Your goal with any direct mail advertising campaign is to get as many of your recipients as possible to not only open your marketing masterpiece but to also act upon it as you intended. Here’s how you can sharpen your direct mail marketing skills in order to find direct marketing success. Your efforts, combined with the direct mail marketing services of a team of professionals, will help you reach your goals.


Here are 10 secrets to apply in finding direct mail success with your next advertising campaign.


1. Get Creative With Your Direct Mail Design


direct mail marketing tipsYour direct mail piece is likely going to be competing with a lot of other direct mail messages in your recipient’s mailbox. Be sure yours stands out from the rest.


Some of the more innovative marketers are testing sensory devices with their marketing materials. Consider incorporating “embodied cognition” (the addition of smell, touch, taste, sound, and video) into your next campaign.


Let’s take a look at a few examples:


Kia Motors ‘Test Drive’


When Kia was set to unveil their Stinger sports sedan, they wanted to do some marketing that would help it stand out. They created a custom promo booklet that included a fake speeding ticket and a scratch-and-sniff scent of burning rubber. It came in a glossy metal box with eight eye-catching chapters to match the vehicle’s eight-speed transmission. It was originally intended for automotive writers, but the marketing team loved it so much, they ordered more and sent it to owners, dealers, and VIPs.


This is an extreme example, and undoubtedly quite costly, but there’s no denying the effectiveness of such an elaborate presentation to the right audience. After experiencing this campaign, you might find yourself at a Kia dealership the same day.


LavOnline Tomato Splat


Too busy to wash your own clothes? Apparently, young managers and professionals in Italy are, so online launderer LavOnline developed an irresistibly clever direct mail piece to attract new business.



How does the service work? The customer books the online service, a LavOnline representative collects the laundry, cleans it, and then returns it to the customer.


Roughly 1,000 targeted consumers (those aforementioned young managers and professionals) received a box with a squishy toy tomato inside. The idea was to throw the little tomato at a printed white shirt inside the box where it splats and sticks. Then it almost magically returns to its original form, so it looks like it cleaned itself off the shirt. The message worked as it produced 80 new customers in a month’s time.


Irresistible Mail


The US Postal Service launched a marketing campaign for innovative, technology-driven mail called Irresistible Mail. They encourage the use of everything from unique folds, die cuts, varnishes, and finishes to integrating virtual and augmented reality features. The campaign also sings the praises of variable data printing, where page elements like text and graphics can be changed from one printed piece to the next.


It could be a veterinarian sending appointment reminder cards that separate dog owners from cat owners, or a hairstylist who delivers timed, personalized messages to customers for a service they received before.


Remember, the more senses you appeal to, the more effective the message. Expect increased response rates when you use an embodied cognition strategy.


Related: Why Direct Mail Marketers Love Variable Data Printing


2. Know Your Target Audience


direct marketing tips successYour campaign’s ROI will be greater if it’s delivered to a targeted mailing list. Make sure you know precisely who you’re targeting with a campaign to be sure it speaks to their needs.


For instance, you could segment your list into four customer categories: Active Customers, Inactive Customers, Past Customers, and Prospects.


  1. Active Customers. These are customers who buy from you on a regular basis. They don’t need a lot of enticing, like a strong offer, but it never hurts to try. As a rule, think of cross-selling or up-selling to this audience. Hit them with frequent messages and don’t be shy about asking for their reviews and testimonials. After all, if they’re frequent buyers, they’re very likely happy with your products and customer service. You’ve already delighted them, now keep delighting them.
  2. Inactive Customers. This group has made a purchase from you in the past, but they’re not frequent customers. It’s been a while since they bought anything. They need a reason to buy. Send them a “We Miss You” type of message with a worthwhile discount to come back and make a purchase. The goal is to upgrade them into the Active Customer category.
  3. Past Customers. These customers have stopped purchasing from you for one reason or another. It’s your job to find out the last time they bought something and how frequently they were making purchases before they stopped. Dive into your CRM software for answers. Then consider a survey that asks why they stopped purchasing and ask what you can do to get them to become an Active Customer.
  4. Prospects. A prospect is someone who has never made a purchase from you even though you’ve been sending offers to them on a regular basis. In this case, it’s time to refine your approach rather than continue to waste marketing dollars on prospects who have no intention of buying anything from you. A refined acquisition strategy will weed out those consumers who aren’t interested or who weren’t even legitimate prospects in the first place.


3. Maintain an Accurate Mailing List


Your mailing lists are the foundation of all your direct mail campaigns. That’s why it’s important to make sure they’re up to date. When you have inaccurate data, duplicate addresses, or outdated information, it muddles your marketing efforts.


Clean up your current list on an ongoing and regular basis. Check for duplicates and correct any inaccurate records. Monitor your percentage of duplicates and try to figure out what caused the issue. This will help you tidy up your lists before every campaign you run.


When you work with MSP, we run NCOA (National Change of Address) software for you, which is a USPS requirement. This ensures your list stays current, even when people on your list move. We update the record to the new address and give that information to you to ensure you update your database.


4. Let Your Value Proposition Lead You to Direct Marketing Success


clever direct mail campaignsYour value proposition describes how your product solves your customer’s problems or helps to improve their life in some way, and delivers specific benefits to them. It also tells the consumer, in no uncertain terms, why they should buy from you and not your competitors.


Your direct mail campaign should have a very specific purpose. You want the recipient to make a purchase, register for an event, or take some kind of action.


Instead of spending a lot of time leading up to your value proposition, get to the point quickly. You should assume your customers don’t have a lot of time to read your message. Don’t count on them reading all the way to the end. Try to grab their attention as quickly as possible and convince them your product or service is the way to go.


5. Direct Marketing Tips Success Via CTA


As long as you’re making a point, make it obvious. Your call to action should be clear and concise, making sure the recipient knows what value they’ll get out of taking the action. Tell them what you want them to do. Then repeat it several times, including mention of it in a P.S. section, if you’d like.


  1. Create one CTA. If you want the reader to visit your website, don’t confuse them by emphasizing your phone number. Do you want them to place an order? Develop a plan that leads them through the piece to take the action you want.
  2. Put yourself in the mind of your customer. Consider what motivates them to act, the emotional reason they do business with you in the first place.
  3. Make the CTA simple. If you’re using a QR code, add some reassuring verbiage like “Scan this code with your smartphone.” Not everyone knows what a QR code is, let alone how to use one.
  4. Consider what comes next. When you get someone to act upon your CTA, make sure the next CTA is in place to create a sale or another engagement opportunity. For example, if you create a QR code with the goal of getting someone to visit your website, what do you want them to do when they get there?
  5. Don’t forget to test and measure your results. If you didn’t get the results you were looking for, make some adjustments and try again. If something did work, use it to your advantage in your next campaign.


However you choose to word your CTA, include a sense of urgency. Don’t give your recipient the option to think about it over time.


6. Personalize Your Clever Direct Mail Campaigns with Variable Data Printing


personalized direct mail marketingThe results are abundant when it comes to personalization. Almost 90% of US marketers saw quantitative improvements because of personalization. And more than half of them reported at least a 10% increase in business.


Variable data printing is a form of digital print production that allows for mass customization.


For example, instead of creating a sales brochure and sending the exact same brochure to every customer, you can customize it for each recipient. That probably sounds like it takes a lot of time, but with variable data printing, it’s incredibly time-efficient.


For example, you could include location-specific information on each brochure. It’s essentially the same brochure, but the location information changes based on a local store or stores near the recipient. You could provide an additional incentive by including a coupon that’s only valid at a specific location.


Personalize your next direct mail campaign and enjoy favorable results.


7. Include a Promotional Item to Boost Intrigue


direct mail sucesssInclude something inside your direct mail piece that creates a bump in the package. For instance, by including something as simple as a penny inside, you raise the intrigue level of your recipient. They can tell there’s an object of some sort inside. What is it? They have to open it to find out, and more often than not they will.


A penny is not exactly a promotional item, but when you include something like labels or notepads in your direct mail piece, there’s at least a 50% likelihood the recipient will hang on to it. In doing so, it keeps your company name active in their everyday life, whether they use the giveaways or not.


8. Combine Digital Mail and Direct Mail


To get the most out of your direct mail campaign, try adding a digital element as a compliment. It’s important that all your marketing materials, including your website, are easily identifiable as yours. This integrated approach is effective when your brand’s image, tone, and customer experience are all in sync with one another. That consistency leads to trust—and sales.


There could be a number of different ways for consumers to communicate with your business. Maybe you have a brick-and-mortar store, a customer service line, a responsive website (optimized for desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone) and social media accounts, a printed catalog, etc.


Your marketing efforts should speak to your customers everywhere they interact with your business. By implementing an omnichannel approach, your customer will see how all these elements look like they belong together—and work together to serve their needs.


9. Use a Stamp to Emulate First-Class Mail


direct mail marketing successPeople evaluate mail in less than seven seconds, and they categorize it into one of three categories. It’s either a bill, some sort of personal correspondence, or what many might deem “junk mail.” When you want to get people to open your piece of direct mail, you want to stay out of the perceived junk mail classification.


By using a real stamp (rather than a permit or metered stamp), it makes marketing mail look more personal. With a postage stamp (or more than one stamp) affixed in the upper right-hand corner, it looks like a piece of first-class mail to the recipient. And research shows it has a higher open rate, too. A high-volume mailing service like MSP will help you get this look—and the results—you desire.


10. Use a Self-Mailer or a Window Envelope


Getting your recipient to open your direct mail is half the battle. If you send a self-mailer—such as a postcard, brochure, or catalog—they won’t need to open an envelope. Plus, with an attractive design, you’ll immediately draw the recipient into your content.


Alternatively, an envelope with a window will save you from printing the recipient’s address on the outside. You can strategically position it in the window so you’re using one address for both the delivery and the response. Plus, it offers a preview of what’s inside.


Help for Achieving Direct Marketing Success


There are a lot of steps involved when creating a direct mail marketing campaign. There are also a lot of ways to achieve success. The most reliable solution is to work with dedicated direct mail advertising experts who can help you every step of the way, from data processing, personalization, and print production, to postal optimization and mailing.


MSP can help you achieve direct marketing success with competitive rates on the digital print and mail services you need. Contact MSP for a free consultation.

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