Direct mail? It seems like a relic from the past in today’s online, digital marketing environment where customers are bombarded with ads as soon as they open almost any app on their smartphone, with some apps even making money by having customers pay for the convenience of not being advertised to when they access a service or play a game. Direct mail might have joined the home phone, analog TV, and dial-up internet as something that might end up in a museum soon, but the truth is that using this old-fashioned, tried-and-tested method of marketing might be worth considering for your business.
With most of us only used to getting bills, fines, and perhaps the occasional take-out flyer through the mail these days, companies that use direct mail as a marketing method can build better relationships with their customers and increase their chance of getting noticed in a world where every other business is sending emails. So, what are some of the best practices to follow if you want to start a new direct mail campaign?
Understand and Determine Your Target Audience
Just like any other type of marketing campaign, it’s important to know who you are advertising to. Before starting your direct mail campaign, the first step is to determine your target audience. The more you know about your target audience, the better. When you are very familiar with your target audience, this makes it easier for you to solve their problems and ensure that their needs are met. Customer profiles are an ideal way to connect target audiences with the products and services that you offer. Find out more about the people you are marketing to including their gender, age, income, family status, occupation, where they live, and what they are interested in. Then, consider digging deeper by conducting interviews, sending surveys, and hosting focus groups to find out even more about your customers.
Set Your Goals and Objectives
Once you know who you are marketing to, it’s time to determine the objectives and goals for your direct mail campaign. Consider what you want the campaign to accomplish, and how you want your customers or potential customers to respond when they receive your message through the mail. Perhaps you are advertising a store in your area that you would like them to visit in person, or maybe you are trying to encourage your customers to use the information in the letter to visit a website. Perhaps your overall goal is to simply grow your brand awareness.
Check Your Data
Bad data has become one of the biggest problems for today’s marketers looking to create top-performing direct mail campaigns. Bad data can create a huge problem – in fact, it costs businesses and marketers a massive $3 trillion each year. It’s important to regularly check and clean up your data in order to avoid losing money as a business. Data hygiene is an important step in the process of eliminating any old and outdated data, correcting typos, and avoiding duplicate records. Duplicate records might seem harmless but sending the same message twice to the same customer is not only wasteful of resources, but it can also send the wrong message about your brand, creating the impression that you’re sloppy and don’t have your act together.
Set a Budget
A successful direct mail marketing campaign should be built around a budget. Many brands need to be careful when it comes to what they spend and don’t have the luxury of being able to splash out as much as they would like. It’s important to come up with a targeted amount for each direct mail campaign based on the goals that you would like to achieve. Unlike online marketing methods like digital marketing, direct mail does have more costs involved as you will need to pay for paper, ink, postage, and other expenses. However, the good news is that you can afford to budget a little more for direct mail marketing as it offers a higher response rate when done right.
Decide on a Mail Type
Once you’ve decided on how much you are going to budget for your direct mail campaign, it’s time to consider the types of direct mail that you are going to send. There are countless options to choose from, but these are some of the most popular options that tend to be the most successful:
- Postcards: A simple and cheap method of getting a marketing message across to your customers is to use a postcard. Postcards can be an ideal way to advertise a new store opening or tell your customers about a new product. They are available in various sizes, and bigger postcards are likely to grab attention right from the start.
- Letter and Envelope: A personal letter addressed to the customer and sent in an envelope is one of the most effective direct mail types according to direct mail statistics, with a response rate of over 4% on average. Larger envelopes tend to get better responses. Check out this guide to direct mail marketing from Lob to learn more about how you can get started with sending marketing letters. Lob offers tools to automate and simplify the process.
- Packages: While sending a package means you’ll need to increase your budget, this is one of the best ways to make sure that your mail is opened. When someone receives a box in the mail, it’s impossible to ignore what might be inside.
- Catalogs: Catalogs have been around since the beginning of direct mail marketing. You can use them to promote all your product lines, offer money off vouchers and deals to your customers, and drive traffic to your website.
Use Quality Content
Once you’ve chosen the direct mail marketing type that is right for your business, it’s time to create the content for it. This can be a challenging yet rewarding process. Of course, the design content is important for getting your mail noticed, but once the customer has noticed your mail, you also want them to act. It’s important to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about what is going to appeal to them. Add clear calls to action to make sure that customers have no doubt about what you want them to do. Make it obvious if you want your customers to visit your website, come to your store to shop in-person, or sign up for a service. Reference your CTA throughout the letter or postcard and include it at the end. Along with this, write content that promotes the benefits of the product or service that you are offering to the customer. Most customers are more interested in finding out about how they can benefit from using a service or product rather than the specific features. Content that demonstrates that you understand a problem that they are having, and how your product or service can solve it, tends to work best. Finally, it’s a good idea to include a sense of urgency. Some great ways to do this include offering a discount or voucher that will expire if they do not use it after a certain time or giving your customers a deadline to take advantage of a special offer.
While direct mail might have been forgotten about in a sea of digital marketing methods, it’s still one of the most effective offline marketing options for companies to consider today.