So, how was I going to explain the ostrich skin boots to my wife? I was just waiting for a check… the boots just kind of happened. Well, they really didn’t just “happen.” Those boots ended up here today based on a sophisticated marketing campaign aimed just at me. It was pretty much out of my hands.

But man, these boots look sharp.

It all started a few weeks ago when we sold our house. I knew that the mortgage company still owed me money from escrows and all that real estate stuff. I wasn’t sure how much it was, but I knew it was a lot – thousands. I just wasn’t sure how many thousands. “Worry not,” the bank told me. “We’ll mail you the check as soon as possible.” And so, I waited. But in today’s world, waiting has become an active process. There are more ways than ever to anticipate.

Like 60 million other US citizens, I began to check my Informed Delivery more closely – was there a check in there? Nah, didn’t look like it, but there was a boot catalog that was headed my way. Huh. I’m not generally much of a boot guy, but there was a pair of kind of cool boots on the cover. Impression delivered.

I got the mail that afternoon – no check, which I really already knew, but I’m always hopeful. But I did see that boot catalog, and those boots did look good. I spent a couple of minutes flipping through the catalog - there were a number of boots I liked, and, hey, maybe it was time I tried some cowboy boots. But then my wife walked up and asked if the mail had come yet. I handed her the mail – boot catalog included – and went back to work. Another impression was delivered. My wife, by the way, was less impressed with the boot catalog and threw it away with the other mail she wasn’t interested in. She was too late – the impression had been made.

By the evening, the boots were pretty much out of my mind. But then an email appeared from the boot company, which was odd because I didn’t remember getting emails from them in the past. There was a “Shop Now” button in the email, but I don’t like to click on those, so I went to their website and browsed around a bit. There were those ostrich skin boots… and they had them in my size. I went so far as to put them in my shopping cart, but didn’t quite pull the trigger – I mean, I hadn’t even gotten the check yet.

The next day, I was back on Informed Delivery. No check, again, and no boot catalog today either. But there on my computer screen, in my email app, there were those boots again – in my size! In fact, pretty much everywhere I went on the web that day featured those boots. My resolve was weakening.

Next day, I’m back on Informed Delivery – still no check! But there was another mail piece – a postcard with those same doggone boots. In my size! There was a button under the image of the postcard – “Shop Now.” I shopped now. I bought the boots. I just have to explain them to my wife. And we still haven’t gotten the check. Really, what chance did i have?

At the heart of this campaign is a direct mail catalog. None of the other elements work or even exist without it. But a catalog by itself is not as effective without supporting channels.

Informed Delivery

Remember, I was already looking at those boots before I even got the catalog. I’d seen an image in my Informed Delivery digest. I might have even clicked on the ride-along ad under the image and gone shopping from there – but I didn’t. More often than not, Informed Delivery has more value as an extra impression – my first taste of the brand… and those boots. Oh, and a four percent postage discount almost half the year.

The Catalog

Of course, the catalog was at the heart of the campaign. I was expecting it and got it. I even flipped through it. I was interested, but my wife threw it away. I’m certain she recycled it.

The Coordinated Email

Fear not about my abandoned catalog. The email I got that evening was timed to arrive by tracking the mail, so I got it when it was still on my mind. A week later (or earlier), and the email might not have mattered, but in this case, because those boots were on my mind already, so I went to the site and found them – in my size! But, whew, $379?! Those ostriches must be hard to catch. I need to think about this.

A Cookie for My Thoughts

My interest in those boots did not go unnoticed. A cookie was placed in my browser, so that most sites I visited after that had ads for those specific boots in my specific size. I spent the next day immersed in my boots (yes, I began to think of them as “my” boots… a danger sign.) This is retargeting – identifying interested consumers who have not converted and giving them another opportunity to buy. I was weakening.

Another Kind of Retargeting – Now My Boots Are in My Mailbox – Sort Of

Website owners can do more than send ads on your computer. A new form or retargeting allows them to identify the mail address of web visitors and send them a personalized postcard almost immediately. Digital printing allows them to send another opportunity to buy to their most likely consumers. They gave me 20% off. I bought the boots.

Now I need to explain to my wife how a sophisticated marketer like me was sold a pair of boots that I didn’t know existed a few days earlier. It was a direct mail campaign to be sure, and direct mail was the biggest cost, but that investment was buttressed by Informed Delivery, coordinated email, retargeting – and more than one kind. I’m not sure any of those things on their own would have sold me these boots. Channels in combination magnify one another.

This same kind of coordinated campaign can work for fundraising and, really, anything that traditionally sells through the web. Before you send out that next big mailing, be sure to give it every opportunity by coordinating a few helpers. Mail service providers need to be prepared to help their customers tie together all of their marketing channels.

Now, honey… about these boots…

Dave Lewis is President, SnailWorks. He can be reached at

This article originally appeared in the January/February, 2024 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.