How to Choose the Right Print Solutions Partner for Your Direct Mail Services

Marketing is both an art and a science, but direct mail execution is mostly science. There is a right way to do direct mail printing and distribution (and some not-so-right ways). There are industry best practices that direct mail experts will use to save you money and increase your ROI. 

So how can you be sure you’re working with a print solutions partner (PSP) who knows what they’re doing? Here are some questions to ask when vetting potential partners to make sure you wind up with a true partner who can add value to your campaigns and get you the results you’re after. 

Is the address matching software they use CASS™ certified? 

The United States Postal Service® certifies the quality of address matching, NCOA, and presort software used by PSPs, and any mailing claimed at an automation price must be produced from address lists properly matched and coded with CASS-certified address matching methods. This is a simple question you can use to establish whether you’re working with a USPS® expert. 

Which USPS promotions can they help you leverage? 

Every year, the post office runs several promotions to encourage marketers and PSPs to weave interactive components and emerging technologies into their direct mail campaigns. Taking advantage of the current promotion can drastically reduce the postage costs on a campaign, but this requires working with someone who both knows how to leverage these technologies and stays on top of the promotion schedule. Ask your PSP which promotions they envision using for your campaign to ensure this is part of their strategy. 

Do they have the equipment to do variable data printing… and the programming know-how to leverage it? 

Because direct mail that has been personalized using variable data printing is proven to be significantly more effective, today’s marketers can’t afford to waste time with printers who aren’t yet on board with digital printing. Don’t be afraid to ask about your PSP’s equipment! Is it offset, digital, or do they use both in combination? Which device do they plan to use for your campaign? If they’re already planning on going digital, continue the conversation by asking if they have advice on how to make your campaign more personalized. 

Remember that the right equipment is essential, but more than that, the service provider needs to know how to do the programming for personalization and other variable data that varies with the individual and/or their demographic makeup. Ask to see examples of personalized print they’ve done in the past to see how skilled they are at incorporating data (beyond just the recipient’s first name). 

What analytics will they provide?

In order to know if your campaign is getting results, you need performance data. (Here are some analytics we typically recommend marketers measure.) Can your potential PSP track the results of your mailing using pURLs, QR codes, or unique promotion codes? Have a discussion up front about exactly what will be included in your end-of-campaign reports to make sure. 

Can they turn your direct mail plans into a full omni-channel campaign?

Even the biggest print fanatics understand that the reach of their campaigns will extend further if they add in digital components like digital advertising, email marketing, SMS messaging, or social media marketing. Does the PSP you’re working with have the tools to take your campaign omni-channel

Will they take the time to clean up your data? 

A targeted, personalized campaign is only as good as the data behind it. If you’re working with a large database of leads and customers and you’re unsure whether the information you have is up to date, can you rely on your PSP to help with data optimization? At Varispark, it’s our practice to help our customers with merge-purge and duplicate elimination. We take the time to do this because with variable data programming, poor data means poor results. The cleaner the data, the better our customers’ ROI.

Once the data is clean, we can also help with segmented list creation, data suppression, and data appends, including email addresses and phone numbers. 

Can they help with your other print needs, too?

Of course, marketers depend on PSPs for so much more than direct mail. Is your potential PSP a good fit for your other print needs, like your marketing and sales collateral and your promotional items? Can they bundle print and promotional items together and handle the distribution? Do they have a system for seamless online order fulfillment? 

Considering these strategic questions up front can help you find a PSP who is right for you, who adds value, and who you’ll want to stay with for the long term. 

Thinking Varispark might be right for you? We’d love to speak with you about our capabilities, understand your challenges, and see how we can help. Get in touch.