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Is direct mail worth it?
By Paul Bridson
TWENTY YEARS ago we were designing and implementing direct mail campaigns so often we were dreaming about it in our sleep. With the advent of electronic advertising, direct mail fell by the wayside.
Now nearly every business has some sort of e-marketing program in place — either e-mail, banner advertising, Google Adwords, Facebook or others. As a result many companies have forgotten completely about direct mail. So the question is — is it worth another look?
Think about your mailbox these days. It's nowhere nearly as cluttered as it was ten years ago.
Now think about what you email inbox looks like. Yikes!
The flight from direct mail is your best excuse to use it now. A well-designed campaign will receive more attention than it has for decades because it has so little to compete against. The positives of direct mail are still valid:
So how do you do it right?
Great databases make great campaigns
Make sure that your database is clean, sorted and with good recency (you've communicated with them within the last year). If you've been sorting your clients and prospects by interest, consider how printing custom, targeted messages to individual market segments might increase your success.
If you're buying a list, use a professional who lives near enough that you could potentially dope-slap them if they give you a bad list. If you really want to handle it on your own, try to stick with the biggies, like Experian or Dun and Bradstreet. Consider your targets carefully. If your target is B-to-B you may want to purchase your list sorted for things like years in business, geography or SIC code to qualify the list as much as possible.
Clean that list! Use a good mail shop and have them a) remove any duplicates. and b) send it through the National Change of Address (NCOA) registry. That way anyone who has moved recently will still get your mailing.
Have realistic expectations
Well-designed mailings with a strong offer get results, but don't expect more than between 3 and 15 percent response from existing clients or between 0.5 and 1 percent from prospects. Also, even a cleaned purchased list will likely only achieve 95% deliverability. Ask your mail shop for a postal reciept to verify how many pieces actually went out.
Use an experienced designer
Graphic designers with years of experience will be able to create a visually compelling piece with the proper word and graphic density, legibility and a built-in response vehicle. This is not the sort of job to try out an amateur.
Present a strong offer
Here's where so many companies go wrong. Making your offer truly compelling is crucial to the success of your campaign. Make sure that your offer is generous enough to generate interest and worded in a way that is instantly understandable.
For example offers have gotten a 40 percent lower response rate when they were worded “15 Percent Off” compared to an offer that said “$15 Off.” Both offers could cost the business the same amount when structured right, but one elicits a significantly higher response rate than the other.
Here's a strong offer checklist:
Measure your results
There are many ways to track the results of your campaign, including offer redemption codes, custom phone numbers, custom web landing pages and so on. Use them! Advertising without tracking is unnecessary and risky. Companies that track learn how to get results with the least expense.
Naturally, Brainstorm Marketing would love it if you considered us to help you with either direct mail or any other marketing vehicle. Contact us at:
Paul Bridson and Kelly Sargent
We've been helping companies achieve lofty goals for over twenty years now. Here's the benefit of our experience!