The most important part of your direct mail campaign is your call-to-action. Customers have to have a way of getting in touch with you easily or the entire campaign is an expensive academic experiment. You need to find a way to motivate them to get more information, buy now or schedule an appointment. Every response method is different, and more are evolving all the time, but here are the major ways customers respond to direct mail campaigns—and when to use each one.
We’ve talked about objectives, we’ve talked about lists. Now let’s focus on the importance of great messaging in your direct mail marketing. Do you have a piece of marketing material lying around? Anything will do, a brochure, a direct mail piece, even your website. Go through and count how many times you use your company’s names or words like “I,” “we” and “our.” Now repeat the process with the words “you” and “your.” Which one is there more of?
Every day, more than 144 billion (yes, billion with a b) emails are sent. Of those, an incredibly high number are marketing emails, all trying to get you to CLICK HERE and BUY RIGHT NOW! Every day, more and more of these emails bombard potential customers.
As other methods of delivering marketing messages, like direct mail, continue to shift, more people will likely turn to email to tell their stories. “No Saturday mail?” they think, “I’ll just send an email on Saturday instead.” It sounds like a great idea when it’s just one company is doing it, but you’re not marketing in a vacuum. At any given time, other companies have the same idea and are trying to deliver the same message in the same way.
Go to your mailbox and look at the day’s direct mail offerings. You’re going to find all sorts of different marketing strategies on display. Some of the mailings will be from companies you already do business with, urging you to buy more. Others will be with companies you’ve never heard of. You’ll see postcards and letters, catalogs and brochures. You’ll see lurid, screaming headlines typed in all caps and discrete, tasteful envelopes with important-looking windows in the front, like they might hold checks or important secrets. You’ll see letters stuffed full of copy and minimalist mailings.
Every one of them could be a success.
People try to find the magic bullet to direct mail marketing, as if there’s only one strategy that works. But the truth is, the only direct mail marketing strategy that matters is the one that works for you. Sure, there are some general best practices and principles that should always be followed. There are laws that need to be obeyed, too. But in general, you don’t need to pay too much attention to what the rest of the crowd is doing. All you need to do is test, adjust and keep your eye on your own endgame.
This is, as we always say, where testing comes in. Because every customer target is different, every marketing technique is going to come across differently to them. It’s not enough to simply look at what you like in your direct mail inbox, unless you happen to fall into the same demographic as your customer. But even then, don’t let your own pre-loaded biases guide your marketing ship. It should be guided by impartial logic and a commitment to always improving and finding more ways to sell.
Should you be looking at what your competitors are doing? Yes. Should you be borrowing inspiration where you can? Absolutely. But only worry about what you’re doing and how many people are responding to your calls to action. Everything else is just noise.
Need help figuring out what the right direct mail marketing strategy is for you? Contact Premier Advantage Marketing, a direct marketing company. We’ll help you tune out the noise and focus on success.
Sometimes, even the best-laid direct mail marketing campaigns can fall flat. But wait—were they really that well-laid? If your direct mail efforts haven’t been getting the returns you want, here’s how to start figuring out where it went wrong:
- Wrong list. Your direct mail success starts and ends with the strength of your mailing list. Without a good mailing list, the most brilliant campaign in the world is doomed to failure. Maybe you purchased a list that hadn’t been properly cleaned and wasted time sending to people not at that address. Maybe you simply targeted the wrong group of people or cast too wide or too narrow a net. Whatever happened, you didn’t get your message in the hands of the right people.
- Right list, wrong message. On the other hand, maybe you mailed to a carefully chosen list of demographically and psychographically attractive prospects and scrubbed that list with the greatest care and you’re still hearing crickets. In that case, you need to consider that you sent the wrong message to the right people. When you were selecting those likely prospects, did you stop and consider what really matters to them? Did you focus on stability and security for Baby Boomers? Did you not give enough information about your new insurance program? There was some disconnect in your messaging between the people you wanted to reach and the way you reached them. Back to the drawing board.
- Wrong time. Maybe your message was exactly right and delivered to precisely the right people—at just the wrong moment. Maybe you were pitching mortgages just after the 2008 housing meltdown or maybe you were trying to sell snow shovels in July. You miscalculated the timing, either because of the calendar or because of external events, and as a result, your mailing was ignored.
- No call to action. Maybe the message was all right, delivered to your exquisitely clean list at the perfect moment. People looked at your letter or postcard with rhapsodic joy…and put it aside because it didn’t tell them what to do next. You didn’t give them a clue about what they were supposed to buy, who they were supposed to call or why they were supposed to care. It doesn’t matter how right the rest of the pieces of your campaign are if no one understands how they’re supposed to respond.
The good thing about all these problems is that they’re solvable. All it takes is a slight adjustment of strategy, a little change in the way you approach direct mail marketing, and you’re back in business. Need help finding out what went wrong with your marketing? Contact Premier Advantage Marketing, a direct marketing agency. We’ll help you untangle it all and make sure every part of your marketing is working together in perfect accord.
Cutting-edge social media and classic direct mail marketing don’t have anything in common—or do they? Believe it or not, direct mail and social media can both work together to feed and strengthen one another.
Even if you’re selling products and services aimed at a more senior market, like reverse mortgages or Medicare insurance supplements, chances are they’re on social media. 57% of adults over 50 use social media, while 38% of those over 65 are making use of Facebook, Twitter and other social websites. That number is set to explode in the future, so smart companies will start laying their social networking foundation today.
Stop! Don’t send that direct mail campaign yet!
Whew. Crisis averted. Before you send out a single piece of direct mail, you’ve got one big, important question to answer: Why are you doing this? Your immediate answer is probably that you want to make more money. While that should be your end goal, that’s too big picture. You need to ask, why am I sending this particular piece of direct mail? Answers might include:
There’s a lot more to sending a direct mail campaign than designing the pieces and getting the lists in order. Those pieces of the puzzle are important, but there’s an often-overlooked human element to direct mail marketing you can’t afford to ignore.
On any good mailer, there is a call to action of some kind. It might be encouraging people to go to your website, send a return mailer, come to your location or call a phone number. Whatever you’re asking people to do, someone needs to be able to respond to their request.
Once at a networking event, I was handed a business card. Well, a business scrap. It was a person’s contact information on a sheet of regular printer paper and cut into a card shape. The second I tried to put it into my card case, it crumpled like, well, a sheet of printer paper.
Some people will say that “card” was better than nothing, but I disagree. Sometimes, a sloppy showing is worse than no showing at all. It was true for that particular networker, and it’s true of your direct mail.
Many people only send direct mail when they have some kind of a sale or special. It’s not a mystery why: People love sales. When your business needs a quick shot in the arm, it’s an easy answer to say you’ll send out a mailer offering 10% off services or a buy-one-get-one free deal when you buy right now. It’s also easy to track the ROI on these kinds of mailers—either people redeemed the special offer or they didn’t. Cut and dried and easy to calculate.
But there are times when offering a discount or sale in your direct mail isn’t what you want. If you send these mailers too often, people come to expect them. They only buy from you when there’s a sale. That means you’re spending money on a direct mail campaign that offers services at a reduced price. In between the mailings, sales go limp. In the long run, that’s not a sustainable business model. You have to give people reasons to buy even with goods and services and marked at full price.