So you’re on board with creating print marketing campaigns as part of your direct mail marketing strategy. You’ve seen the numbers and you’ve read the testimonials. Direct mail marketing works and you’re ready to dive in. But so are marketers from every other industry. If everyone’s seemingly sold on direct mail as an effective marketing channel, how are you supposed to separate your brand from the crowd? What can you do to draw attention to your mail piece over all the others? We have the answers. Here are 10 ways to make your direct mail marketing campaigns stand out.


1. Make Your Print Marketing Campaigns Big


direct mail marketing strategyImagine opening your mailbox and seeing something larger than everything else. That immediately captures your attention, doesn’t it? In fact, you probably grab it first. This is where your brand wants to be—that piece of mail that stands out among the others. Naturally, you’ll need to do some other things correctly (particularly with design—we’ll get into that), but this is where it all starts. Before you can design your print marketing campaigns, you need to know what format to use.


The format is the foundation of your direct mail marketing strategy. It helps to know what your audience wants, so look at your direct mail testing data for results from previous campaigns. Have you noticed that jumbo postcards perform better than traditional “business” sized letters with envelopes? Maybe your recent catalog experiment achieved better results than the self-mailer you sent last quarter. The numbers don’t lie.


If this is your first direct mail campaign, however, look no further than the industry stats—particularly with response rates. Statistically speaking, the larger the direct mail piece, the better the response rate. This applies to letters and envelopes, self-mailers, plus flats and catalogs. Oversized envelopes have the highest response rate of all direct mail pieces at more than 6% while postcards and catalogs are around 4% each.


But what about the bottom line? U.S. marketers spend, on average, about $170 per person on direct mail. That may seem like a lot of money, especially if you’re sending thousands of pieces of mail. Yet, when you consider that those same marketers earn almost $2,100 per person in return, it changes the conversation. Direct mail is a wise investment.


2. Follow a Formula for Success


It’s not only the size of the direct mail piece that matters, it’s also the look and the content. Your next step is to have your design and writing team create a piece of mail that attracts attention and creates a sense of interest in your brand. You need to develop your direct mail marketing strategy for success.


How to Optimize Your Direct Mail Piece


You want to grab people’s attention with a clean, eye-catching design. But you also want to feature the type of content that works time and time again. In other words, you want to know how to optimize your direct mail letter. The USPS highlighted six principles it believes weigh heavily on the success (or failure) of your print marketing campaigns. Let’s take a look.


Six Principles of Direct Mail Success


  1. Know Your Audience. We talked about knowing your audience to determine what direct mail format you should use. The same principle applies to the content. Consider what your audience will like to look at and read. For example, a luxe car brand might do well to focus on sleek automobile imagery rather than using a lot of words.
  2. Keep it Simple. You’ve got less than 10 seconds to capture the attention of your recipients. Use a distinct headline that sums up the goal of your campaign.
  3. Go with the Flow. Use clean design principles to make the content flow well. Keep your text and images aligned and evenly spaced. Be consistent with the fonts you use and include some images and/or graphics. After all, the human brain processes images faster than words.
  4. Have a Straightforward Message. People look at direct mail longer than email, so it’s OK to provide more information. Just don’t make it too long. Be concise and use some pictures and graphics in your design. Also, make sure your CTA is very clear. Tell the reader what you want them to do.
  5. Stay Relevant. Be sure the message and images are relevant to the campaign you’re promoting and the season you’re promoting it in. Also, give your readers several ways to respond. Brands that provide multiple options see a nearly 40% increase in responses.
  6. Acknowledge Your Limitations. The old adage “don’t bite off more than you can chew” applies here. Work with your budget and audience preferences to create the perfect direct mail marketing strategy. Don’t force a complex format when a postcard will achieve the results you’re looking for.


Bonus Tip: If you include an envelope, use the outside of your mailing to spark an interest in what’s inside. Let consumers know they’ll miss out on a great offer if they don’t open your mail.


3. Consider the Colors in Your Direct Mail Design


print marketing campaignsDid you know the color of your print marketing campaigns makes a big difference? When you’re creating a direct mail marketing strategy, you need an understanding of how colors appeal to your customers. It’s called color psychology. It takes consumers less than two minutes to form an opinion of a brand’s product. They spend much of that time analyzing the colors—even if they don’t realize they’re doing it. So if you develop your knowledge of color and how it appeals to customers, you’ll have an advantage over your competitors. What’s the best color envelope for direct mail? Let’s look at some possibilities.


Color Psychology: Your Direct Mail Marketing Strategy


  • Red. This bright “power” color makes a strong statement. Red evokes forceful emotions, like excitement and passion. It’s youthful. Those are all positive messages. But you can also use it with a sense of urgency. For example, if you want people to “Buy Now!” consider red to make them aware of a deadline or potential missed opportunity. It will draw attention to your CTA, where you need it most.
  • Green. If you’re marketing a food or healthcare brand, green displays feelings of love, friendship, growth, and serenity. In fact, research has proven that the color green can actually relax your customers and set them at ease.
  • Blue. When you want people to trust your brand, blue is a great option. That’s why financial services and fintech brands use it. It’s a marker of sincerity, integrity, dependability, and honor. Also, if you’re marketing to men, blue is typically well-received.
  • Purple. This royal color boasts imagination and intelligence. Luxe companies use purple to evoke feelings of distinction and greatness. It sends a meaningful message to their “well-to-do” customers. Just as men respond well to blue, women will oftentimes look at purple (and lavender) with similar feelings.
  • Orange/Yellow. Like the color red, these brilliant colors bolster a sense of “now” that causes spontaneous buyers to react—quickly. Both orange and yellow are warm, happy colors. They’re cheerful and confident.
  • Pink. If your brand caters to female customers, think pink. All shades of pink can accompany marketing messages that are feministic, flirty, and fun.


Despite the evidence that color psychology presents, be sure not to stray from your brand’s colors too much. For example, if your logo has certain color boundaries, stay on point with those and add colors that complement your style guidelines.


4. Personalize Your Print Marketing Campaigns


Last but not least, at least from a design perspective, it pays to personalize your print marketing campaigns. Nearly 90% of consumers say that personalized marketing influences their buying decisions. The more relevant you can make your marketing messages, the more responses you’ll receive. Plus, about 94% of marketers say personalization is an important part of their direct mail marketing strategy. Be part of that group! Some popular marketing resources have said that direct mail doesn’t provide many personalization options, especially compared to email. (Buzzer sound) Wrong! Direct mail has a plethora of personalization possibilities.


What is Variable Data Printing? Here are 11 Ways to Personalize Your Direct Mail Marketing Campaign


According to Nerd Wallet, simply adding a name to your direct mail campaign can lead to an increased response rate of as much as 135%. But you can take direct mail personalization much further. Variable data printing (aka VDP) is the future of personalized mail. It gives you a variety of possibilities to personalize your campaigns. With VDP, you can personalize any element of the direct mail piece—text, graphics, images—from one printed piece to the next without slowing down the printing process. Custom marketing templates allow you to create multiple variations of your brand’s campaign, using your contact data to create targeted lists. Then, with personalization tokens and varied layouts and formats, you can create marketing collateral that’s unique to each customer. Now that’s personalization done right—and it produces results.


5. Make Your Direct Mail Campaigns Useful


print marketing campaignsOne of the smartest things you can do for your direct mail marketing strategy is deliver something that’s useful—as in difficult to throw away. That means your print marketing campaigns need to serve a specific purpose. How can a piece of mail be useful? Here are a couple of examples of useful direct mail campaigns.


  • Include a free sample. Include an item in your direct mail letter that your customers will value. This will depend upon the product or service you’re selling. It could be something that’s directly associated or you could add a promotional item inside the envelope. If you’re selling a product—you could provide a free sample. If you have a service, you could include a promotional item.
  • Offer a discount. Consider giving your customers a discount on your product or service. This is a great way to get people to respond. The bigger the discount, the better the response. You could use your customer’s birthday or first-order anniversary to celebrate the discount.


The primary goal of your direct mail piece is to get a response, and eventually a sale. But, if your direct mail piece serves a practical purpose for your recipients, you’ll get more mileage from your mailing. It helps to have an objective beyond the goals of the campaign.


6. Schedule Your Print Marketing Campaigns to Arrive Midweek


You can create the best print marketing campaigns of all time, but if they’re delivered outside of certain time parameters, it’s possibly doomed to fail. How can you guard against a breakdown? Your best bet is to look into direct mail timing. This process features a best practice observance you should acknowledge: make sure your direct mail campaigns arrive in mailboxes midweek. Your optimal times for success are Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. The other days have too many distractions that revolve around weekends. So avoid the beginning and end of any given week. This will put your brand in the best position to succeed.


Anticipate ‘Selling Seasons’ with Your Direct Mail Marketing Strategy


Is there a time of the year when you typically do more business than any other? The answer is probably yes, so plan your direct mail marketing strategy with those seasons in mind. For example, if you own a lawn care brand, spring is always going to be a busy time for your business. Thus, you could target late winter to send a campaign. This will help capture the customers you’re looking for in the spring and summer. If you run a fitness brand like a gym or sports park, there are two times of the year, in particular, that best serve your audience. The first is the week after Christmas when people begin thinking about their New Year’s fitness resolutions. The other is in the spring when people consider getting in better shape for the upcoming summer.


Schedule Direct Mail to Arrive on a Specific Date


You know when you want your mail to arrive in mailboxes, but how can you make that happen? We have your solution. The key is to work with an experienced marketing services provider like MSP that offers a strong postal logistics strategy. MSP’s direct mail marketing services can help get your campaigns delivered on time—and on budget. Contact an MSP representative today to talk about direct mail timing. They’ll help to coordinate your ship dates so your campaigns arrive as close as possible to your desired times.


7. Beat Your Competitors to the Mailbox


print marketing campaignsAs long as we’re on the subject of direct mail timing, let’s also look at how quickly you can get your print marketing campaigns into your recipient’s mailboxes. Why does it matter? Speed always matters in business, but it’s of particular importance when you’re trying to beat a competitor to the punch. Let’s say you’re competing against other brands that sell the same (or similar) products or services. Don’t you think it would be to your advantage for consumers to see your marketing materials first? Direct mail response rates improve when you get your mail to consumers before your competitors.


Speed to market is oftentimes referred to as the amount of time it takes to get a new product onto store shelves. When we talk about speed to market with a direct mail marketing strategy, it refers to the time it takes to get your campaign through production and into mailboxes. Why is it so important? Look at Amazon. Prime members receive two-day delivery. This speed-to-market benefit drastically changed consumer expectations—and it made Amazon a retail industry leader, not a follower.


A consumer might choose your offer if they receive it first. That’s why competitive analysis tools exist. So when we’re talking about direct mail campaigns, it’s almost always a good idea to get there first. Let’s say you’re the marketing manager for a loan company. Most loan businesses get their credit reporting data from the same providers—and at the same time. So it’s a battle to organize that information into strategically crafted direct mail campaigns and get them out the door quickly. Many times consumers will select the first offer they receive rather than waiting for more offers to arrive. If your campaign piece arrives first, you have an advantage.


8. Send Your Print Marketing Campaigns Early and Often


Print marketing campaigns aren’t meant to be “one and done” projects. Rather, research has shown that consumers need to see your marketing message a minimum of seven times (aka “The Rule of Seven”) before they’ll commit to buying your product or service. Naturally, there are exceptions. You could sell your product/service after sending one direct mail piece. (If so, great job! Remember what you did because that was a great campaign!) But as a general rule, you should get into direct mail for the long haul. Consumers generally need repetition and consistency before they’ll act.


9. Combine Your Direct Mail with Digital Marketing Methods


multichannel marketingDirect mail may be growing in popularity, but if you compare it to email, you still have a much better chance of having your message read. The open rate for direct mail is around 90%. According to MailChimp, the open rate for email is approximately 21%. Which makes sense based on the cost to produce. By comparison, people receive way more email messages than they do direct mail because it’s much cheaper. But with that added expense comes results. An email has a higher ROI than a piece of direct mail, but direct mail has a far superior response rate.


These numbers may sound like we’re trying to add fuel to the direct mail vs. digital marketing fire. But we fully endorse using both as part of an effective multichannel marketing mix. When you’re building your direct mail marketing strategy, think of digital marketing, too. Direct mail works great on its own, but it works better when you combine it with digital marketing methods.


10. Direct Mail Marketing Strategy: Partner with an Expert


If you apply the first nine tips to your direct mail marketing strategy, your campaigns will really stand out and you’ll be a successful direct mail marketer. But none are more important than the final tip: partnering with a direct mail expert. Enlist the services of a proven direct mail services company like MSP. In doing so, you’re ensuring that the print marketing campaigns you’ve worked so hard to develop will get the ultimate treatment. Contact an MSP representative to discuss your direct mail goals today.

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