The Brain Storm

June 2, 2010

Direct Mail is Here to Stay!
5 Tips to Improve Your Campaigns

As many preach that direct mail is going the way of the dinosaurs, we'd like to take some time to share why we know direct mail is still one of the most effective promotional tactics when done correctly. Before you put a stamp on another campaign, consider these tips for improving your response rates.

Tip #1 - Always personalize

We all love cards, invitations and thank you notes from friends and family. They make us feel special and feel like extra effort went in compared to receiving an email. Direct mail campaigns work the best if they respect the recipient's time and make them feel like it was specifically meant for them. Customized messages means more than a name merged into the salutation line. The whole piece should reference your company's relationship with the recipient. Detailed data collection will offer you greater list segmentation capabilities that will drive up your response rates.

Existing and previous customers are 300% more likely
to respond versus prospects.

Tip #2 - Your lists need constant grooming

Businesses that develop their mailing list as they grow have a much greater advantage over those that rent information. Data collection and list grooming can feel like a daunting task, but it is the key to achieving the best results. Noting information like birthday, type of purchase and last visit are great information pieces to segment your list by and wrap your messaging around. If your customers feel like you know who they are, recognize their needs and cater to their needs they will be more loyal. Think of your direct mail as another level of customer service.

After 5 mailings, prospects that still haven't responded should be
shifted to a non-mail outreach list.

Tip #3 - Devise unique messaging per segment

Yes... this means more work but leads to much higher response rates. Devise unique messaging by segment utilizing multiple variables from your database. When you send one mass message you run the risk of offending your recipient if they feel it doesn't apply. To gain the benefit of larger print runs, develop a mailer that can be sent at any time to your key groups. This way you can print the maximum amount and release your mailing at the right time for each list.

Only 20% of your response rate is attributable to creative. The
other 80% is from list and offer.

Tip #4 - Always include an offer, never an offload

Your direct mail should always include an offer that fulfills a perceived need, is practical, is unique, is appropriate given the segment and has a clear connection to your brand. Offers that sound too rich can stifle the response or attract the wrong customer type. Make sure the offer is the most clear and concise part of your communication. Do not include offers with limitations. Never send out an offer that no one wants. If your promotion is an attempt to offload something, this sends the wrong message to your customers.

Don't use window envelopes.
People automatically assume it is a bill.

Tip #5 - Ask your mailing

Your mailing must clearly answer why, why, what, what.

Layout out your creative with the proposed copy and ask yourself if you received it, does it immediately answer the following four questions:

- Why am I receiving this?
- Why should I look at it now?
- What's in it for me?
- What should I do now?

The job of your direct mail piece is to communicate these points quickly and clearly. If it doesn't, rework it until it does. Never settle and don't let your team settle until it works.

Fund raising direct mail efforts tend to have the highest response in
November, September and February.

Bonus Tip - Always test and remail

Before committing to a particular direct mail campaign for a full cycle, make sure you know it is an effective piece. Divide each segment and test different creative, copy and even format. You'll know within the first 10 days of the hit which was the winner. Use the winning creative to create a follow-up version and rehit within 6 weeks of the initial piece. A typical response rate is 0.5%-1.9%. Anything 2% or greater is a real winner.

Within 45 days, 92% of your respondents
will have acted on the offer.

Need help with your upcoming campaign? We offer expert creative and campaign management services to help you get the most out of every mailing. Contact us for a free quote.


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