Creating a Direct Mail Marketing Campaign: Success in 5 Steps

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Direct mail campaigns can be a powerful tool to accelerate growth, but they’re also a big investment. Don’t let that money go to waste with ineffective mail pieces and poorly targeted messaging. Creating a bold, engaging campaign that speaks directly to your intended audience will help you stand out to prospective customers and increase response rates. Here are five steps to ensure your direct mail campaign makes an impact:

1. Know your target audience and use the right mailing lists

Defining your target audience is key, and it should be the first step you take towards your new campaign. You can’t begin designing your mail piece until you know who you want to reach and what message is most likely to resonate with your chosen demographic. If you’re having trouble defining your target market, carrying out market research beforehand can help you understand which groups are most likely to purchase your products or services.

Once you know which consumers you’re targeting, you can narrow down your mailing list. Whether you’re using your company’s own mailing list or a purchased list, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t sending thousands of mail pieces to customers who aren’t likely to purchase your product.

2. Craft a compelling direct mail piece that gets opened, read and responded to

An effective direct mail piece doesn’t just showcase a product, it also builds credibility with the prospective customer. You want to create interest and curiosity about your service, while also clearly demonstrating how the service meets their needs.

For example, if you’re looking to reach older people about a reverse mortgage, you might choose to send a personalized letter discussing the value of their property coupled with a handwritten note. The tone is encouraging and friendly, but it doesn’t sound like a sales pitch. This helps build trust, while also informing them of the value of your service.

If you’re advertising energy efficient upgrades to new homeowners, you’ll want a more visual approach—a colorful letter with photos of happy, young families enjoying their homes. These customers will want to know how much money these energy upgrades could save them in the long run, so that information needs to be boldly displayed.

One of the best ways to get your mail opened is by using a hand addressed envelope with genuine human handwriting, not a printed font. Hand addressed direct mail is opened 99% of the time, and adding a handwritten message increases response rates even more.

3. Send your mailing piece at the right time

Timing really is everything when it comes to direct mail. A poorly timed campaign won’t create much customer interest, so be sure to consider what seasons and events your campaign is focused around. If you’re planning a big “back to school” sale, you’ll want to time your mailing to be sent out a few weeks before school starts in your area. If you send it too early, people will still be enjoying the summer, but if you send it just a few days before school starts, families won’t have much time to shop for your products.

Even if your business isn’t seasonal and your sales are consistent year-round, you’ll still want to match the timing of your campaign with major events and holiday periods. Many nonprofits participate in a yearly “Giving Tuesday” event, which is held the first Tuesday after Black Friday. If your organization is seeking new donors, then this is a great time to send out a compelling direct mail piece and capitalize on the holiday spirit of giving.

4. Make it easy for prospective customers to reach you

The internet makes connecting with customers easy and efficient—if a potential customer sees something they’re interested in, they can simply click on the link and be taken directly to the website. Direct mail doesn’t have that advantage, so you’ll need to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to contact you.

Make sure your contact information is bold and easy-to-find. Include your website URL or email address so customers who prefer to make contact online can reach out to you. And if your business relies on personally connecting with a customer, then provide a phone number where they can speak with you directly.

5. Use analytics to evaluate the success of your campaign

If you’re spending time and money on a direct mail campaign, you want to be sure it’s delivering results. It isn’t enough to just keep track of sales, though rising sales is always a good indicator that your campaign has been successful. You’ll also want to keep track how many people are responding to mailer—the response rate—so you can compare its success with previous campaigns.

If you’re using a large mailing list, it may also be helpful to use detailed analysis to understand who is responding to your mail piece. For example, if you track your responses by customer age, you might find that people over 60 have a low response rate to your current direct mail campaign. In the future, you would either want to exclude older people from your mailing list, or make a direct mail piece that is more appealing to them.