If you’re a marketer creating your 2015 budget, have you included one or more direct mail campaigns for the year? Some companies worry about spending on direct mail, knowing that its cost can be higher than email or other electronic forms of marketing, but is effectiveness in reaching the target audience, garnering a response and cutting through the clutter of email marketing can’t be underestimated.

In fact, some marketers, such as retailers, are seeing dramatically higher response to their direct mail than they did in the 1980s, probably because the direct mail marketplace is less cluttered. If you’re considering including direct mail in your 2015 budget, but aren’t sure about whether it’s a good investment, consider these stats:

  • An International Communications Research survey found that 73% of consumers prefer mail to other direct advertising methods. (Source)
  • 40% of consumers try new businesses after receiving direct mail. (Source)
  • For every $167 US advertisers spend on direct mail, they see a return of $2,095. (Source)

Direct mail is an important part of the marketing mix for many of our clients, but doing a campaign RIGHT is essential to success. Having done thousands of direct mail campaigns of all sizes and budgets for our clients over the years, here are the elements required for a successful direct mail campaign.

Create Meaningful Content

The rules for direct mail content are no different than those for your email or blog: make it useful and desirable. Deliver what your target market wants when they want it. Create compelling content to deliver right to their door because the first step is getting your potential customer to open the mail with the promise that it’s something that they can use. Direct mail has a big visual benefit over email marketing, where you only have a subject line to attract attention. Get creative with the way your direct mail piece looks, ensuring it stands out in the pile of mail your target is receiving.

Target Your Recipients

Careful targeting of your direct mail campaign helps to ensure that every dollar is well-spent. You can purchase lists that target very specific demographic information, or simply use the US Post Office’s Every Door Direct Mail service. EDDM allows you to target specific ZIP codes, neighborhoods and even specific carrier routes based on the demographics or geography you want to reach. Ensuring that your mail is reaching the right target audience requires planning, but it ensures your budget is effective and your campaign gets a good return.

Provide a Compelling Call-to-Action

A piece of mail is no good unless you’re motivating the recipient to act. To do so, you need to create a compelling call-to-action (CTA)–typically some kind of offer. Whether that’s a discount on services, a free gift, an event or some other appealing opportunity, the CTA should be prominently displayed on the mail piece. You’ll also want easy response mechanisms–and possibly several of them. Driving customers to a custom website landing page to claim the offer is one way to continue your relationship with them; you can also provide a phone number or a coupon that they need to redeem on-site. An integrated effort that combines multiple media types, like a direct mail piece and an online campaign with landing pages and email follow-ups, is a fantastic way to increase your sell-through rate.

Follow Up

Great follow-up on your leads is essential to capitalize on your campaign. When a lead responds to your CTA, ensure there’s a process in place to follow up with the client. Whether that’s a sales call, a series of follow-up emails or an in-person consultation, ensure you close the loop on the sales cycle. Set a timeline for response and expect a heavier-than-normal amount of leads directly after your direct mail campaign so you can resource plan effectively.

Track & Report

Like anything else, you’ll get better at direct mail the more you do it. Ensure you have a mechanism to track and report your leads and sales resulting from direct mail. Great ways to do this include website landing pages, coupon codes or in-store coupons, all of which essentially attach a tag to the sale or customer that indicates they’ve come from your direct mail. Because direct mail originates offline, it can be more difficult to track than the website or email leads you’re used to, so be sure to plan for this in advance.

Ready to create your direct mail campaign? We’ve got resources at Ambit that can help and are offering a FREE 30-minute consultation to get you started and answer all your burning direct mail questions. Direct mail is a big investment; our consultation helps to ensure that you’ve thought through all the logistics and are spending your budget wisely! Contact peter@ambitcreativegroup.com to schedule your session.

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