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Who’s Mailing What! Mail Piece Journey

A quick rundown of all of the steps that go into the Who’s Mailing What! Website. Take a look behind the scenes of what WMW! mail processing is like.

Gathering, organizing, and presenting all of the data and images you see on Who’s Mailing What! is a very complex process. Like direct mail itself, there’s a lot of science as well as some art that goes into delivering a high-quality customer experience that helps you find the direct mail samples that you need and want.

Here’s a quick rundown of all of the steps that go into the Who’s Mailing What! Website:

Recruit & Manage Panelists

It all starts with the mail received by our panel of over 100 people, carefully distributed among urban, suburban, and rural areas across the United States. In return for monitoring the quality and range of mail that they contribute, we compensate them.

Aggregate & Classify Direct Mail

For the mail that comes in, a deduplication script developed by our data science team identifies and removes duplicates. Controls and Grand Controls – the mailpieces that show up month after month because they’re successful, are labeled, as are the tests that are run against them.

controls filter

WMW! has developed a “Performance Score” which ranks mail pieces on the likelihood they will perform well, on a scale of 1-100.

performance score

All mail piece types are categorized by postcard, envelope, folded self-mailer, etc. B2B and B2C mailpieces are designated separately.

direct mail formats and business models

As far as content goes, we use modern technology – Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – to get the most from each mailpiece. For example, we extract copy, images, fonts, and colors from the mailing. Also, offers and headlines are identified from that data. All of this data science helps provide you with insights about the mail.

PDFs of the mailpieces are converted into images by a script we developed and if necessary images are rotated to horizontal view before being combined again into a PDF. Personally identifiable information is masked to protect the privacy of our panelists.

masked PII

Collect and Refine Mailer Data

Mailer data – who mailed what – is a crucial part of our database. For each new mailpiece, we identify the company or organization that sent it, then choose a category and subcategory for it. Each company profile is built with contact names, website, physical mailing address, phone numbers, email addresses, and social media profiles. This gives customers a more complete view of their marketing activity, thereby providing you with a source of leads for your services – known and active direct mailers.

curated contacts direct mail sales leads

Publish to the Website

Newly identified companies are added to the database, so it’s always a good idea to check the site frequently for them. We update our Google inspired search function index so that you can more easily find companies and their newly added mail. And PDFs of the mailings are posted as well, matching the information we gathered from them, which you can find in each listing.

Maintain Continuous Improvement

All of these steps are only part of our vision for Who’s Mailing What!

Right now, our senior data scientists and product managers are developing additional products to improve the value we deliver to you with your membership. For example, we are improving or WMW! Leads to deliver better, more helpful contact information and intelligence to direct marketing and mail industry vendors, such as printers.

We apply artificial intelligence-based image processing to each image. Here’s why we use it: Inspiring Insights, as developed by data scientists, is an expanded version of Who’s Mailing What! that will give you access to data-powered analysis of each mailpiece besides a PDF. For example, you’ll get insights into:

  • Colors
  • Non Human Image Objects
  • Human Image Objects: Age, Gender, Ethnicity
  • Image Sentiment
  • Text Sentiment (and/or emotion)
  • Most responsive phrases
  • Dominant offers: Discount, Free, Free Shipping, etc.
  • Competitors
  • Font detection

We are also designing a Competitive Analytics product so that you can compare and contrast one company’s direct mail against others. And in partnership with Wyzoo Data Intelligence, our Who’s Inspired by What product provides you with the ability to match specific audience segments to the most responsive version of creative.

Final thoughts

As I said, it’s a long, detailed process. All for the good – we want to get it right, and keep making it better.

Like any good website, Who’s Mailing What! continues to evolve to serve you. Our interface, the search functions, the PDFs, and the data – we look at all of these continually with your best interests in mind. We welcome any and all feedback because it helps you do your job better, and that improves marketing in general at the same time. We’d love to hear from you!

Direct Mail Evangelist

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Josh C. Manheimer

    June 1, 2020 at 8:15 am

    When I first started out three decades ago, the way I figured out who was mailing what was to climb into the dumpster behind my post office and drag home garbage bags full of junk mail. Then I would sort it into file cabinets which I still refer to 30 years later. Today, your database is infinitely more appealing (and convenient) than dumpster diving.

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