Exploring the Impact of AI Language Models on Direct Mail Marketing


ChatGPT….a term that is likely newer to our vocabulary, but undoubtedly, a word you’ve seen pop-up at an increasing rate anytime you open an internet browser or a smart device. But have you considered the impact of ChatGPT on direct mail marketing? 

At the start of this article, we were confronted with a dilemma. Do we ask ChatGPT for an outline? Do we have it write the entire article (as a meta-experiment of course)? Or do we ask it to provide some background research on the topic to get us started? This seems to be a common situation that content marketers now face. 

And of course, this is just a minuscule example of how this fast artificial intelligence is impacting marketing departments and other knowledge workers.  


According to a recent CBS News article, 30% of professionals are already using ChatGPT for their jobs, and if we had to speculate, it’s likely the marketing industry may be among the leading users.  


At Nahan, we believe that AI language models such as ChatGPT have the potential to significantly impact the direct mail channel in a positive way, but how fast and to what degree are very much uncertain, like so many things with the emerging AI revolution.  

In this article, we will discuss how direct mail marketers can use ChatGPT to enhance their campaigns, as well as some of the limitations and potential risks to consider. 

And yes, we did ask ChatGPT for some help in writing this article, but it is mostly human generated!  

What is ChatGPT? 

At its most basic level, ChatGPT is a chatbot that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to generate responses to user input. Its models are built by analyzing enormous amounts of text from the internet and other sources like books, social media, new articles and academic papers. The algorithms can then use this data to understand human language, identify patterns, and generate responses. 

It’s currently available to use for free on the Open.ai website, and recently a paid PRO tier of $20 a month was created. It has been integrated into Microsoft’s Bing search and Edge browser, with plans for rolling out a new product called Co-Pilot which will be integrated into many of the Microsoft Office applications, including Word and Excel.  

Three Ways Direct Mail Marketers Can Use ChatGPT Today 

The extent that ChatGPT is being incorporated into direct mail workflows cannot be known in full just yet. From our conversations with clients and others in the industry, we know that people are starting to tap into its great potential on certain tasks.  

Of course, AI and machine learning technology have been a part of the direct marketing industry for several years on the data side of the equation, especially when it comes to targeting.  

But what are some other areas where generative AI could have an impact? Let’s look at a few use cases.  


AI and direct mail


Personalized Responses 

Generative AI’s ability to generate personalized responses based on user input has the potential to enhance the personalization of direct mail campaigns.  

For example, a direct mail piece might include a call-to-action that invites the recipient to chat with a chatbot. Once engaged, the chatbot can ask questions and generate personalized responses based on the user’s answers. 


Direct mail marketers are always focused on optimizing campaigns. However, finding the right formula can be time-consuming, and expensive. Artificial intelligence and chatbots could have a significant impact on that process by generating real-time feedback on campaigns. This in turn will allow for more robust and experimental testing with the goal of generating a higher ROI.  

By automating certain tasks, such as testing and targeting, AI can help marketers identify the most effective strategies quickly and efficiently, leading to more successful campaigns. 

Copywriting and Creative 

Direct Response copywriting is a core part of direct marketing campaigns. Best practices have been defined by the industry over the years, and this is exactly the type of structured data tools like ChatGPT have been trained on.  

Generative AI will allow marketers to generate ideas, outlines and research and a high volume of copy in lightning speed. This will give marketers the opportunity to expand possibilities and potentially lead to greater creativity.  

By inputting key information about the target audience and marketing goals, ChatGPT can provide customized content optimized for engagement and conversion. This can save time and resources while improving the overall effectiveness of direct mail campaigns. 

Limitations of Using ChatGPT for Direct Mail Marketing 

While ChatGPT can be a powerful tool for direct mail marketers, there are some limitations to be aware of: 


It may not always generate entirely accurate or relevant responses, although they can sound very convincing. Currently, ChatGPT has a knowledge cut-off date of September 2021. It’s important to review and verify to assure accuracy.  


ChatGPT is capable to generating dazzling, convincing, and sometimes even very funny results, but it does require trial and error with the prompts, otherwise there’s a risk that output will sound like more generic marketing copy and nobody wants or need more of that. Due to this limitation, copywriters will still have job security. Human touch and talent are still critical to the process of refining and enhancing the ideas AI outputs.  

Data Privacy

As with any tool, precautions need to be taken to assure that your proprietary data is safe and secure, so at this point you most definitely do not want to share that or any private customer information. 

Legal Risk

The insurgence of AI capabilities in marketing is new. And while very tempting to use in any way you can, its newness means that laws and regulations have not yet caught up with it. We simply don’t know the answers to all the legal and ethical questions that ChatGPT may bring up with its use in marketing. 

As the industry learns more about generative AI, there will no doubt be more clarity on some of these limitations, but for the time being, caution is recommended.  


AI and direct mail


Takeaways for Direct Mail Marketers Using ChatGPT 

The marketing industry understands hype better than just about any other. In fact, it’s marketers that help build and generate hype for brands. At this point, the hype around ChatGPT and generative AI is impossible to avoid, and likely won’t dissipate anytime soon.  

ChatGPT is certainly one of the most impressive, and potentially industry changing tools to come around in a long time. We believe the hype is real and that the direct marketing industry needs to start experimenting with these tools because, well, your competitors are going to and the risk that you fall behind is very real. To summarize:  

  • Direct mail marketers can use ChatGPT for personalized responses, optimization, and copywriting. 
  • There are limitations to be aware of, including accuracy, originality, and data privacy. 
  • Direct mail marketers should start experimenting with ChatGPT to stay ahead of the competition and take advantage of its potential benefits. 
  • The integration of AI technology is new, and thus best practices are ongoing. However, we recommend this source as a starting point for getting your feet wet in learning how to form prompt questions for AI. 


Direct Mail Trends for 2023


Author: Camille Lehmann, Senior Marketing Specialist 

2023 is here and one thing that has not changed, no matter the year nor the climate, is your need to reach your consumers. The challenge lies in reaching them in an efficient and effective way that aligns with your marketing budget.  

With over 60 years in the direct mail and catalog industry, we’ve garnered a thing or two from interacting with the evolving market space. In 2023, we’re seeing a stronger case than ever for utilizing direct mail in your marketing campaigns.  

As the economic environment has shifted and the priority for personalized, highly-targeted campaigns have increased, we’ve seen a few trends populate that will help you amp up your marketing game. 

Optimize with Highly Targeted Campaigns 

Gone are the days of throwing spaghetti at a wall, just hoping something sticks. Your customer base is unique and your direct mail should be as well. 

Mailing smarter by strategically choosing your audience means less mail produced, less money spent, and more engaged consumers. Win-win-win.  

It’s time to optimize your direct mail campaigns by making them highly informed with fresh data, fresh strategy, and fresh results.  

How does Nahan do this? We can provide prospect leads generated by predictive models. These tools are built via analytics derived from multiple data sources and elements not commonly found in standard sources. By utilizing data across sources, we can identify highly predictive data elements—leading to greater response and conversion results. 

Depending on available data, we can identify patterns based on past behavior and transactions, then supplement the target development universe for analysis with appended demographic, psychographic, and attitudinal data. We often build multiple models that work in concert for the best solution. 

“Consumers can be hesitant. Get to know them and what keeps them from taking action. Once you know that, you can address it right away in the copy itself. It’s personalized and targeted pieces that will get you results. That requires thought and intention, but delivers in ROI.”

-Mike Dietz, Executive Creative Director

Digital Retargeting and Digital Overlay 

You send your consumer a direct mail piece on the biggest sale of the year. It arrives in their mailbox, and three days later, they receive a digital display ad on their Instagram account reminding them about the coupon they received. This is not a coincidence, but a strategic digital retargeting.  

Digital overlays can display the same message in your direct mail piece on a digital display ad, packing double the punch. These types of ads can be useful in driving traffic to a specific landing page for generating leads. 

Consumers don’t have a great retention span and see multiple marketing messages per day. But you know what they say about repetition – it sticks.

Direct Mail Testing 

Direct mail is not a “one-size fits all” or an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” type of situation. Yet, many marketers treat it that way.  

“We find that marketers can be reluctant to test, simply because they don’t know how. While others may not want to risk the company’s budget on a test that may not out-perform the control. And sometimes it’s a combination of the two. But not doing any testing, will ultimately result in performance decline. 

-Alan Sherman, VP Marketing Strategy 

In 2023, both creative and data testing will be the way to go to ensure a campaign keeps hitting the mark. Testing must be a regular ongoing process.  

Ideally, that means part of every campaign or at least testing quarterly. The aim is to develop a stable of high-performing creative packages and a precisely optimized audience by testing new data sources and predictive models to continually improve results. 

Teaming Up with Informed Delivery 

Marketers who utilize Informed Delivery will receive a 4% postal discount in 2023 from August 1st to December 31st.  Informed Delivery is a free program through the USPS for consumers who wish to participate that allows them to see photos of the mail before it arrives.   

It consists of two main elements:  

1) A large grayscale image of the piece or a full-color representative image of the mailer.  

2) A smaller, “Ride-Along” image that offers interactive marketing potential. Clicking on this image or on the “Learn More” call to action opens the URL associated with the campaign. It can also be used to open a marketer’s phone app for the recipient to call. 

With over 44 million consumers signed up for Informed Delivery, there is major potential for marketers to take advantage of that audience with links and Call-To-Actions accompanying the user’s mail images. 

Saving with the USPS Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive Promotion

Each year the USPS has multiple promotions, one of the newest being the Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive promotion. Marketers can save 5% by utilizing including elements such as specialty metallic or thermal inks, textured papers or varnishes, scented coatings, or interactive pull strings and die-cuts to make use of the promotion and stand out in the mailbox. 

For your easy access, you can download our promotions guide here. The guidebook provides a quick glance over each promotion’s most important information including eligibility and effective dates.  

Time to Get In the Game

Direct mail is a core part of an omnichannel marketing strategy. Now is the time to engage with optimization and testing opportunities. Settling for the status quo is not going to lead to results. 

We challenge you to not sit on the sidelines with your marketing strategy in 2023, but instead find ways to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and overall ROI. And as direct marketing experts at Nahan, we’d love to help you do it.  

A Guide to Direct Mail Testing Today

Testing is a key component of any successful direct marketing program. The most impactful direct mail marketers are constantly testing creative, lists, and offers, which enables them to make marketing decisions armed with more insight.

We have found that testing means different things to different people. Clients approach it in a variety of ways.

In this white paper, we provide an insiders guide to effective direct mail testing for programs of all sizes and across industries. It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started with testing or a seasoned pro, our guide will provide you with actionable insights you can implement today.

Learn how the four phases of the testing process work together to drive optimization.

  • Research
  • Pre-Testing
  • Testing
  • Post-Campaign Assessment

If you’re ready to test smarter and drive ROI for your program, fill out the form below for the full guide to direct mail testing today! 

Direct Marketing Trends for 2022

Author: Camille Lehmann, Senior Marketing Specialist

The new year brings new direct marketing trends and continuations of ideas that advanced in 2021. Like the beginning of last year, 2022 gets its start in an advertising saturated society with technology at the fingertips of nearly every consumer. In such an environment, knowing how to stand out to the right consumer at the right time, is a necessary skill for differentiation. Below we’ve rounded up five direct marketing trends for 2022 for you to ponder as you plan your marketing strategies:

1. When it comes to words, less is more

Want to catch a consumer’s attention in the mail? Don’t overload it with unnecessary text that crowds the mail piece. You only have a limited amount of time to entice the consumer to act. If the consumer perceives that it will take too long to read the piece, you may have just lost your chance for them to get to your Call to Action. Provide enough to get your point across, but don’t leave the consumer drowning in words.

2. Combining Digital and Print

While both digital and print advertising have their own advantages, together, they make the ultimate power team, especially in the wake of the phasing out of third-party cookies. Whether it’s using QR codes or pre-in-home-date digital ads, the addition of digital to print will become more popular as marketers get creative to increase ROI. Nahan’s solution to this is Direct Mail Companion™, used to create a seamless message before, during, and after your direct mail or catalog in-home date, leading to greater response and higher ROI.

3. Augmented Reality

Marketers can harness the power of Augmented Reality (AR) to layer computer-generated dimensions onto a real-world setting. Consumers can use their hand-held technology to view direct mail and catalogs with AR to view how certain products would look in a space. Utilizing this technology gives consumers a memorable and enriching experience that is hands-on.

4. Targeting by Challenge and Not Demographic

What prompts consumers to pursue a service or product? Most often it is a need that they want to fill and they believe that a specific service or product will fulfill that need. Instead of only looking at consumer targeting by age or geographic region, including the segmenting of your target audience by unique challenges and/or behavior may return more favorable responses and make messaging feel more personal.

5. Use of Informed Delivery

When consumers use Informed Delivery from the USPS, they are able to see ahead of time the mail pieces they are receiving each day. Not only are they aware of what is coming, but they are also able to interact with the mail pieces by clicking on the images and view offers from the business’s website. According to the USPS, by September 2021, nearly 43 million users had registered for Informed Delivery and that number is expected to grow throughout 2022.

Author Bio: Camille Lehmann is our Senior Marketing Specialist and has been on the Nahan team since January 2020. Camille is responsible for assisting in Nahan’s marketing strategies and goals. She graduated with her Masters of Science in Marketing with a specialization in Project Management in 2020. In her spare time, Camille enjoys visiting new coffee shops and restaurants with friends, playing tennis, and finding new Pinterest projects.