What Is Tactile Marketing Automation?

The American Marketing Association estimates audiences are bombarded with as many as 10,000 marketing impressions per day, so it’s no surprise that digital engagement rates are on the decline. But it’s not all bad news. Where digital messages fall short, Tactile Marketing Automation — physical marketing offers triggered by audience behavior — shine through. This article reveals what exactly Tactile Marketing Automation is and does, and how to leverage it for more effective multichannel marketing.  

There’s more digital noise than ever in the world of B2B marketing. To help marketers break through the noise, Oracle just launched a special Spark Series educating marketers on how physical marketing triggered by audience behavior shines through in a sea teeming with marketing messages. This new category is called Tactile Marketing Automation (TMA), and it bridges the digital and physical world to deliver powerful results.

In this introduction, we define TMA and explain why it’s necessary today; share best practices on how to execute successful TMA campaigns, and give real examples of B2B marketers who get it right.

What is TMA?

TMA is the integration of direct mail with your marketing automation platform or CRM. It strikes a balance between digital and direct mail efforts and creates a truly multichannel approach to automated marketing campaigns.

TMA is natively integrated with the tools marketers already use (Salesforce, Marketo, Oracle, etc.) in order to send their customers highly targeted, personalized and trackable direct mail based on their digital behaviors. The data shows that relevant, orchestrated marketing campaigns that include a tactile element deliver an average 5x greater return than digital marketing alone.

Why TMA?

Audiences are bombarded with some 10,000 advertising messages per day  a number that comes as no surprise to anyone facing an overflowing email inbox or a social media feed stuffed with sponsored content. In this world of digital overload, receiving a physical object in the mail captures attention due to its novelty alone.

Additionally, objects that can be touched and held trigger emotional processing and leave a much deeper footprint in the brain than digital messages viewed on a screen, research from Millward Brown found. A physical item is more likely to be remembered and create a positive brand experience.

It’s unsurprising, then, that 52% of marketers report a moderate to major improvement in campaign performance when their channel mix includes high-impact direct mail, according to research from PFL and Demand Metric. But rousing audiences from their Avoid-Ignore-Delete routines requires more than generic postcard blasts.

Key Components for Successful TMA Campaigns

To create memorable and effective campaigns, marketers must infuse direct mail into the customer journey at the right time to complement digital interactions, delivering a holistic experience. TMA leverages the same technologies that power relevant, timely experiences in the digital realm to deliver effective direct mail campaigns that are:

  • Integrated. TMA relies on integrations with customer relationship management and marketing automation platforms to derive insights from across the customer journey and use those insights to deliver relevant campaigns. Additionally, TMA orchestrates direct mail delivery with other marketing efforts, from email campaigns to sales meetings, from ebook downloads to trade shows.
  • Personalized. Audiences now expect brands to demonstrate relevance to their individual needs and situations. Fully 97% of business buyers in a Demand Gen survey said content tailored to their company mattered, while 96% said they sought proof of expertise addressing industry-specific needs. TMA enables brands to deliver on a specific intent, to target a company’s industry or an individual role within an organization, and to maximize relevance by tying delivery timing to one-time or recurring events.
  • Measurable. With TMA, the delivery, engagement, and performance of physical marketing material is as measurable as a digital display ad or email. By tracking direct mail response rates and incorporating them into universal marketing dashboards, brands can understand the impact of physical marketing campaigns in the context of overall strategy.

This combination makes TMA a powerful asset when compared with digital-only campaigns. Tactile marketing pieces can drive 184x greater response rates than online display ads and 36x greater than email or paid search for marketing teams, the ANA/DMA found.

Tactile marketing pieces can drive 184x greater response rates than online display ads.

Real-World TMA Examples

The ROI on TMA initiatives can be impressive, as proved by Invoca®, a provider of AI-powered call tracking and analytics. Using PFL, Invoca sent a branded package to top prospects with personalized marketing information and a gift card; each time a package was delivered, the Invoca sales rep assigned to the account would receive a notification and could follow up in a timely manner. Response rates jumped, resulting in a staggering 15x ROI from the campaign.

Cybersecurity firm Arxan Technologies used thermographic ink to make a point about invisible threats to IT infrastructure. Arxan first sent two FedEx mailers to warm up C-level prospects, outlining cybersecurity challenges using a risk assessment survey and an analyst report about mobile app vulnerabilities; the delivery method was significant in and of itself, because people associate a FedEx delivery with a higher level of importance. Then prospects received a custom-printed, Arxan-branded box that housed a personalized notecard and a small blacklight flashlight. When the prospect turned on the flashlight and aimed it at the notecard, the hidden text was revealed: “You miss 100% of the threats you don’t see.” The campaign generated massive pipeline with a potential ROI of more than 300%, and 80% of that came from brand-new business.

Despite these compelling results, most brands have yet to harness TMA, making it a potential differentiator for early adopters. Only 16% of respondents have completely integrated direct mail so that sending capabilities and results tracking are managed through core marketing technology, the PFL/Demand Metric survey found. And when it comes to personalization, just 4 in 10 marketers are significantly personalizing direct mail  with a mere 12% reporting “complete” personalization.


TMA expands the impact of marketing campaigns beyond the bounds of what digital or physical marketing can deliver on their own. Thanks to its integration, personalization, and measurement capabilities, TMA highlights brand relevance through memorable physical experiences, boosting engagement and driving impressive ROI.

This article by Nick Runyon was originally posted on Martech Advisor.