Direct mail presents some unique challenges compared to other marketing techniques, but also opens up some great opportunities that many other offline marketing tools don’t offer. Follow the tips below to get the most out of your campaign.
1) Start with your strongest tool
Some people save their strongest sales pitch for last, starting slow in their sales communication and hoping to build to a climatic conclusion. That’s a mistake. Your potential customer will read for five seconds before they decide whether to continue reading or discard your communication. The DM must grab your prospect’s attention immediately.
Know the “hot spots” of your direct marketing. The headline, the first couple paragraphs, the last paragraph (80% of readers look at the P. S.), and the call to action. Put your strongest selling points in those spots (Learn more about it in Chapter 5: Writing Awesome Content).
2) Combine offline and online marketing tools
If you are online, it’s always a good idea to combine your online and offline marketing tools. I always like to test a DM campaign on the web first, and if it catches customers’ attention and results in a noticeable increase in sales, then it can be adapted to an offline DM campaign.
Another great way to combine an offline DM campaign with online tools is to send out an email to your customers before the DM campaign to notify them that you just sent them an important mail and they must open it when they get it. Let them know that an important offer is coming their way, or make it fun, such as including a riddle or puzzle in the email, with the answer in the mailer, and using the two pieces together to unlock a special offer or free gift, such as a downloadable ebook or a coupon.
3) Contact List Selection
Great communication with interesting information and an attractive design might pull twice the response of a plain mailer, but the best list can pull a response 10 times greater than the worst list for the identical piece.
The most common direct marketing mistake that people make is not spending enough time and effort to build their list. In direct marketing, a mailing list is not just a way of reaching your audience. It is the audience itself.
The best list available to you is a list of existing clients who have visited your store, downloaded your ebook, responded to your ads and campaigns, attended your events, or replied to your social media activity. These are people who have expressed interest in your services, and just need that final nudge to bring them on board.
4) Turn a mailer into a relationship
One great method for getting and keeping a customer’s attention with a direct mail campaign is to turn it into a relationship. A single piece in their mailbox may not make a lasting impact, but a series of pieces with a memorable theme or story will. Develop a multi-step DM campaign that builds on each previous piece, and each piece with a cliffhanger that keeps them looking forward to the next. Start with an intriguing opening mail to grab their attention, then follow it up with 3-5 more mailers, one each week. This will be far more impactful than a single piece of mail.
5) Give them something special
Direct marketing can be three-dimensional and can appeal to all five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.
Don’t plan a mailing without at least thinking about whether you can make it more powerful by adding a solid object, fragrance, or even a sound. Here are some ideas you might consider:
Sound: Have you seen the greeting cards that play a song when you open them because of an implanted audio chip? That certainly would get attention, and something that your competitors probably wouldn’t think of. Whether it’s a recorded message from you, or a fun, motivating piece of music, it would be a memorable piece!
Product samples: Don’t neglect this old but proven approach. Enclose a product sample in your next mailing.
Premiums: An inexpensive gift such as a piece of chocolate (people feel happy when they eat chocolate, and make a purchase easier), refrigerator magnet, or a beach ball with your logo on it, can create a positive response and get your customers’ attention.
You need to be a little more imaginative if you want your communications to stand out in the customer’s crowded mailbox. At the same time, you must remember that while creativity can enhance a strong selling message, it cannot substitute for it.
6) Use effective writing and layout techniques
Write in short sentences and short paragraphs. Keep ideas clear and in a logical sequence. Don’t assume that your audience can follow your logic, or necessarily knows industry jargon. Present a list of benefits or features in list form instead of in a linear paragraph. Use colors, underlines, and bold letters to emphasize important information.
Edit out unnecessary words and phrases and write like you talk. Make sure every word plays a part in your sales message. If it doesn’t, delete it. Clear and concise information will help sell is more effectively than trying to recreate the works of Shakespeare.
7) Don’t be too short
You often hear that you should keep your message short, because people don’t have time to read it. That’s not necessarily true. You need to grab their attention, yes. But once you have it, they expect you to deliver.
If a good headline caught their eye and clients are interested, they want to know everything! If you don’t address their problems and offer a solution, one they can make an informed decision about, they won’t follow through. You need to present the promise of a solution you can guarantee, answer their questions, and leave them feeling informed.
You could write a 20-page magazine for your DM campaign; if you make it interesting, people will read it. Simply put, people will read a letter for as long as it interests them. One- and two-page letters have the best response rates. If you have something to say and can say it in a compelling way in one page, go with the one-page letter.
8) Consistency is everything
Sales researchers have found it typically takes seven to nine “points of contact” for a consumer to make a purchase. It’s probably not too much of a leap to believe that it takes more than one exposure to your campaign concept for the message to sink in.
Create campaigns that include several steps and impressions to convince even the most stubborn client to buy.
9) Review everything thoroughly
Double-check your DM or ad or print article several times before you send them to the printers. While you can modify blogs and delete Facebook posts, or Instagram pictures, changing a printed piece or re-printing a whole magazine can be very expensive and delay a launch, so take a close look before you send your DMs off to print.
A direct mail campaign is not a one-time, fire-and-forget approach. If you don’t follow up, you miss out on an opportunity to reinforce that first contact—and maybe miss out on a chance for them to say “YES!”
- Send them another DM or email with a request for a reply, or an offer that they can redeem. Many people who did not respond to the first mailing may respond to the second or third. Something like, “If you are still interested…” or “I didn’t see you take advantage on this offer, so I just wanted to send you a quick reminder that the offer ends in X days, and I don’t want you to miss out…”
- Use a phone follow-up, or surveys or questionnaires to qualify prospects.
- Consider including a reply element, such as an order form or customer information sheet. Include a self-addressed, prepaid envelope to make it more convenient for them to reply.
Don’t put 100% of your time and effort into the lead-generating mail and 0% into the follow-up, as so many people do. You have to keep selling, every step of the way.
Follow up has to be a necessary step in your campaign. You have to know what to send to those people who have already bought and the people who haven’t yet.
Tracking your offline campaign can be difficult – you aren’t typically there to watch them read the letter or view the ad. But if you want to know how effective the campaign is, you need to be able to measure the impact. Here are some ways to track your offline campaign:
- Custom redirects and vanity URLs
Vanity URLs are a great option if you’re thinking about incorporating direct mail, billboards, handouts, or other physical items into your offline marketing campaign. Simply create a unique URL for your campaign, place this URL on the item that you’re giving away or mailing, and then track the number of people that use that specific URL to access your site or sales page.
- Unique landing pages
Set up a landing (sales) page that’s unique to your offline campaign. This is where your vanity URL should take your prospects, and where prospects will submit their information to you during the campaign events, whether it’s a special direct mail promotion or a trade show event. Since the landing page is specific to your campaign, you can easily track traffic and form submissions to see how you’re doing.
If you’ve attached your prospects to campaigns after they convert at a trade show or after a direct mail piece, you should be able to track these prospects all the way through the sales cycle, from lead to opportunity to close. Once you’ve converted them from a prospect into a paying customer, you can attribute the revenue generated to its source: the trade show, direct mail campaign, ad, or other specific offline campaign where the lead originated.
- Coupon code
Include different coupon codes for different campaigns. Your offline coupon code can be “OFF”, your email code is “EMAIL” and Facebook promotion code is “Facebookfriends” so you know where people came to buy.