If any of these critical elements are overlooked, you’re probably wasting a lot of time and money.
Even in our omnichannel experience, direct mail is often called “the most direct pipeline to consumers.” And there is plenty of innovation going on today in direct mail today, as marketers combine the power of big data with neuroscience-influenced design and messaging.
To get the most out of your direct mail, it’s important to think strategically about what’s different about direct mail now, explains DM expert Summer Gould writing in Forbes.
“Over the last 27 years that I have been working with direct mail marketing, there have been drastic changes,” Gould writes. “There are so many things we no longer do because they just don’t work. Then there are all the new ways we engage with customers and prospects that were never available before. Even just five years ago, mail pieces were different.”
All the cool kids are doing it lately, from Google to Amazon to Facebook. But to truly leverage direct mail, Gould says we need to think about four strategic elements to any campaign.
1. Get the list right
“Your target audience is extremely important. You need to know as much information about them as possible,” she explains. “This includes such things as age, gender, type of residence, purchase history, family, general interests, birthday and so on. The more you know, the more specifically you can target them with the right offer.”
This advice holds true whether you use your own customer data, purchase a list, or use a hybrid of the two. Start with this thorough understanding of your audience and what they want to hone the rest of the campaign for maximum results.
2. Design for attention
When considering the design, remember that the most critical goal is to get the recipient to engage with your piece.
“The first thing your mail piece needs to do is grab attention,” Gould notes. “Your design is what does it. A boring mail piece will end up in the trash. You must carefully consider images, color, size and layout in order to maximize your performance.”
Larger size mail generally has a better response rate. This can make up for any additional costs in producing and mailing – but Gould warns that it’s important to check with your mail service provider to head off any potential problems there.
3. Get the message right
Once you’ve got their attention, make sure the message is absolutely relevant and engaging.
“The tone and word choice of your messaging is critical. You need to be concise and eliminate technical terms,” she advises. “You should also avoid abbreviations or acronyms, as they can easily be misunderstood. Keep your language simple, and tell them exactly what you want them to do.”
Bullets, bold fonts and catchy word placement are all good options here, and be sure to focus on the benefits. A well-written message will make it clear what the reader should do next.
4. Load on the value
This is where clarity is key, so your recipient understands exactly why they should act.
“Your offer needs to be very clear; a bad offer will not get people to respond. Your messaging tells them what to do; your offer gives them an incentive to do it,” Gould explains.
Free and percentage off are usually good value adds but consider your audience. If you’re reaching a luxury crowd, that’s probably not the right approach. Gould recommends testing to be sure.
“Consider what you can offer that is most appealing to your audience,” she writes. “Offers are usually the first place you start testing. Segment your list, and test one offer to a select group while sending a different offer to another. The one that works the best is the one you should use for the rest of your list.”
When you get all four of these tactics working in tandem, you’ll start making more money with direct mail. If just one of these areas is weak, you could go bust on the campaign.
“Take the time to plan out each of the four before creating the mail pieces. The more time you spend preparing on the front end, the better your back-end results will be,” Gould cautions.
And be sure you’ve baked in the means to track results – with coupon codes, landing pages, text codes, hashtags, and specific phone numbers.
“The most important thing is to track your results. You will not only learn what you sold and to whom, but how each person responded. This is great information to add to your data,” Gould notes.
Try this four-step approach on your next campaign, and compare your results. Odds are you’ll see the value in this kind of strategic planning.