Direct mail marketing is becoming increasingly tricky because of post office woes and the amount of “junk mail” (perception is everything) that people are already receiving. Like those random e-newsletters people receive, many direct mail pieces are simply glanced at and then thrown away. Because of that, many marketers now shy away from direct mail, believing that it is not the smartest way to market a product, company or service in the 21st century. In fact, direct mail can still be a powerful tool in your marketing toolbox, but like with everything else we’ve talked about so far in this series, you need to approach your direct mail campaign with objectives, careful thought into how you will get your message across, and a few fundamentals. Here are some tips we’ve come up with for you.

1. Make sure you are sending to a targeted audience

Unlike print advertising, a more targeted approach of advertising is direct mail. There are a lot of ways to narrow down to whom you are going to send your direct mail. Many publications offer list rentals, and the circulation of that publication can be broken down in all kinds of ways ranging from geographical location to job title. There are list houses from whom you can buy a list, which is advantageous because that means you can mail to the list more than once (a rented list usually does not allow for that option). You can also send a direct mail piece to your existing database of customers and/or prospects. Because postage and printing can be expensive, strategizing how you will use your direct mail piece over an entire year can be advantageous. That way you can target different groups of people and print the full quantity you will need at one time.

2. Offer an incentive to the recipient for not trashing the piece

One of the most successful direct mail efforts we’ve conducted involved a survey sent with a dollar bill. While we got a couple of quips back about how a dollar couldn’t buy anything, the overall response rate was extremely high (over 40%, which is well above average for a direct mail effort). Another successful effort was to incentivize a response to a survey card by noting all recipients would be entered into a drawing. There are countless ways to inspire people to look a little further. The right kind of message, an out-of-the-box approach, a simple incentive like a dollar bill, or a more complex give-away that will grab attention all are great ways to make sure your direct mail piece has some staying power.

3. Make it interactive

Direct mail, like your e-newsletter or your ad, no longer needs to be a one-way path for communication. Invite recipients to engage with you. There are, again, numerous ways to do this, and a truly integrated campaign can afford you the opportunity to use different channels to support each other. For example, your direct mail piece could entice people to join your Facebook page. If they join and use a code included in the direct mail piece, they get entered into a drawing at the next trade show. That’s a complex example, but on a more basic scale, using QR codes to link to videos or to a live introduction from someone at your company can enrich what used to be a very two-dimensional marketing tactic. An interactive direct mail piece means a memorable direct mail piece, and memorable is a key to direct mail success.

4. Be aware of postal guidelines

Of course, if your piece doesn’t meet postal regulations, it doesn’t matter how fantastic it is. Understanding where postage indicias should go, where the margins are for content on a mailer, and many other details are often overlooked but entirely essential. If you have questions, bring a mock-up of your piece to your post office and make sure everything meets postal requirements. Better to take some time before sending rather than sending thousands of pieces only to realize they will never find their destination.

5. Make sure you measure

Yep, it’s no surprise – measurement rears its head once again. In the case of direct mail, the easiest way to begin to measure the success of your campaign is to incorporate a response mechanism into the concept. If people respond then you at least know that your piece was seen and that the recipient took enough time to actually engage with your message. A respondent doesn’t necessarily qualify as a lead, however, especially if the person is responding to a survey. Lead respondents further into your sales funnel. Invite them to join your page where potential leads can be nurtured. Invite respondents to a special landing page that includes an RFQ form or a sample request form. See if the respondents are willing to take that next step and nurture them from there.

Postage and printing costs, along with any incentives, can make a direct mail campaign seem intimidating. However, if you approach the process with a lot of thought, clear objectives, and several ways to both nurture leads and measure the effectiveness of the campaign, your company can realize many benefits.

Have any questions? Looking for more ideas for 2013? Just leave us a comment and let us know!

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