Just about everybody gets direct mail. Some people read the mail they get and others don’t. Why is that?
For one thing, a lot of direct mail efforts treat everybody the same. While your audience may share some things in common, the individuals within that group are different. That’s one reason generic mailings often fail. Being addressed as, “Dear Friend,” or “Valued Customer,” doesn’t makes you feel connected to the company who sent the mail.
However, there’s an even more important element to getting people to read what you send. What you send has to matter to them personally. People simply won’t read anything that doesn’t offer something of value to them. Something that has no value is junk. That’s why people talk about “junk mail.” It’s mail that has no value for them personally.
If you’re trying to build a relationship with the people—address them by name. That means using their name when addressing the envelope or card, and that you should use their name in the salutation. That’s a very basic form of personalization. It doesn’t cost much and helps make your prospect to feel at least a bit valued.
What really makes a personal connection is when your content speaks to the interests, needs, issues, or questions of your audience. You needto have a good idea of who your ideal prospect is. One way to do that is creating a persona of your ideal customer/client and then craft your mailing content to address that persona’s interests and needs.
Evaluating audience feedback
The better you know your audience, the more you can tailor content to their interests and needs. That’s not going to happen overnight. It takes time. Offers you make in your direct mail efforts can help you get to know your audience better. Make sure you’re tracking what prospects respond to. If you provide additional information (in the form of eBooks, checklists, “best-of” lists, or other downloads) the responses you get will tell you what your audience really cares about. Then your next mailings (and your online efforts) can focus more on those topics.
Your follow-up mailings can even say something like, “We noticed that you downloaded our Secret World of Widgets eBook, so we thought you might be interested in our webinar: Making Widgets Work for You.” That kind of response let’s prospects know you’re listening and paying attention. That is personalization.
Of course you’ll want to be careful about going too far with personalization. Here’s a post that takes a look at what can happen when personalization gets too personal.
Direct mail personalization is about more than simply inserting someone’s name randomly throughout the body of the letter. It’s more than simply getting their name right in the address. And, it’s more than using broad information (such as geography) to make assumptions about what your audience wants. True personalization is asking questions, listening to the response, and shaping future efforts based on what you’ve learned.