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
    Association).
  • 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
    Monitoring).
  • 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
    Monitoring).
  • 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.

 

Direct Marketing

Too many organisations perceive direct marketing as just direct mail. This is not the case. Direct marketing is a marketing method and direct mail is just one of the initiatives available. It may well form over 50% of what is done under the direct marketing heading, but it is slowly being overtaken by the increasing number of press and TV ads with some sort of direct response devise –  e.g “Text Tell me more to 12345.”49936-on_target_direct_marketing

To me direct marketing could also come under the bracket of “pull marketing” where prospects are
being directly targeted and enticed in a companies’ marketing activity to respond; they are being “pulled.”

Anyway, no matter what heading or category direct marketing  is put under, each marketing initiative must have some sort of response mechanism which identifies the prospect and allows him or her to start a conversation with your organisation which could well lead to an appointment and (hopefully!) a problem-solving discussion and a business relationship.

But, don’t forget existing clients when you are looking at direct marketing. If you have got something new to say or are about to launch a new product or service, then existing clients should be given priority and should hear about this first!

There are loads of direct marketing companies and agencies out there who will tell you how to do mass mailings, but identify your market and tailor your  messaging. I’m not a fan of “buy now while stocks last” or “BOGOF” campaigns, but the underlying idea could be adapted. For example, target those people with a relevant need for your product or service and have the response go to a named and labelled person within your organisation; maybe even configure a new email address or phone number purely for direct marketing purposes?

Put yourself in the position of the receivers of your offer message – “How can I get hold of this?” – ……….and make it easy for them!

Direct Marketing can really work

If you are running a Direct Marketing marketing campaign which is aiming to generate a response, remember that there is no “ideal” per cent response rate – just the profit per reply calculation.Direct Marketing can really work

I have heard some people throw around figures like “you might get a 2% response from Direct Marketing if you’re lucky.” This is actually, in my opinion, complete nonsense. Too many people discount using printed material as a marketing platform basing their decisions on response rates……..it doesn’t matter about the percentage, it only matters about the profit per reply.
After all, do you think companies like Boden who use direct marketing as a huge part of their marketing worry about the number of catalogues recycled?

No. They use Direct Mail and Direct Marketing as it works. In fact, each year, more than 20 million copies of their remarkable publication thump through Britain’s letterboxes (source Telegraph March 2012). “Johnnie” now has a fortune estimated at over £300 million and the company’s most recent financial results showed turnover rising 15 per cent to £232 million and pre-tax profits up by 13 per cent to £32.5 million, with few signs of a slowdown.

Not everyone is going to be as successful as a company like Boden, but they have found a marketing platform that works and this is something every organisation must do in order to grow. If you decide to give the Boden model a go, then there are a couple of areas you must consider to get the best out of direct marketing.

1. When people respond, do get back to them quickly, preferably within hours rather than days.
2. If the follow up from you is posted, make sure that your company name is clearly visible as you don’t want your mail binned.
3. Whatever you send or however you follow up, make sure it’s relevant and interesting and make sure that the next step is clearly outlined.

Sometimes it also really pays to know what your competitors are up to with regards to any mailings they are making and what offers they contain. Maybe try and get their material and analyse it in your own terms – what does it tell you about their strategy, their services, their focus, their targeting etc? I will admit to running an email marketing campaign for a client in the automotive sector following a bit of mystery shopping!

Anyway, to recap, when it comes to direct marketing, approach it by:

1. Stating the target audience’s problem – maybe use a headline that your reader can identify with?
2. Promise a solution – with an explanation in the body copy maybe using a case study
3. Ask for a response – don’t tiptoe around here. Be hard, be direct and demand a click or a call!

At Bath Marketing Consultancy, we are believers of printed material as well as online marketing so why not get in touch and see what we can do for you.