Knowing how often to send out a direct mail campaign is vital if you want to avoid fatigue among your target market. At the same time, however, you know the experts believe it takes seven hits before the typical consumer responds to a direct marketing offer. So how do you strike a healthy balance between not sending too many or too few? Here’s how to do it:
This is probably the most scientific method and it’s something you can do yourself, although the results really only help you the next time around:
- Split your targeted mailing list into two sections.
- Set up your direct mail campaign so it comprises several different “layers” of mailers. For example, you might start with an introductory postcard, then follow it up with a brochure and round off with an offer unique to the campaign.
- Send the various pieces to one section of your list in intervals of a week at a time, and to the other section of the list with a different interval period.
- Track the results of the two groups and examine the data once the campaign is closed to determine which group delivered the highest value.
This will help you to create protocols you can use for future mailings on the same product to the same target audience.
Your prospects’ expectations play an important part in your mailing frequency decisions. What have they agreed to receive, and how often? What notifications do they expect from you? For example, if your product or service is seasonal by nature, your clients expect you to tell them when it’s coming close to the time to consider buying it. They may also expect you to alert them when they time for buying is drawing to a close, so they don’t miss out on your offer.
The value of your offering can affect the frequency of your mailing. For example, if you are offering exceptional value you may be able to get away with sending mailings more frequently than you would normally. If you just send the same old same old, however, don’t be surprised if the direct mail campaign stops delivering results. To qualify for frequent mailings under the Value banner, you need to be offering something fresh and new that gives the consumer a real benefit.
The timing relating to your offer obviously has much to do with the frequency of mailings. Back-to-school offers are a classic example of this type of campaign, with mailings beginning around mid-August and ramping up in intensity and frequency in the first week of September. That’s because once schools are back in action, most parents have made their purchases and the stores are depleted anyway. The last week before school is the hardest push, and consumers not only expect but welcome the information because of its relevance.
Mailing frequency doesn’t apply only to the initial direct mail campaign, but to following up as well. Identify where in the buying cycle your respondents are and match your follow-up communications to their location. For consumers who are almost ready to buy, for example, you might follow up faster or more often than with those who are simply gathering information.