Direct Mail is still one of the most highly effective marketing channels available to businesses, but it’s also one of the most misunderstood. It’s complex and costly, and as a result, businesses tend to shy away from it either because of a bad past experience, or the fear of the unknown. Direct mail can work for almost any business, and it doesn’t have to fail! The key to success is in understanding this powerful channel’s strengths and weaknesses, so you can determine if and how it fits into your strategic marketing plan. Some common direct mail fails we see often are:
- Using a Bad List - Using an old list with obsolete contacts, or too general a list of names not targeted to your market is simply
a waste of money. Statistics show that personalized mail nets a higher ROI, but if you’ve ever received a piece with your name mis-spelled, or with someone else’s name, you know it’s actually worse than non-personalized mail. In the world of direct mail marketing, a good, high quality list is – and always will be – King. We feel it’s so critical to direct mail success, we created a separate post with tips on building and maintaining a high quality list.
- Being Ordinary - Look through the mail you get now. How much truly catches your interest. There’s so much you can do with size, folds, finishes, color and texture, that there’s really no reason to be boring. You’re brand is not ordinary or boring, so why on earth reflect that?
- Not Knowing USPS Regulations and Options – There’s a lot of details involved in creating and sending a unique and successful direct mail campaign, which is why I think so much of what we all see in our mailboxes is boring. Consult an expert on how to make your mail stand out and get noticed while remaining deliverable for your budget. There are also a few unique products that the USPS offers, including the Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) service that can dramatically save businesses money. Again, work with an expert that can provide guidance and help you plan.
- No Clear & Measurable Call to Action – so many times, we receive direct mail pieces that simply ask the recipient to “contact us” or “give us a call”. People are so busy and distracted these days, you need to give them a super clear and strong call to action that includes a deadline, or they’ll set it aside and forget about it. Consider this: about 40 years ago, the average person was exposed to 500 messages per day. Today, it’s close to 5,000, so being clear and succinct is crucial now more than ever. Add an offer code or train your staff to ask the question “How did you hear about us/this offer” when they call, and keep a record of the response you get.
- No Clear Definition of Success – Knowing specifically what success looks like is critical to determining how to make adjustments going forward. Define success in specifics like: “We’d like to receive 50 calls for more information on our new service line in the next 2 months”. Keep in mind, that on average, the response rate to direct mail is anywhere between 1- 4%. You want to make sure your definition of success is attainable, so work with a direct mail professional if you need help defining success for you.
- One & Done - Only sending a mailing one time is such a common error we see. Direct mail can be extremely effective, but you need to commit to more than one mailing. Be consistent and constant and your market will realize you’re here to help them, and provide value to their lives or business. Use feedback you gather from your mailings throughout the campaign and tweak as needed.
RAD Graphics is a tactical marketing firm that helps businesses grow by creating, producing and delivering award-winning pieces and campaigns through a variety of marketing channels, including direct mail. For a free consultation, please call 216-371-3003.