Nordstrom Cuts Direct Mail – Oops!

Nordstrom® cut direct mail in favor of an all-digital marketing strategy. In their IQ 2019 earnings call, we learn what happened.

Erik B. Nordstrom, Co-President at Nordstrom, cut their sales and profit forecast following weaker than expected first quarter results. Why?

Nordstrom has a loyalty program with 12 million active customers contributing more than 60% of sales. Pushing an all-digital program, Nordstrom cancelled direct mail to these customers.

What happened? Nordstrom was surprised to find that their customers relied on receiving the mailing for staying informed and aware. Sales and profits fell.

It’s hard to understand how such a large company would cut such an important promotional channel. Have they missed the direct mail from such digital giants as Microsoft®, Google® and Amazon®?

Will they add direct mail back into their marketing program? We’ll have to wait and see, but I would expect they will.

Learn more about what modern, connected direct mail can do for you.

Cutting-Edge Tech Boosts Direct Mail

DirectConnect™ is a technology platform that connects direct mail to online advertising, call tracking, mail tracking, and website visit tracking.
You can watch a video explaining the service HERE. The way people respond to direct mail has changed. Data shows that 90% of interested people now will visit a website before calling and of those, most will leave the website without taking action.

Connecting online advertising to your direct mail campaign engages the power of Google® and Facebook® ads to increase awareness, ad impressions, and action leading to improved results.

DirectConnect mails and tracks results for you; it tracks your online prospects and follows up with them through online advertising – automatically (it tracks your phone responses, too).

You get:

  • A fully optimized direct mail campaign
  • Automatic mail & call tracking
  • Automatic follow-up with digital advertising for your online prospects
  • A Dashboard allowing you to monitor your campaign progress daily…making it easy to prepare reports for Management

This combination of direct mail and digital technologies, including online advertising linked to your direct mail, can increase the return on investment in your direct mail campaigns by an average of 23-46%.

Learn more about how connecting online ads to direct mail can help you.

Gallup Says the Economy is Booming

Gallup’s October 2018 consumer survey reports that Americans believe the economy is booming, with 54% rating economic conditions as “excellent” or “good” and just 12% as “poor.” What’s more, 57% say the economy is getting better rather than worse. Great news for consumer confidence and the economic outlook for the country.

What about jobs? It’s a good time to find a quality job according to 68% of U.S. adults. Their perception of the job market is at its highest point since about 2012, tying the highest rating seen by Gallup since August 2001.
What does this mean for the St. Louis region? For companies that do business nationally, they should be seeing strong business growth.

On a more local level, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reports on business conditions in our region in its October 24, 2018 Beige Book:
• Manufacturing, agriculture and natural resources have improved since their previous report
• Consumer spending is mixed
• Employment and wages have slightly improved
• Construction and commercial real estate have weakened
• Bankers report good loan volume

So, nationally the economic news is great while here at home in St. Louis, it’s a mixed bag, but improving. Life is always better in a strong economy. We can help improve the outlook for your organization, just call.

Donor Development with DirectCONNECT®

Donor development and retention is crucial to assuring a strong financial position for most nonprofit organizations. Direct mail remains an important tool, despite the changes we’ve seen in how people want to communicate.

Is direct mail dying? The simple answer is NO. The only thing that has changed about direct mail is the way people respond to it. Over 90% of people now visit a website after receiving a direct mail piece that catches their attention. However, according to Google® Analytics, 96% of people will leave a website without taking any action.

That’s when the power of digital marketing kicks in by getting prospects BACK to that website…and it really works.


Once the mail is delivered to the Post Office, it’s tracked through their Intelligent Mail Barcode system until delivered to the home. With DirectConnect, you’ll see a report of the % of your mailing that was delivered by day, and to whom, so you don’t have to guess and hope.

Once someone visits your website, they receive a Google “cookie”, which then generates automatic follow-up advertising on the Google Display Network®. For Google, they’ll see text and image ads matching your campaign design.

For Facebook®, your mail list is matched against Facebook profiles. Ads will be displayed to this matched audience with the goal of driving them to your website.

Rather than obtaining a single impression for each mailing piece, the system can produce 5 to 10 or more impressions for each letter or postcard.

Would you like to find people who are more likely to support your charity? Check out Finding prospects that look like your best customers (donors)

Bulk Mail Services

Allegra’s bulk mail services are a fast, efficient way for you to obtain the lowest cost postage possible. We utilize the USPS Intelligent Mail® barcode system for first class or standard class mail.

• Eliminate need to learn and understand postal regulations
• Save significant amounts on postage
• Track using the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb)

Postal Indicias

The United States Postal Service offers mailing permit accounts as an alternative to postage stamps. Holders of these accounts are given a permit number indicia. The indicia indicates “Postage Paid” and the cost of your mailing is deducted from your account on the basis of weight and standardization of the mailing. At Allegra, we can print your indicia on your mail piece, or if you do not have a mailing permit account, utilize ours.

Postal Processing

Our team of mail services experts will process your mailing list to ensure the maximum number of pieces are delivered. This process will identify recipients with a national change of address on file as well as eliminate bad addresses.

Traying, Bagging and Tagging

In order to receive postage discounts, mailings must be sorted into USPS trays (or bags for flats) and tagged with appropriate delivery codes. At Allegra, our mail services experts are familiar with the USPS regulations regarding sorting, traying, and tagging mail so you don’t have to be. In addition, our fulfillment center has the equipment and capacity to accommodate large, bulky mailings.

Business Mail Presentation

A trip to the Business Mail Entry Unit dock at the USPS can be time-consuming and overwhelming. Each mailing is carefully inspected by the USPS and will be rejected if specific criteria is missing. At Allegra, our mail services fulfillment staff regularly presents mail to the St. Louis BMEU. We know how to navigate this maze so you don’t have to.

Learn More

Call Allegra mail services experts to learn how we can help. Or, if you want to learn more for yourself, visit the United States Postal Service site for businesses at

Mailing Services

Avoid Wasted Mailing Costs

Bad address data results in wasting money from printing and postage on mail pieces that aren’t delivered or are delivered to the wrong person. Our mailing services help reduce these wasted costs with CASS Certification, DPV, and NCOA address corrections.

Mail Processing

To present business mail as “bulk mail” in order to obtain the substantial bulk mail discounts, there are significant requirements for the USPS (United States Postal Service) BMEU (Business Mail Entry Unit) to accept the mailing.

All presorted, standard and nonprofit mail must go through a rigorous data validation process before it is presented. This includes CASS Certification, Delivery point validation and move update. At Allegra, our mailing software is integrated directly with the USPS database, allowing us to perform these services on your behalf.

What is CASS Certification?

Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) is a system that allows us to clean up your data by normalizing it and adding missing information when possible. The system ensures that information in your mailing database is complete. In some cases, it can add missing information like zip codes.

What is Delivery Point Validation?

Delivery point validation or (DPV) allow us to verify if an address is a deliverable by checking it against the USPS database of known addresses.

What is move update?

The move update process allows us to identify people who have moved and update your records to ensure they receive your mail piece. This is done by comparing your list to the National Change of Address (NCOA) database. Anyone who has filed a change of address in the last forty-eight months will then be updated.

Finding New Customers Starting With Customer Analytics

Utilizing customer analytics increases the effectiveness of finding new customers by analyzing your current customers. Analytic tools find common demographic and behavioral characteristics of your customers. It then takes these common characteristics, identifying these same traits in people contained in a large database of U.S. consumers to create a customized market penetration analysis for a highly targeted prospect database.

These profiles can be customized with additional characteristics. In order to avoid duplication within this list, a current customer list can be used as a suppression file, eliminating duplication.

The database based upon these customer analytics has been segmented into 26 categories, and personas or descriptions are available describing these common demographics and behaviors. You can see a above a portion of this persona or profile for one of the segments. This persona aids in identifying their interests, providing guidance in development of messaging.

A national franchise of health and fitness stores wanted to improve response rates in each of their markets. Utilizing predictive modeling that analyzed responders versus nonresponders from past campaigns, they identified key differences between the two groups for their markets.

Using this data, they then obtained highly targeted prospect lists for each of their markets resulting in increasing response rates from 9% to 22% for their direct mail campaigns.

Since 40-50% of a direct mail campaign’s outcomes are based upon the list, it’s worth investing in improving the quality of the list with available technology.

New Customer Prospecting for HVAC Contractors

New customer prospecting is a constant struggle. To keep your company rolling, you have to cross sell your past customers for additional services while constantly searching for new customers. You are probably using a variety of methods to reach new customers, but may be searching for a more effective marketing plan.

Effective marketing requires developing familiarity and awareness of a brand. While some companies rely mostly on traditional media such as tv and radio, the high cost and difficulty in measuring effectiveness is prohibitive for most.

These days, online advertising, social media, direct mail, & cold calling are the most cost-effective ways to advertise. But how do you know you’re getting the most bang for your buck?

Now, more effective new customer prospecting utilizes traditional direct mail campaign connected to online advertising and phone call tracking to improve performance, action and results. A new technology called DirectCONNECT™ links direct mail with both Google and Facebook advertising, offering an easy-to-use way to develop and nurture leads, effectively and with a measurable return on investment.

For one new customer prospecting campaign, 20,000 postcards were mailed to a list of prospects. While it’s important to mail on a regular basis to develop familiarity with the brand, this single mailing resulted in 146,726 follow-up ad impressions, with 78 people clicking on the ads to go to the website. Most importantly, the company received 43 unique telephone calls and converted 30 into jobs.

Since the great majority of people go to a company’s website for their first evaluation, a good landing page is needed for the campaign. Good means informative and easy to click and call or click and email an inquiry.

Next, a mail list is produced of past customers or of prospects.

Code is added to the landing page on the website for Google® and Facebook® advertising. Once someone lands on that page, as in response to the direct mail piece, they pick up a “cookie” (the code) and then will see ads as they browse and encounter one of the Google Display Network sites. This results in impressions, increasing awareness and familiarity with the brand, and generates clicks to the website.

For people on the mail list who are found to have matching Facebook pages, usually 40-60%, advertisements will be displayed during their time on Facebook, again generating impressions, familiarity and clicks to the website.

Inbound phone calls are tracked and recorded, producing reports on phone activity and allowing for quality assurance reviews (leading to training) of the inbound calls. Leads are critical, so the system carefully tracks leads and provides reports that can result in continuous improvement in future campaigns.

Evolving technology leads to more effective marketing tactics and better outcomes without more work. Connecting direct mail to online advertising leads to more effective marketing and higher returns on marketing investments.



More Effective New Patient Recruitment for Dentists

New patient recruitment…it’s a constant struggle for most dentists. Without an active development program, your practice may be shrinking. Many dentists use direct mail to attract new patients. That’s great! Direct mail is an effective resource for attracting new patients and retaining current ones. Unfortunately, many dentists are blindly blanketing the area around their office without a way to gauge the effectiveness of their efforts.

Now, traditional direct mail campaigns can be connected to online advertising and phone call tracking to improve performance, action and results. New patient recruitment is now easier and more effective, without utilizing more staff time.

For one dental office campaign, the number of new patients produced by this cross-channel or “connected” campaign nearly doubled compared to the practice’s more traditional direct mail program. New patients generated went from 7.8 per one thousand cards mailed to 14.4 per thousand. At a rate of 12,000 cards mailed per month, the campaign produced 560 web visitors being followed, 485,630 online ad views, and 264 clicks back to the website. Most importantly, it resulted in 173 new patients during the first quarter of the campaign. That’s a great ROI!

Effective marketing requires developing familiarity and awareness of a brand, something that both direct mail and the internet are very good at doing. The most effective new patient recruitment programs integrate direct mail with online advertising and tracking phone calls to monitor responses.

Here’s how it works: Each direct mail piece includes a web address for the prospect to visit for more information. Once someone visits that page, they pick up a cookie and then will see ads as they browse and encounter one of the Google® Display Network sites. This results in Impressions, increasing awareness and familiarity with the brand, and generating clicks to the website.

This same method is used for Facebook® and Instagram® advertising. For people on the mail list who are found to have matching Facebook and Instagram pages, usually 40-60%, advertisements will be displayed during their time on these social media sites, again generating impressions, familiarity and clicks to the website.

On top of the online advertising, inbound phone calls are tracked and recorded, producing reports on phone activity and allowing for quality assurance reviews of the inbound calls.

Effective modern marketing means using more than one channel to reach prospects. This program demonstrates results.

If you would like to learn a little more about this, Click here. If you would like to learn a lot more, Contact us for a meeting.