In the digital age, is direct mail marketing still a viable and effective method? And if so, what are some top tips for making this variety of marketing campaign as effective as possible?
The answer to the first question is a resounding “Yes!” Direct mail marketing still ranks among the most effective ways to reach out to new prospects and target specific demographic groups. Many even consider it the number one marketing method with highest ROI, though it is still best used in conjunction with other approaches, like email marketing.
Here are five proven principles to follow to optimize your direct mail marketing campaigns:
1. Your Mailing List is Your Number One Asset
Many times, people spend a lot of time on every detail of their mailing campaign (which is good), but neglect the most important factor of all — targeting the right audience. And that means, in practical terms, spending time on forming the best possible mailing list.
First, you want to narrow the list to those most likely to respond so as maximize your return on investment. This means starting off with your own “house list” (those who have already responded positively to your past advertising efforts). Then, it means doing serious demographic analysis of existing customers on an industry-wide basis and directing your mail accordingly.
2. Always Do Smaller Test Runs Before Mass Mailings
Another factor, once you have your initial mailing list, is to test and readjust it before going all-out. Select a representative portion of prospects on your list, mail to them only, then track the response rate.
You can use convenient tracking codes that the prospect must repeat back to you over the phone or enter in an online form. These codes can consist of mail-out dates, sub-list numbers, and geographic identifiers to make results easy to track.
3. Customize the Message to the Audience/Individual
Every demographic and every industry is different, and the message and style of your direct mails should reflect that fact. It is often said you should “stress benefits not features,” but there are some situations where a spec list will get you farther than what might sound like “hype” to highly trained professionals. The audience can also affect whether you should send out postcards, yellow letters, newsletters, or another form of mail.
A second way to customize your mail is to personalize it for individuals by inserting their names and matching addresses on the envelope and in the content itself. Variable data printing technology will make it practical and cost-effective to personalize.
4. Be Quick with Follow-up and Send Multiple Mailings
When you get a response from your efforts, you should waste no time in following up on these leads. That may mean a telemarketing call, a new mail-out to those only who responded to the first one, or an email advertising follow-up.
And one mailing is seldom enough. It is best to set up recurring direct mail or “drip mail” campaigns. While you don’t want to overdo it and be seen as a nuisance in addition to wasting money, a series of mailings will get you a far better response rate. Strive for balance in timing and quantity of mail-outs and target your hottest prospects with extra mail.
5. Choose Your Marketing Partner with Care
Using a professional direct mail advertising firm will bring you many benefits and streamline the whole process without distracting you too much from your other important business tasks. But not all marketing partners are created equal, so do some research and carefully select the most reputable company.
Look for use of advanced profiling techniques to create the best possible mailing list, affordable variable data printing, a wide range of mail and envelope types, the ability to capitalize on bulk postage rates, and the use of recycled paper (which will be viewed positively by many prospects).
Following the most proven principles and strategies that have led to success for others in the past will yield you the highest response rate and ROI. Choosing the best marketing partner will make it easier to do that.
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