You don’t have to live with unsatisfactory results from your direct mail efforts. Just being unhappy, however, isn’t going to change anything. You have to take some action.
The good news is that there are some very specific steps you can take that can increase your results. Let’s look at three major areas where you may want to make some changes.
- Take a Look at Your List: For years direct mail experts have talked about how having the right list is the major factor in the success of any direct mail project. If you’re mailing to the wrong people, they simply aren’t going to respond. That’s true of lists that you rent from a broker (looking for new prospects) and for your in-house list. Just because you have a name and address (even if it’s someone you’ve done business with in the past) doesn’t mean that person is necessarily interested in doing business with you. The fewer unresponsive names you mail to, the better your results will be. Don’t waste money on people who won’t (or can’t) respond. Here’s some additional information about lists that could help you choose a new list.
- Review Your Offer: The offer you make to your audience is as important as the addresses you mail to. Your offer is your incentive for recipients to take action. If what you’re offering doesn’t excite them or move them to action, it doesn’t matter how often you mail. You need to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and ask what would make them pick up the phone or click a link on their computer or mobile device. Your offer needs to be motivating. Simply saying, “Act now to save 10%” probably isn’t going to work. Everybody does that and the public assumes you’ve either raised your prices accordingly or that what you’re selling is only worth 90% of the asking price.
- Consider Your Creative: It could be that your creative (the copy and the design) for your mailing is too predictable or boring. Or maybe the real message you’re trying to get across is being obscured by the way the piece is presented. Clever, cute, or splashy is never a substitute for clear and concise. Make sure your creative enhances the message rather than detracting from it. Don’t be afraid to spend a little bit of money to get this right. Here’s an article about how trying to save money on creative can be counterproductive.
Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater: Sometimes, in an attempt to shake things up and boost results, a company will chuck everything they’ve done previously out the window. That’s an overreaction that can actually do more harm than good. Instead, the smart thing to do is to run small controlled tests in each of these areas. If you’re using an in-house list, break out the names that haven’t been responsive and try a different approach with them. If you’re renting a list, test a smaller number of names against your best responders to see if they pull better. If you want to try a new creative approach, split your list in half and mail the new package to half and sent the existing package to the other half as a control.
The only way to improve your results is to do something different. Doing the same thing over and over won’t give you different results. But make sure you take a controlled and disciplined approach to trying something new. If you find something that works better—go with it—and then test something new against it to see if you can improve even more.