With all of the marketing channels that now exist, it can be easy to overlook direct mail. It’s not new, and it’s not digital — characteristics that inbound marketers will insist are essential in the modern marketing era. However, there’s a reason it has survived all these years. Contrary to the beliefs of some, direct mail is still a very viable way to get noticed by existing or prospective customers.
One of the hesitations some companies have with direct mail is cost. It’s true that printing and postage costs mean it’s a little more expensive per impression than several other channels, but the potential payoff makes it appealing. You can maximize your direct mail ROI by doing good work upfront when developing the strategy. This article will detail the steps to get the most out of your mailers.
Why Direct Mail?
Before we detail the ways your company can increase its direct mail ROI, we first want to explain why it is such a good channel to utilize. One reason direct mail is the perfect channel for B2Bs to speak to small target segments is because it’s relatively simple to compile a list of prospective customers (more on this later). Another reason is that it can’t be completely ignored. A marketing postcard or envelope is going to land in the recipient’s mailbox, and somebody is going to have to look at it and decide whether or not it’s relevant. It’s a guaranteed, split-second impression you can’t count on with too many other channels.
Some companies may argue in favor of direct mail’s counterpart, email. It’s true that email marketing is cheaper and can be just as targeted, but it has drawbacks as well. Emails can get filtered into spam or junk folders where the intended recipients will never see them. Even if an email does reach the inbox, all it takes is a quick click to be deleted, and it doesn’t even have to be opened first.
This isn’t to say that direct mail is far superior to email. At Adventure Marketing Solutions, we preach omni-bound marketing and the utilization of the right channels for the right situations. In the case of email, it’s more effective at communicating with people who already know about you and want to hear from you. They subscribe or opt in and consume your content when the email arrives. Direct mail is a channel that works better for people who don’t know you and aren’t expecting your message. That’s because it’s intrusive and demands attention for at least a brief amount of time.
The numbers show that direct mail evokes more response than email, as you can see in the graphic below.
You may look at that those numbers and be a little unimpressed. Response rates of 1.44-3.95% for direct mail are better than email, but you probably expected more out of both channels. The first thing to keep in mind is that these statistics are very average. It combines data not just from seasoned, well-prepared marketing experts, but also from marketing novices who deploy messaging without a strong strategy. If you do the research and work ahead of time, and especially if you partner with a proven marketing agency, your results can be better.
It’s also important to consider that marketing isn’t easy, and it takes time. Very rarely will your tactics produce instant buy-ready prospects. It usually takes multiple touches to see success. With that in mind, don’t be discouraged by low response rates. Persistence will pay off.
Direct Mail Success Factors
How do you perform better than average? What does it take to distribute direct mail pieces that not only will grab the attention of prospects but also get them to take action? We have identified five keys to maximizing direct mail ROI, and we call them Direct Mail Success Factors.
1. Goals & KPIs
No marketing touches should be deployed without first defining what you want them to accomplish. Are you just trying to raise basic awareness? Are you aiming to get direct responses? How many responses are you hoping to get? Setting goals ahead of time is the only way to know what success looks like before you get there.
You can’t have goals without Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs are the data points that show whether or not a goal has been accomplished. They could be landing page visits or direct responses like call backs. In addition, mechanisms need to be put in place to collect KPI data. That’s easy for digital responses like landing page visits and submissions if you’ve got a marketing automation platform. It’s a little more difficult with KPIs like phone calls. In those instances, you may need to collect data manually by having a receptionist tally calls unless you use a call tracking service.
For more specifics about goals and KPIs, click here.
Once you’ve identified what success looks like, you can start deciding on recipients for your mailers. Current customers are easy because you already have their information and a relationship with them. Identifying new prospects to target is more of a challenge. If you recall our article on targeting, you’ll remember that the best way to increase your share of the market is to target only your most profitable prospects, who we call IDeal™ Customers.
After identifying your IDeal™ Customers, you need to make sure you have the absolute best list possible so that you can make an impression on those segments. How do you get a list like that? You can start by aggregating the contact information you have stored internally. You can then combine it with a much more comprehensive list catered to your needs. To maximize your list-building process, utilize a marketing company that has good connections to list companies and proven data services. Call us today at 815-431-1000, and we can help you identify your best prospects and procure the best lists for you!
You can turn your attention to the messaging of your direct mail after you’ve got your list work in order. Your messaging can simply be informative if your goal is just to raise awareness of your company, products and services. However, in most cases, you’re going to want your targets to do something in response to your piece. If that is your goal, it’s essential that you include calls to action that prompt them to do things like go online to get valuable content or give your company a call.
With messaging, it’s important to keep your personas in mind so that you can speak to them in their language. You also need to consider personas’ value propositions, your own company USPs and keywords. The more you can personalize the experience, the better. Technology has made personalization easier to achieve, with techniques like variable data and image printing or personal URLs (PURLs) allowing you to make each piece unique to the recipient, which increases the chances of getting a response.
4. Format, Design & Creative
As you know, mail comes in all shapes and sizes. What’s important is being unique and maximizing available space. Our suggested direct mail format is a 6 X 11 postcard. It’s the maximum size that qualifies for the presort standard letter rate. Because it’s bigger than a #10 envelope (the most common form of mail) and can be full color on both sides, it will stand out. As an added bonus, it doesn’t have to be opened, so there’s immediate impact. Every printer in the country can print this type of postcard, including us!
If your mailer is content-heavy like a catalog or brochure, you’ll be using an envelope instead. However, it’s not as simple as sealing the piece in the envelope and sending it. You have to consider a strategy to get the recipient to open the envelope. Envelope “headlines” are a good way to grab attention and create urgency. It could be as simple as printing or stamping the phrase, “Important information you’ve been waiting for” on the envelope. It’s even more effective to appeal to the recipient’s value propositions, which could range from saving money to safety to being more efficient.
Regardless of the type of direct mail you’re sending, make sure it has a clean look. It’s tempting to include as much information as possible, but that makes it less attractive and more difficult to read and absorb the highlights. Design your mailers following the natural reading path, which is top left to bottom right. Control the recipient’s viewing path with headlines, subheads, etc. and put the most important information on the top left and the call to action on the bottom right on both sides.
The following are postage types from which you can choose:
- First Class – The speediest form, with expected delivery between 1 and 4 business days.
- Presort Standard – Also known as Bulk Mail. Expected delivery is 2-7 business days.
- Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) – Postal rates are half of Presort Standard, but you can only target by geography. This mostly applies to B2Cs unless your business is targeting specific geographic areas.
- Not for Profit – Hopefully, you’re making a profit, so this one doesn’t really apply.
The postal service is very complicated, and every post office is different. In addition, there are a variety of mailing strategies to get your direct mail through the postal stream in the most efficient means possible. Some of those strategies are: destination entry point discounts, co-palletization, co-mailing and automation rates. It’s good to work with a company that knows direct mail and has a good relationship with their postal hub. They can eliminate mailing frustrations for you and ensure you get the best postal rates possible. We are a company that can help. Give us a call!
Direct Mail in the 21st Century
Direct mail is no longer a one-trick pony. In addition to its existing benefits, it can now be integrated into omni-bound marketing campaigns to utilize digital capabilities. It’s the way to get even more out of your direct mail efforts. Learn about the process in our next post.