Getting the Most from Direct Marketing

All Hail Snail Mail

Think direct mail has gone the way of the Dodo? Think again. Ever since social media and email marketing kicked off, direct mail has got a bit of a bad name, appearing too old fashioned in today’s digital world. However the abundance of spam passing through our inboxes has suddenly got everyone screaming ‘enough’! Even with sophisticated spam filters and firewalls I personally still receive over 100 unsolicited emails everyday on subjects ranging from office supplies to Viagra and free trials of Russian Brides.

With this in mind, the savvy marketers among us are beginning to rethink their strategy. Sure direct mail is more expensive. Postage alone usually costs more than an entire email campaign and by the time you’ve blown through the creative work and the paper and printing direct mail can cost at least ten times more than email marketing. So it work out more expensive, but it can also be much more effective in the long run.

So if you are thinking of dabbling in direct mail again, how can you get the most out of your investment?

Give the important information upfront

No one enjoys searching through realms of marketing copy, they just want to find out what you are selling or offering as quickly as possible. Don’t make the reader work to find out what you want, place all the key information upfront and provide the detail later.

Talking to somebody, not everybody

Knowing information about your customers can proof critical in providing an effective campaign. When you know consumers’ basic demographics, interests and recent purchases it is easier to personalise your direct mail piece and send them relevant, interesting and compelling promotional offers.

If the person feels you are writing to them personally, rather than just someone you’ve plucked from a mailing list, they will be much more likely to read what you have to say. You can only be relevant if you have up to date and accurate information about your customers. This is where your customer and prospect database comes into its own.

Think outside the ‘popup’ box

So you’ve got the name and address right, that’s the first steps, but what’s going to make your reader want to read what you have to say? You may remember a while ago, IKEA ran a campaign where they sent 3D popup tables advertising their famously cheap little square tables. The basic idea was to engineer something that ships flat but pops into a 3D object when opened. It was completely unique and the element of surprise was hugely impacting.

Put pen to paper

Think about the junk mail you open, which pieces are the most likely to be opened? For me it’s anything handwritten. Yes if you’ve got over 10,000 letters to send out this might be tricky, but the fact is, hand addressed envelopes have a far greater likelihood of being opened. Budget in that little bit extra to make the campaign as personable as possible. I promise it will be worth the effort.

Save the postcards for holidays

In my experience, the traditional letter in an envelope has a much strong chance of generating a significant response. To most consumers, important letters arrive in an envelope, which is private. Never underestimate the physical act of opening an envelope and unfolding the letter, it can be extremely engaging.

A good campaign can’t overwrite bad data

I received two credit card offers this week. The first one came to Mrs “Natasha” Green. Trash. If they can’t get my name right, I don’t want to do business with them!

Marketers will need to battle with the decidedly “unsexy” issues of data quality and data hygiene before successful campaigns can be executed. Your beautifully crafted campaign will be a complete waste of time if it arrives in the wrong postbox or lands on the wrong desk. Ensure your data is accurate, clean and up-to-date by firstly capturing the correct data at the point of entry with address validation and by cleaning it up periodically with data cleansing software. This will greatly reduce the amount of returned mail (wasted money) and ensures your marketing messages end up in the hands of potential leads and not return to sender.

Test, measure and improve

Direct mail is a continuous learning process, so it’s important to record and measure the success of your campaigns. You can select a random set of records, measure the response, then tweak the mailing and send it to another set. You can then improve the list targeting, your offer, the content and design, making each mailing more effective than the last. You can then also identify those that are most responsive and target them again in future.

  • Good points on direct marketing. Definitely considering to put more emphasis on actual envelopes and letters vs. postcards. Thanks for the tip.

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