Not long ago, direct mail best practices involved huge mailing lists and a steady stream of repeated mailings. Some industries (credit card companies, for instance) still do that because the economies of scale they enjoy allow them to mail huge volumes and get a relatively small return on investment. But for most businesses that’s just not practical. Printing, postage, and mailing costs are too high to justify the low rates of return.
That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy success with direct mail. It’s still a great way to reach prospects and customers. When integrated with your other marketing efforts, it can be a very powerful tool. And direct mail has some characteristics that other forms of marketing just can’t match (Take a look at this article about direct mail’s “stickiness”).
However, you have to pay attention to how you mail in order to succeed. Here are a few things you can do to get a higher ROI (return on investment) with your mailings.
Carefully Select Your List
While it’s important to have an overall strategy for your direct mail efforts, you also need to treat every mailing as a unique event. Not everybody is a candidate for every mailing. If you’re going to rent a list, make sure the makeup of that list fits the description of your ideal audience. If you sell high-performance after-market kits for people who like to race automobiles, a general list of “car owners” isn’t going to help you. The same is true if you use an in-house list. Not all of your current customers have the same needs. If you want to talk to past customers about an upgrade, don’t mail to customers who just bought the latest version of your product. It’s a waste of time (yours and theirs) and money. You will likely just irritate them.
Customize Content to Your Audience
It’s not enough to just segment your list and make sure you’re talking to the right people. Make sure your message is appropriate. Customize your content to the specific needs of your audience segment. Talk to them about what they want to know.
A Crystal Clear Call to Action
Even if you follow the first two suggestions above you still have to tell people exactly what you want them to do. Making them a great offer—then spell out exactly how you want them to respond. Don’t just send responders to your home page. Send them to a specific landing page that talks exclusively about your offer.
Track Efforts and Response
One keys to better ROI is keeping track of each and every mailing and to track the specific response. That won’t boost response on your current mailing, but it will reveal what’s working and what isn’t. Moving forward you can repeat what works and eliminate what doesn’t. Here’s a post that can help you create a plan to measure your results.
You don’t have to mail millions of mail pieces to be successful at direct mail. But you must pay attention to the details to make ensure your marketing strategy pays off.