Direct Mail vs. Junk Mail

Why They’re Not (at All) the Same

Sometimes direct mail gets a bad rep. Why? Because it’s commonly mistaken for junk mail. But other than being mail, these two have nothing in common. Direct mail only falls into the category of junk mail when it’s poorly executed. When done right, direct mail targets, entices, and benefits a specific customer. Someone, who through market research, is most likely in need of your product or service. It’s designed with purpose in mind, is backed by research and data, drives audiences with calls-to-action, and is highly customized and personalized. Take a quick read to further understand how direct mail differs from junk – and why it should be a key part of your company’s marketing strategy.

Direct Mail Starts with a Good List

The biggest difference between direct mail and junk mail is a good list. A list that’s backed by data, and one that targets the right people – not just any people. Before making an effective, comprehensive or specified list, first review the mailing lists you currently have. Who are you sending mail to? Who have you sent to in the past? Are they the right audience(s)? Are there more audiences (or more specific audiences) you should be targeting?

A wrong list will fail to target those who’d be interested in buying from you, and will often also target those who’d have no interest at all (cough, cough – junk mail). For example, sending “get 10% off your first order with us” to a loyal customer, or even worse, trying to sell meat to a vegetarian. Junk mail goes to anyone and everyone, and often with irrelevant and impersonal information. Plus, it’s often a waste of money, as many of those unspecified and uninterested customers will throw your mail out without a second thought.

In contrast, direct mail is sent to people in data-driven lists, and with messaging that makes sense for their specific customer profiles. Compiling this strategic list makes all the difference in targeting the right customers and catching their attention. Direct mail, unlike junk, is sent to direct people for direct reasons. In fact, 42% of recipients read or scan direct mail that’s relevant to them.

Types of Direct Mail Lists

Direct mail lists come in many forms, so it’s good to take a look at them all before deciding what will work for your company and its marketing needs. Here are the 4 most common ones:

House List: A list you’ve collected on your own time of prospects and customers you’ve made connections with. People on this list are likely to respond, because they’ve already responded to previous offerings.

Response List: A list you’ve put together of people who’ve responded to and reacted to your outreach before. Whether they’ve purchased something or have asked for more information, these people have some level of interest in your offerings.

Compiled List: A list of candidates that went through screener questions and possessed a characteristic or set of characteristics you searched for. These characteristics are fixed, and are most commonly age, gender, location, or income level.Another characteristic could be new movers – those who just moved in and are looking to become loyal customers of your services.

Segmented List: A list curated through a high-tech analysis platform that defines key prospects. This type of list accesses information far beyond age, income, and gender, and gives you the ability to micro-target your market for more extreme results and higher ROI. This type of targeted list also helps you avoid sending to “do-not-mail” contacts.

Direct Mail Has Personally Relevant Messaging

After you decide on a list, the next step is deciding on the right messaging. Direct mail isn’t just about knowing who to send to, but how to speak to them to get them to notice, develop interest, and potentially buy from you. Look into your customers’ buying habits. What entices them? What offerings are they most interested in? And, how can you best reach them? Knowing the proper way to connect with your current and potential customers will help your mailer stand out. Don’t just use a cheesy, typical slogan or generic text. Craft words that highlight who you are, what makes you unique, and why they should use your surfaces or buy your offerings (over others). Make your mailer personal by adding their name, incorporating content that makes sense to their age and other demographics, and including offers applicable to them. Lastly, a clear call-to-action can educate the recipient in how to respond in the most efficient and convenient way possible.

Direct Mail Has Purposeful & Impactful Design

Lastly, once you’ve crafted effective messaging, design your mailer with intentional and engaging visuals. Make sure you’re thinking through the following key design aspects:

Sizing: Think about what size mailer makes sense for your audience, and what will help yours stand out in the mailbox among others. And, in terms of font size – think over what message is most important to get across. Use sizing hierarchy to emphasize words like “free” or “grand opening”.

Layout: Always consider how you want the viewer’s eye to be lead across your mailer. One good technique is the “s-curve” layout – which leads the eye down and across by using imagery on the left and words on right, or a similar variation.

Graphics:
Using unique and eye-catching graphics is a great way to make your business stand out from the rest. Be sure to use high quality images as well as consistent branding elements – such as a logo, fonts, colors, and textures. And, go further by using variable images depending on who’s receiving the mailer to make it resonate with the viewer.

Color: Pops of color are also a great way to spice things up – especially when they’re not expected, or to emphasize a call to action. For example, use pops of color on new services, departments, or special offers, or to emphasize a QR code.

Altogether, the key to good mailer design it to ensure it resonates with the customer and emphasizes who you are and the message you’re trying to send. For more help with mailer design, specifically, check out our blog on current direct mail trends.

Now that we’ve gone through what makes direct mail, well, direct – we hope you can see that it is drastically different than unsolicited junk mail. If you’re looking to make a change with your direct mailers or simply want to learn more, contact Strata’s experts.

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