Interview: Using mailshots as an effective marketing tool with Optilyz


Print marketing campaigns continue to have the highest response rates. Optilyz provides a platform for the entire mailshot process, which makes sense not just from an eCommerce perspective but for bricks-and-mortar stores too.

It’s a generally well-known fact that personalized print mailshots are superior to e-mail from a customer approach perspective. But how do you simplify such a complex marketing tool and when is the right moment to contact the customer? Martin Twellmeyer and Robert Rebholz set about tackling this question and set up their Optilyz business, which lays the foundations for marketing executives to handle print mailshots. I met with Martin Twellmeyer in the Start-Up Village at this year’s dmexco and asked him how the whole thing works.

Bernd Zipper: Martin – for the benefit of all those not familiar with your business – what does Optilyz do?

Martin Twellmeyer: Optilyz is on the one hand a platform for addressed mailshots, letters, postcards and self-mailers. We offer clients the opportunity to book mailshots in just a few clicks, where they, for example, upload their CSV files and designs to the platform in order to process their mailshot campaigns in just a few clicks. We provide a data cleansing service, take care of printing together with our partners and hand the whole thing over to Deutsche Post. We mentor clients throughout the entire process by sending them regular automated updates via the platform, a service they might be familiar with when dealing with an online print provider. On the other hand our clients use us in particular to help them conduct their test campaigns and as a next step to integrate our service in marketing clouds and CRM systems, thus adding a physical touchpoint to their e-mail marketing campaigns. Examples of this include CrossEngage and Emarsys. We are also currently working with Selligent on a solution, and from Q4 onwards we will be developing a plug-in or an app for Salesforce’s AppExchange. This should enable clients that already use these marketing clouds and conduct their existing customer management activities there – if, for example, they don’t have an e-mail opt-in – to use a channel, which allows them to continue reaching out to their customers and above all profitably operate this mailshot channel.

Bernd Zipper: How come you focus on print? In marketing everything seems to happen online otherwise…

Martin Twellmeyer: My co-founder Robert Rebholz and I started up companies ourselves together with Rocket Internet and back then we realized that 50 percent of our monthly budget vanished in offline activities. But we very quickly came to the conclusion that if you conduct offline activities properly, there are on the one hand channels available that you can and should incorporate in your marketing mix. On the other hand you have a structured, segmented approach based on A/B tests that enables you to raise the performance of these channels significantly. We then set up Optilyz to tackle the whole issue of scalable offline channels, bookability and analytics and got lodged on the subject of mailshots, because we see massive potential here – on the one hand on the operational side in terms of processing and automation and on the other hand in the segmentation of data outside of the marketing cloud environment. Of course I can write to all my customers once a year and send them all the same letter – or I can go and say: each customer group should be approached differently, dependent on its customer lifetime value. We have seen that on the one hand the channel can be made to perform profitably and that smart A/B testing also enables you to gain significant advantages. Letterboxes are becoming emptier and emptier – and contrary to expectations, even millennials react extremely positively to mailshots – physical mailshots -, because Snapchat and Facebook are one thing, but mailshots continue to have a massive impact.


Campaigns can easily be designed with the aid of this well-laid-out platform – once the product has been selected, the print method is chosen and the product is configured further; Source: Optilyz

Bernd Zipper: You partner with various print providers – what requirements do your partners need to meet?

Martin Twellmeyer: Our partner requirements can be based on three criteria. The first is a consistently high standard of quality. We believe it is very important that customers are provided with consistent quality and know exactly what to expect. Secondly, we believe pricing is important of course, although it is not as if we simply try to drive prices down, but ultimately create a win-win situation for both parties. The way we work with our print providers means that they always get the same package from us. We have pre-checked data, which is provided to clients. We always have the same data structure that is communicated to the print providers, i.e. they can adjust to our needs really well. On the other hand we create a standard catalog together with the print providers, meaning that we always get inquiries for the same products. We believe that non-standard formats can work, but in a very limited way. Ultimately it’s all about performance and meaningful A/B testing, and it’s a wise move to start with a standard product, while you can try out a non-standard print product at a later stage. But we tend to be convinced that simple printing is usually sufficient for those that take a cost-focused approach. The third criteria is whether the partner is interested in putting automated processes in place. That’s because the whole thing can only work if we join forces with the client via a technical interface, an API, and are able to send jobs in automated format from our system.

“Print marketing can take customer relationships to a different personal level unlike e-mail communication. Neither onliners nor offliners should underestimate the benefits.” – Bernd Zipper


Bernd Zipper: If a print provider meets all these requirements, can they contact you?

Martin Twellmeyer: Absolutely. We are always delighted when new partners get in touch. We now have a group of five partners here in Germany. For us it’s important that the print providers ultimately know what they can expect from us and when it makes sense to make additions to the portfolio, from which we believe that our clients can benefit, then we are delighted to make new contacts.

Bernd Zipper: To finish off with, here is a standard question: where do you see yourselves in five years?

Martin Twellmeyer: In five years’ time I see us as a European provider. The objective is for Optilyz to become a booking platform for mailshots within Europe. We already have clients for whom we provide a mailshot service throughout Europe, but want to set up a network of local print providers across Europe, in order to be able to deliver locally. And our aim is to incorporate more intelligence into mailshots. Our clients send us analytics data, clients can monitor how their campaigns are progressing on our platform, can see during which period the whole thing has been completed and can also identify which formats have been effective. We are planning to invest heavily here in the next one to two years, to provide clients with benchmarks – where do they stand vis-à-vis comparable companies, which are the best formats to use etc., to provide much greater transparency in relation to KPIs.

My take: In my first blog post about dmexco 2017 I already spoke about the role played by print in digital marketing. It’s all the more gratifying to see, using Optilyz as an example, that print can continue to be used as a relevant channel for the (re)activation of customer contacts, and indeed applying platform solutions that make campaign preparations as easy as digital mailshots. Printed promotional mail with a personalized touch is vital to a successful marketing mix. Therefore there will be more posts on the subject of personalized print mailshots in the near future.

Founder and CEO of zipcon consulting GmbH, one of the leading consulting companies for the print and media industry in Central Europe. The technology and strategy consultant and his team actively support practical implementation in a wide variety of customer projects. His work involves developing visions, concepts and strategies for the players active in the print production process across a wide range of industries. His areas of expertise include online print, mass customization, strategy and technological assessment for print, and the development of new strategies in the print and media environment. Bernd Zipper is the creator and chairman of Initiative Online Print e.V. and, in addition to his consulting activities, is an author, lecturer and sought-after speaker, orator and moderator. His visionary lectures are regarded worldwide as trend-setting management recommendations for the print and media industry. (Profiles also in Xing, LinkedIn).

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