Tips for successful direct mail campaigns
Email has become the medium of choice for many direct marketers. However, inboxes have become so inundated with daily offers, many messages are deleted without ever being opened. Direct mail continues to be a viable option for small businesses, mainly because of its potential return on investment.
Less expensive than newspaper, TV or magazine advertising, direct mail can be targeted and it can yield some substantial results, even if only a small percentage of recipients respond. The key is using these tips for creating successful mailings.
Build a great list
The effectiveness of a direct mail campaign depends on getting it to the right audience. Building your list is the most important step.
- Start with your existing customer database. If you have details about buying preferences and spending habits, use them to help determine your offer.
- Add potential customers. If there are specific individuals, businesses, or organizations you want as customers, put them on your list.
- If you need help compiling a list, contact reputable list brokers or direct mail houses.
- If your audience is in a specific geographic area, the U.S. Postal Service has online tools to help you reach them.
Create a compelling offer
Whether you’re building awareness or trying to get people in the door for a sale, always remember that the purpose of your direct mail campaign is to generate a specific response.
- Make sure each mailing has one primary message. Don’t try to cram a brochure onto a postcard. Focus on one message per direct mail piece. If you have more than one message, that’s called a campaign.
- Always include a call to action. Whether you want your prospect to make a phone call, return a response card, or bring in a coupon, make sure your call to action is simple, easy to accomplish, and clearly stated.
- Think “you” instead of “I.” Make your mailing all about the customer. Resist the temptation to blow your own horn. Instead focus on what your product or service can do for the customer.
- Be creative. This is another advantage direct mail has over email which often goes unopened. Get your prospect’s interest with a simple but attention-grabbing design.
Follow the rules
The elements in a direct mailing tend to follow a formula, and for good reason: It works.
- Use the outer envelope to entice the recipient to open your mail. Some messages are direct (“Save 25% on your next visit”) and some are teasers (“Life-changing news inside”).
- Personalize your mailing as much as possible. An envelope addressed to “Mr. Don Smith” rather than “occupant” is more likely to be opened, and a personalized letter with your signature is more likely to be read.
- Track results by using a unique promotion code on the response portion of your mailing.
Control costs and reduce waste
You don’t have to break the bank to produce an effective direct mail campaign.
- Online printing companies have extremely reasonable rates for postcards. (Vista Print and Modern Postcard are two examples.) Some also handle shipping and list management.
- If you send a package, mailing tube, or oversized envelope, be cognizant of mailing costs. Many three-dimensional items can be sent through the mail, but if you choose other than a standard size, you’ll pay more in postage.
- Rather than sending your entire mailing at once, consider breaking it into smaller batches. This will allow you to test different headlines or offers to see which get the best response.
Direct mail is still a powerful and affordable marketing tool that allows small businesses to reach a specific audience with a specific message at a specific time.
Kelly Burkart is a freelance writer from Minneapolis, Minn. While she has spent most of her time writing about financial services the past 15 years, she has also explored and written about everything from cardiovascular health to travel, higher education and sustainable energy practices.