Direct mail can be one of the most effective tools in your marketing arsenal – even with all the emphasis on digital marketing. For many small businesses, it generates one of the highest returns on both time and money. So here’s a few tips to get more from your direct mail efforts.
10 Tips to Make Direct Mail Effective
Target Your Mailings – Very Specifically. Direct mail works when the headline, copy and offers are compelling to the people you want to reach. You can’t create compelling messages with broad targets. Small subgroups with unique needs allow you to demonstrate value and talk their language which is a key to getting the actions you want. So think smaller to get bigger results.
Don’t Limit Direct Mail to Postcards. Letters and flyers allow you to provide more information or tell a better story. So ignore the myth that short and sweet is always the way to go. Break up the copy with sub-headlines for easy scanning. And use a PS in your marketing piece. It’s the most read copy in any direct mail.
Give People a Reason to Act. Give people a reason to act – call, visit website, stop by your location. An offer does not need to be expensive, it just needs to be compelling for your audience. Here’s a few to consider: samples, money-back guarantee, free trial, coupon, money refund, special deal or savings, a guarantee of service, unique reward or widget, or free information or help. Get creative and remember, include an expiration date to create a sense of urgency.
Include a Compelling Headline. It’s important to grab their attention. Whether you use a letter, postcard or flyer, the headline encourages them to read more. Make the headline ‘speak to them’ – another reason for a clear target! And remember, your company name is not a headline!
Don’t Gloss Over the Copy. This is one of the most important parts of your direct mail piece so make it powerful. Highlight benefits, not features. Use bullets or short segments of information. Use sub-headlines with longer copy. Use questions to identify problems, then, demonstrate how you solve them. Write like you speak, conversationally. Minimize buzz-words and jargon. Support claims and be credible.
Have a Clear Call to Action. Don’t assume your prospect knows what you want them to do. Be clear about it. If you want them to call, say so. You can also include the call to action upfront, in the middle, and at the end — or any combination.
Use a Good Mailing List. The best direct mail piece won’t attract new customers if the mailing list is not accurate or up-to-date. You can purchase a targeted mailing list, based on your criteria. Your local library is also a good source as many of them offer free access to a database of businesses and individual consumers or households.
Make It Personal. Mailing labels, meter postage, and non-personalized envelopes reduce open rates on direct mail, especially when mailing to businesses. Always personalize it with the name, use ‘handwriting’ fonts or hand write the information and place a postage stamp on it. Include your return address but consider replacing your company name with your name for a more personal look. It may cost a little more and take more time, but is often offset by increased open rates.
Start Small. If using a new direct mail piece, try it out on a smaller sample before doing large mailings. This allows you to test the effectiveness and modify if needed. If your piece has already proven to be successful, (it generates viable leads) then systematize it and send out a pre-set quantity each week or month to create a continuous flow of new leads.
Do Track Results. The only way you will know what works and doesn’t is by tracking the results. How many pieces did you mail? How many responses did you get? There are a lot of methods for tracking results, but the easiest and most effective way is to get in the habit of always asking people how they heard of you (or what made them contact you).
Finally, remember this simple rule when it comes to direct mail and all marketing strategies. If it works, keep doing it. I am surprised at how often small business owners replace or change a marketing piece because they get bored with it. They assume their prospects and customers do too. The time to ‘change’ or re-think your marketing is when it stops working – meaning it no longer generates quality leads and a return on investment for you.
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