Marketers are drawn to the trends of online advertising. Nearly $204 billion were spent on digital advertising in 2017. That number could rise to almost $330 billion by 2021, with search advertising being the most effective and promising.
That’s a substantial increase over a four-year period. But the fact is, people still enjoy receiving postal mail, especially from their favorite brands. With the influx of online advertising at (seemingly) our every page view, research shows that people feel more of a personal connection to physical marketing, like direct mail. In fact, people are almost four times more likely to open direct mail than an email marketing message.
With the right strategy, direct mail is a smart way to increase revenue for your business.
Let’s find out how to use direct mailing services to reach your target audience.
Know Your Target Audience
The most important part of your direct mail campaign is to know who you’re sending mail to. There are a lot of variables in creating a successful campaign, but everything becomes easier if you can identify your target audience. According to the Data and Marketing Association, the return on your investment is strong when your direct mail piece is delivered to a well-targeted audience.
Knowing the basic demographics—like male or female, plus an age bracket—is a start, but a more complete understanding goes a long way.
- What are their shopping and buying behaviors?
- What are their thoughts on trends, including marketing and media messaging?
- What are some of their lifestyle habits?
- What are their goals and challenges?
When you’re armed with this type of information, you’re more effective with your choice of a lead and the types of messages you’ll use to reach them.
How do you get this information? You can create forms to use on your website, interview customers in person or on the phone, and examine the data from your contacts (like how they use your content). Also, get feedback from your sales team about the different types of customers your company serves best.
Who Are Your Existing Customers?
According to a Harvard Business Review article, it’s anywhere from five-to-25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep the customers you already have. That’s the customer acquisition vs. customer retention debate. It’s an age-old argument about which strategy offers more value.
The first rule of any business should be to retain your current customers. A study by management consulting giant Bain & Company, Inc. (“Prescription for Cutting Costs”) confirms the success of that thinking. A business that increases their customer retention rates by 5% increases their profits by 25% to 95%.
So, once you discover who your existing customers are—hold on to them. And target them with your direct mail campaign.
How to Get New Customers
If you want to expand your target market, acquire a mailing list that fits the profile you’re looking for. The right list will include your most valuable prospects. So the more particular you are in analyzing and selecting this list, the better the chance you’ll be successful with it.
When you’re shopping around for a mailing list that fits your targeted customers, consider these three types:
- Speciality. You can identify your target audience. Some examples: the female buyers of a facial beauty product, or people that bought tickets to travel to a foreign country.
- Custom. Select specific customer information that meets your needs, like age, distance from a location, income, occupation, etc. Find customers that are like your ideal current customers.
- Cloned. Find customers that are similar to your best customers.
There are many ways to find new customers, but one of the most straightforward is to use a contact form on your website. With this form, you can automatically add potential customers to existing lists by asking for as much or as little information as you need. A general recommendation is to keep the form simple, however. The less information you ask for, the higher the conversion rate. By reducing a form from four fields to three, you could see a 50% increase in conversions.
Decide What Type of Direct Mail Piece You Will Use
Standard letter? Oversized envelope? Flat mailer? Research from the Data and Marketing Association says the response rate is higher for oversized envelopes, but you’ll need to determine what’s right for your business based on:
- Type of product or service
- Target market
You want something that’s effective, of course, but you also have to be able to afford it. If you go with an oversized envelope or catalog, you may get a better result, but you’ll also spend more as these options tend to be more expensive to design, print, and ship.
Another thing to take into consideration is the content. If it’s of a serious nature (like life insurance), a standard letter might be more appropriate. If it’s something more fun, a colorful postcard might do the trick.
And always consider your target market. Current customers won’t need as much information about your company as new ones, so think about the needs of the recipients.
Write Direct Mail Copy That Converts
Attention. Begin by capturing the reader’s attention, typically with an image that’s relevant to your message. People tend to be visual beings, so an appealing photo or image is a good place to start.
Interest. Grab your reader’s attention with a brief (around 65 characters), irresistible headline. This is where you identify their problem and provide your solution. People usually scan a page full of information, so make the headline stand out.
Desire. Now it’s time to sell. Don’t get wordy with a list of features, but share the benefits of your product or service. And remember to use empathy. Put yourself in the client’s shoes and explain how they would benefit from your product or service as a solution.
Action. Finally, focus on getting the reader to react. What do you want them to do? Lead them to this next step in no uncertain terms.
If you don’t have the staff to create the letter in-house—and you don’t feel comfortable doing the writing yourself—hire a qualified freelance copywriter to manage your message for you.
Get Recipients to Open the Letter
The biggest obstacle in getting a reaction to your mailing is to get the recipient to open the letter in the first place. Is it an “if you build it they will come” situation? Not likely. Your message is moot if they don’t read it. So you need to work to get them to open your mailing. Here are a few helpful tips to “get in the door,” so to speak.
- Try a convincing handwritten font for signatures, personalized notes, and for the mailing and return addresses on the outside of the envelope. Studies show that a handwritten font elicits a higher response with direct mail, so use it to your advantage.
- Use a real stamp, not a permit or metered stamp. A real stamp makes bulk mail look more personal, like first-class mail. And research shows it has a higher open rate, too. A high-volume mailing service like MSP will help you get the look—and the results—you desire.
- Consider a windowed envelope. If you don’t go with a handwritten font, an envelope with a window will save you from printing the address on the outside of the envelope. It also offers a preview of what’s inside.
- Send a self-mailer like a postcard, brochure, or catalog because the recipient won’t need to open an envelope. With this option, you’ve already cleared a big hurdle in the direct mail process. Plus, with an attractive design, you’ll immediately draw the recipient to your content. And just like copywriting, it’s best to hire someone with the skills to create an eye-popping design.
Use a Multi-Channel Approach
To get the most out of your direct mail campaign, consider adding a digital component. Send an e-mail telling the recipient to keep an eye on their mailbox in the coming days or weeks. This kind of integrated effort is especially effective when you keep the brand’s image, tone, and customer experience consistent.
It’s important that your marketing materials, website, etc. are identifiable as yours.
This is where an omni-channel approach comes in. There could be many different ways to communicate with your business (physical store, telephone, website or mobile app, social media, catalog, etc.). And there are a variety of devices used to access your information (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone). So, be sure you’re giving the customer a consistent and complementary experience.
Your point-of-sale displays and your latest direct mail campaign need to work hand-in-hand with your email and social media efforts. Your marketing should influence consumers everywhere they interact with your brand.
Repetition in Marketing Works
You’ll need to create more than one mailing if you want to achieve your best results. Just like other methods of advertising, repetition maximizes a campaign’s effectiveness. Sure, your recipient might like your first mailing, but when you consistently send that message, you increase your chances of gaining a new customer.
The “Rule of 7” (in marketing circles) states that a sales prospect needs to experience an advertiser’s message at least seven times before they’ll take action to buy that product or service. This theory began in the movie industry back in the 1930s and it’s still viable today. In fact, you might need to interact with a prospect more than seven times with so much competition in both the physical and digital worlds.
Measure Your Marketing Results
Before you can determine if your direct mail campaign was a success or failure, you need to know how your mailing performed. One of the best things about direct mail is the ease with which you can monitor your mailing. So here are a few tips to help you track and measure your campaign’s results.
- Whatever point of contact you use on your direct mailing, be sure it’s unique and trackable. You could use a dedicated telephone number (or call-tracking software), campaign-specific URL, coupon code, or QR code to determine who’s responding.
- To figure your response rate, simply divide the number of responses by the pieces sent. The Direct Marketing Association estimates about a 2.9% to 5.1% response rate, depending on the type of list used.
- To figure your conversion (order) rate, divide the number of orders by responses.
Of course, if you enlist a high volume mailing service like MSP, these numbers will be calculated for you. Together with BlueSky ETO, the development and workflow automation arm of MSP, your campaign will have the attention to detail it deserves.
Find a Direct Mail Service That Serves Your Needs
MSP can help you make the most of your next direct mail program. MSP offers direct mail services that include printing, mailing, and web-based marketing portals—all with competitive rates to match your budget.