The 7 key elements of an effective direct mail campaign

In a world dominated by ever-updating newsfeeds and 140 character exchanges, it seems that the traditional practice of direct mail has no place in modern communication, particularly as businesses look to utilise cheaper, faster ways to communicate with their consumers.

However, overloaded inboxes and newsfeeds that update faster than you can blink means that direct mail still delivers impact in a digital world.

Direct mail may be one of the oldest marketing methods but it is also one of the most adaptable. Here are 7 key factors for any direct marketing campaign., combine these successfully and you can transform your return on investment (ROI):

1. A Targeted List

It’s essential that any direct mail campaign begins with building a tailored audience. Sending your direct mail to every prospect in your database is unlikely to be effective and if you are using traditional print mail high print and postage costs will seriously reduce ROI.

Before any creative planning, outline your objective and identify which prospects are most likely to deliver. For example, if you’re running a sales event, targeting your most frequent buyers is most likely to boost profitability, or, if you’re launching a new product line, look to target prospects that have recently registered interest in related items.

Unlike an e-campaign, a piece of direct mail will cost money to send, so clean data is crucial to reducing wastage and ensuring that your direct mail campaigns are hitting the right audience.

2. A Personal Touch

In an age of social media, the relationship between brand and consumer is becoming increasingly personalised as consumers find themselves engaging with brands in the same places they share snaps of their lunch with friends. The value of personalised content is high, particularly when it comes to offline channels.

A recent report by Econsultancy found that companies reported a bigger increase in uplift after personalising offline content compared to personalisation of website, SEM and email. This comes as no surprise when we consider a separate finding by the Direct Marketing Association that 79% of consumers act on direct mail immediately, compared to only 45% react to email in the same way.

The tactile nature of direct mail means that it reaches audiences in a way that cannot be replicated by any digital channel, meaning that this channel offers a truly unique opportunity for businesses to build a personal connection with their consumers.

By its very nature, direct mail is a personal piece of content as it requires the recipient’s name and address. However, from the headline to a location-based offer, there is ample opportunity for brands to utilise their demographic data and to tailor their direct pieces to show a clear understanding of their consumers’ needs.

3. A Creative Design

While there may be less competition in the mailbox than the inbox, your direct piece needs to stand apart to increase the chance of conversion. Bright colours, interesting fonts and images can help give your direct piece an interesting edge.

4. Snappy Copy

82% of direct mail is opened, but if you need to hook your prospect from the start to stop your piece heading straight to the recycling box.

A striking headline is key to grabbing your audience’s attention and encouraging them to read on. Ask a question that you know they want the answer to, or offer a data nugget that tells the beginning of a story so they want to read down the page.

The main body of your piece should be snappy and skimmable and, more importantly, relevant. Offer value to your audience and make sure information is as accessible as possible. Images, charts and bullet points can help with the flow of your mail and break up blocks of text, but keep it succinct.

Holding back some of the information can also be a great way to encourage your prospect to visit your website for further information.

5. A Clear Call To Action

Just like an email campaign, one clear call to action will help boost response rates. Whether you’d like a prospect to visit your website or contact you about a new product, make sure your objective is clear early on by placing your CTA above the fold. Keep it simple and easy to follow in order to maximise conversions.

6. An Integrated Approach

The rise of the omni-channel consumer means that businesses must now create a seamless approach to customer experience across all marketing channels. This can be difficult when we consider the siloed approach that has traditionally dominated marketing strategies.

By spotting opportunities for where several marketing channels can be combined in one campaign can not only help businesses deliver the multi-channel experience consumers have now come to expect but can help extend that experience and so giving more opportunity for businesses to construct deeper, more personal customer relationships.

Your direct mail should be a component of a wider content strategy that encourages your consumer to engage with your brand across a variety of channels. For example, you can follow up a print event invitation with an email, or direct prospects to your website in your direct mail piece.

The adaptability of direct mail has helped this tactic stand the test of time, so get creative and make sure that your branding is consistent across channels in order to deliver one, powerful unified campaign.

7. Tracking & Analysis

Just like any digital campaign, direct mail needs to be tested, tracked and analysed in order for businesses to learn from their mistakes and be guided by their successes.

Direct mail has is one of the most measurable tactics, a factor that has undoubtedly maintained its viability as a marketing channel. Use CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) and ROI as key metrics for your direct mail campaigns, and don’t forget to utilise opportunities to implement trackable actions where you can.

Including personalised URLs in a direct piece not only adds a unique feel, but also allows you to collate valuable data insights and identify which prospects to target.

Finally, armed with the knowledge of what works, you can enter the final stage of direct mail deployment: testing. Testing, testing and testing again will enable you to continue delivering effective direct mail campaigns.

Ensure that you use a control group and don’t forget the golden rule of changing just one aspect of the time. Continually testing your campaigns will allow your direct mail to evolve and keep you on top of the ever-changing shifts in consumer behaviour.

This guide has been written for ByteStart by Karen Small, PR and Content Executive at Expert Market, the UK’s leading resource for learning about B2B products and services.

Last updated: 10th September, 2021

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