While direct mail might have seemed to be e-mail’s first casualty, the old tried-and-true marketing resource is as vital as ever. By effectively planning your campaign and either doing things yourself or adopting a carrier’s successful strategies, you can learn to make direct mail a sure bet.
The good news in those figures is that direct mail can still capture recipients’ attention. The bad news is that your direct mail piece could easily get lost in the stack of incoming envelopes. So what can you do to increase the likelihood that your offers will attract notice and generate a response?
Plan your campaign
Before committing your resources, determine why you’re mailing. Are you trying to build name recognition among prospects? Or is the goal to maintain loyalty and cross-sell with existing clients? Pat Deck, executive vice president of sales and client services with direct marketing consultants IWCO Direct in Chanhassen, Minn., says that direct mail works best in several specific scenarios. “Acquisition, loyalty and engagement objectives are particularly well-suited for direct mail,” says Deck. “When I say loyalty, think of airline loyalty programs as one example. Engagement programs would be welcome kits or those type of things, where you are engaging the customer. Direct mail is also effective for objectives such as cross-sell, up-sell or win-back opportunities.”
Deck believes there are three strategic foundations to successful direct mailing. The first is targeting. Who do you want to reach? The second element is your offer. A poorly designed piece is doomed for the trash. “Format is critical,” says Deck. “You can use postcards, an envelope that has no window, oversized envelope there are lots of different options and formats.”
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A do-it-yourself approach can save money but you’re often better off outsourcing because marketing agencies and direct mail firms have the expertise to select a format that fits your campaign and optimizes responses. Also, it’s vital that the piece has an effective call for action. “What do you want that consumer to do?” Deck asks. “Do you want him or her to pick up the phone and call you? Do you want them to send back in a reply card or to go to a Web site?”
A third foundation is the timing of the direct mail piece. If you mail a piece on IRAs when taxpayers aren’t thinking about taxes, recipients are likely to groan at the reminder and toss it.
Tactical decisions should support your strategy, says Deck. These include the piece’s production, list selection/cleansing and postal choices. “You can expect that 50 percent of the overall cost of the program is going to be encompassed in postage,” says Deck. “The other 50 percent will be creative development, list purchase, and production, and the split amongst those is about 10 percent, 20 percent, and 20 percent, respectively.”