8 Ways to Make Sure Your Direct Mail Marketing Is Effective

Get the Most for Direct Mail Marketing

Get the Most for Direct Mail Marketing

Many of you may have tried direct mail marketing only to feel like it was a waste of time, energy and money.  Why did your campaign not perform?  What type of response were you expecting and how did you measure that response.  I am sharing this information with you because I want you to succeed – not just with your direct mail campaigns – but in everything you do.  If you have questions or need assistance, please contact me or leave a comment below.

Here is what you should know about direct mail

The average response rate for the 1,122 industry-specific campaigns that the DMA studied was 2.61%.

Within sectors, nonprofit fundraisers enjoy the most success with direct response, getting rates of 5.35%. Close behind are retail stores (with 3.36%) and establishments selling services to businesses (3.34%).

Manufacturing delivers 3.17%; personal and repair services 3.07%; and travel 2.98%. The two sectors at the bottom of the list — computer/electronic products and packaged goods — still get better than 2% response.

Variable Print Campaigns increase the response rate by up to +5%

(from http://www.directmag.com)

So what does that mean to you?

Have a resonable expectation.  If you send out 1,000 postcards to a qualified mailing list, you should expect about 20 people to respond (don’t confuse respond with purchase).  Make it a variable print campaign and that number could up to as high as 75 people.

Here are some tips to have a successful direct mail campaign.

  • Use a qualified mailing list. Seems like a no brainer, but often companies miss this step.
  • Have a resonable expectaion on the return. Don’t expect a 50% response.  It isn’t going to happen.
  • Take advantages of new technologies to drive up and track your response rate.
  1. Variable printing (where you can customize the message on each card to be relevant to the recipiant) has great power and will increase your response if done correctly.  (Not those stupid postcards you get with a billboard that has your name on it – very, very lame.
  2. Personalized URL (PURL) allows you to add a url to your campaign where recipeients can log on to get thier offer.  For example, you can offer a generic 10% discount for your product or service, but then have a second “Vist http://www.personalizedurl.com and get 20% off!”  When they arrive, you can give them what you have offered, ask them to take a survery, gather more information from them etc.  It is a win-win for everyone.
  • Make sure you direct mail campaign is strongly branded and consistent with other items you may already have out there.  You want your prospects to recognize you and have a sense of familiarity when they recieve the item.  Working with a graphic designer can be a very critical key to this process.  For example, you send out your item, someone goes to your website and they leave becuase they think they are at the wrong place – there is no visual consistency to tie your messages together.

Tips on developing a direct mail campaign2361223017_299381b262

1. Develop A Primary Offer

If you sell something – tacos, make-up or elephant dung – that is pretty simple.  Create an offer that would interest clients like, “Free Taco Tuesdays for Kids”.  If you are in a service industry – accountant, home design, exterminator – this step may not appear easy, but it is!  It is a two step process.  FIRST you have build the value of the service to your audience – then you can offer them things like a free consultation, discounted rate on hourly services, or free evaluation. Here is a good example, “We will inspect your home for pests at no cost and make recommendations on how you can avoid future infestation, while saving you 10% on your first home treatment.”

2. Develop a Secondary Offer

Your primary offer will attract prospects that are ready to do business today or in the near future. However, this represents only a small fraction of the potential market. Therefore, you need to make a secondary offer to attract those prospects who are not ready to buy right now but may have a need in three, six or 12 months.

This secondary offer can be a free booklet, special report, brochure, fact sheet, free gift or other item  the reader can calling or visiting your site or PURL. Going back to our taco example, it could be something like, “Purchase a $25 Taco gift card and get a $5 Taco gift card for yourself!”  Stress the primary offer with strong graphics all over your mailing.  The secondary offer needs to be visible, but think of it as a “P.S.” in terms of the impact it needs to make visually.  For our exterminator your message could be “Call today to request your FREE 3 Simple Steps to a Pest Free Home Guide”

3. Encourage a Targeted Response

How do you want these prospects to contact you?  Phone?  Email?  Decide and make that message loud and clear!  If you want them to pick up the phone – your phone number should be in at least 2 VERY VISIBLE places.  Want them to email?  Same deal?  Want them to visit your web site?  (That can be a slippery slope if you are not using PURL as you are asking for 2 actions – visit web site and then contact us – you may loose some along the way)  But always free free to promote your site by providing your web address.  Those doing research or wanting to learn more about you will appreciate it.  Bottom line –  contact information should always be clear and easy to read.

4. Establish Credibility

Prospects want to deal with businesses who are experts in their field or marketplace. Here are some techniques that can build this sense of credibility into the direct-mail package:

  • Add a few quotes from happy customers, it makes prospect comfortable about what you offer.  “Taco Palace has the friendliest staff and tastiest food.  My kids won’t eat anywhere else!  Thanks Taco Palace!”  “Bob’s Bug Bashers provided fast and professional service, they showed up 20 mintes before my dinner party to remove a dead rat in the wall.  I will alwasy use Bob’s Bug Bashers for all my bug bashing needs!”
  • If there has been positive press, you may want to add that too.  “Taco Palace – Voted Houston’s best Taco 3 Years in a row!”  “Bob’s Bug Bashers received the award for most bugs bashed in 2007.”
  • Name drop (if it is relevant – and true).  “Oprah’s favorite taco spot in Houston!” “Bob’s Bug Bashers services the homes of Mayor John Doe and rap star Real-E!”
  • Include associations you are a part of including the Better Business Bureau.
  • Make sure the direct mail item is consistently branded with what prospects have seen before from you.  This increases reconition and builds consumer confidence.  (Just putting your logo somewhere does not count)

5. Use other promotion techniques to build your reputation

Direct mail is effective for generating immediate leads, but it is not the primary tool for enhancing credibility. To build a professional reputation, get involved in your community, get local press from the newspapers, join associations and volunteer your time.  Make visable donations to causes you feel strongly about – in your business name – not yours.  You can also use social media and social networks as well as blogs to build credibility.  Get endorsements for people others respect. Performing these activities will lead to a higher response to direct mail because the recipient will have already heard of you when he receives direct mail piece.

6.  Stay Visable!

Plan on doing at least a 2 part or 3 part campaing.  If your offer is time sensitive and ends in four weeks – send out a mailing three times reminding them that the deadline is approaching for you offer and to ACT NOW.  If your offer is no

t time sensitive you’ll want to stay “in their face”.  Maybe they accidently threw away the first post card you sent out, maybe they were meaning to call and forgot.  Either way, staying in front of your prospects is a way to build recogntion and credibility.

7.  Have a Great Design


Your direct mail items needs to be effectively designed.  A graphic designer is the best person to do this for you (your sister’s son who has taken a few college courses, does not count!).  They will know the best techniques to make your direct mail piece stand out from the rest of the mail.  They will know how to emphasize your primary message and secondary message.  They will add credibility to your business by making you look professional. They will know the best ways to visually communicate your message with the greatest impact.  Working with a graphic designer does not guarantee results, but it increases them.

8.  Understand the Printing of your Direct Mail Piece

How will it be printed?  Is it going to be full-color?  Glossy?  How big?  How will the size effect your postage?  What is the best method for printing that is the best value?  Establish a relationship with a qualified printer and they will be able to guide you through these question and make recommendations.  A qualified graphic designer will do the same.  For my clients, I turn-key these types of projects, not only providing the design services but the printing as well.  This benefits them in two ways.  First, it allows me to make recommendations on the design and the ENTIRE project that fit my clients budget.  If a client says, I want a JUMBO post card that is full color with lots of zing – I don’t design one until I know they understand that a JUMBO post card will cost more postage, that full-color can also add additional expense, etc.  This is part of a qualified consultation – one each of you should be getting if you work with a designer.  Second, it allows my clients to focus on the business of doing their business.  We work on the design, they finalize the artwork and BAM in a few days the final printed items arrive on their door step.  Find someone that you can develop that kind of relationship with. If you don’t have someone you know and trust, contact me.  I’ll be happy to assist you!

Happy Direct Mail Marketing!

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If you could ask your print vendor any question, what would it be?

Let’s face it.  Buying printing can be a daunting process.  There is screen printing, large format printing, digital printing, offset printing lithography, bindery, specialty folds, die-cutting and more.  If you could ask your print vendor any question what would it be?  I will do my best to consult experts regarding your question (or perhaps you know the answer) and add it to the thread of comments below.  So ask your deepest, darkest, burning print questions.  No one will laugh.  It is okay.

Written By Leah Dossey, owner, art director and designer at Blueleaf Creative.  Contact Leah at ldossey@blueleafcreative.com