Direct mail response rates have risen significantly during the past several years, to the benefit of marketers and their clients.
Citing an analysis by the Association of National Advertisers, for example, warranty services provider After Inc. reports that response rates for prospect and house lists nearly doubled between 2017 and 2018. Such trends underscore the importance of maximizing the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns in order to increase your ROI!
Here are seven useful tips and techniques to help improve your response rates.
1. Keep It Clear & Concise
According to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Mail Moments Review, it takes an average of 8.4 minutes for consumers to sort through their mail. This means companies have an incredibly short window to effectively convey offers, promotions, and messages to direct mail recipients. Ensure this is not overly detailed, confusing or complicated. Keep it simple, clear, and concise, with easily readable text, copy, and a simple, clean design. Make sure your call to action is front and center.
2. Add a Deadline to Your Offer
Adding a deadline can motivate the customer to immediately act or risk losing out on the special promotion. This can push indecisive customers to take action, whether that’s calling, visiting the website or entering a retail store.
Name such efforts “Daily Deal” or “24-Hour Sale” so consumers know they only have one day to take part. Attach a date. Instead of saying, “For a limited time only,” write “Visit our website before June 30 to take advantage of this offer.” Use phrases such as “One-Time Only” or “Today Only” to increase the urgency of the promotion.
3. Test Your Campaign
Testing your campaign enables you to figure out what works best. Separate a portion of your total file, say 10% for example. For an A/B test, split the test file in half. 50% gets one offer and 50% get the other offer. They will remain identical except for one variation in either copy, images, headlines, calls to action, offers, colors, and fonts. That which delivers a higher response rate, especially 3 percent or more, is the mail piece you should send to the rest of your database.
4. Target the Appropriate Audience
Before sending your mail piece, segment your audience based on a variety of demographics, psychographics, geographic, and behavioral characteristics. This means breaking apart prospects by age group, gender, customer purchasing behavior, website visits, event attendance, industry, and interest. Once you’ve done so, you can purchase a mailing or prospect list or utilize a house list. A targeted mailing list makes personalization possible and ensures you’re reaching recipients who want your offer and will respond to it.
5. Use the Right Colors & Design
The design you create impacts consumers’ decisions to respond. It’s important to incorporate your brand’s colors and logos into your mail piece, to ensure all recipients immediately know who it’s from. The rest of the design should fit with your branding and match or further convey your message.
The colors you use can also elicit a variety of emotions from your consumers, so understand what each means. For example, red conveys excitement and passion, green evokes feelings of growth or health, and purple exudes luxuriousness.
6. Incorporate Proven Methods
The USPS Certified Direct Mail Professional (CDMP) offers several proven techniques to improve response rates,including:
- “Yes/No” offers outperform those lacking a “No” option.
- Negative-option (e.g. automatic renewals) offers outpull positive ones.
- Offers with deadlines have response rates that exceed those without.
- Adding a free gift is proven to have greater success than a discount offer.
- Expressing benefits rather than features generally performs better.
- Sweepstakes increase order volume, however, customers will most likely not remain loyal.
7. Personalize It
Customization drives success. Adding three or more points of personalization to a direct mail piece can significantly improve response rates. According to the CDMP, “The returns for [variable data printing] vary from double the normal return at the basic level to 10 to 15 times the return for fully variable jobs.” Using variable data printing, companies can tailor any aspect of a direct mail piece, whether it be the text, font, image or background color, to their target audience.
Think about it: You’re interested in hiking, so a local travel company sends you a postcard that depicts the Pennine Way in the United Kingdom and addresses you directly by including your name. You’re going to be interested, because it incorporates one of your favorite pastimes. Meanwhile, your friend may be interested in seeing plays and comedy shows, so that same travel agency will send a postcard depicting New York City and its Theatre District.
These mail pieces wouldn’t have the same impact if they featured identical designs and messages.