in Direct Mail
Direct mail is measurable, which is great as long as your mailers are effective! That goal sometimes seems elusive, as if direct mail is some kind of marketing magic where you can't quite figure out how the rabbit got into that hat. In fact, there are a few tricks to direct mail that are easily learned. We've pulled a few out of our sleeve for this story.
Driving Direct. With successful direct response campaigns, three critical elements converge to entice your readers to take action. Those three elements are the list, the offer and the creative. This month, we provide an overview of these three elements, the situations in which certain combinations will be most effective, and provide a few guidelines to help you tune up your mail campaigns.
Before we dive into the three key components of your mail campaign, let's start with the fundamentals. First, we use the word 'campaign' because direct mail is far more effective when produced in programs that have at least three impressions or mailings. A message reinforced by frequency pulls far better than a one-shot mailing without a follow-up. You are better off budgeting for three smaller mailings to a portion of your list than one larger mailing with no follow-up.
With that said, your direct mail campaign can provide you a fantastic way of prospecting for leads. Start by considering the goals you have for your campaign. What are you trying to accomplish? The answer to this question drives some of the decisions you will want to make regarding your campaign's list, offer and creative components.
Let's start by considering who you are mailing to. If your campaign is directed at cold lists, your campaign will be most effective if your goal is to build brand or take advantage of a transactional offer. For this type of mailing, a postcard is often the most effective format from a creative point of view. Alternatively, if your list is already qualified, a more sophisticated mailing featuring an envelope and more extensive copy may work best.
Converting Cold Lists to Hot Leads. Start by making sure you are able to track your cold lists' effectiveness. Do you know the source of each contact on your list? For example, is it a name you acquired via a list rental, an inquiry you received at a trade show, a lead derived from a purchase of a complementary product or service? Knowing where your names come from is critical to understanding which lists pull best as you evaluate your campaign's results. Developing an institutional memory that relies on lessons learned from prior experience will make a world of difference in the long-term effectiveness of your results. This is a business where experience and memory matter.
In the case of a cold list, you want to make the maximum impact as quickly as you can, since you need to grab the recipient's attention. That's why a postcard is often the best way to go. It can quickly convey a branding message or communicate a strong offer that motivates the customer to take action. You might want to consider these creative lessons when it comes to postcards:
Converting Qualified Leads to Customers. A qualified list is one whose prospects have already interacted with you in some way. Perhaps they are a prior customer or purchased a complementary product or service. They may have requested more information, or downloaded something from your website. They could have attended an event or seminar, visited your booth at a tradeshow, or filled out a card in your store. These are examples of qualified lists.
When marketing to qualified lists, you can rely on more complex creative with a longer message, such as self-mailers or envelopes containing a letter, proposal or kit. In fact, this format is preferred in a number of situations where pre-qualification has occurred. These include:
In these situations, it is helpful to consider these creative guidelines:
Consider a set of guidelines to be just that. While none of these points is a hard-and-fast rule, together they provide a solid set of recommendations on using the lessons marketers have learned to increase the pull of your direct response. Good luck!