we understood how to build direct consumer relationships very quickly, very efficiently, very dynamically.
Dave Fink (03:39):
And I was fortunate to see businesses go from 0 to 400 million of revenue over three, four years because of that knowledge, that capability being a little bit maybe savvier earlier than some of the big competitive brands who had been doing things differently.
Dave Fink (03:57):
So, fast forward to seven years ago when we launched Postie, I think as most digital marketers’ career have evolved, channels kind of come and go, the principles all stay, but in the digital world, there's always been something new and big that's come along since the mid-90s.
Dave Fink (04:18):
But if you look at the last decade, it's been kind of a decade of consolidation and dominance, mainly META and Facebook on the demand gen side of digital, and then Google on the intent side, the search side. And so, there are many businesses, both digital, native businesses as well as traditional businesses that over the last decade have come to rely very heavily, if not, a tremendous overdependence on those two channels for their growth.
Dave Fink (04:47):
And we were caught up in that as well. And so, when I looked at what was kind of happening, I knew that there was pain coming for us and we needed to move and become more diversified again in our media stack. But in digital, there just wasn't really anything big and exciting and scalable.
Dave Fink (05:05):
This was 2011, I guess. Sorry, not 2011, 2016. If you think back to that kind of time period, TikTok didn't exist. It was still an app called DanceByte. Snap existed and had some momentum, but there was no ads platform. There were channels like Twitter, which we're all talking about today for different reasons, but it wasn't a great ads platform or Tumblr.
Dave Fink (05:38):
But that really forced us to look offline for big growth opportunities. And because we're quantitative in nature, we gravitate towards channels where there's data and prediction and measurement and feedback loops, and direct mail has always had those things.
Dave Fink (05:55):
What was missing was there was no technology layer to make those channels integrate with the rest of our marketing stack. There was no optimization capabilities or executional platforms and technology to make it easy to come up with ideas and get them out into the world fast.
Dave Fink (06:14):
And so, for us, we kind of just had this idea of I wonder if it's possible to build the marketing automation layer to direct mail to get advertisers excited about the channel again, knowing how performant and scalable it is.
Dave Fink (06:30):
So, maybe a bit longer winded answer than you were looking for, but I do think it's interesting as a brand or marketer to kind of think about the last 20 years of history, how much has evolved and where we are today. And it's not easy out there right now, to grow your business, especially if you're relying on a couple key channels that maybe are not as mighty as they once were.
Jim Marous (06:57):
Well, it's interesting, our very first guest was Gary Vaynerchuk, and he talks about return on attention. And he talks about it also, you got to get the channels when they're hot, but when they're hot, they become less hot because the cost goes up. It's a supply and demand issue.
Jim Marous (07:16):
But as you referenced, the technology has changed so much that every channel's in effect more effective than it's ever been because of technology. But it's still a matter of cost in return.
Jim Marous (07:28):
And had we found that maybe marketers in general have really grabbed the shiny object with regard to digital marketing and have let go of channels that maybe they should reconsider. I think that's what you're saying, but I want to make sure I'm hearing it right and that every channel has changed based on the ebbs and flows of the marketplace and the cost parameters. Correct?
Dave Fink (07:53):
Yeah, I think you nailed it. Certainly, supply and demand factors into your ability to get a return on investment, whatever that KPI you're going after, return on ad spend or a CPA or a CAC to lifetime value ratio. If ad rates go up, the performance must go up as well. And for a long time, platforms like Facebook and Google invested in big data and eventually machine learning and optimization capabilities in their interface that allowed us to get smarter and constantly move towards optimization.
Dave Fink (08:32):
But at some point, you've kind of squeezed every bit of juice out of a lemon and there might be some incremental gains here or there. You might fight off some ad performance deterioration, but at some point, you'll hit an asymptote and if ad rates continue to go up, you're in trouble.
Dave Fink (08:50):
And that's what we've seen from Google and Facebook in particular, as their demand has just continued to go through the roof because of the tools, because of the reach, because of the investment they've made in their ad platform.
Dave Fink (09:03):
But at some point, they hit a ceiling. There were many years when there were still new user growth on Facebook. Those days are over, right?
Jim Marous (09:12):
Dave Fink (09:13):
There's population contraction, and there are more users that are kind of getting burnt out by social and are trading from those platforms. They're less monetizable sessions, those kind of cycles come and go on every platform. Facebook just happened to have a really nice long run and then with savvy enough to buy Instagram and extended their runway for a while.
Dave Fink (09:35):
But yeah, the performance from non-digital channels didn't really disappear. I think that just as marketers, the tools that were put in our hands from digital ad platforms and all the innovation that were bred into those channels gave us the ability to get better at our jobs.
Dave Fink (10:01):
We could leverage more interesting data. We could bring our first party data to platforms. We could be really predictive in leveraging lookalike models on top of consumer segments, more insights into what's working faster, testing and iteration cycles.
Dave Fink (10:17):
All those things just made us better. The whole world moves faster. It wasn't that long ago that you could go home from work and relax and when was the last time your phone wasn't blowing up or you didn't hear dings all over your house?
Dave Fink (10:31):
And that just doesn't happen. The expectation and the speed and pace of our life across the board, if I don't respond to one of my kids’ texts within 13 seconds, I'll get a second one, right?
Jim Marous (10:43):
Dave Fink (10:44):
Our jobs are no different. Marketing's no different. And so, for us, we can't fight that. There's probably not any going backwards to a more peaceful world of less expectation.
Dave Fink (10:56):
But as a brand, as a marketer, as a company that needs to grow, we can't lose sight over at the end of the day, all we're trying to do is tell our story, target and spend, allocate our budgets most effectively to engage the right prospect segments or right consumer segments that we think we can be most helpful with. Get our message out there into the world where those prospects and customers are spending time and hopefully make better decisions as we see which channels are driving most engagement.
Dave Fink (11:36):
So, whether it's direct mail or linear TV or addressable TV or radio or out of home and billboards or social or search or programmatic display or email or SMS or on and on and on, what works is going to be a little different for each business. And the more, I think technology layers to make our lives easier and to put more power in our hands so that we can optimize those channels, the more likely we are to find success.
Jim Marous (12:05):
So, it's interesting. I get home from the store, I go to the mailbox, there's nothing in there. I may visit the mailbox once or twice a week when it used to visit it all the time. The mailbox is somewhat empty compared to what it used to be.
Jim Marous (12:23):
Is this a challenge or an opportunity in the marketplace? Sometimes, that empty mailbox may mean you have a much … back in the day you'd have 20 different offers from finance institutions in your mailbox every day. Now that isn't the case. Is this an open opportunity as opposed to a challenge?
Dave Fink (12:41):
I think it's pure opportunity. Look, the mechanic mail still gets delivered. So, there's a delivery distribution network. We're a platform that measures every touchpoint, every campaign. There are hundreds of millions of pieces of marketing now coming off of our platform, we have tens of thousands of campaigns being run, and we see the performance.
Dave Fink (13:07):
So, I can definitively look you in the eyes and tell you that this channel works across the broadest set of advertiser categories. That doesn't mean that every campaign, every message, every audience is going to respond the same way. So, you have work to do, which is why we have a job and a company. We're trying to make you more efficient and give you more capabilities.
Dave Fink (13:30):
But look, arguably, I guess any channel can get saturated, but I don't think there's been any studies to suggest how many pieces of mail hitting a mailbox in a day, a week, a month would drive saturation.
Dave Fink (13:50):
But what I can tell you is that the campaigns that are being delivered when you're leveraging good targeting, good data, you're bringing your first party insights just like you are in your digital channels, you're being thoughtful about how to speak to your customers, leveraging the same best practices that are working across any channel, digital or offline, there's a high probability of driving success.
Dave Fink (14:13):
And direct mail is the ultimate in brand safety and scale. You don't have to worry about a crazy video being played alongside of some piece of content that that is not representative of your brand. And you can reach the entirety of your addressable market because every individual who lives at an addressable household is reachable through direct mail. You don't have to wait for them to come on and check their newsfeed or to run a search and be in market with intent. You can go and actually drive demand.
Jim Marous (14:47):
So, you've referenced it multiple times already the fact that you have a way to measure and monitor results better than I ever did when I was in the industry, in the direct marketing industry. You also have the ability to measure the effectiveness of marketing mixes of different channels. Can you share something around how the marketer can bring quant to the mailbox?
Dave Fink (15:11):
Sure. Well, it's more accuracy and ease than anything else. So, direct mail is the original quantitative, measurable channel. It wasn't always easy. It wasn't always a hundred percent accurate because data hygiene is always something that requires investment that not every marketer has the ability to invest in.
Dave Fink (15:37):
But if you think about direct mail, you're starting with an addressable audience. You know everyone in the audience, you know the name and address of those individuals. You've selected those people for a reason, hopefully.
Dave Fink (15:53):
And then, not all cases, but if you're a brand that is closing the loop at the point of conversion, certainly digital brands, but any POS that captures that identity at checkout, which more businesses have robust loyalty programs, certainly in the financial institution, you know your customers.
Dave Fink (16:17):
So, you're creating an actual account for that individual. That feedback, that data can be fed back into your campaign management, and you can look for matches between an individual that received a specific piece of creative during a specific attribution window and an action that they took with your website, with your POS, with your lead form, et cetera.
Dave Fink (16:38):
The challenge has always been, you're doing this off of multiple Excel sheets and mail merges, the data doesn't match one to one. Especially when you get into big campaigns of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of records, there's no way to go through one by one and realize that yeah, road is spelled out here and RD was entered upon conversion. And so, that doesn't actually attribute.
Dave Fink (17:02):
So, software makes that all possible. And just like in the digital world a big component of the Postie platform is identity management. And so, when an individual converts, that data gets normalized, just like when an individual is including a campaign, and that campaign goes to production, that data's normalized.
Dave Fink (17:24):
And so, when we see a conversion, the platform sees a conversion, it can very accurately attribute it back to a specific test cell within your campaign structure. No different than digital.
Jim Marous (17:36):
Yeah. So, when you're looking at a client, when you're sitting down with a client, does direct mail fill a pocket of opportunity with regard to, is it better with brand building? Is it better with loyalty? Is it better with acquisition, or is it different based on the offer?
Jim Marous (17:54):
When I was involved in direct marketing, we kind of knew where direct mail played the best within the media mix. Is that still the case, or is it becomes the quantification available, the measurement available, the analytics available, it can be used for everything almost just as effectively as other things.
Dave Fink (18:13):
Well, I love it because it's one of the channels, the rare channels that can attack the full funnel. So, we talk a lot about this when we're educating and engaging with a prospect brand. We break it down into three different core buckets. And you talked about all of them.
Dave Fink (18:31):
So, the holy grail for any growth organization is prospecting, top of funnel acquisition. And because there's a wealth of data that can be used in very similar ways to target and to get smart over time, the same way that Facebook builds lookalikes, or you're training models on your programmatic platform, your direct mail in theory can benefit from those same kind of use cases of data. And we've worked really hard to make that simple and integrated and easy.
Dave Fink (19:05):
Yeah. Then you go kind of the next step down and it's what I would call mid-funnel. So, you're collecting all this first-party data and your mobile apps and your lead forms and maybe lead collection data in the world, kind of in world, website visitor data, card abandonment, funnel abandonment, all of that first party data that hopefully, your pipes are set up to collect, you can activate in digital channels, but you can also activate in direct mail.
Dave Fink (19:35):
So, you can do things like funnel abandoners, card abandoners, you can do email converting or email capture non-converters or lead capture non-converters, all that mid-funnel data where you've worked really hard to engage those interested parties, but they didn't make it all the way through a revenue generating action. How do you put that insight to work and direct mail through a platform like Postie, can make that possible, bring that to life.
Dave Fink (20:02):
And then you go down to the bottom of the funnel, now you have CRM. That's your liquid gold. Like here are your customers, these are individuals who have transacted with you. Maybe they're not behaving the way that you want them to. You think that you haven't built the loyalty yet, the reputation.
Dave Fink (20:18):
Maybe you want to drive tighter intervals between transactions. Maybe you want to introduce different products and cross sells to increase the lifetime value or the average order value. All of that is incredibly not just possible, but performant with direct mail.
Dave Fink (20:37):
So, you have the full funnel there. Depending on the size of the brand and your marketing team, it could be overwhelming to think about going into the channel and attacking the full funnel all at once. And the key there is to just lean in with a company like us or with your team and start prioritizing where you think you can get the greatest gains.
Dave Fink (21:02):
But over time, highly encourage any marketers, start working, experimenting with all three levels of their funnel.
Jim Marous (21:12):
What are some of the secrets of today's direct marketing, direct mail that most marketers just miss? If you're going in to visit a prospect for the first time, you're saying, here's some things that most people just don't know the way they used to or they never knew. And as it might be different than what's done in digital, whatever else, what are some of the secrets right now of direct marketing that we just miss?
Dave Fink (21:39):
Well, that's a big question. It's a important question, I think. So, first I would start with this idea of, there are two types of organizations that are out there. There's the type of organization that is currently doing direct mail and yeah.
Dave Fink (22:01):
And then there's a wide grouping of them, but we'll look at the extreme. They've been doing direct mail for decades. The core part of their marketing mix, they're doing it the same way they did it before. It's long lead times. They're sourcing data the same way, they're writing their same cadences. Maybe they're doing some light testing because it's complicated to get different ad formats. They're optimizing mostly on cost. How can I get cheaper paper? How can I print cheaper?
Jim Marous (22:29):
I remember those days. Yeah.
Dave Fink (22:30):
Yeah. That's their optimization layer. Then there's the opposite of the spectrum. There are people that had never seen a stamp before. Everything they do is digital or maybe they've done some TV or some other offline channels, but they've never run direct mail at all.
Dave Fink (22:48):
In the way that we oftentimes talk with each side is slightly different. The doing direct mail have their ways of doing it. Typically, those organizations are running direct mail in a silo, but yet they're running all their other channels integratedly.
Dave Fink (23:07):
They're looking at medium mix modeling, they're thinking about multi-touch funnels. They're thinking about these like key addressable audiences and how you run front end display ads, and then how you retarget from them. And they're thinking cleverly about, depending on how they joined an email list, whether it was based on an ad that had an offer or what channel that individual or that segment came from, let's treat them differently.
Dave Fink (23:35):
But direct mail is kind of being done the same way that they've always been doing it. To me, that's the biggest mess. The opportunity is to think more dynamically. It's not to think about direct mail as a separate thing, but to think about it as here is this segment of individuals that we're reaching through any number of channels. How do we maximize our media exposure? How do we ensure that the storytelling is consistent?
Dave Fink (24:03):
And that whether it's the story that we're telling through direct mail or a newsfeed ad or a display ad, or an email or a billboard, it's all working together to drive efficiency. That to me is the key. And that you do need technology for, or you need a lot of people and custom engineers and data scientists, which the biggest companies in the world may be able to do, but most mortal companies don't have the capacity to build those type of teams.
Dave Fink (24:31):
When we talk with the never done direct mail brands, the idea is to demystify it. It's to get them coming to the channel thinking no differently than they do in digital. What are you looking to accomplish?
Dave Fink (24:43):
You're looking to drive new customer acquisition in a younger demographic. That's a core mission for the company. Awesome.
Dave Fink (24:51):
What type of first party data do you have that you can gain insights from and start activating to build lookalike models or CRM segmentation or whatnot? Awesome.
Dave Fink (25:02):
What story's working? What's working in an email? What's working on your landing pages? What messaging is your sales team leveraging out in the world that's landing and driving engagement? Great.
Dave Fink (25:16):
Direct mail creative should look no different than those other channels. It's got to be an integrated part, and all of a sudden, it's no longer like, ooh, I'm all nervous about direct mail, or direct mail is different than everything else. It's like, oh yeah, just another touchpoint.
Dave Fink (25:31):
How do we move quickly? How do we come up with an idea, get it out into the mail within a day or two? How do we get results coming in within a week and how do we see how that is affecting not just direct mail performance, but are we getting benefits in Facebook, are our email touchpoints converting at a higher level, our display are we targeting now converting at a higher level?
Dave Fink (25:53):
It all works together. And for us, that's why we felt like investing in technology could be additive and valuable in the marketing ecosystem.
Jim Marous (26:05):
Is attribution the holy grail? Is that the thing that kind of drives everything? Because in most cases, organizations are not doing one channel at a time. They're doing multiple channels. And the secret was always, how do we know where the sale actually happened? Or what part of that sale was driven by a mix that was these three, these four of these one or two channels?
Jim Marous (26:33):
Is that really what everybody's looking to try to answer? Which is what is the right marketing mix to get the intended action to take place?
Dave Fink (26:43):
Well, sure. Look, attribution's a luxury, digital native brands, mobile apps, brands like GAP or J.Crew or Victoria's Secrets that have huge loyalty programs, they can capture identity data with almost every transaction. They have an advantage over a local business that doesn't capture that data.
Dave Fink (27:11):
Similarly, in yet the banking world, almost all transaction data is going to have identity built into it. And so, there's a luxury there.
Dave Fink (27:22):
Look, there's no such thing as perfect. And so, saying that attribution is everything suggests that if you're a brand that can't run direct attribution, you should give up on marketing. And what I would argue is that the two components that are most important in marketing that everybody can do is leveraging the best data available to be as predictive as possible, which eliminates waste and gives you the highest leverage possible in who you're reaching with your budget. So, data, data, data.
Dave Fink (27:58):
And then the other is being thoughtful and consistent with your marketing message, whether that's look and feel, design, the specific images that you're bringing to the table, keeping your offers consistent so there's not consumer confusion in the marketplace. Those two things lead to success.
Dave Fink (28:17):
Attribution helps you have greater understanding into what's working and what's not working, so that you can get smarter and smarter and smarter. But the targeting and the front end and the experimentation with the appropriate messaging is what drives the performance, measurement just tells you whether you got it right or wrong.
Dave Fink (28:36):
So, you can still do a lot, you can bring a lot of advantage to the table, even if you are not a brand that can measure all the way through.
Dave Fink (28:45):
With that being said, makes it better for sure. It's huge advantage, and we should all, as marketers or brands, be thinking about ways to close the loop with prospects and consumers so we can capture more data, get smarter, make sure that we're communicating effectively with our marketing budgets.
Jim Marous (29:03):
So, let's take a short break here and recognize the sponsors of this podcast.
Jim Marous (29:09):
Welcome back to Banking Transformed. So, I'm joined today by Dave Fink, CEO and co-founder of the marketing technology firm, Postie. We have been discussing why direct mail should be part of every financial marketer's marketing mix.
Jim Marous (29:23):
So Dave, I think we both agree that FIs still leave money on the table by not fully incorporating the power of their own data and the technology in the field today.
Jim Marous (29:35):
What are some strategies that you can share for capturing some of that extra revenue, or at least putting it to work better? If you were to say, what are the first three things that financial marketers should do to make it so their direct marketing performs better?
Jim Marous (29:51):
And I'm going to even confine it a little bit more by saying and try to do it so that it can be done by any size financial institution. In other words, if you find a good partner that can help you do this, this, and this, what are those things they should do to really make it so they're not leaving money on the table?
Dave Fink (30:07):
Yeah, for sure. And that differentiation is great because financial services is a space that has relied, at least the wells have relied and dominated the direct mail space for a very long time, right?
Jim Marous (30:19):
Dave Fink (30:19):
Your Cap One, I think they have a 600, 650 million a year direct mail budget. And they have lots of data scientists and creatives and strategy folks that are working across the channel. And they do it really well.
Jim Marous (30:36):
Well, and the good news is, as in everything going on in the financial service industry, there are now specialists in these things that smaller firms can buy the talent. And these are firms that work on the same multiple brands, but the same products. It's not like the banking world is all that diverse in what they sell.
Dave Fink (30:57):
No. And it shouldn't be. It is one of those sectors where if someone's selling you something unique in the financial services space, maybe you should run for the hills.
Dave Fink (31:15):
It is a well-oiled machine and we kind of all know how deposits work and how loans work and how securities work, and it's more about who you can build a relationship with and trust and who understands your business or if you're on the retail side, who understands folks that look like you so they can help guide you into the right products and decisions within their portfolio side.
Dave Fink (31:49):
We took a little bit of a detour there, but getting back to your original question, the beauty of, I think the way we think about the world is that we want any marketer to be able to access the best data available, the best modeling and mathematics.
Dave Fink (32:06):
And right now, machine learning, algorithmic based prediction is next level and drives next level performance. Having the ability to execute without needing an enormous team, having some visibility into, as we talked about earlier, measurement and what works, and to be able to wake up in the morning have an interesting idea and not be intimidated to execute on that idea that could help you achieve a marketing goal.
Dave Fink (32:40):
I think the three buckets of things that any of your listeners could be doing is, one, insights. It's starting from a place of strength. And each financial institution has lots of data on their customers. They know what products and services their customers are engaging with.
Dave Fink (33:06):
The next level becomes what type of third-party data out there can be used in order to build prediction or gain more insights into the unique nuances between why different individuals came and became a member of a bank or credit union financial institution, et cetera.
Dave Fink (33:23):
The more that you can gain insights into who and why these individuals are behaving the way that they do, the more likely you are to be able to work with your creative or think about the right messaging and find more impact in the way that you're communicating with prospects or the way that you're upselling existing customers.
Dave Fink (33:49):
And so, that comes from, I'm just a big believer in a lot of the tools and functionality that we built into the platform is all about, not even just the execution. It's free, it's having an account gives you access to it. But being able to integrate your CRM and be able to see what all the big data providers are saying or helping you understand about your customer base, it's about doing things like clustering and recognizing that not every segment within your customer base is there for the same reason or looks the same.
Dave Fink (34:20):
And so, now when you start saying like, okay, now it's time to start allocating budget to go after a specific marketing goal, now we can look and say like hey, it's not just that we want more customers in general, it's that we want more customers that look like buyers of this product, or we want more customers that historically have been responsive to this message before because they have a higher lifetime value, or they're easier to service. And so, we can be more efficient with our customer service, customer support teams.
Dave Fink (34:49):
Now all of a sudden you can go, and you can start shaping models and targeting and audiences so that you're not just allocating budget on segments that are likely to convert and deliver a return ad spend, but that are also likely to behave in the way that you want good customers to behave.
Dave Fink (35:09):
But that's possible in all these quantitative channels, direct mail's no different. That seems really daunting. But with modern software, it's possible to do it, and it's possible to do it with one marketing person. You don't have to have a whole team of individuals. You need someone that's going to engage in the channel and learn the capabilities and work with their account team. And the returns can be tremendous.
Dave Fink (35:37):
I think that's where it really starts. And then from there, it becomes once you understand the specific nuances within your first-party dataset, once you have the confidence that you can actually target individuals that look just like those individuals, now you can start thinking creatively about what are the messaging, what is the frequency? What's the look and feel? What are the products we want to feature? What are the benefit statements? What are the call to actions?
Dave Fink (36:03):
And that's just a rinse and repeat. And as markets move, as consumer needs change, as demographic shift in your customer base, et cetera, you have the capability now to constantly gain insights into it. What's worked up until now, what's not working, what's no longer working, how to activate it, and then how to bring the right messaging, offers content into those marketing campaigns. And that's the magic.
Jim Marous (36:34):
It's interesting, one of the elephants of the room, and there's probably several, but it's the privacy legislation that's getting more and more tenuous for marketers of all types, direct marketing, digital marketing, all marketing. The third-party tracking cookies are all but dead. How does the modern marketer adapt to this new environment?
Dave Fink (37:01):
Well, we're all learning. The cookie is supposedly dying but hasn't yet. So, we don't have to move away from it yet, although cross device measurement has become blurry at best, and that's affected performance of certain channels.
Dave Fink (37:20):
I think first-party data, that's one component that's not going away. It would be impossible or very hard for legislation to change your ability to actually know your customers. In a financial institution, there's something called KYC, you have to know your customers, right?
Jim Marous (37:43):
Yeah. It's one of the benefits the banks have. The reality is it's not something just walking in the store walking out, we kind of know everybody that walks into the store of a financial institution.
Dave Fink (37:53):
They've a regulatory responsibility to do it. And because of that, there's always going to be tremendous insight there.
Dave Fink (38:00):
The way you activate that data may change depending on how some of these marketing platforms choose to engage with their own data collection and maybe guided by some of the state regulations. At this point, in the United States there's still lots of permissible use cases for data.
Dave Fink (38:24):
So, I don't think that's going away. It's putting more onus on players like us to continue to be leading the way in ethical use of data, transparency, disclosure, understanding what data we're collecting, how we're collecting it, ensuring that we're not using it in ways that consumers wouldn't expect it to be used. Those are all good things, we deserve those. I think as humans, it just drives good behavior.
Dave Fink (38:56):
As far as, I think the question is more than in a changing marketing landscape. So, I think like bigger concerns right now are assuming that you're playing above board and you're already a company that's committed to playing by the rules and doing right by your customers, chances are there's not going to be a whole lot of operational change that you need to take. There might be some expenses associated with technologies that come out to help you manage opt-outs and proxy policies and things like that. But those are good things I think we can all agree.
Dave Fink (39:30):
I think the bigger, the bigger concern's going to be if we've come to an overreliance on Google and all of a sudden, a partnership between Bing and OpenAI changes consumer behavior, and now the number of searches and searching your results page is posted at any given topic on any given day drops by 20, 30, 40, 50%.
Dave Fink (39:55):
That's pretty damaging to almost every business in the world that relies on both branded, non-branded and organic search traffic to drive their business.
Dave Fink (40:05):
What happens if the world finally gets tired of Facebook and realizes, hey, they're in the business of addicting teenagers to their platforms, and that's not a good thing. And so, parents get more actively involved, and next thing you know, Facebook monetizable ad impression rate drops 10, 20, 30, 50%, you know what happens there?
Dave Fink (40:26):
That changes the landscape tremendously because they have beat those walled gardens to become such powerful beasts. And I don't think anything we've talked about up until now doesn't apply. It's the same thing. It's you know you have insights into your first-party data. You look for ways to leverage that knowledge through your authentic and appropriate messaging and storytelling on the channels that are available to activate those audiences.
Dave Fink (40:54):
And the channels may change, but if you take a first-party data first approach, then it's just more different integrations, experimenting with new and old channels and reallocating your media mix, which should just be a never ending. That was always the case.
Dave Fink (41:11):
It's only been in the last 10 years since Facebook became as big as it did, that we all kind of got hit with the dummy stick a little bit and said, oh, we can just throw 80% of our budget on Facebook and everything will work out. That worked for a few years.
Jim Marous (41:24):
There's no cost.
Dave Fink (41:24):
Well, there's cost.
Jim Marous (41:28):
At the beginning, it's like everything else, the cost caught up with everything. But it's interesting, even Google, I see that by the time a search is done you're going through five ads. How effective are those ads and how do you make them more effective?
Jim Marous (41:42):
And I think your overarching theme here that you've been mentioning since the very beginning is you've got to keep on top of all these channels because the return on awareness and return on attention is going to change dynamically every day.
Jim Marous (41:59):
We see it, we're not in the direct marketing business, but we're in the publication business and we derive a lot of our page views based on Google. Every time Google changes their algorithm, it screws us up.
Jim Marous (42:11):
Once in a while, we benefit from it, but all of a sudden, we realize, geez, we got to change something else in what we're doing. And they don't give you the rule book, so they don't tell you exactly what they've done. You just know that all of a sudden out of nowhere, your response or your awareness has gone down and you're going, okay, what element do I have to change?
Jim Marous (42:31):
And who's going to be in the marketplace to say, we found where the key was, where the little thing was. And so much of this is intangible in that sense, but I think that's what makes direct mail kind of a go-to, because you do control a lot more of the dynamics, especially when you're using first-party data, especially when you're using third-party data that's been traditional data that's been used for a long time, be it anything from credit bureaus to new address matches.
Jim Marous (43:01):
And you get into the situation that you sometimes have to get back to the basics to make the other components work better.
Jim Marous (43:09):
And I think another thing that I get a takeaway from what you're saying is direct mail also assists all the digital channels that you're really excited about, the silver objects out there.
Jim Marous (43:19):
But technology's going to drive all this. We had the CMO of MasterCard on the show, and he's just dynamically intelligent beyond belief in how he's worked with different channels. But at the end of the day, he gets to the point that says, if you're not keeping track of the analytics, the monitoring, the attribution models, human behavior, you lose, doesn't matter what channel you use.
Jim Marous (43:49):
So, I really appreciate you being on the show today. As I told you before, the podcast, interestingly, while it's my background, it's not a topic we've covered as much as we probably should, and especially in the financial services field, it's still a channel that's used quite frequently because of the power of first-party data, because of the effectiveness of direct marketing and direct mail is part of the overall marketing mix.
Jim Marous (44:13):
So, we will stay in touch. This has been a good conversation. I appreciate your time.
Dave Fink (44:17):
Yeah, I'd love to stay in touch and look, it's always fun to talk to someone who has a history in the channel because it has evolved over the last 30, 40 years very slowly. But more recently now all of a sudden, we're wisening up to, it's not any different than a digital channel.
Jim Marous (44:42):
Thanks for listening to Banking Transformed, the winner of three international awards for podcast excellence. If you enjoyed today's interview, please give our show a five-star rating on your favorite podcast app.
Jim Marous (44:53):
In addition, catch my recent articles in The Financial Brand and the research we're doing for the Digital Banking Report.
Jim Marous (45:00):
This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to our senior producer, Leah Haslage; audio engineer, Sean Rule-Hoffman, and video producer, Will Pritts.
Jim Marous (45:10):
I'm your host, Jim Marous. Until next time, remember that direct mail may not be the flashiest marketing channel. When executed well though, it can be the most powerful tool in driving engagement and conversions.