Three Direct Mail Best Practices

direct mail best practicesAccording to a report from the advertising and marketing consulting firm Winterberry Group, spending on direct mail is expected to reach $47.8 billion, In 2011, a 5.8% increase over last year ( Were you thinking direct mail was dead?

Direct mail still works, and you should consider how to incorporate it into your overall marketing strategy. But before you print up millions of flyers or catalogs, let’s but a caveat on that statement: Direct mail works . . . when it’s done right. Let’s look at three “best practices” for direct mail.

The Right List: People are less tolerant than ever of “junk mail”—mail that has no value or appeal for them. Make sure that the people you mail to really have an interest in what you have to say. You’ll pay a little more for a highly qualified list, but that’s nothing compared to the cost of printing and postage. It’s also worth it to make sure your list eliminates duplicates. Not only does it reduce waste but you’ll avoid the customer irritation associated with duplicate mailings.

Stay Out of the Shredder: Just getting your direct mail piece to the customer’s door isn’t your goal. You’re not going to get any response unless your mail gets read. You’ve got to make someone want to read it. Make it intriguing. Make it fun. Or lead with an irresistible offer. Give them a reason to hang on to your piece—and respond. Unusual sizes can help you stand out from the crowd. Creative images can help get your point across. Intriguing (or even outrageous) questions can stop people in their tracks. But DON’T try to trick people. Be honest. If you trick someone once, they’ll never let you back in their house again.

Make a Compelling Offer: Give people a good reason to engage with you. Offer them something they really want. Offering people a 10 percent discount these days generally doesn’t pass anyone’s “who cares?” test. Give people a compelling reason to respond—and then make it simple and easy to do. Some people want a phone number. Make it available to them (and if possible make sure that number shows up as a response to your mailing). Some people want to respond online. Give them a clearly marked link that takes them to a dedicated landing page that talks specifically about the offer (DON’T send them to your home page!)

Direct mail still works, if it’s done properly. These three “best practices” are just the tip of the iceberg. What are your biggest direct mail challenges today?