When it comes to marketing these days, online efforts and social media tend to grab the headlines. But direct mail marketing remains a very effective tool for quite a number of businesses and organizations. As a matter of fact, there are some audiences that respond better to direct mail than they do to newer marketing methods.
Of course just doing direct mail doesn’t guarantee success. The costs of printing, postage, and mailing make it imperative that you do it thoughtfully and properly. Here are seven steps you should consider to ensure your direct mail success.
Set Goals and Expectations
If you don’t do this, how will you know if you’ve succeeded? Set specific, measurable, and realistic goals. If your goal is to generate leads, how many are you hoping to get? If your goal is to sell products, how many do you hope to sell and how much revenue will it generate? And don’t forget to include goals/expectations for costs. If it costs you $2 to generate $1 in sales, you have a problem. You may find that you need to adjust your goals and expectations as you continue, but that’s OK. You need to have a starting point.
Select Your List Carefully
Picking your target audience is one of the most important elements in direct mail success. If you’re selling pool supplies, you want to mail to people who have pools. If you’re promoting a retirement community, you want to mail to seniors (or more likely, their adult children). You don’t want to waste you money mailing to twenty-somethings. It doesn’t matter how great your mailing is (design, offer, etc.) if you’re mailing to the wrong audience.
Create a Compelling Offer
The whole point of sending out a direct mailing is to generate response. You need to make sure you offer something to your audience that will motivate them to respond. Don’t automatically assume that a discount is what motivates people (otherwise, you’ll only attract people who are always looking for the lowest price). Offer something of value. Often that can be information or exclusivity. And once you decide on your offer, make it crystal clear how people should respond. Make it easy for them to respond and tell them to do it.
Stand Out from the Crowd
Direct mail volume may be down from where it was a few years ago, but there is still plenty of company in the mailbox. What can you do to make your audience notice you? Think about what catches your eye or captures your attention when you go through your mail. Standing out doesn’t necessarily mean “shouting” or being outrageous with your design. Sometimes elegance stands out—particularly if that fits your company or product. And sometimes it’s raising an issue or offering a solution that catches someone’s eye.
Track Your Results
Far too many companies simply don’t know whether or not their direct mail efforts are working because they don’t keep track of results. Make sure you build in ways to record responses. If you drive customers to your website, make sure you drive them to a landing page that’s dedicated to this mailing. That way you’ll know how many people responded—and who they are. If you want people to respond by phone, set up a separate extension or phone number so that only calls related to your mailing come through. If you don’t track your results, you won’t know what works and what you need to change.
Repeat Your Efforts
Those of us who do mailing sometimes get bored with it. We see the project for weeks before it even gets mailed. But the people who receive it may only hold it in their hands for a few seconds. You may need multiple mailings before your message finally sinks in. Direct mail is not a “one-and-done” kind of approach. You need to give it time to work. Just because someone doesn’t respond the first time doesn’t mean he or she isn’t interested.
Think Like a Customer
In one respect, direct mail is like any other kind of marketing. To do it successfully you need to think like a customer. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What would you want to receive? What would be helpful? What would be irritating? Remember, you’re interrupting. But some interruptions are welcome. What would you—as a customer—be happy to see?
Direct mail is still a powerful marketing tool, but you need to take certain steps to ensure your success.