Studies in the direct mail industry continue to demonstrate that highly personalized direct mail packages result in increased response rates. In fact, a study conducted by marketing group POD showed a 1,000 percent increase in client and prospect response resulting from a highly targeted, personalized campaign. Today, it’s not just personalization that increases response. According to Winterberry Group, a market research firm, consumer response is driven by three key elements: timing, relevance and personalization.
In this context, timing refers to the ability to deliver an offer at the maximum point of interest. Lifecycle events such as a birthday, anniversary, marriage or new home can provide a compelling reason for advisors to send a communication to clients and prospects. Coordinating an offer with one of these lifecycle events heightens the likelihood that your recipient will find value in your marketing communication.
Relevance relates to sending an offer that answers a unique need, desire or preference of your client or prospect. In today’s cluttered mailbox–whether the one at the curb or the one on the computer screen–you have only a few seconds to capture a recipient’s attention. Make the most of this brief moment with a highly relevant message on your envelope or in your subject line.
A personalized message is one that is tailored for a unique recipient. According to Winterberry, personalization can take three forms. When the look and feel of your message is tailored to your recipient, it is considered aesthetic personalization. A piece of mail can have a distinctly masculine or feminine appearance, based on the colors used, the images chosen and the texture of the paper and envelope. Contextual personalization uses text to create offers that vary based on the recipient’s preferences. The third form of personalization is conceptual. In this case, available data is the driver for the offer and message. Conceptual personalization uses geographic or demographic data rather than personal knowledge of the recipient. But be careful. Consumers become wary if marketers appear to know too much about their personal habits or private information, particularly in prospect mailings. Be considerate of sensitive information and maintain the privacy of your audience.
Lester Wunderman, the father of direct marketing, said, “Communicate with each customer or prospect as an audience of one.” How is this possible? Four key elements in direct mail efforts drive response. These four elements are attention, interest, desire and action. Your direct mail package must grab your client or prospect’s attention, hold his or her interest, build a desire for your product or service and create a call to action. Personalization, used effectively, can garner attention, raise interest, create desire and result in an order for your product or service.
Regardless of whether you’re sending one letter a day or using a vendor to send hundreds or thousands of postcards a week, you’ll need to think about how formal you want to be when using your customer or prospect name in the body of a letter. Should the salutation say, “Dear Mr. Jones” or “Dear George”? If you are mailing the letters yourself, a handwritten “Bob” next to “Mr. Robert Jones” on the address form letter. A handwritten “P.S.” can also be an extremely effective device for connecting with a client.
Personalizing your response device, whether it’s a reply card, separate application form or tear-off reply form, makes it easier for your client or prospect to respond. Be sure to leave space for corrections and provide clear instructions for making changes.