A Dozen Direct Mail Do’s & Don’ts.

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It pays to learn the basics of direct mail, because mistakes are expensive. When you’re investing in lists, copy, creative, printing and postage, you don’t want to blow it. Run you next direct mail campaign against this checklist for better results.

Do

  • Invest in targeting and learn how different levels of personalization and customization can impact ROI.
  • Suggest unique format sizes that conform to postal regulations.
  • Use postage stamps as opposed to a printed indicia whenever possible.
  • Consider an off-color envelope unless white makes a graphic explode from the paper.
  • Emphasize key elements like testimonials, guarantees and order forms.
  • Test lists, offers, price points, copy, creative and formats as opposed to trusting intuition.
  • Create a sense of urgency with deadlines, extra incentives, etc.
  • Communicate benefits—early, often and clearly.
  • Take advantage of the space direct mail gives you to provide vital information—but do it tastefully.
  • Commit to a regular mailing schedule—every six weeks for current customers is a good starting point.
  • Write copy from a peer-to-peer perspective—especially when approaching top executives.
  • Have objectives and calculate return on investment.

Don’t

  • Design the piece and then have the writer fill in the “Greek” copy blocks— strategy, writing and design are most effective when done as a team.
  • Think that envelope teaser copy is appropriate for every mailing—it might never get out of the mailroom on B2B mailings.
  • Shortchange the amount of time spent on a cover letter—it’s still the most important component of a direct mail package.
  • Buy cheap creative or, worse still, buy creative from any source that does not know direct mail—and we mean really knows direct mail.
  • Hesitate to pull out all the stops—dimensional mail, express mail, high-value information incentives (white papers, survey results, etc.)—if the audience is senior managers.
  • Forget that a good list and a good offer account for 80 percent of a campaign’s success.
  • Neglect to create a strong, clear and visually obvious call to action.
  • Fail to break up long copy with bullets, graphics, call-outs or plain old white space.
  • Make it hard for recipients to purchase or respond—give lots of options.
  • Forget to put yourself and several “seeds” on the mailing list.
  • Fail to publicize direct mail campaigns—take extras to trade shows, include PR contacts on your mailing list, etc.
  • Try to do things internally if you don’t have the skill set.

Personalization Improves ROI. Study after study shows that personalization improves response—often dramatically. For example, an InfoTrends study indicated personalized direct mail resulted in:

  • 34% faster response rates
  • 48% percent more repeat orders
  • 25% average order value increase

But plastering a recipient’s name all over a direct mail piece isn’t what we mean. That’s old hat and only marginally effective. Help your clients learn more about their customers and show them how to use that information to create promotions that communicate one-to-one. We all know there is no lack of print technology available to help execute programs at whatever personalization level their database capabilities can support. Make your own direct mail a shining example of today’s print technology can do.

By Larry Bauer

Explore posts in the same categories: Direct Marketing, Marketing

2 Comments on “A Dozen Direct Mail Do’s & Don’ts.”


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