With more than 293 billion emails sent and received per day in 2019, inboxes can become cluttered and overwhelming. Add to this the number of pop-up, online, and social media ads users encounter, and they begin to feel bombarded, automatically clicking out of advertisements without giving them a second glance. On the other hand, direct mail has proven to break through the noise.
Utilized in both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) sales, direct mail marketing involves sending physical correspondence to market your service or product to your current customers or prospects. This strategy requires various types of direct mail including letters, self-mailers, brochures, postcards, catalogs, envelopes, and more.
According to the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) Certified Direct Mail Professional (CDMP) program, 79 percent of households say they read or scan their mail daily, and 73 percent of Americans say they prefer being contacted by brands via direct mail because they can read it whenever they want. Other reports have concluded a majority of consumers find receiving mail makes them feel special and keeps the brand top of mind. Direct mail has also proven to have high response rates. In 2018, house list rates were 9 percent, while prospect list rates were 4.9 percent, according to the ANA/DMA Response Report 2018. When you segment out the 18 to 21 population, the response rates skyrocket to 12.4 percent.
If these statistics don’t motivate you to try direct mail as part of your next campaign, check out more in our blog 20 Statistics Proving Direct Mail Is Thriving.
In addition to the statistics, direct mail has a positive psychological impact on recipients that other forms of communication just don’t have. Studies have shown the tactile quality of direct mail triggers greater recall and intent to purchase. The physicality of a letter or postcard keeps brands top of mind and creates greater subconscious desire for the offer advertised. Our article The Science & Psychology of Direct Mail delves into the studies that have uncovered the effect mail has on your brain.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of these statistics and the psychological impact of direct mail, check out our guide. We’ll outline the major steps involved in developing a campaign, how to find the right list for your offer, and why you should incorporate direct mail into an omnichannel strategy. To further help you create the perfect campaign, we’ll cover direct mail design, cost, and sizes.
For more information on segmentation and mailing lists, jump down to the Segmentation Support section.
Any marketing campaign requires the use of SMART goals:
Each campaign should begin with one SMART goal in mind to maintain a clear path to success. This can range from the introduction of a new product to driving repeat business, but it should look something like this:
Drive 500 visits to the service landing page provided in the letter package after 2 months.
This goal specifies numerical goals, can be measured by checking the landing page traffic, is relevant to the overall campaign, not out of reach, and can be completed in a timely manner.
Your budget will ultimately determine the type of mail piece sent out, its design, and the number of recipients, so you must set it early in the process. To do so, allocate a portion of your overall marketing budget and calculate the estimated cost of the direct mail campaign. Factor in quantity, size, paper stock, graphics, coatings, mail class, and postage. Consider whether you’ll be purchasing a new list or utilizing a house list, hire a professional copywriter or use a staffer, and engage a designer or do it yourself. The final budget number will determine the type of mail—postcard, letter, self-mailer, or catalog—and size you can send to your customers.
Once you’ve determined your budget, it’s time for development. At this stage, you can get creative with your copy and design to encourage recipients to take advantage of your offer. Then, choose the size of the mail piece. This step also requires writing copy and designing the imagery. To enhance every mail piece, it’s crucial you consider adding three or more points of personalization. Variable data printing is a cost-effective way to develop customized images and messages for each customer at scale. Results have shown three or more points of personalization can increase response rates significantly.
Learn more in the Deliver Design section.
It’s time to experiment. Set up A/B tests before you send out the entire campaign. Test two different headlines, subheads, messages, images, or offers to determine which will do better. You can also test your lists. For example, you can send some of the samples to your house list and the other to your prospect list. The test sample that performs better than the others should be the one you choose to use for your campaign.
Finally, you get to run the campaign. Review your copy for any typos, send your artwork to the printer, and provide clear instructions. Be available to communicate with the production team in case any questions arise. After printing, mail out your campaign.
You’re not done yet. It’s important to track your results to determine the success of your campaign. To do so, calculate the response rate, sales rate, cost to acquire a customer, ROI and lifetime value. The results will also help you shape future marketing strategies. For example, if a majority of the recipients used the landing page link to respond over the phone number, you may only include the link on your next mail piece.
Many believe the design of the campaign will determine its success. However, according to the 40-40-20 Rule, 40 percent of the campaign's success is based on the audience, 40 percent is the offer, and the remaining 20 percent is the design. This amplifies the importance of segmenting your audience and finding targeted mailing lists. By narrowing down your audience, you’re able to directly target the consumers who are more likely to purchase your product or service.
Once you’ve decided on who your audience will be, you must find the right list. You can utilize your house list, then further segment it based on your needs, or you can purchase or rent a prospect list. While the house list contains customers who have already interacted with your company, the prospect list contains potential customers who have yet to do so. Sometimes, segmentation occurs after acquiring a list, while other times it’s done after. It all depends on how you want to divvy up your audience.
Customers can be divided in a variety of ways:
They can also be segmented with a RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) Analysis, which evaluates each consumer based on recency, frequency, and monetary value of their past purchase behaviors. To utilize this type of segmentation, you must have a robust house list. If you’re using customer purchasing behavior to segment your market, you should have the ability to advertise products based on their past purchases. For instance, if a consumer recently purchased a mixing bowl, it’s likely they may need a whisk or spatula to accompany it, so you can send pictures of those items and a coupon for kitchen goods to that customer. Another customer who’s receiving that same campaign may have purchased a new desk, so you decide to provide pictures of and a coupon for office supplies.
All segmentation influences your artwork and message, enabling you to create personalized offers for specific groups based on their behaviors, interests, and preferences. For example, you’re marketing a variety of cars and decide to segment your audience based on occupation. You’ll most likely decide to send images of and tailored messages about pickup trucks to construction workers, electricians, etc.
Mail pieces come in many sizes, plus you typically have the option to create custom sizes, so it can be tough to pick the right size for your campaign. Postage also plays a major role in the decision-making process, as price is typically a determining factor.
We’ve developed a comprehensive direct mail size guide outlining each format and the various sizes offered. While that should help you decide exactly which size can elevate your campaign, take a glance at the full list of sizes available below.
This is the fun part of the campaign where you get to use your imagination and creativity. Although you get to tap into your artistic abilities, there are a few things you should consider before you jump into writing and designing. Ensure you’re personalizing every piece to enhance the experience for your customers. Variable data printing enables marketers to develop specific messages and imagery for specific audiences at scale, dramatically increasing returns on investment and response rates. Another design major enhancement sure to deliver success is 3D or lumpy mail. Response rates skyrocket when consumers hold a box or tube in their hands.
When designing, always take color into account. Incorporate your brand’s colors or use tones that evoke particular feelings. For instance, blue is often associated with peace and harmony while green exudes health and generosity. Ensure your design includes negative space, as it has shown to help readers focus and improve comprehension. Find images that enhance your message and decide if you’re going to use stock imagery or engage a photographer for original photos. Decide among a gloss, satin, soft touch, or uncoated finish.
When writing copy, keep it concise. Use short words and sentences throughout. If a paragraph contains more than seven lines, break it up into multiple paragraphs to add white space. Ensure your offer and call to action are clear to the recipient. If not, they won’t know how to take advantage of the promotion. Before you send out your mail piece, it’s important you proofread your creative to ensure the images and messages flow, and all copy is typo-free.
Check out our design tips here.
One of the first questions we are asked is “How much does direct mail cost?” Many new customers incorrectly assume direct mail is expensive, when in fact it’s an extremely cost-effective way to reach your audience directly in their homes. Plus, direct mail improves ROI. The cost is worth the return.
The cost of direct mail isn’t a straightforward numerical answer because there are multiple factors that impact the price of your campaign. These include postage—which determines future decisions such as the type of mail piece you choose (letter, postcard, self-mailer, or catalog), the volume, the quality of the paper, and the size of the mail piece. Additional factors include the number of mail pieces you need printed and mailed.
The way you approach graphics and copy also influences the overall expense. You’ll need to determine if you’ll be using original photos or stock images, if you need additional licenses or permissions, and if you’ll be using in-house staff or contractors. Personalization is a key indicator. Although this can increase the price, it’s always a great investment since the response rates and ROI increase dramatically.
The type of list you choose also impacts the overall cost. House lists carry no additional cost because you’ve already collected the contacts, however, prospect lists increase the price. You’ll either need to rent or purchase a list of data. You’ll also need to factor data processing into your budget. Will you need custom database management solutions or just the basics? Ensure you’re choosing a vendor who promises to safeguard your data throughout the entire process. Additional services such as non-machine insertable items, pick and pack systems, and more can influence the cost.
You want to reach as many prospects as possible, and you want to reach them as many times as possible. That’s why you’ll want to incorporate direct mail into an omni or multi-channel marketing strategy. This approach creates a seamless experience across several platforms from traditional advertisements and direct mail to television and radio commercials to email marketing and online ads. When efforts share the same messaging and artwork, consumers can identify the brand or product. It also expands the reach and conveys stronger impressions. When direct mail is incorporated into this type of campaign, it builds brand awareness, stirs interest in your product or service, follows up abandoned online carts, provides a way to send welcome kits to new customers, and more.
To enhance your omnichannel approach, you can set up trigger-based campaigns. When a particular event occurs, such as an interaction with another channel. For instance, if a user deserts an online shopping cart, this could trigger the printing of postcards to be mailed out with coupons. When a customer’s insurance policy is about to expire it may trigger the printing of reminder letters. This strategy cuts down on paperwork and is simple to manage.
Direct mail should also be incorporated into your account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. This approach allocates resources to a few target accounts, enabling marketers to personalize interactions and address client’s specific needs. Before calling your prospect, warm them up with a few mail pieces such as letters, postcards, or self-mailers. This will prime them, making them aware of your brand, before you begin your sales pitch.
Design Distributors has been creating effective direct mail campaigns for more than 50 years. What began as an envelope printing business in 1966 has developed into a full-service mailing, data processing, printing, and imaging company. We currently operate out of a 70,000-square foot production facility with state-of-the-art technology and employees who have more than 10 years of experience. As a mid-size printer with high-level postal expertise, we have the capability to run your next campaign successfully.
We offer a wide range of services including: