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The Ultimate Guide: How to Do Direct Mail Marketing Like a Pro

As much as we might like to think all of our marketing campaigns are major successes and that every idea is a million dollar idea, the cold reality is that there are some that just do not work.

One of the most common complaints we hear from first-time customers is that they tried direct mail in the past, either on their own or with a different vendor, but it did not get the results they were looking for so they assumed that direct mail does not work and packed up, moving on to try something else.

Knowing that direct mail response to house files is 9%, we challenge you to take an objective look at why your campaign did not work – and give you the tools you need to knock your next campaign out of the park.

Here are five reasons a direct mail campaign might not have worked:

  1. The offer was not good enough. If you’re selling a product for $500 and you offer $20 off the next purchase, chances are that is not a compelling enough reason to drive your customer to your online or brick-and-mortar store.Try instead: Take a close look at your customer database to see what customers are spending on your product, what their probability is to buy that product in the first place, and what their lifetime value as your customer is. Think about the size and type of offer that has moved them to purchase in the past, and have your current offer reflect that. You should also consider testing the offer itself to see what motivates spend, whether it’s a dollar amount or percent off the retail price, free shipping, or another type of offer. Keep in mind that the offer needs to be generous to motivate people to make the decision to act.
  2. The list was not good. If you are working from a purchased list, you may be relying on a tool that is up to 30-40% inaccurate. And even if you are working from an unclean house list, you may still be battling that same problem! Try instead: If your campaign requires a purchased list, make sure you are working with a list provider that guarantees accuracy, and updates the list often. As for your house list, the answer is right inside: Your database contains everything you need to know about you customers, both good and bad.If you can define who your “best” customers are, and separate them from your “worst” customers, Look-a-Like modeling can help you narrow your acquisition focus by locating and attracting more profitable customers with a smaller, more targeted net that filters out irrelevant or uninterested prospects. The result can be lower up-front marketing spend and an overall lower cost per acquisition for customers that will be more profitable.
  3. The message was inconsistent. If your direct mail piece drives the user to a landing page on your website, but the CTA of the landing page is unclear or simply not what they were expecting to see, people will bounce. Example: your direct mail campaign advertises a specific item but your landing page takes them to a generic home page where it takes longer than 30 seconds to find the advertised item. (Did you know that people now have an attention span of 7 seconds? That’s less than a goldfish at 8!)Try instead: Mimic your direct mail campaign to look like the landing page it sends customers to. Use similar copy, imagery, and messaging, so the user can easily find what is being advertised, and easily figure out what is being asked of them.
  4. Direct mail was kept in a silo. Direct mail works best when it is combined with other mediums and used as the activation point for omnichannel marketing campaigns. Direct mail used to be used to drive phone and in-store traffic. Now, it is used to drive website traffic: 90% of people will visit a website first before calling or visiting a store.Try instead: It is just as important to look at website traffic and social media activity surrounding a direct mail campaign, because that may be where the customer went for more information.
  5. The campaign was only tried once. Many of our first-time customers had given up on direct mail after a single failed attempt.Try instead: It can take as many as 18-20 touch points to reach a prospect or customer before they will respond, especially if they have never been exposed to your brand before. It is critical to keep sending them messages through multiple mediums until they respond. But you do not have to send them the exact same message over and over again (after a while they will begin to tune you out as white noise). Try to test different messages, offers, and creative to see what works and does not work.