Intelligent Direct Mail Relaunch

In 18 months, Lion boosted Lob’s design operations and redirected their product strategy to fuel growth. Facing immense pressure from their series C funding, Lob aimed to become a leader in the direct mail industry, with plans to double their clients, team, and revenue. Lion identified issues with the website’s navigation, user onboarding process, and outdated print processes, and helped Lob bridge these gaps and streamline their digital technology.


  • A/B Testing
  • Enterprise Client Research
  • User Interviews
  • User Research
  • User Surveys

Project Type

  • Brand Strategy
  • Email Marketing Strategy
  • Embedded Agile Team
  • Marketing Strategy

In 18 months, Lion boosted Lob’s design operations and redirected their product strategy to fuel growth. Facing immense pressure from their series C funding, Lob aimed to become a leader in the direct mail industry, with plans to double their clients, team, and revenue. Lion identified issues with the website’s navigation, user onboarding process, and outdated print processes, and helped Lob bridge these gaps and streamline their digital technology.


  • A/B Testing
  • Enterprise Client Research
  • User Interviews
  • User Research
  • User Surveys

Project Type

  • Brand Strategy
  • Email Marketing Strategy
  • Embedded Agile Team
  • Marketing Strategy

Lion first joined forces with Lob to improve Address Verification and eventually expanded the partnership to encompass research & innovation for Direct Mail, Lob's primary product.

During Lob's fast growth, they lacked clarity on the type of support they needed. This collaboration brought change to multiple teams within Lob and eventually led to a new internal emphasis on user experience design and innovation in the industry.


Unpacking the Address Verification Experience

Lion started with a smaller aspect of Lob’s core product, Address Verification, which reformatted addresses for direct mail to meet USPS standards. The project aimed to increase user sign-ups, but market reception was unclear. Through heuristic evaluations and user interviews, we gained insights into user needs and identified various pain points.


Through heuristic evaluation and user interviews, we distilled key issues:

  • Broken User Journey

    After users signed up for a free trial of Lob, they were uncertain about how to effectively use the product and also where the trial ended and actual implementation began.

  • Confusing Freemium Model

    Many users were left uninformed about the 1000 free verifications they were entitled to before cutoff due to unclear marketing and post-sign-up communication.

  • Unclear Product Offering

    Less tech-savvy users were presented with a demo widget that they mistook as the actual product, not realizing they needed to integrate it with an API.

  • No Friction to Convert

    Users signed up for the free trial at the top of the marketing page with no barriers, preventing them from fully comprehending the offering.


Gathering Stakeholder & User Insights

By focusing on the Address Verification project, we identified disconnects across multiple teams. Lob asked us to conduct stakeholder interviews to deepen our understanding. Our objective was to establish relationships and use our design leadership to determine if the team was addressing the right issues.

We generated journey maps, performed heuristic evaluations, and gathered insights from various teams within the organization, including Marketing, Sales, Product, Engineering, and Customer Service. We engaged with the right individuals to find efficient and empathetic solutions, resulting in cross-functional successes.

Gathering Stakeholder & User Insights


The marketing teams were unaware of overlapping drip campaigns, issues with the marketing site's information architecture, limitations in editing their Webflow website, and redundant initiatives.

Gathering Stakeholder & User Insights


The sales team was wasting valuable time communicating about the product offering, setup, implementation, limitations, and pricing, which should have been easily accessible to users.

Gathering Stakeholder & User Insights


The product management team faced difficulties in getting the necessary individuals to make updates to the product as engineering resources were already committed to other initiatives.

Gathering Stakeholder & User Insights


The customer experience team was hindered by the need to assist less tech-savvy users, such as marketers or e-commerce administrators, due to the API-first approach and inadequate documentation.


Cross-Team, Cross Initiative, In-House Design Agency Model

This cross-functional approach allowed us to apply our design expertise to a wider range of projects and initiatives, leading to a more integrated and cohesive user experience for Lob’s customers. Our in-house agency model helped us to streamline the design process and collaborate more effectively with multiple teams, resulting in increased efficiency and better outcomes. By working closely with stakeholders and teams, we were able to align on priorities and drive positive impact for Lob and its users.


Work Across Multiple Streams

Lion was tasked with tackling multiple challenges facing various teams at Lob. With the growing number of projects and support, our team committed several months to agile design and engineering sprints. This included establishing a presence in Lob’s San Francisco office to foster a closer working relationship with internal teams, enhance communication, optimize processes, and alleviate the key pain points experienced by users.


Scaling via interface & system architecture

Lion and Lob's partnership was marked by several key successes, one of which was the revamp of the Print Partner Portal. As Lob had become the go-to source for mass printing for its enterprise clients with over 30 nationwide print partners, our design consulting and strategy for the print portal helped streamline their internal processes. This resulted in more efficient allocation of print jobs among various partners, without overburdening their capacity. This was a significant win for both Lob and Lion, showcasing the impact of our collaboration.


Using fun to connect with engineers

Lob knew they needed more engineers to support their growth, so we built an interactive experience based on the address verification product to be used at career fairs and engineering focused conferences.

Based on our initial success, Lion was charged with leading enterprise research and re-envisioning their flagship direct mail product.

After a thorough analysis in the early stages of the project, significant problems affecting the client's main product were discovered. Consequently, Lion collaborated with product leadership for 9 months to research, design, refine, test, and validate a new product strategy.


Enterprise Research & Insights

In the first three months of the phase, the Lion team conducted multiple rounds of interviews with prospects, solutions engineering managers, and key clients to gather their experiences, pain points, and decision-makers’ concerns about the product. This resulted in a comprehensive view of the product’s state, which was presented to leadership. Using various data sources, such as analytics, sales calls, surveys, and other information, the team created a complete vision for the future of the product.

The team found that while the API product was powerful, it caused confusion and limited its usage. Despite expectations for enterprise marketers to utilize features such as split testing, conversion tracking, personalization, real-time data, performance metrics, and comparative dashboards, the API-driven nature failed to empower them. The customer experience (CX) team also felt limited in their ability to support many use cases without costly engineering efforts on the client side.


Enterprise Client Research

We had multiple rounds of interviews with each enterprise client. The client research interviews were conducted across leadership, directors, managers, business analysts, creatives at each enterprise to understand the internal dynamics, and how each organization team felt about the implementation and product.

Enterprise Client Research

Engineering + Solutions Engineering Teams

The engineering teams encountered difficulties integrating the solution, as it required unique solutions to connect their bespoke internal tools that were not straightforward to implement.

Enterprise Client Research

VP’s of Engineering

The engineering leadership was responsible for budget and resource allocation. In some cases, they felt that their resources should be focused on building products rather than integrating the solution.

Enterprise Client Research

Marketing Managers & Business Analysts

The marketers lacked understanding of how the product worked, which hindered their ability to share insights among team members. This limited their capabilities and caused confusion when it came to communicating design requirements, such as HTML for print, to agencies.

Enterprise Client Research

Creative Agencies and In-house teams

The creative teams wanted to experiment with various creative layouts, personalization options, and optimization techniques that are standard in the digital world. However, they were limited due to the API approach that required using HTML layouts for print.


Key Findings & Insights From User Research Process

  • The API product was potent but caused confusion

    Marketing teams relied on their own engineers for integration with Lob but lacked a direct control interface.

  • Difficulty mapping target audience data

    There were no scalable solutions for marketers to manage, map, or integrate audience data.

  • Only used HTML in creative formats

    Lob postcards were created using HTML, which was not a common practice for most people.

  • No split testing

    Lob's users were not split testing or optimizing due to system limitations.

  • No Conversion Tracking

    While many Lob users were interested in tracking user conversion there were inherent gaps in the tools for tracking.

  • No Campaign Tracking for Mail Deliveries

    Lob's users lacked visibility into delivery target times and campaign performance in mailboxes.

  • Problems with Proofing

    Proofing variations and personalization across many variables was challenging with high volume runs of up to 1 million units.

  • No Visual Interface for Marketing Managers

    Users faced difficulties in utilizing the product beyond the initial setup without customer experience or engineering support due to its API-first nature.

“Lob is a modern disruptor. We elevate the connection between the offline and online worlds by transforming the way marketers approach their direct mail. We believe that legacy paradigms are ready for a strategic shift, therefore meeting our users where they’re at and empowering them is at the core of everything we do.”


Using research insights to build a product roadmap

After our extensive research we took the key insights we learned and turned them into an action plan that Lob could drive into the future. This meant aligning the stakeholders, product mangers, sales people, customer experience and engineering teams. We built a design ops process that would allow for iteration and proofs of concept working along side the engineering team, and created manifestos to keep us aligned, roadmaps to breakdown the workload and stay focused, and other outputs from workshops to lead an objective process.


Building an Ideal User Task Flow

Our research led us to focus on building the new version of the product based on best practices in the digital marketing field so that users would have intuitive experiences that they were able to easily understand. This proved to be key, as the complexity of direct mail creation involved many advanced elements like parsing CRM audience data, and targeting variables inside of indesign files.


Designing a New Visual Dashboard

While Lob’s previous branding was well established, there was a need to design a basic version of the product using the old UI and brand elements as a level set. Once we had achieved that, we refocused on integrating the look and feel to make it more modern, avant-garde, and to extoll the user experience virtues we outlined our manifesto.

File Uploads from InDesign

A key new feature was adding the ability for creative agencies to upload InDesign files into the system. This involved working closely with the engineering team to share insights from research, which led us to vetting other file types before going all in on InDesign files.

Campaign Management Tools

Although the earlier versions of campaign scheduling and delivery management systems were satisfactory, users desired a user-friendly dashboard that would enable them to get a high-level overview of various campaigns, track attribution updates, and manage multiple marketing campaigns efficiently for seamless rollout.

Realtime & Personalized

Our updated system delivered as little as one mail piece to a user after a digital interaction, which included deep personalization and customization, allowing marketers to send reminders about items left in the cart, or customize pricing and imagery based on location.


Variable Connector

In order to give marketers optimal power in the system, we designed integration points which provided a tangible interface that reassured users of a successful connection. Many users had bespoke CRM solutions that tied user data and interactions into objects that were imported directly into the variable connector. This process in turn would be capable of mapping to InDesign files.

Proofing at Scale

We approached the proofing process by focusing on testing different variations of a direct mail piece. This allowed the manager to view batches of postcards based on the mapped data variations.

Complex Delivery & Scheduling

In direct mail marketing, delivery timing is key to ensure roll out across channels in a synchronized and reliable way. Reliability was tricky due to outside risks from weather, production windows, cutoff times, mail delivery issues, and simply the state of current mail technology. We were able to design for the future and push the engineering teams to continue working on new solutions to mitigate the gap in technology.


Tracking via QR Codes and UTMs

In the marketing world, understanding what works and how well it works is crucial to optimize campaigns and determine ROI. To facilitate this, we used QR codes and UTMs to track and optimize campaign performance, with the potential to integrate the data into the client’s existing BI (business intelligence) tools and tracking systems.

Product Support Just in Time

From the earliest research calls, the need for robust and contextually relevant support was clear. We designed the product so that users would always have access to documentation, customer experience support, and video learning libraries to support team retention, new team member onboarding, and new feature adoption.


More Great Features for the Roadmap

  • Templates for Reuse in the Future

    After finding campaigns that work, why not templatize them and allow for reuse and customization.

  • Visual Controls for Integrations (ie. Salesforce Data)

    Building tools to take the integrations to the next level will allow many more ecosystems to be linked and give more power and flexibility to users.

  • Ad Hoc Campaign Set Up Based on Scenario

    Building more automation and real time triggers allow marketers to tie in drip campaigns and other "set it and forget it" marketing opportunities.

  • Interface for Collaborative Approval Process Across Teams

    Building more advanced workflows, collaboration tools, user permission levels will allow more people to be involved and make meaningful contributions to campaigns.


Usability Testing, Engineering Handoff and Roadmap

During the final stage of the project, Lion worked closely with the internal team and an outside research vendor to test and validate the new product prototype. A majority of all work done was deemed successful and only minor UX issues needed mitigation. As we wrapped up and handed off the product roadmap, design files, design systems, and user experience documentation we were gratified with the experience we had, the relationships we built, and the success of rethinking a major play in the direct mail space.

Made with Love
in The Bay Area
We're an award-winning interactive agency specializing in digital applications, user experience design, marketing-driven funnels, and brand strategy.