Targeting specific prospects with direct mail

March 26, 2019 Off By Melissa Team

How one bank used pinpoint datasets and personalized mailings to small business owners in Chicago neighborhoods.

Banks have a long history of using direct mail as a key marketing tactic, whether to introduce themselves to prospects or cross-sell alternate financial products to existing customers. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the folks at MB Financial, a mid-sized, Chicago-area bank which had just launched a direct mail campaign aimed at small businesses, and was struck by the novelty of the campaign.

The campaign’s ultimate success was due to several factors, but chief among them was leveraging the ability of finely honed contact information to precisely target households near its local bank branches. MB Financial’s “MB is Me” direct mail campaign combined targeted databases with digital printing and custom messaging to boost bank deposits and new small-business accounts.

Here’s how they did it:

Finding the right prospects

As a bank oriented toward mid-sized businesses, MB Financial recognized that small businesses represented an untapped opportunity. The bank figured that services like financial advice, business credit cards, payroll, cash management, and financing would be useful and attractive to the 430,000 small companies in the Chicagoland area.

Here was the novel part: The company decided to use direct mail to feature the small business advisors within each of its 86 branches, using the magic of a highly accurate mailing list and variable inkjet printing. MB Financial figured that small businesses in specific Chicagoland neighborhoods (which tended to bank locally) would appreciate a personal approach from his or her “local banker.”

MB Financial already had a good, personalized story to tell with its veteran branch managers and staff. Managers average more than 21 years in the business, and with more than 10 years running an MB Financial branch. The bank told me that, with local ties like these, its small-business outreach became very believable.

For its direct mail campaign, the company assembled powerful messages from branch managers – things like “You can get practical advice from me, a professional banker,” and

“I’m there for you and your business 24/7. Ask me anything.” Digital printing, bar coding, and sorting made each individual response traceable, so branch managers could reach out personally.

Mailings were prepared for an initial run to 30,000 small businesses. Two customizable direct mail assets were prepared: A personalized postcard; and, a letter inside a personalized envelope. The contents of both were designed as coming specifically from each business’ local bank manager, and specifically to each recipient. The postcard and letter alternated with each other every month for six months.

The results were outstanding: Before the campaign was half over, the bank was already experiencing a 15% response rate and a 205% increase in leads.

Accurate data made it possible

Variable inkjet printing made the personalization possible, but it wouldn’t have been successful without an accurate mailing list, with double-verified names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and neighborhood locations.

Obviously, targeting 30,000 prospects with uniquely personalized recipient names required modern technologies that clean, dedupe, append and enrich contact databases. Moreover, for banks clean, up-to-date datasets can also protect against money laundering and fraud, reduce cost, speed up client onboarding, and provide a single view of the customer for Know Your Customer compliance.

For companies in most any other vertical industry can use these technologies to avoid inaccurate data, outdated contacts, incomplete records and duplicates. It enables them to find new customers and better understand existing customers’ needs.

The wonders of modern data cleansing and enrichment go on and on.

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