Direct mail is one of the most effective ways to engage your customers. People like to receive post, whether for personal or business use. Consumer advertising mail generates an estimated £27 billion of business every year, while 36% of business managers say they find advertising mail useful or very useful in making purchasing decisions.
The statistics are looking good. But with all that mail flying around, how do you make sure your message is seen? It can feel like getting your direct mail marketing noticed is a dark art. Don’t panic: we’ve covered a few key steps to help you master the secrets to successful direct mail campaigns…
Know Who You’re Talking To
It can be tempting to send thousands and thousands of letters to a huge mailing list. The logic here is that it’s statistically inevitable that ‘at least someone will reply’. This, however, is entirely the wrong way to go about it.
There are two main risks with taking this approach:
1) You’re wasting money sending irrelevant messaging
2) Disinterested recipients will form a poor perception of your business.
Targeting a specific audience, and tailoring your message to their needs, will result in a much higher response rate. Even if you only send 50 letters to a very niche audience, if your service, product offerings, and message solve a unique problem you’ve identified they are likely to have, your response success will go through the roof.
Choosing your target audience will significantly reduce your costs as well as maximise your ROI. Instead of sending mail to thousands of disinterested people, at huge cost and with little guaranteed return, your printing and postage costs will be much lower – but your customer acquisition as a result far higher.
Any way you can personalise your direct mail will improve your chances. This doesn’t just include addressing the mail to a specific individual. It could be tailored to their online browsing habits on your website, for example. Maybe they’ve purchased something from you previously that needs renewing at a regular interval, such as office supplies.
The Early Learning Centre created a unique piece of direct mail that increased sales by 8%. For just 60p, they created a unique and personalised booklet that was sent out close to a child’s birthday, linked to relevant products and integrated with their website. For every £1 invested in this direct mail campaign, £13 was spent by customers who engaged with their booklet.
Know What You Want To Say – And Be Straightforward
It’s easy to get excited about creative, innovative marketing campaigns that push traditional approaches. This is a great approach – if it doesn’t water down your message. Be careful that whatever you’re trying to say to your target customers isn’t diluted by abstract concepts that don’t fit with your message, brand, or product.
Consider your design in the process, too. Break up your text with visual imagery, but make sure it is still easy to read. Follow a natural flow: for letters, people will move left-to-right from top to bottom, but for posters eyes move centre-top-left-right, as an example. Make sure your message is easy to read and simple to understand, and you’ll find your response rates will rise.
A Little Mystery Goes A Long Way
A good tip for direct mail campaigns that require an envelope is to not give too much away on the outside. If you start selling with your messaging on the outside, it’s more likely to end up in the bin without even being opened. A plain envelope, that’s personally addressed to a specific individual, will guarantee you much higher open rates. Once that letter is open, they’re putty in your hands.
You could also try different mailing types: play around with the size of the letter, or send a parcel in a box, or a poster in a tube. These will stand out in the pile of mail in a busy office, and will get that engagement rate up as curiosity takes over and people open the package.
Make Them Feel It
The neuroscience of touch is an incredibly useful tool for direct mail marketing. People like to hold things. They feel value in weight. It’s not a myth: if people think there is something different inside a package or envelope, they’re going to open it
Whether that means you choosing to include a branded pen with every message, or presenting your information in a booklet, is entirely up to you. Adding weight to your direct mail package will drive up your postage costs, of course… but if you’re targeting your audience, it’s worth it.
Once that envelope is opened, you want to continue to delight your prospects. You can do this easily with the direct mail piece itself. Choose a paper stock or lamination style that stands out. For example, spot UV is a great way to highlight particular points on the page, as the gloss lamination appears only where you want it. Not only will the eye be drawn to these areas, but the haptic response of the different textures makes the mailer more memorable, too.
Make The Next Step Easy
Once you’ve got their attention, it’s time to keep your prospective customers engaged. Make it as easy as possible for them to complete the call to action.
This could be something as simple as printing your website address really clearly. Maybe you want to include a self-addressed postcard for them to send back for more information or a unique discount. Perhaps you want to include a map to your shop or restaurant so they don’t need to go on Google Maps to find you.
Follow Up Swiftly
If you want to get really savvy, now’s the time to work in some email or telemarketing tactics. Follow up your direct mail with an email or a phone call to re-establish the connection with your business and increase the chance of future purchases.
Following up your direct mail campaign allows you to monitor results more accurately, too. If you’re speaking to the mail recipients, you can gather feedback on the appropriateness of your mail to their needs. An email to the direct mail recipients can be monitored for open rate and engagement, to establish your brand recognition and reputation for your target audience.
Finally, closing the loop with different communication channels such as email, social media, or by phone, enables customers to get in touch the way they prefer. While the direct mail may have captured their attention, they might prefer to respond to emails or by having a conversation with someone. Instead of sending your direct mail as a lone campaign, integrating it with other communication channels like this will give you the opportunity to increase your overall response rate.