Road-tested tips that will put your direct mail campaign in the fast lane
Everyone has a different perception of direct mail. To some, mailers represent an outdated approach from previous generations of marketing. In our experience, it’s one of many channels that can increase the impact and results of your marketing initiatives. Done correctly, direct mail is a powerful driver for everything from engagement to acquisition, and to this day it continues to produce strong results.
To us, a mailer is like an engine. It’s a central component of a vehicle meant for creating opportunities, educating consumers, and driving your business in the right direction. If your engine isn’t up to par, it may be in need of a serious tune up. Test drive these 6 simple tactics that are proven to increase response rates by up to 75%.
Data and strategy: your roadmap
Before kicking off any campaign, make sure the audience you’ve identified matches your strategy and the results of your market research. Then you can assess the cleanliness of your data. As you go through the cycles of continuous mailings, don’t let that list stay stagnant. Continually distilling, filtering and understanding your data cannot be overvalued. The more precise your list, the more time you can spend on crafting the best message. Take it to the next level by aggregating your lists from multiple sources and services, ensuring you take the most comprehensive approach to list building.
It doesn’t take an expert to know that every direct mail campaign is action focused. Whether you’re motivating recipients to make a purchase, call a phone number or learn something new, your campaign inherently needs to cultivate a strong response. This is why it’s important to utilize multiple channels – to make it as easy as possible for prospective customers to take action. Just because your method of delivery is mail-based doesn’t mean your response needs to be. That form you want your recipients to fill out and send back? Put it online too. By utilizing a physical response card coupled with an electronic one, your campaign could yield as much as 5.5% higher response rates than if you were to use only one mechanism.
Premiums with purpose
Premiums, otherwise known as freebies. We’ve all either used them or thought about using them. But here’s the thing: premiums don’t always equal a better response rate. Sure, it’s human nature to want something for free, but what happens after your target customer receives that free widget? Your campaign has to be goal-oriented, not just response-oriented. Instead of wanting 1,000 redemptions of a free stress ball in the form of a tooth, you should be aiming for 1,000 new dentist appointments. Let your premium be something useful, something recipients will use over and over again. This will create an imprint, an association with your business that will stick.
Design that drives
There was a time when an 8.5 x 11 letter inserted into an envelope was the height of direct mail design. Well, with the introduction of enhanced printing techniques like UV coating and high-speed postage, this is no longer the case. Mailers can now be designed in a variety of ways, each more different than the last. By using multiple folds and creative die-cuts you can tell a story, highlight different aspects of your business or just get your message across in a way that a letter can’t quite accomplish.
Do you work for a healthcare network trying to increase patient awareness? Design your mailer to fold out into a map of all your locations. A home goods store? Insert image cards for each product line you carry. From quizzes to calendars, there are endless ways to create a unique and engaging mailer.
While style is nice, the privacy and security of customer data is even more important. Privacy policies should be considered in every step of your direct mail campaign. If you send a BRC, make sure to include an adhesive or envelope so the recipient’s personal details aren’t exposed for anyone in the mail process to see. In today’s age (and especially in light of scenarios such as Target’s recent data breach), your customers will appreciate that you treat their privacy as a requirement rather than a luxury.
Put it in perspective
Once your mailer has dropped, it’s time to perform a deep dive analysis. Map out where respondents live and compare them to the entire list. Did a certain area perform better than others? Did the piece perform well with a certain age group? These are essential questions. Applying a strong analysis of your program is important to maximizing its overall value. You’ve already committed a percentage of your budget to creating the best quality mailer possible; now it’s time to see if you’ll want to do it the same way next time, or go back to the drawing board.
All tuned up
Remember, direct mail is still the best tool for acquiring customers, so it should always be treated as much more than a piece of paper. It has to be designed, mailed and analyzed with a holistic approach. It has to align with your larger marketing strategy and be a part of your complete marketing mix. It’s an essential part of a working engine, geared toward taking your business where you want it to go. The tips suggested above aren’t guarantees of success, but they are tried and true components of direct mailers that succeed. Examining and being conscious of everything from the response card to the envelope and everything in between is what takes mailers from the garbage bin to the winner’s circle.
About Chris Mallard
One of the newest additions to Strata, Marketing Coordinator Chris Mallard’s background includes writing for television, radio and everything in between. As a member of the marketing team, you can always find him engineering a social campaign, collaborating with customer service or assisting with segmentation efforts. In his spare time, Chris enjoys distance running and biking.