For some businesses and organizations, direct mail marketing seems to be a bit of a mystery. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. They know that somehow these direct mail marketing efforts are supposed to drive sales, so they close their eyes and roll the dice again, hoping to get lucky.
True success in direct mail marketing, however, has almost nothing to do with luck. It’s really a matter of knowing your audience and touching them repeatedly with messages that work—messages that move them to action.
One of the great things about direct mail marketing is that you can track your results. You can measure them. And then you can make minor modifications and measure again against a control group. What you end up doing is repeating the strategies that work better and eliminating the ones that don’t work. That’s not luck—it’s science. You’re using hard data to justify changes you make.
So what exactly can you change and measure against your control group? Here’s a look at a few key elements that may affect responses to your direct mailing efforts.
- The List: Most direct mail experts will tell you that your list can account for as much as 40 percent of your mailing’s success. If you’re looking for new prospects/customers, that probably means renting a list. There are a lot of different lists available for rent. Some are a better fit for you than others, but you have to test them to discover which ones they are. You need to code your mailings so that when prospects respond, you know which list you used to reach them.
- The Offer: What you offer people in order to get them to respond can also make a huge difference. Some people may respond to price. Others may respond to urgency or exclusivity. Still others respond to convenience. Try different offers, and (once again) code the mailings so you can see which offer generates the most responses.
- The Creative: Sometimes changing the graphics or the copy can boost responses. It may not be quite as dramatic as your choice of a list or your offer, but most experts would say that creative accounts for about 20 percent of your mailing’s success. That’s not something you want to ignore. So try variations in your design (photos, colors, etc.) and in your copy (longer, shorter, different headlines). Keep track of which ones perform better.
Even though the elements in your mailing that drive responses may be subjective in nature (offers and creative approaches), the responses to it are measureable. That’s objective. That’s data.
Here’s the kicker, though. You never really stop doing this process. Just because you get a better response doesn’t mean you’re finished. You best performer becomes the new “control” package, and you look for something else that can knock it from that perch.
What’s luck got to do with it? Almost nothing. Sometimes you can get lucky with a direct mail effort and stumble onto a great idea. There’s nothing wrong with that. But then use science (test and record) to make additional changes and generate even better responses.