7 Tips for Better Direct Mail
If you’re looking for a multichannel lift, consider adding direct mail to your marketing mix.
“People don’t throw out the mail—everyone is trying to find a way to use it as part of a multichannel campaign,” says John Sisson, president, HBT Inc.
Marketers who are utilizing direct mail are getting more clever about who they mail to, says Sisson. “Acquisition is happening more effectively, because data has gotten better—marketers are building models based on their own best clients and overlaying data to create segments of the folks who are the best fit based on response or lifetime value.
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“As we become more and more addicted to smart phones, it can be a nice departure to look at mail,” says Grant Johnson, chief measurable marketing officer, Responsory, noting etailers like Amazon are turning to direct mail to create awareness and response around key times like the holidays. And while Starbucks loyalty program is heavily powered by its mobile app, the company still sends physical cards to members at certain status levels, to make them feel special.
“With the oversaturation of electronic channels, better production capabilities and rise in automation, everyone is getting back on the direct mail bandwagon and trying it in different ways,” says Johnson.
“From a haptic standpoint, direct mail is more memorable, because you’re able to immerse yourself in the content because its tactile,” agrees Lianne Wade, vice president, marketing, Universal Wilde, noting that new tactics such as UV inks, lenticular printing and 3-D pop-ups are offering new creative opportunities.
Here are seven tips for getting noticed in the mailbox:
Make it multichannel: Direct mail works well when it tied to other triggers, such as an email alerting recipients to watch their physical mailbox, and then another email after the direct mail piece drops, all with alignment in the call to action to drive people to the same place.
“Think about what you are trying to sell and who is your customer,” says Wade. “What is the value of your relationship and how does it fit into other channels? We’ve had success sending warm-up emails to let people know a package is coming, so they’ll pay attention [when it arrives].”
“Sending one direct mail piece is not a campaign—you want to have multiple touches to engage [prospects,] because you know your audience isn’t paying attention to just one channel,” says Sisson.
Be on target: Segment your audience to make sure your message is on target, and use personalization, but make sure you get it right. “I once got a mailing for ‘John R. Sisson,’ which is great, except that my middle name is Edward. Maybe I was in the right segment, but they showed me upfront that their data wasn’t good.
“People expect personalization today, and if your data is bad, that can do more damage than benefit,” adds Wade.
It’s about the customer: Your creative should be about the customer and not the company. Customers want the focus on communications to be on them and not what you’re selling, says Sisson.
Try different formats: Test different package sizes, colors and textures. “If [your mailing] is a number 10 envelope and white with a window, then it’s just like everything else,” says Sisson. Copy changes are also easy and essential to test, notes Johnson, and can help create effective control packages.
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Know your vertical: Different markets respond to different types of creative approaches. In financial marketing, for example, “official” looking mailers get more opens than anything looking promotional. Know what your audience wants to see.
Make it measurable: Having a way to track response—such as a URL, QR code, dedicated 800 number or some other form of personalization.
Get the data right: “Make sure your data is pristine and that you’re targeting the right people,” says Johnson. “The list is the most important thing.” A digital test before you roll out a direct mail initiative can help insure that you’re targeting the right demographic with the right product, to see if there is a true affinity.
This article was originally published in April 2018 and is frequently updated.