Why Direct Mail is More Relevant Than Ever

For marketers, every week seems to present a new opportunity to grow your presence, build your brand and engage new potential customers. Just when you’ve wrapped your head around search engine marketing Facebook comes along and offers another channel for targeting consumers. Then Twitter hits it big and you’ve got 280 characters to reach that audience. Oh, and just when you think you have that under control along comes Pinterest…and Instagram and then whatever comes next.

Traditional media buys and mainstays of old-school marketing campaigns like direct mail have taken a back seat in many companies’ marketing mix as they try to keep up with the next big thing. This, however, is very short-sighted as direct mail brings some things to the table that online marketing and social media simply cannot replicate.

Let’s count the advantages direct mail has over these other forms of media:

  1. Direct mail has a physical presence. Regardless of the number of impressions you get with another medium, it won’t get put in a briefcase or set on a countertop for repeat impressions. The right direct mail piece can truly grab a captive audience and keep your campaign top of mind in a way that online marketing never can.
  2. It’s personal. With the growth of variable data printing, direct mail can be highly personalized in a way that it never has before. With available information, you can send brochures and catalogs that speak very specifically to each available data point. Receiving a tangible brochure that starts with your name and contains powerful visuals and messaging that speaks to your buying preferences, geography and more is a much more powerful tool than any targeted ad you can offer up on Facebook.
  3. Real measurability. The beauty of direct mail is just how exactly you can get with your measurement. When you send out direct mail you can measure every step of the process and get an accurate measure of ROI. You know exactly how many pieces of mail you’ve sent, and whether you’re driving people to the store or online you have a variety of methods to track exactly what your ROI is and you’ll know exactly how much reach you have. With many forms of online advertising, you may be paying for metrics like impressions – which are loosely defined and may not actually garner even a moment of a user’s attention.

How To Make Your Direct Mail Profitable

Yes, direct mail can still yield an excellent return on your marketing spend. However, if you don’t do it right you may as well be lighting your money on fire as your piece will find it’s way into the trash quicker than that yellow pages that lands on your porch each year.

In 2011, a study by the USPS showed that 53 percent of households read unsolicited mail and 25 percent take the time to scan advertising pieces. Checking your own mail should tell you that it’s no easy task to stand out from your own crowded mailbox, but people are doing it, and so can you. Here are some ideas on ways to make your direct mail grab the attention of that 25 and 53 percent.

Words Matter

The most surefire way to fail in direct mail is to have bland copy. Come up with a headline that gets a double take and make sure you test this before you send it to print! This headline should fall in line with your company or the brand you’re looking to promote. Being quirky with your headline might work well for a funky apparel company but likely would go down in flames if you’re trying to sell expensive china. Spending a lot of time and testing some headlines for both their alignment to your brand and their ability to draw attention will be time well spent.

Once you get past the headline you need to think about your audience. What are their needs and why does your product or your company best meet their needs? If you have testimonials or awards, feel free to mention them, but make sure you address the consumer’s need or pain point first. The front page should very clearly address your customers and tell them “what’s in it for them.” If you can succeed with that, you’ll be well on your way to a successful direct mail campaign.

Don’t Skimp On Visuals

Yes, it’s important to effectively utilize color in your direct mail. But don’t miss an opportunity to stand out by creating unique sizes and shapes. Most print shops can accommodate unusual sizes and shapes these days, so think of ways you can utilize these attributes to your advantage. Study what comes in your mailbox and see what catches your eye. Which headlines draw your eyes to them? What colors are they using? What’s the size and shape of the mail pieces? Are there unusual shapes? If not, what shapes are others using, and how can you stand out from them? If there are specials and pricing, which pieces highlight them the best and how are they doing it? Make a list of attributes that help the best pieces stick out and use them in designing your own pieces.

Don’t limit yourself during the creative process. If you have a business that sells siding, why not create a piece that’s shaped like a home? The first battle you need to win in direct mail is to grab the consumer’s attention. Reading the piece comes second, so any way you can use design to create curiosity or generate a closer examination will greatly improve your opportunity to succeed. Of course, the more outside the box you get with your design will likely lead to some increase in cost, but also will likely lead to an increased response.

Don’t Forget The Simple Things

We already covered the highlights of the front of your direct mail piece, but don’t forget the basics. Too many campaigns have crashed and burned by getting too caught up in the design and creative that they forget to make it easy to respond or connect with you. The back of your piece should include all your basic contact information such as the company name, address, phone number, fax number and your website’s URL and social media profiles.

Also don’t be afraid to talk up your business a bit. If you’re not a well-known brand but your company has been around for quite some time let people know! If you’ve served your market for 25 years, that will make you seem much more legitimate than some company with no credentials whatsoever.

You have limited space, so instead of loading up your piece with only a couple of testimonials, give users a link or a QR code to a webpage on your site with positive customer testimonials.

About the author: Mikalah is a guest contributor from Modern Litho, a printing company that specializes in business direct mail marketing.

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