How to Understand & Improve Your Print Mail Campaigns
We’ve said it before – direct mail is a powerful tool. Whether you’re trying to connect with Gen Z or Baby Boomers, almost anyone and everyone can be persuaded by its effectiveness, if well-executed. So, how do you determine if your direct mail campaign is working? Let’s discuss some measurements of direct mail success…
Direct mail response rate is, simply stated, the percentage of people who respond to physical mail pieces (which could be postcards, letters, flyers, dimensional mail, and so on). Responses could come from things like website visits through QR codes or URLs, business reply cards (BRCs), or even coupon code uses and coupon scans. Response rate can help determine which part(s) of your direct mail marketing campaign are working, and what areas need improvement.
To calculate the direct mail’s response rate, use the formula:
Response Rate = (Responses / Mail Pieces) x 100
Let’s look at an example of equating response rate. Let’s say you send out 1,000 pieces of mail advertising the grand opening of your new grocery store, and you receive 30 responses. You’d determine your response rate using the following formula:
(30 responses / 1000 pieces of mail) x 100 = 3%
Keep in mind, the average response rate of direct mail falls between 2.7% and 4.4%, so don’t be deterred by seemingly “low” numbers. To best ensure you’ll be able to calculate and understand response rates, make sure each direct mail piece has a clear call-to-action (CTA). Whether that’s a special offer, coupon, or link to a landing page, it’s important to include identifiable URLs that you can easily track – like UTMs, PURLs, or specified QR codes. Or, make sure they can easily respond via a business reply card. This ensures that, even if the recipient doesn’t take full action, you’re aware of whether they made action at all, if you sparked their interest, and if you’ll possibly remain on their radar.
The call to action (CTA) is the driving force behind a successful landing page. It propels users to act, with phrasing such as “don’t miss out”, “learn more”, “click here”, and so on. Landing pages should be designed with a single, concise call to action. Too many calls to action can create confusion, so again – stick to just one powerful, action-oriented verb that leaves no room for ambiguity. What you want the user to do should be simple and clear.
Return on Investment (ROI)
To calculate the direct mail’s return on investment, use the formula:
ROI = (Net Income / Expense) x 100
Let’s say, for example, you spend $5,000 on postcards. You find that the mailing brings in $15,000 in revenue. If you subtract the initial cost of $5,000 from the revenue of $15,000, you’ve made $10,000 in revenue. To calculate ROI in this instance, the equation would be:
($10,000 / $5,000) x 100 = 200%
So, you’d have an ROI of 200%!
And, if you’re looking to get some help calculating ROI, you can plug the above information into USPS’s ROI Calculator.
With the inclusion of CTAs in your direct mail pieces, you’ll be able to track conversion rate. Conversions are often purchases – but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, conversions are things like rewards program signups, app downloads, or referral requests. Either way, to determine your conversion rate, look at the number of people who responded to your mail in comparison to those who became customers (or signed up/downloaded the app/requested a referral).
To calculate the direct mail’s conversion rate, use the formula:
Conversion Rate = (Conversions / Responses) x 100
For example, let’s say 30 people responded to your postcard, and out of those 30, 6 people downloaded your company’s mobile app (the conversion in this case).
(6 downloads / 30 responses) x 100 = 20%
Your conversion rate comes to 20%. Plus, you now know which customers to continue to build relationships with and can (likely) turn them into returning customers.
To determine the monetary return of each of your touchpoints, you’ll need the following information: sale price, number of mailings, response rate, and conversion rate. As noted above, response rate measures the number of recipients who responded to the direct mail piece, while conversion rate takes the percentage of people who converted.
Ways to Increase Campaign Effectiveness
Now that you can calculate your direct mail’s success, how do you increase it? We have a few recommendations to ensure you’re creating and sending ROI rich direct mail.
Tracking & Attribution
Understanding the health of your direct mail campaigns is easier with first-person information. As stated above, when designing your mail pieces, be sure to include QR codes, PURLs, a phone number, or another easy-to-follow CTA. Not only are you establishing trust between the recipient and your brand (by giving them the power to respond on their accord), you’ll also be able to track which recipients (and how many) are responding.
Design Compelling Pieces
It’s no secret that people love good design. It’s important to keep that in mind when crafting your direct mail. Keep your messaging short, sweet, and to the point, while creating a sense of urgency – don’t overflow the piece with too much content. If a piece would look and possibly perform better on a postcard than in a letter format, think through various shapes, sizes, and textures. Most importantly, use market research or previous data (if you have it) to understand and use what your customers best respond to.
Know Your Audience
Understanding the geographics, demographics, as well as psychographic behaviors of your target demographic is imperative to the details of your campaigns. The more information you have on your customers, the better you can reach and speak to them.
For example, let’s again say you’re conducting a grocery store grand-opening campaign. You’re aware your new neighbors are primarily millennials. So, you send postcards announcing the grand opening and include a redeemable coupon (that can be used online via QR code or in-store via postcard scan). Additionally, you include photography that best matches the demographic background of your target recipients. You’ve provided these highly tech-savvy millennials with two ways to access the deal, while still encouraging them, and those less inclined to visit online, to come into the store.
Direct mail continues to provide valuable customer and marketing insights and can be a key player in your multi- and omnichannel campaigns. Even as the digital landscape continues to evolve, heavily due to privacy policies and laws, mail proves to be an effective outlier. And, it’s even more successful if it’s done well. If you’re looking to get started with direct mail, want to discuss the measurements above, or just want to talk more about marketing campaign options and tactics, connect with Strata’s experts today.
Untrue & Debunked
With years of experience, we’d say we’re experts in direct mail marketing. But we’re not just the mail people. We provide highly impactful direct mail marketing that cuts through today’s digital noise to deliver a tactile experience and leave a lasting impression. That’s why we’re well versed in all of the misconceptions about direct mail floating around out there, and can tell you exactly why they’re untrue. Follow along as we debunk the 6 misconceptions of direct mail.
Misconception 1: Direct mail is past its heyday
Once in a while, we hear people speculate and assume that direct mail is past its peak – but just because direct mail has stood the test of time, doesn’t make it outdated. It’s been around for a while for a reason, and has evolved and changed over time – with the times. In fact, in a recent IAB survey, six out of ten marketers prefer direct mail over other offline channels and still include it in their direct marketing strategy today.
These days, direct mail breaks through the digital noise and is unique and different than other marketing tactics. It brings about nostalgia, as people enjoy the feeling of paper in their hands, similar to enjoying paperback books over kindles. Plus, for every 36 emails you receive (on average), you get 1 piece of mail in your mailbox. The possibilities are quite endless, with many exciting design opportunities and options. Really, direct mail is only boring and old if you make it that way.
Misconception 2: Compared to other tactics, direct mail doesn’t provide ROI
This one couldn’t be further from the truth. Don’t believe us? Here are just a few stats to back us up. The average lifespan of an email is 17 seconds, compared to direct mail’s average lifespan of 17 days. Up to 90% of direct mail gets opened, compared to only 20-30% of emails. Per USPS, 98% of people check their mail daily and Americans spend upwards of 30 minutes with their mail on a single occasion. Direct mail open rates can reach up to 42%. Recipients of direct mail also “purchase 28% more items and spend 28% more money than people who don’t get that same piece of direct mail.” Direct mail gets response rates 10 to 30 times higher than digital channels, according to the DMA (Direct Marketing Association).
Basically, direct mail usually does very well in terms of ROI, and it can (and should) be tracked – so make sure you’re getting the most out of it by making it trackable with the use of digital touchpoints.
Misconception 3: Direct mail marketing is expensive
When people think of print, they sometimes think of high-cost, but that’s not always the case. If you have a quality list and are getting the most out of each mailer you send, direct mail won’t seem all that expensive. What do we mean by a quality list? If you’re sending to strategic, particular contacts – not just any contacts, your ROI will be worth the price.
Additionally, print often gives you more for your money while other marketing practices alone may not (for example PPC, social media ads, email marketing platforms, and more). According to the stats, mail marketing is much more likely to be seen and paid attention to.
Misconception 4: Millennials and younger don’t like or pay attention to direct mail
Direct mail isn’t just effective for older audiences. Actually, 73% of American consumers (in general) say they prefer being contacted by brands via direct mail because they can read or review the information at their leisure. And, 41% of Americans of all ages look forward to checking their mail each day.
Millennials, specifically, like to feel important and seen, so the personalization opportunities of direct mail make for great millennial marketing. To add to this, many millennials and Gen-Z-ers have digital fatigue and find taking a “break” with print to be often enjoyable, and it “should be no surprise that those raised on the internet are best able to tune out online ads.” They also have shown to have a lot more trust in print resources than in digital.
Misconception 5: Direct mail works on its own and doesn’t integrate with other channels
These days, direct mail is actually an excellent touchpoint among many, especially when conducting a multichannel marketing campaign. And, we’d even say that combining tactics, even if it’s just two, is usually the way to go. In a recent study, a whapping 68% of marketing respondents saw that combining digital and direct mail increased visits to their websites.
So, how do you integrate physical with digital? By using a URL of a landing page or website, a PURL (personalized URL), BRC (business reply card), or a QR code. Any of these can be used to lead the viewer to a digital touchpoint. These can all also be used to measure attribution and better understand your target audience, and the emails and other information acquired from BRCs or online landing page forms can be used for email marketing, targeting customers with digital advertising, and sending further communication.
Misconception 6: Direct Mail = Junk Mail
Unlike junk mail, direct mail is focused, targeted, relevant, ROI-producing, and uses a quality send list. For more on why direct mail isn’t the same as junk mail, check out our blog, “Direct Mail vs. Junk Mail”, here. Strata can be a resource for direct mail with a surgically targeted list of prospects that are not only more likely to have a need for your project or service, but are also more likely to respond.
Now that it’s a bit clearer that direct mail is relevant, effective, and can be a huge part of the bigger picture of a marketing strategy, you may be interested in giving direct mail marketing or multichannel marketing a try. If so, give us a call.
From QR Codes to Concise Copy
Direct mail trends can be difficult to forecast, and even harder to use correctly and efficiently. However, you’re in luck, because as direct mail experts, we’re providing you with the top 10 direct mail trends – from QR Codes to concise copy – that have and continue to dominate 2021.
1. QR Codes
In the last few years, QR codes have really built a name for themselves. Not only because of their quick, digital nature, and the 2% postage cost break that comes with them, but because of their data-backed effectiveness. When a QR code is included in a way that makes sense- it provides a time-saving benefit to the customer while letting the company lead their customer exactly where they’d like them to go.
Although the year 2020 was detrimental for most industries and marketing tools, the QR code flourished. During a time where we didn’t want to physically touch anything, QR codes made up for physical marketing pieces like menus, signage, print ads, and flyers, leading customers from physical to digital – and quickly. The more QRs were seen, the more used to them we became (similar to our newfound familiarity with masks and hand sanitizer). And they’re still going strong in 2021.
Like we said, QRs lead customers to wherever a company would like them to go. They can provide helpful information, send the customer to a website, or even lead them to purchase.
2. Postcards on the Rise
Envelopes – they’re great and all, but let’s be honest, they add a few seconds (at least) to the time it takes to open (and read) direct mail. These days, it’s often better to send a postcard due to its more creative, eye-catching nature and faster access to information. Making it easier to read your call-to-action can often make customers more likely to respond to an offer or even visit a website or landing page for more information. Plus, they’re lower in cost – which means a better chance of higher ROI for your campaigns. As you can see below, postcards pushed past self-mailers and envelopes this year by quite a bit.
3. B2B Dimensional Mailers
These fun, three-dimensional, interactive mailers are the perfect way to stand out and cut through the clutter of everyday mail. “On the B2B side, dimensional mail is working well; because we all receive so many packages today, prospects want to open it and see what’s inside,” says Grant Johnson, Owner and CEO of Responsory. Although more costly and demanding in terms of postal handling, dimensional mail has the best B2B response rate at 8.51%. Check out our blog on the best secrets to a successful dimensional mailer campaign to get started on your own.
4. Better Segmentation with Data
“Accessing 1st and 3rd party data to further segment an audience will continue to play a huge role in a DM campaign’s success. If you’re able to align targeted messaging and great creative with those different segments, then that’s a recipe for increased response rates. Furthermore, surrounding that DM send with a similar message/offer through various digital channels will only add to that campaign’s success. Being able to hone in on delivery dates and putting an emphasis on speed to market are big contributors to making a direct mail/digital integration program thrive.”
– Mike Efstathios, Business Development at ICS Corporation
Data, data, data. It’s all everyone can talk about these days – and for good reason. Enriching your data qualifies your audience, and in turn, increases your ROI. And, if your marketing strategy is multi- or omnichannel, the customer experience becomes even more successful. While better segmenting your data may cause your audience to shrink, it will definitely cause your engagement to grow. Like we always say – it’s better to target the right people than all the people.
5. Increased Personalization
88% of marketers recently reported seeing better campaign metrics after using personalization in their advertising. More than ever before, the need for marketers to make human connections is extremely relevant, and some may even say necessary. The majority of our population feels they’ve lost personal connections and relationships due to the pandemic. Because of this, 2020-2021 has been the time to make up for lost connections by personalizing materials to bond with your audience and make them feel seen, heard, and human. Check out our blog on the best ways to get personal, here.
6. Higher Response Rates
Since the beginning of 2021, we’ve seen a rise in direct mail response rates. Why? More time at home means more time to go through – and even pay attention to, mail. And as the trend of working from home and staying at home has continued and even increased, response rates don’t seem to be dwindling anytime soon.
However, high response rates don’t just come from people staying put. They come from quality tracking, targeting, design, and audience awareness. For more tactics to increase response rates, visit this blog.
7. Interactive Direct Mail
In today’s world, we’re surrounded by technology. And with all of this technology, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be incorporating it into our direct mail efforts. 2021 brought new technology and an abundance of data that empowers companies when targeting audiences and crafting content. Next time you’re sending direct mail – think about how far you can go with it. Can it include a scratch-off? A game? A free kit or item? A contest? It’s pretty limitless.
8. Digital Prompts
Direct mail isn’t only a way to reach customers, but an excellent way to reinforce online efforts. Simply use social icons, QR codes, or other prompts to send customers to social platforms, websites, menus, forms, landing pages – you name it! Marketers are definitely catching on to this direct mail tactic, as usage of digital prompts has doubled in the last four years. Take a look at the chart below to see how the use of digital interactions has increased.
9. Concise Copy
It’s one thing to know what you want to say, but knowing how to say it is the real key to direct mail effectiveness. Throughout 2021, we’re seeing shorter sentences, smaller paragraphs, fewer bullet points, and obvious CTAs. Your audience’s attention span is only so long, so catching the ears and eyes right away is crucial.
Below is a great example of how Amazon has practiced this and changed their copy to be more concise and clearer. Even at just a quick glance, the message is less overwhelming and more approachable.
Need some help with your direct mail copy? We’ve got a blog for you on ways to write action-inspiring content.
10. Investing in Direct Mail Tools
Although it’s not always top of mind, the right tools are one of the most important components of great direct mail. If you haven’t looked into or invested in marketing and data tools, you should be, because they can take your direct mail from general and stale to effective and exciting, and in turn, save you time and money. Instead of targeting the wrong contacts or using the wrong design elements, the right tools will ensure your mailer looks great and is sent to people who will actually open and engage with it.
Consider changing your format, ink, paper, or finish. Update your branding, content, or calls to action. Or, try technology like USPS Informed Delivery to reach consumers in a modern way.
So, there you have it! 10 effective direct mail trends that took off this year. If you’re interested in learning more about enhancing your direct mail, feel free to contact the experts at Strata. We’re happy to get you started with some great direct marketing materials.