Canada Post simplifies direct mail for local business use

Canada Post has launched a potentially important bid to attract more small and medium-sized businesses to use the mail for local advertising purposes. The Crown Corporation has launched a new free-of-charge service online that makes it easier for SMEs to locate prospective customers among households in their local areas.

The “Precision Targeter” tool allows businesses access to Canada Post’s extensive address database, combined with national census data, to more precisely target saturation mail campaigns to the best delivery routes for a certain message.

The service also simplifies the process of using the Unaddressed Admail service to run local marketing campaigns.

Aiming at a key segment of the advertising mail market in regard to potential growth – small businesses – Canada Post’s latest offering mirrors in many respects the Every Door Direct Mail service being run south of the border by the US Postal Service.

The idea is seen as a billion-dollar earner for USPS.

“This is the future for many postal services.”

Both the USPS and Canada Post services look to make use of digital technology to make using the mail easy for small businesses that often do not have dedicated marketing staff.

And, both of the services nod to the importance of local saturation mail delivery for postal services in maintaining mail volumes in an increasingly digital age, competing within an increasingly splintered consumer communications industry.

Laurene Cihosky, senior vice president for data and integrated marketing solutions, said only Canada Post had access to every mailbox in the country.

“When I look at the what these small and medium businesses mean for this market, this is the future for many postal services,” she said of the simplified unaddressed mail tool.

Precision Targeter

The new Precision Targeter tool allows a business to put a local direct marketing campaign together in five steps, from identifying routes and refining campaigns to placing orders and making payments.

Customers use an online map system to select an area for their campaign, and can then tailor the area to a specific budget, or according to delivery routes offering high proportions of key demographics such as certain age or income groups or type of household.

The system then provides the delivery information needed for the campaign, including the number of mailpieces that will be required to reach every door in the selected area.

Canada Post’s Precision Targeter is designed to allow small businesses lacking marketing experience to get into direct mail

Cihosky said the number one complaint among smaller business customers was that the postal service was difficult to use.

“It’s been very, very difficult for them to use admail services,” she told Post&Parcel today. “But with this they can go online 24 hours a day and it isn’t necessary to be an expert – it’s all intuitive.”

Cihosky said her team took a page out of the Apple or Google playbook to ensure the new tool was intuitive for small businesses to use, particularly those with no marketing experience.

“This is a seamless one-stop-shop targeting tool, using simple drop down menus and providing a lot of visual guides on how to pack your mail and other aspects of the process,” she said.

As with all Canada Post’s direct mail services, householders can opt out of receiving marketing materials from the Corporation’s delivery services via the Consumer’s Choice facility. Cihosky said she believed only about 4.5% of Canadians were currently opting out of receiving admail.

Canada Post’s new effort to grow its advertising mail volumes come after its customer base was significantly hit by last year’s industrial action. A series of strikes by workers and a subsequent nationwide shut-down of Canada Post operations in June 2011 saw business customers finding other ways to reach their target audiences.

According to the most recent financial statement from the Corporation, direct mail volumes were down 1.8% year-on-year in the three months up to October 2011.

Cihosky said today: “Volumes had been recovering nicely post-recession, then we had the labour action in the sumer, and people worry about that, so we saw the volumes suffer. I don’t think we’ve fully recovered post-strike.”

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