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.
Operation Eco’s Starting Initiatives
If you’ve read our blog, “Operation Eco”, or our earlier blog, “Renovating Our Environment (Without Deteriorating Our Environment)”, you know about our initiative to become a carbon neutral company by 2030 and fully sustainable by 2035. In our first steps as a fully focused team, we’ve brainstormed and begun making small changes for big impact. Read on to see what these main efforts are, and how we’ve started to progress toward our goal.
Getting & Promoting Eco-Friendly Supplies (& Staying Away from Single-Use Plastics)
One of the lowest hanging eco-friendly fruits – in our opinion, has been eliminating single-use plastics. So far, we’ve promoted the use of anything that replaces the plastics we use and throw out day to day – from permanent water bottles and mugs, to long-lasting glass storage containers with lids. To help with this transition, we’ve provided access to both branded water bottles and travel mugs, and hope to continue to provide branded, sustainable alternatives so that staff (and clients) can support both Strata and our planet. The Strata team has also moved from any single use plasticware to eco-friendly utensils, plates, bowls, and towels to create a more environmentally conservative lunchtime. We know the best thing for us to use would be permanent plates, bowls, and utensils, so we plan to purchase environmentally friendly dishwashers for both locations this year to eliminate any need for buying more kitchen supplies.
As another eco-incentive, we’ve purchased Strata tote bags for use at the grocery store available for Strata employees. We’ve also recently started looking into multi-serve, environmentally conscious coffee machines that meet the coffee needs of our hardworking staff while being safer for the earth around us. And lastly, we’re transitioning to all eco-friendly personal cleaning products within the next few months.
Transforming our Trash & Recycling Habits
Another set of somewhat easier changes – or at least easier to put into place – are those surrounding our trash habits. We realized that the bags in our recycling bins are unnecessary, so we decided to eliminate them completely. We’ve also gotten rid of individual trash cans within offices, which not only limits our amount of wasted trash bags, but also motivates employees to stretch and move around throughout the day (which is always a wellness plus).
Unplugging, Conserving, & Renewing Energy
To better conserve our energy and power usage, we’ve made quite a few changes in our office spaces. For starters, we’re making an effort to always turn off the lights whenever office areas are not in use. We’re also unplugging at the end of the day (when possible). But that’s not all, we also plan to purchase smart plugs and install LED lightbulbs where they aren’t already in use. Additionally, we’re making an effort to donate and recycle unused or old electronics each year by taking a thorough inventory of what we currently have.
Lastly, to bring nature in and improve air quality, we’ve added more desk and office plants. Don’t worry – they’re not being neglected. Our “care schedule” ensures that everyone has a chance to care for their new green desk-mates.
Reaching Out & Making Connections
Although we always try to do this, this year we’re putting a focus on connecting with others to gain the highest and most diverse, quality knowledge we can about other eco-initiatives and processes. We’ve reached out to other organizations and our peers, asking them what they’re doing to make a change, and more importantly – if it’s working. We’ve also been sure to call ahead and make arrangements with catering companies before events to ask for less use of packaging and paper products upon delivery.
This is just the beginning – as we have many ideas to improve our eco footprint going forward. Interested in following along with Operation Eco’s journey? Keep an eye out for future StrataBytes blogs on our website, and connect with us on social media (Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn) to follow our eco initiative.