Are You Mailing to a Trash Can? Avoid These 3 Missteps That Will Cause Your Mail to End Up in the Garbage


Are-you-mailing-to-a-trash-canNo business can afford to waste marketing money these days. But if direct mail is part of your overall marketing strategy (and it should be), there are three mistakes that can result in your mailings being trashed without even being opened.

Let’s look briefly at what they are—and how you can avoid these mistakes.

Bad Addresses

This seems almost too simple to list, but it’s a significant problem. It’s really important to practice good address hygiene. According to the USPS 17 percent of Americans change addresses annually. If you’re mailing to an incorrect address, your mailing will probably end up in the trash without even a chance of being opened. Just because you have an in-house customer list doesn’t mean it’s accurate.

What Can You Do? By running your in-house list against the National Change of Address list you can eliminate a lot of bad addresses. Nobody can afford to send 17 percent of a mailing straight to the trash.

Wrong Audience/Message

Having an accurate address doesn’t guarantee that your mailing will be opened if it’s going to the wrong audience. The classic example is sending a mailing about pool cleaning supplies to people who don’t own swimming pools. You can have a great product, a great offer, and a wonderfully crafted mailer that highlights all the features and benefits of your product. If someone doesn’t have a swimming pool, they aren’t going to be interested and they’ll throw your mailer in the trash.

What Can You Do? You can be more selective with rented lists. The more specific a list is, the more it’s going to cost. That’s a given. But a cheap list is no bargain if it doesn’t deliver the audience you’re after. A pizza shop can get away with mailing to a specific geography, but if your product is more specialized, you need to find a list that get’s you in front of the right people—regardless of where they live.

No Perceived Value

Even if a mailing is sent to the right address and the product or service highlighted is right for the addressee, the mailing can still end up in the trash. Why? There’s no perceived value. In other words, the person receiving the mailing feels that it’s not worth his or her time to open your mailing. There’s no clear benefit. There’s no offer. It’s the exact opposite of what GEICO does on television. They say, “15 minutes could save you 15 percent.” They don’t promise that it will, but they understand that a lot of people are willing to spend 15 minutes of time to see if they can save 15 percent on their car insurance.

What Can You Do?  Make sure that the value of what you’re offering is clearly stated on the outside of your mailing. That takes some thought and work on your part. Too many businesses opt for the easy “Save 5 percent!” offer. Is that really an incentive? Would it make you open a piece of mail? Instead, figure out what your audience really wants. Promise to solve a problem or make life better.

Keeping your mail out of the trash is a challenge. But sending a significant portion of your mailing straight to the trashcan is way too expensive to keep doing.

Direct Mail Best Practices