Pushing the Envelope: 10 Tips for Direct Mail Success

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

direct mailDirect mail is making something of a comeback of late, as savvy brands realize that the lack of competition in the mailbox presents a great opportunity for marketers who get it right.

Consider these 10 tips for integrating this old school tactic into your modern marketing strategy.

1- Watch the digital signals. Digital data can be used to enhance a brand’s existing direct mail lists, clueing companies in to prospects’ intent, notes Lewis Gersh, CEO of Pebblepost. Traditionally, marketers considered RFM—recency, frequency and monetary value—when looking at leads. Digital data can give valuable insights into the R and F of that equation.

2- Take advantage of variable printing. Many marketers that use direct mail for retargeting often preprint the shells of their mailers and then customize those pieces for every prospect with different messaging, content and images. The days of printing thousands of pieces at once are gone, notes Ashley Jorgensen, marketing director, Mailing. com. “Each piece can be unique and different.”

3- Get personal. Personalize your mailings as much as possible. “The more you can customize something, the better it will perform,” notes Gordon Brott, founder of Gordon Brott Growth Marketing. Customization will boost the relationship building potential of mail in an account based marketing strategy, increasing a recipient’s excitement when they receive a piece. “The potential is mind boggling,” he says.

4- Direct mail doesn’t stand alone. When factoring your ROI, consider how it fits into your overall marketing scheme, notes Daniel Gaugler, CMO of PFL. Does the overall spend make sense? Is a direct mail touch boosting your overall average order size? Do customers who receive mail have an overall higher response rate? “What is the value of the deals with a direct mail touch, versus those without?”

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5- Matchback to see your real results. Want to know how your campaign really performed? Do a matchback against a holdout group, suggests Dave Smith, CEO and founder of Incremental Media and a featured speaker at LeadsCon Las Vegas, March 4-6. For example, mail 25,000 in your target group and compare results against another control group of 25,000 who did not receive the postcard. The matchback is critical—after all, even if you use a variable URL, recipients often won’t use it, opting to just search your brand on Google or just type in your generic URL. “We’re always blown away by the higher response of those who received a postcard,” he says.

6- In B2B, don’t be afraid to go big. Dimensional direct mail featuring premiums can be very effective to get B2B decision makers’ attention, so get creative to stand out from the crowd, notes Gaugler. When used properly, swag can help a brand illustrate their brand proposition. For example, one software firm included a pen and a calculator to help prospects calculate the ROI of using—or not using— their solution. ‘The pieces weren’t expensive, but coupled with messaging it helped people find out how much they might be missing out,” he says.

7- Watch the competition. Direct mail doesn’t make sense for every brand in every vertical. “Consider if there are others in your industry that have been using direct mail for a long-time,” says Brott. “If so, there might be something there.” Look at your sales funnel, the cost per acquisition and be realistic.

8- Include a clear call to action. Make sure your recipient knows exactly what the next step is after they open and read the piece, says Naomi David, marketing manager, demand gen, at Walker Sands. Everything in your piece—from the personalization to any premiums—should have meaning and tie in to your overall message. And, she adds, “keep it consistent across all channels.”

9- Create a cohesive plan for attribution. Know exactly how you’ll gauge the impact of direct mail. Many people simply won’t go to the campaign’s dedicated landing page, no matter how much you want them to, says Brott. Layer in a second level of attribution criteria. For example, monitor the search volume on your main website. Or, do surveys with new prospects and ask them how they heard about you. “Put in together in context with other marketing, and see if it has a halo effect.”

 10- Let data take the lead. Sure, pretty is great. But in direct mail, pretty doesn’t always matter. Let the data lead the way and have the creative follow, says Brott. “One of the interesting things about the direct mail world is what works best may not always look best. People are naturally attracted to the creative but many will argue that creative is the least important piece of the puzzle. [Finding the right] list and choosing who to mail to may not be as sexy, but they’re as important.”


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