In the 45 years we’ve helped clients with their direct mail needs, we’ve seen a wide variety of direct mail marketing approaches. Some clients have mailed elaborate, multi-component packages. Others have personalized their mailings to contain specific messages to specific individuals. Some have developed incredibly creative mailings that grab the reader’s attention. Others have mailed small, simple cards.
As different as these approaches are, our clients share something in common: They want their direct mail efforts to succeed. That means they want people to respond to their mailings. They want to generate leads that eventually lead to sales or donations.
Since success is every client’s aim, we sometimes get asked, “What’s the most important part of a successful direct mail campaign?” It’s a straightforward question, but the answer is multi-faceted. For your mailing needs to be successful, it needs to:
- Reach Your Audience: First of all, you need to clearly identify who you want to reach. If you’re trying to reach new customers, you want a list comprised of individuals or businesses likely to respond. If you’re reaching out to existing customers or constituents, you want to make sure the addresses you have are current and valid. Mailings that are undeliverable (because of a bad address) are a waste of your time and money.
- Be as Economical as Possible: Mailing isn’t cheap. But if your mail pieces meet certain requirements, they can qualify for significant discounts. Knowing those specific requirements can save you a lot of money—and can even get your mail to its destination more quickly.
- Get Read: It doesn’t do you a lot of good to have your mail arrive at the right address if the recipient never reads it. No reading means no response. That means you have to design your mailing in such a way as to encourage recipients to read it.
- Generate Response: Part of the purpose of mailing is to pass on information. But another extremely important goal for your mailing is to generate response. That means having an offer that motivates people to do something and a call to action that makes it crystal clear what they should do.
- Be Trackable: You need to be able to track the results so you know what works and what doesn’t. That way you can do more of what’s successful and eliminate efforts that don’t produce.
- Be Integrated: You need to make sure that any mailing you do is tied into your other marketing efforts (online, email, print, events, etc.). You’re going to need multiple touches to reach your audience. Using direct mail to draw people to your website allows you to offer more information at virtually no cost. You can go into much more detail on your website than you can in a postcard.
So which of these objectives is most important for the success of your mailing? If you spend too much, you may not have the resources to do follow-up mailings. The fact is, each of these goals is important. You can have a great creative package with a clear offer, but if it doesn’t get delivered, it does you no good. You can have a great list and an enticing headline, but if there is no offer and no call to action, you won’t accomplish your goal.
There’s a lot more to successful direct mail marketing than simply creating a mailing and sticking a stamp on it. Make sure you have all your bases covered in order to get the kind of responses you want.