The top two direct mail best practices


We live in a world with a lot of bad direct mail pieces. We have all opened our mailbox and thought, “what marketer thought this was a good choice?” or “as a 20-year-old college student, why is AARP wasting paper on me?”

Unfortunately, some marketers think all they need to do is get a piece of paper in a person’s hand to make them a customer. That is so not the case. People want to be “wowed” by your ad and there are a couple rules you need to follow to do that, comply with postal regulations and get your mail to the right audience.

2 rules of direct mail

From organization to creation, here is what you need to know:

Mailing lists

Your mailing lists are arguably the most important part of a direct mail campaign. You could be wasting time and money by sending mailers to the wrong audience, which in the end will mess up your ROI analytics. And no one likes bad ROI analytics.

We have written a whole article on creating mailing lists for you, but here is the five-second summary:

  • Collect contact information from current customers; you already know they are interested in your business.
  • Regularly check your list with USPS. People’s addresses change and you don’t want to lose their loyalty because you are sending their promotions to an old address.
  • Beware of buying lists. You want an updated list with people who are in your target audience – not just a random collection of addresses.

Crafting the offer

The purpose of many direct mail pieces is to provide customers with an incentive to come in, but the word “sale” in big red letters is not enough to sway people to do that. You need to keep your audience’s needs in mind; what do they come to you for? Essentials? Luxury items? Just to browse and pick up what they like? All of these things should be taken into account when crafting an offer. For example, buy one get one free isn’t a great deal at a luxury furniture store, but at a convince store it is.

In Bob Stone’s “Successful Direct Marketing Methods” book he describes one more important factor in crafting your offer – wording. Here are three different ways to word the same offer:

  1. Half price!
  2. Buy one – get one free
  3. 50 percent off!

Each statement conveys the same offer, but in Stone’s study number two performed 40% better than one or three. Consumers perceived number two to be the most attractive offer.

Direct mail is a powerful advertising tactic even in the digital age; just make sure you give it the attention it needs. The devil is in the details and when it comes to crafting and sending the perfect direct mail piece, there are a lot of details.

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