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Meet the Mailers: Creating Personalized Direct Mail

In our 4th episode, I talked to Michelle Fuchs, Mail Account Manager for IWCO Direct. We’ve discussed the importance of color in direct mail marketing, the most effective personalization types, and opportunities to grow mail.

In this episode, I talked with Michelle Fuchs, Account Manager at IWCO. IWCO has been one of the nation’s largest providers of data-driven direct marketing solutions for nearly 50 years.

Based on her experience working with clients, she offered her thoughts on why color in mail is important, as well as on opportunities to grow your direct mail marketing.

Michelle talked about creating relevant mail:

The best way to leverage personalization varies from campaign to campaign. The greatest advice that we can tell our clients is to test and see which one makes the most impact for their target audience.

Michelle Fuchs Account Manager

Some of the other topics we covered:

  • How to make sure brand colors in mail are accurate and consistent
  • Understanding USPS regulations
  • What marketers should do to create effective direct mail

Here are some questions and answers (edited for clarity and space):

  • How important is color in marketing? What does IWCO do to make sure that it prints brand and desired colors for campaigns accurately and consistently?

Color’s a very important element in any direct mail campaign and the goal of a direct mail piece is to make it as attractive and appealing as possible to the recipient so they’ll be tempted to open the piece and read your message. So the proper use of color will enhance the selling appeal of your mailer.

And when color is used in a logo, it’s really a quick identifier of your brand.

IWCO has tools for color management and fidelity across our platform, implementing G7 Space Master Color Qualification for all litho and digital print operations, as well as G7 certification for our color management personnel. The color management team has four G7 certified experts. And this team’s total focus is color accuracy and consistency … getting the colors reproduced accurately is just such a hugely important thing for any size company.

  • From your standpoint, what are the most important tips for effective omnichannel mail?

Well, today’s marketers have so many choices when planning their direct marketing campaigns, but I really feel that whichever channels they choose for their media mix, they need to include direct mail.

Direct mail really works. It’s an important tool to have, especially in today’s world where people are working remotely and spending more time at home. So direct mail is the perfect tool to reach them where they shop and make decisions.

I just really think that it is an essential element, and when you use the correct combination of email, along with direct mail and social media, marketers have a great opportunity to win new customers and also to maintain the loyalty of their valued current customers.

And I think that direct mail kind of reinforces the other efforts. Because if you get a piece of mail in your mailbox and you see it, and then you get that email from the company, you’re like “Oh, I know those people!”. Getting the direct mail piece really makes people more comfortable with the other media touches that they received from the company.

  • How important is it for marketers to understand USPS regulations as well as opportunities to grow mail?

I’ve found that, especially when I worked with the designers at Macy’s, I used to tell them you can design the most beautiful piece, but if it doesn’t follow the USPS regulations, then it’s not going anywhere because USPS is going to reject it or it’s just going to be too costly to mail. So that’s why I checked every piece and made sure that it fits the qualifications before it went out to the printer.

And as far as growing your direct mail program, I feel that’s really important because like, as I’ve been saying, direct mail works.

There’s a lot of opportunities to help you grow your mail. One thing is the USPS promotions when they offer them. My favorite promotion for Fall 2021 is the 2% postage discount you can achieve when you include Informed Delivery in your direct mail campaign.

Informed Delivery is a good way to connect your direct mail piece to the digital world. So when you combine that attractive mailer, along with a ride-along image, that includes a strong call to action, and a unique URL enables you to draw the attention of the recipient and bring them to a landing page of your choosing before they even open the mailbox. So it’s a great way to get kind of a double bang for your direct mail buck.

  • Many of the case studies on the IWCO website mention leveraging personalization as one of the ways to increase response rates. Is there a personalization type that brings the best results?

Well, I have to say that the best way to leverage personalization varies from campaign to campaign. So the greatest advice that we can tell our clients is to test and see which one makes the most impact for their target audience.

But IWCO does offer a full range of personalization services, including full-color variable data digital print solutions. When you combine that full-color variable data print capabilities, along with our dynamic content management solutions, you are able to offer very personalized pieces. You have that personalized offer and it’s combined with attractive full-color graphics, you’re really drawing the attention of the recipient.

Some examples that I can think of is like when an auto dealer includes an image of a new model of the recipient’s color of vehicle, or like retailers, like Macy’s, for example, including a full-color map of the closest brick and mortar location for the customer. It’s a great opportunity to really make the customer feel like you’re sending this to them.

  • What’s the most important thing marketers should do to create effective direct mail?

Well, of course, we always tell marketers they need to make their piece attractive and have a really strong offer and a strong call to action, but the thing that I really emphasize is the use of a clean, targeted mailing list.

So the first step is to choose the right audience, but then marketers need to ensure that their list goes through the proper hygiene, because you want to make every dollar count, and you want to make sure that when you mail something out, it’s going to go to the proper person. You’re not just throwing it out there and just missing the people that you want to receive it.

Once you have that perfect list and you do your mailing, you need to test and analyze the results and make adjustments so that you make sure you’re hitting your bull’s-eye with every mailing.

There are just so many different things you can test, you know, have a test package against the control package and see what works best, make an adjustment, and then use that information you have for your next mailing, so that you’re always increasing your response rate.

  • What is the best value proposition for direct mail … why does it still work so well today?

Well, direct mail has a high ROI and it can be effective when used by itself or as part of an omnichannel campaign.

There’s a lot of advantages as well because direct mail is a physical product, so there’s a lot of room for creativity, and you can test and then you can analyze the results and make adjustments so that you’re always making improvements.

But I think that maybe the biggest thing is that direct mail is a tried-and-true sure tool and people trust it, so they’re not threatened by it when they get that letter in their mailbox. You can open that letter with confidence and you know it’s a total safety or you’re not going to get a million other emails from other people that you don’t know who they are.

And I think that’s one of the other things … if you combine your direct mail with that email, then you have a better chance of people opening that email as well.

There’s a lot of opportunities, despite the rising costs, for postage savings. You can participate in the USPS promotions, and you can mail in commingled pools. And if you work with a knowledgeable mail service provider that can maximize your postal optimization savings, then you are really saving money.

Here is our conversation. We’ve added timecodes for your convenience.

Thanks again, Michelle, for an interesting and informative chat! To learn more about IWCO, visit

Your comments and ideas are very important to us in making your Who’s Mailing What! experience even better for you. Through these engaging and informative talks, we hope you’ll take away practical tips, insights, and stories to inspire and build your own success.

If you have any feedback — or are interested in being an interview star yourself — please reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you!

Direct Mail Evangelist

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