How to get the best from Direct Mail

I was asked again recently about Direct Mail and its uses when it comes to marketing, but I think it is imperative that we clarify exactly what direct mail actually means. There are lots of so-called definitions, but to me direct mail is the sending of printed marketing material to named prospects via the post. Direct mail encompasses a wide variety of marketing materials, including brochures, catalogs, postcards, newsletters and sales letters.

I’m sure that you receive direct mail on a daily or weekly basis, but, unlike other forms of advertising, in which you’re never sure just who’s getting your message, direct mail lets you communicate one-on-one with your target audience. That allows you to control who receives your message, when it’s delivered, what’s in the envelope and how many people you reach so it can be very effective when used properly.

With this in mind, here is a checklist for direct mail :

Have something new to say
Show the recipient you understand their business and/or predicament; appear helpful
Keep the mailing simple – test the mailer on your mum or granny!
Be relevant – try and get across a single message
Try and be provocative and definitely be interesting
Put your offer on one page if you can
Sign it yourself – personalisation still goes a long way in today’s mass world
Hand write the envelopes if at all possible
Don’t be afraid to test
Double check for typos!

With any type of direct mail, appropriately timed follow-up is key. Mailings with phone follow-ups are most effective. Don’t wait too long to contact your customers after doing your mailing: After several days, call to ask if they’ve received your card, letter or e-mail. If they have, now’s the time to make your sales pitch.
If they haven’t, mail them another ASAP!


There’s no such thing as junk mail

This is a bold statement, but junk mail is not a label I would give to bulk mailings be they printed or emailed. To me the term should be more like misdirected mail or poorly targeted mail.

Back in 2011, 21.9 million UK adults took action thanks to Direct Direct Mail for Marketing
Mail they received. Don’t be surprised by that figure – Direct Mail is still
making a difference to marketers and customers alike, with an impressive 48% of the UK population responding to a Direct Mail piece they received in the past
12 months. In fact, the stats for including direct mail to the marketing mix are quite compounding –

  • Of the 21.9 million UK adults to respond to Direct Mail, 6.2
    million went online to order something, and 7.3m went to a store to order
    something in person
  • 8.3 million of those who received a mail piece kept it to
    view again in the future
  • 9 out of 10 people open Direct Mail (FastMAP).
  • 49% of adults are more likely to open Direct Mail if they
    are intrigued by the package (British Market Research Bureau, 2010).
  • 75% of customers like receiving special offers and vouchers
    via Direct Mail (British Market Research Bureau, 2010).
  • Direct Mail response rates stand at 3.42% (Direct Marketing
  • The opening rate for Direct Mail sent to prospects stands at
    91%, making it the best way to bring on board new customers (Billets Media
  • 95% of mail from stores, 95% of mail from gambling companies
    and 99% of mail from department stores is opened or responded to (Billets Media
  • 17.7m people ordered after receiving a mail order catalogue
    in the past 12 months (Royal Mail Consumer Panel, 2010).
  • Return on Investment and Costs
  • Catalogues have the lowest cost per lead of all Direct Mail,
    followed by inserts (Direct Marketing Agency).
  • 34% of business to consumer marketers consider Direct Mail
    to provide the best return on investment, making it the best method of marketing
    in their view (Target Marketing).
  • 29% of marketers are increasing their Direct Mail budgets in
    2012, and 49% will keep their budgets the same (Target Marketing).
  • The ROI of Direct Mail has increased year-on-year for the
    last decade, standing at £3.20 in the last OMD Brand Science report.

– Source. Central Mailing Services.

But how do you utilise your direct mail campaigns to give them the best chance of success?

  1. Have something to say
  2. Show the recipient you understand their business and their challenges
  3. Keep your message simple
  4. Be relevant – stick to 1 message
  5. Put it all on 1 page if possible
  6. Sign it yourself – personalisation is still an advantage
  7. Hand write the envelopes
  8. Don’t be afraid to test – maybe do a pilot campaign to start with
  9. Follow up
  10. Double check spelling and grammar
  11. Be interesting and maybe even provocative to gain attention

In direct mail campaigns, always include some sort of response both for the intrinsic value and also to aid the follow up and make sure that you are able to handle responses.


Don’t be afraid to test

As the title says, don’t be afraid to test new ideas when it comes to marketing. Marketing theory is all built around the principle of pre testing especially since the financial commitment and risks involved in mass marketing can be large. Therefore, why not look at small scale evidence as a precursor to anything larger?

Many of your proposed initiatives may well be accessible to small-scale, toe-in-the-water trials which could be evaluated before a full commitment of that initiative is made.

For example, mail shots. These can be pre tested on a small section of your database or a mailing list and the reactions monitored. By keeping the postage cost and print run small, anything negative could be restricted to a few tens of clients/prospects. Similarly, if you wanted to use a new presentation or creds document, why not test it with existing clients initially?

For advertising, company identity and literature, unfortunately the commitment is likely to be all or nothing. This doesn’t however, stop you approaching to a sample of clients with something rough or unfinished to test the concept. But…….you must be prepared to act on this feedback even if it halts your creative juices!

When it comes to testing your marketing, remember the customer is always king; accept their verdict and go back to the drawing board if necessary – your next idea will be even better for doing so!

Direct mail or do you mean direct marketing?!

Direct Marketing

Let’s just clear up one thing to start with…do not get confused between direct mail and direct marketing! Direct Marketing is NOT direct mail! Direct marketing is a marketing method and direct mail is just one of the media available. It traditionally formed a large part of direct marketing, but it has now been overtaken by press and TV advertising who display a response device like a dedicated Facebook webpage.

I feel direct marketing is a key element to business growth and the main objective of the activity a business undertakes should be entice the prospect to emerge from your “warm prospect” list and respond so that you can start a conversation which will lead to a meeting which will lead to a problem-solving conversation, a first job and eventually a business relationship.

But….do not forget existing clients. If you have got something new to say, or something new to offer,  then they should be the people who hear from you first. After all, existing clients should be the fertile ground for your marketing and should be the group that are most likely to respond to a cross sell or an additional product or service!

Remember when you are trying to generate a response that there is not “ideal” per cent response rate – just the profit per reply calculation. However, if your direct marketing does elicit a  response, you must react promptly to the requests that come in.

But…..before you can even think about response and profit, prospect or existing client, you must face the biggest challenge of direct marketing – your own database/mailing list. 

If you are considering direct marketing and need some help, get in touch with Bath Marketing Consultancy.