Direct Mail Tips: Length, Timing and Segmentation Matters

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

While shorter may be better for tweets and email subject lines, in direct mail, “the more you tell, the more you sell” is still the mantra for many marketers, says Craig Simpson, owner of Simpson Direct.

“When you get someone captive and reading your piece and you’re one on one, you have a chance to tell your story and connect with the prospect,” says Simpson, co-author of The Direct Mail Solution. “It’s just you and them, I’ve found when we increase copy length we increase response.”

People who really want to buy and are your best prospects will take time to read a longer mailing piece, he notes. The fact that direct mail volume is down can work in mailers’ favor, because there is less completion in the mailbox. There are more targeted lists available, and mailers are spending more on their packages, leading to rising response rates in many cases.

“There  is more data available, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t be segmenting your list and the files you rent,” Simpson says. “Direct mail campaigns often fail because people are mailing to the wrong segments.”

When creating your offer, also make sure that your copy and design fit with your target audience. “Make sure that your pitch resonates with your audience,” he says. “And don’t make your offer or call to action too complicated. Don’t go overboard on the variables instead of showcasing the one thing you want a prospect to do.”

Timing is also essential for direct mail, says Simpson. “I have a client who markets to farmers—they can’t mail during harvest season, they need to mail in the off season. And if you want to get CPAs to go to a seminar, don’t mail around the holidays.”

Marketers need to remember, of course, that a multichannel approach is the best, taking into account the long term value of the customer. “Everything works together,” says Simpson. “That’s when you’ll see the highest response. Consider not just the initial sale  but what they will do in the next three months, six months or year to come.”



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