What is Direct Mail?

What Is Direct Mail Featured Image

Direct Mail is a piece of tangible advertising that is sent to potential customers’ physical mailing address. Direct Mail is also the typical starting point to an omni-channel direct marketing campaign.

There are a lot of components to a direct mail marketing campaign including mailing list selection, choosing an enticing offer, researching your specific audience, creative graphic design, mailing services, data collection and analytics. Let’s go through what a typical direct mail program looks like and we’ll touch on the most important aspects of them.

What Makes Direct Mail Effective?

Now that we’ve defined what direct mail is, another important question we need to ask is, what makes direct mail effective? Direct mail by itself has a higher yield than other marketing strategies for a number of reasons. Two of those reasons include the psychological reaction we have to holding a physical mail piece as opposed to seeing a digital advertisement and over saturation when it comes to email marketing. The first two things we need to do is figure out who the audience is we’re mailing to and start designing a captivating mail piece.

Who is Your Target Audience?

Finding your audience can be a challenge just by itself. Spend some time thinking about your overall strategy and the demographics of your campaign because it is directly related to building your physical mailing list and creating your direct mail piece.

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  • Who is your audience?
  • Where are they geographically?
  • How do you reach them?
  • How far is your customer willing to travel for your products or services?
  • Metaphorically, what does your customer look like?

Spectrum can help you with your mailing list and give you several options on how to mail. The best way we found to increase your ROI is by using a targeted list.

Your audience is a group of people whose interests are aligned with what you’re selling. If you sell dog toys and other pet accessories your audience’s interests will include pets. If you sell furniture it’s likely that your audience will be among those who just moved into a new house. The finer you can target your customer the better off you’ll be in the long run when it comes to shipping and direct mail piece costs.

There are a number of ways to reach your customers. From highly targeted and personalized direct mail pieces sent directly to your customers’ doors to standing in the middle of a busy city square and screaming your offer at people who pass by. While both are great options, there’s a chance the former will yield much better results for your marketing spend and overall reputation as a company. Direct mail is currently the leading marketing vehicle with a 9% response rate compared to a 1% response rate to email and other digital forms of advertising. That being said, digital marketing has a large part to play in a fully-fledged marketing campaign.

Deciding on where you’re going to mail to geographically can be tricky. You might pick up and extra 5,000 mailing addresses by expanding your reach, but, if you expand into an area that’s an hour and a half away from your location, it’s likely those people will travel to a competitor closer to them if you’re purely brick-and-mortar. The more precise you are when building your ideal customer profile the better you can tailor your marketing message to them as well. The easiest demographic to target for is zip code or geographic location. Decide on how far away you’d like to target based on the amount of time it takes to travel to your location from each direction. If you know that a potential customer will travel 30 minutes to visit your location then start there and continue to add values to your demographics to narrow it down. You can add things like age, income, interests, homeowner or renter, etc. You should quickly find out how many of your new customers are available to mail to and adjust your campaign accordingly.

Spectrum has years of experience in list building and demographics and utilizes the latest data available. Let us work alongside you to build your perfect mailing list.

According to the 40/40/20 rule, 40% of a successful direct mail campaign is determined by the quality of your mailing list. By planning your mailing using a targeted list with carefully selected demographics you can effectively increase your ROI. When you only send your marketing message to the people that will benefit the most, you cut out unnecessary spending on direct mail pieces that are going to the wrong homes or businesses. Consider this. You own a small business selling pool supplies and novelty items for homeowners with pools. The last thing you want to do is send extra direct mail pieces to people in apartments with no pools.

The more specific you are when identifying your ideal customer the more successful your message will be. Spectrum also does something that sets us apart from other marketing agencies.

Designing a Winning Direct Mail Piece

We design your direct mail piece at the same time we are determining your ideal customer and building your physical mailing list. Keep reading to find out why we do this.

It may seem like a small number compared to the other 80% of your direct mail campaign, but, your design (20%) is just as important. There’s no one answer to how your piece should look, but, there are very clear fundamentals to design that if ignored can hurt your campaign. Working with a company that has an award-winning team of designers experienced in your industry helps to make this process easy. There are certain elements any type of advertisement should have, especially direct mail.

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  • A clear and obvious call to action
  • An enticing special offer, deal, and/or coupons
  • A message that clearly defines the reason for the mailing
  • Captivating and clear imagery
  • Your branding, logo and contact information

What makes you stand out?

Your call-to-action should be clear and obvious. Whether it’s to visit your location, call your business, or bring in a coupon, your call-to-action should be the most visible element on your piece. This should be a part of the main message for the reason for the mailing. Your imagery should be hi-res at 300 dpi at the correct size to avoid pixelation and it should coincide with your business or your marketing message.

Your offers and coupons are 40% of how successful your direct mail campaign is. Make sure that the detail and attention you spend on the design of your coupons is just as much as the rest of the mail piece. Make sure that the offer is clear and concise so that the customer knows exactly what they’re getting (value) at a glance. never make your customers search for the value.

Your logo and contact information while part of your brand is slightly less important. Typically customers, when they’re not already familiar with your business, won’t care about it until you give them a reason to (offers and marketing message). Once they care about what you’re selling, let them know who you are and where they can obtain your product.

Efficiency is king

Your direct mail piece is designed while the list building is taking place. The reason we do this is to make the process more efficient and get your piece out faster. Part of your marketing campaign’s strategy is deciding on when your customers should receive the direct mail piece. If the reason for your mailing is event-based and is time-sensitive then this is especially important. Sending it too soon or too late is decremental. Too soon and they will forget about your event. Too late and they may not have time to attend.

Where’s the Value?

The value is in your offer, which, is the other 40% of the 40/40/20 rule.

  • What can you give to your customers?

After researching your audience you should have an idea, based on the demographics, of what would be the most beneficial to your customers in terms of an offer. Because your offer is so important to building a strong direct mail campaign it’s important to spend as much time on this as you did your list. Your offer should also help you build your in-house list. Every customer you have that purchases from you is now a loyal customer and making sure they keep coming back is easier and cheaper than attracting new customers. Sending them a personal offer once in a while will help keep them coming back and it’s something that you can’t afford not to do in this marketing climate.

Tailor your offer

Your offer will depend on what type of business you operate and who your clientele is. If you’re a service-based business then you’ll want to run some sort of limited-time promotion that requires your customers to visit your location. Adding an end-date to your promotion less than 2 weeks creates urgency which is a good thing. There’s a fine line between too much time and no urgency to too little time for your customers to plan to use the service offer. If you run a product-based business you can include coupons on your direct mail like buy-one-get-one or 50% off or whatever makes the most sense for you. Just make sure it aligns with who your customer is.

Whether a coupon is digital or physical it gives your customer a constant reminder of your business. Even if your customer never uses your coupon it doesn’t mean they won’t purchase from you. We’ve all been in a situation where the entire point to going to a business was to use a coupon and then we forget the coupon. We still make the purchase we intended to make when we set out with the goal. The coupon served as a future goal of purchasing a service at a later date, but, it doesn’t matter if they use the coupon or not. As long as they make the purchase the intent behind serving the coupon to the customer has been met.

The last thing to consider is how you present this information to your customer. Are you selling small products to individuals with a low-income? You might want to try a paper mail piece with perforated coupons. Are you a furniture store or do you sell large ticket items to individuals or families with disposable income? Try using a direct mail piece that comes with perforated coupons and uses thicker card stock. Also, make sure the design speaks to your customer on an emotional level. We rarely tend to think with our heads, even though we like to think we do.

Pre-Sorting and Mailing

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The process of sending the mail out through USPS is relatively simple. First, your mail piece is printed in our production facility where any last step personalization occurs including, inserting names and personal information into the copy of the piece, adding scratch-offs and other unique items, and adding the folds, creases, perforated lines, and die cuts. We pre-sort your mail ahead of time before it gets to USPS. We do this for a couple of reasons. The first is to greatly reduce human error from the postal office’s side and the second is to save you money. The less time USPS spends on sorting and preparation for delivery the less is costs in postage and handling. Those savings are directly passed on to you. Essentially we work in conjunction with USPS to maximize delivery opportunities and minimize postal costs.

By this time in the process your mail has been sent and now you just need to wait for customers to walk through your door. There is one more thing though before you’re finally finished with your campaign.

Data Collection

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The very last thing which is arguably the most important thing is collecting data from the campaign. This can come in all shapes and sizes. This could be in the form of a barcode specific to your mail piece that’s attached to the coupons so that when they’re scanned by your stores POS the information is tracked. This could also be employees asking customers if they’re checking out today because of a mailing. If you are running a Spectrum Mail Plus Omni-Channel Campaign, you’ll have access to all your results in an online dashboard. Whichever way you can manage collecting the data, it’s essential to determine the overall effectiveness and ROI of your campaign. Without this data it’s difficult to make changes to your future mailings or run any kind of A/B testing.

Why it Doesn’t Stop at Direct Mail

While direct mail is still the best form of marketing when it comes to response rates, it’s only part of a complete marketing campaign. Did you know that there’s a 26% increase in complete conversions when users who have been retargeted with online advertising return to the website? Or that the average social media user spends up to 4 hours per day on Facebook and Instagram? Target your mailing list online to boost your campaigns and increase your ROI. We can show you how.

Direct mail in essence is easy to understand, however, exucuting a campaign isn’t. Spectrum Martketing Companies has been delivering direct mail campaigns that get RESULTS for decades. Working with us makes everything easier when it comes to your marketing.

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