Best Practices for a Successful Direct Mail Campaign

Using direct mail campaigns is still successful. Indeed, a Gallop poll conducted in March 2015 indicated that almost half of men and women felt they would receive a catalog through the mail positively. Slightly over one quarter of people surveyed felt the same way about receiving a business letter, so direct mail won over standard business communications which may surprise many people who incorrectly see direct mail as less effective.

With our overloaded email inboxes, direct mail has been getting a welcome boost in recent years. Also, the physical nature of a product brochure in an era of digital brochures and eBooks, is a tactile thing that is undeniable.

Now we’re onboard, let’s look at what the current best practices are for a direct mail campaign to be successful.

Knowing When to Use Direct Mail

One key to direct mail success is to not the case that sending out direct mail on any date is a good idea. It depends what the mailing actually is, whether customers are waiting to receive it or it’s arriving unexpectedly, and many other factors. When someone is busy dealing with the Christmas shopping rush and you’re sending out a clothing brochure for 2018, it’s probably going to get no attention (and may even be an irritant) because they’re in full shopping mode for Christmas and not thinking about the next year yet.

In the same way that cold callers need to be smart about contacting people at the right time to increase the chances of reaching a receptive audience, there are good and bad times to receive a piece of direct mail. When you know the stage that the customer is in, you can create an offer that will appeal to them at that time. When you’re shooting blind in your direct marketing, you’re far more likely to miss entirely.

Customize the Envelopes, Not Just the Letter

One often overlooked option to increase opening rates with direct mail is to avoid using plain white/gray envelopes that look generic and are easily discarded. There are many companies that can print, and help you design, a business envelope to improve your open rates. We recommend checking out Company Folders for a few different styles of #10 envelopes, the most commonly used for direct mail marketing.

By using a custom design, you avoid the appearance that little money or effort has gone into contacting the person. They no longer will believe incorrectly that the mailing is unimportant or useful to them. Recipients will understand which company the mailing is from, which is likely to lead to a substantially higher opening rate, greater consumption of the material enclosed and better response rates too. No longer will envelopes land in the pile of mail and be ignored.

Market Across Multiple Channels Simultaneously

With marketing campaigns, you need multiple touch points before people will even remember the brand and its message. A print ad isn’t noticed the first time through most of the time. Similarly, an online ad banner isn’t always seen because some people have ‘banner blindness’ having seen so many that they just block them out in their mind without thinking about it.

To avoid going unnoticed, hitting up multiple promotional channels at the same time finds customers in multiple places. You’ll very likely have your promotional material seen on more than one occasion. Also, by mixing up what channels are tried, the message whilst being consistent can be adapted to better utilize the medium. Facebook advertising is useful to find your customers and promote the special offer to them as they browse their site too. Email newsletters can link to the full product page directly and have larger product images included. Direct mail can include social accounts with a short link to see the special offer online.

Linking different channels promotes greater visibility and increases response rates with customers happy to interact with your brand more often, especially when the marketing message is customized more to their interests.

By adhering to best practices when it comes to direct mail and using multiple platforms to create a single marketing effort, it’s possible for even a smaller SME to maximize their ad spend and customer interaction levels delivering an excellent ROI. The increased number of touch points between the brand and its customers is likely to boost customer retention rates along with future customer survey ratings with people feeling like they’re being heard more often.

Don’t Forget to Use Calls-to-Action

Direct mail is all about providing calls-to-action that encourage the recipient what they should do next. It can guide them towards how to decide on the product, style, size and color for clothing orders or help narrow down the PC specifications with a laptop catalog. Either way, helping to grab the reader’s attention and move them along the path to making a call to place an order is what it’s all about. The better this is done; the greater number of orders will be received.

It’s a good idea to vary up how you issue your calls-to-action. Reminders at the end of the product page or tit-bits of information in the sidebar are both useful ways to get their attention before they leave the brochure page or don’t pick it up again. Look at which placement positions historically have gotten the higher response rates and place your calls there. The positions don’t tend to change very often as the eye moves in a predictable pattern depending on how the direct mail is designed and produced.

Narrow Down the List

Not everyone is suitable for every mailing. Using the information that’s available on each customer, find a way to isolate what items will be of interest and what ones won’t. When you have a brochure that is broken down into several mini brochures instead of one large enough, you can send out the appropriate ones depending on each contact’s known interests.

A customer survey conducted before the planning mailing can help to narrow the list to avoid sending information out to people who won’t be interested in it. By doing the survey first, customers can help improve the accuracy of the mailing targeting and avoid the company wasting money in the process. It’s not only about improving response rates but also the profitability of each campaign too.

Personalization Above All Else

With a direct mailing, response rates are far more successful when the mailing is personalized as much as possible. For companies that can do so, get some one-on-one contact to keep information current for their address, interests, preferences, and other details. There’s nothing worse than sending out information that they’re no longer interested in to the wrong address, addressed with a spelling mistake in their name.

The customization may be shown in a letter that is included with a product brochure. While the brochure may be mass printed, the customer letter shouldn’t be. It can be prepared using updated customer information to be helpful and informative. For companies with a physical store in their city, town or country (when outside the USA), consider listing their nearest store with a scannable QR code for map information.

When they have stated a preference for a certain type of product, provide information about new releases in that category based on past shopping or buying habits. Whilst they may no longer be interested in those items, they’ll at least appreciate the attention to detail that your business is showing towards them; they won’t feel like a number and know their business is appreciated.

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