5 Ways You Can Make Direct Mail Marketing Work for You

It may not be the most glamorous or innovative form of advertising, but direct mail marketing can be effective if you use it properly.
January 15, 2018

Direct mail marketing certainly isn't some flashy strategy to round up new customers, but that doesn't mean there's nothing left for you to learn. 

In fact, now may be the perfect time to refine your direct mail marketing game. As more and more focus shifts to email and social media marketing, good old snail mail can help set you apart from the crowd.

But you should make sure you get it right. Here are some of my strategies:

1. Track and evaluate your results.

In my opinion, you should always do this. Pouring a bunch of money into a direct mail marketing campaign doesn't make much sense if you're not going to evaluate it.

I've learned that I can't simply trust my gut instinct about whether a new marketing initiative is working, and the best part is that I don't have to! I rely on the numbers to tell me how we're doing. Consider calculating the ROI for your marketing efforts to make sure it's money well spent.

2. Use split testing.

Here's a little secret: No one has all the marketing answers. Even if you hire the very best marketing firm to create, launch and evaluate your direct mail marketing efforts, some parts of the process will involve making an educated guess.

Focus on offers that are designed for your audience, with language that will appeal to them. Generic mailers will most likely end up in the trash.

Which addresses should you target? What font should you use? Should the call to action be as brief as possible, or would it be better to outline the series of steps you want prospects to take?

When it comes down to it, there's no sure thing. That's why split testing, also known as A/B testing, can be so powerful. Send two versions of your mailer, one in each of the two fonts or call to actions you're considering. Track the results, and you'll have your answer. When you feel like a decision is really a toss-up, split testing can provide your definitive answer.

3. Be direct.

Attention spans are short. When 280-character tweets are used by everyone from the President to major corporations as a primary means of sharing information, the chances of a prospective customer spending an enormous amount of time reading your direct mailer are slim.

Be concise about what your company offers, and tell prospects what you want them to do. Do you want them to stop in your restaurant? Call to make an appointment for a consultation? Visit your website to use a special discount code? Tell 'em what you want, no bones about it. Direct mail marketing should be, well, direct!

4. Choose your prospects wisely.

Whether you invest in purchasing a list of addresses or you create an offer tailored specifically to residents of a new neighborhood, it's important that you make sure your direct mail gets into the right hands.

Since there are real costs associated with direct mail marketing, you want to spend those dollars wisely. Take the time to investigate things like median income in areas you're considering targeting. Focus on offers that are designed for your audience, with language that will appeal to them. Generic mailers will most likely end up in the trash. Remember: You want to grab your recipients' attention!

5. Be unique.

Think about finding some way to distinguish yourself from all of your competition. You could:

  • send out a plastic mailer with a detachable gift card for use on a prospect's first visit,
  • create a limited-time-only discount code for first-time customers of your web-based business or
  • mail useful physical objects (pens, magnets or chip clips) emblazoned with your logo.

Because the worst outcome of direct mail marketing is that it lands in the trash, unread, try to find a way to pique your prospects' curiosity. Maybe it's as simple as a joke on the envelope, with the punchline inside. Maybe they put your pen in their car and the magnet goes on the fridge. Or maybe they tuck the $5 gift card into their wallet. If you can get people to take action, you're almost there. Prospects who take that first step toward becoming your customer stand a good chance of taking that next step. 

I've read articles that claim direct mail marketing is dead, that it's irrelevant in the digital age. But I vigorously disagree. It's because everything is digital that snail mail matters more than ever. Yes, there are real costs to direct marketing. But if you spend those marketing dollars wisely, you may be able to round up new clients thanks to your efforts.

Read more articles on advertising.

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