Successful Direct Mail Campaigns

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The accountant leans over towards me from the other side of his desk with a proud grin.

“It’s remarkable how, when you understand the numbers, they tell a story. Most people, if they’ve never done a direct mail campaign, will do it wrong.”

Aug 25, 2020 A successfully administered direct mail campaign can boost your brand awareness and spread your mission. Unlike other forms of marketing, sending direct mail to a physical address ensures that your message and branding reach your target audience’s hands. Here are five steps to consider for a successful direct mail campaign.

It takes an analytical mind to fully appreciate the power of numbers in a direct mail campaign. The constant barrage of facebook updates, tweets and status notifications is inundating and can certainly out-shout a letter in the mail. Or can it?

Direct mail has been around for a long time. There are no ad blockers, spam filters or other barriers to the recipient. It’s almost guaranteed a view and if done right, will help someone solve a particular problem.

“They key is in finding relevancy to your audience,” said Bill Conner, the accountant.

Conner has a small accounting practice, focused on income taxes. He prepares about 300 returns per year and wants to grow that to 500 – 600 returns. He figures that the best time to contact potential clients is when they are thinking about tax preparation, but he wants to stimulate interest early in the filing season to avoid a last-minute rush.

Conner chooses to do a mailing to arrive about the same time that the W-2’s of his target market are arriving in the mail.

The third week in January is chosen as his “drop date,” which is the date when the mailer will be delivered to the US post office. “Very few people are thinking about an accountant in July or at Christmas time,” said Conner.

Conner takes pride in his approach to direct mail marketing. He knows that studies show most accounting clients come from a 3.5 mile radius from the office of the accountant. He checks his zip code maps and picks the 5 zip codes that most closely correspond to this, and then starts talking to list brokers. He finds these brokers from a “Google” search on the internet.

Some of these conversations are classic “sales calls” – the broker extols the accuracy, reliability, responsiveness of their lists, but have little to prove these assertions. He finds that many of the lists are “compiled” lists, the source of which are vague. He’s a little put-off by many of the brokers, who seem to sense he’s not an expert in this area.

But he persists, asking for what kinds of “selects” he can make off the lists. He wants high income homeowners, and those who have moved to the area in the last year.

A client recommends that he talk to the credit bureaus, since they have up to date lists and lots of demographic information. He calls Experian and Trans Union and speaks with their list sales departments.

He asks for a demographic breakdown and “counts” for each of the zip codes he is considering. He gets this from a couple of sources. Two of which he recommends; Info USA, and Experian.

There are about 20,000 residents in his 5 zip codes, but of those, only about 12,000 which meet his selects.

“You can’t be overwhelmed by the counts,” said Conner. “Large numbers have a rule to them which requires we do a substantial mailing. At 12,000, we may only see a .5% — 1% response, which would be 60 – 120 new clients.”

Can Conner handle 120 new clients? He and his staff confer about this and decide that yes, they could. Next, he decides to do a cost analysis. Here is what he comes up with:

ItemCost
Cost of mail list$1500
Cost of printing $1800
Lettershop services $1800
Postage $3400

Total cost of mailing: $ 8,500

“Right here is where most accountants stop cold,” said Conner.

“Accountants are by nature risk avoiders. This looks like a game for gamblers. Here is a bet where you put $8,500 down, and you might end up with nothing.”

For example, if Conner gets a .5% response rate, he’ll get 60 new clients, which will average about $ 375/year = $22,500 in yearly business. Let’s see: spend $ 8,500 to get $ 22,500? It’s a go. Conner decides to go for it.

He decides on a list from one of the credit bureaus, based upon their representation of the current nature of the list (that it has been updated within the last four months), that it contains no duplicates, has a high deliverability, and guarantee that if there are any nixies (undeliverables) he can receive a refund for those names. He orders the list in an Excel spreadsheet format, delivered by email.

Simultaneously, Conner has been drafting a nice 3-fold brochure explaining what he does and why he’s a good choice as a tax accountant. He figures a lot of his “target audience” have either been going to large accounting firms or struggling with home tax prep programs. He’s got good reasons why he’s better than both of those options.

“I try to focus on the reader. What’s important to them? What will grab their attention? What will resonate? How will they be so “compelled” that they just must call me?” said Conner.

His brochure focuses on:

  1. Identifying the pain of doing taxes
  2. The hassles and errors with home tax programs
  3. The problems in dealing with large, impersonal organizations, like large accounting firms, and finally
  4. The advantages of having a long term relationship with a local accountant who specializes on helping clients just like his target market. He asks for their business, offers a free review of prior year returns, and gives them an incentive to call and schedule an appointment now.

Conner tests his draft brochure out with his toughest critics: his friends, family and a few close clients. They point out some weak areas, make some suggestions, and he considers them all, incorporating a few.

“The quotes from the printers are all over the place,” said Conner.

“I learned quickly that you have to specify exactly what you want. For me, it’s a letter sized 24 lb light green colored paper, tri-fold, tabbed, 1 color (black), no halftones (pictures), no bleeds (there’s a 1/4″ margin all around, so printers don’t have to buy larger paper and then cut it down,” said Conner.

Conner settles on a local printer and lettershop and puts the terms of his arrangement in writing, signed off by all involved. He includes a specific timeline:

DateAction
January 5 Delivery of piece to printer
January 10 Printer delivers printed pieces to lettershop
January 15 Lettershop is ready to 'drop' pieces
January 18 Lettershop delivers to post office

Conner delivers the mail piece to the printer via emailing a PDF of the piece, along with explicit instructions on how it is to look.

“I have a printer as a client, so I know the personality: if something can go wrong, it will,” said Conner.

In addition to the email, he personally delivers a mock-up of the piece. Good thing, too, since the printer thought the outside was the inside, and he was planning on printing the outside upside down from what Conner wanted. Conner also wants to see the paper. Again, good thing he sees it before the printer uses it because it’s the wrong color and weight.

On January 9th he calls the printer. The paper has not yet arrived, nothing has happened. On the 10th he calls and is told it will be done by the 12th, maybe. Here Conner realizes that he should have had a penalty for non-performance written into his agreement.

On the 15th he’s told that there’s a delay and that it won’t be ready until the 17th.

“I had to give them a bit of “encouragement, but they got the job done,” said Conner.

Four days after the mail piece hits the mail, nothing has happened. It’s included a weekend, but Conner says he’s is starting to get worried. No calls. No appointments. He receives the lettershop invoice and the 5053 certification in the mail, and notes that it’s not been signed or stamped by the post office.

On the 24th he receives a USPO stamped and signed “replacement” 5053 dated the 20th, and a box full of left overs. He’ll use those as hand-outs later. On the 28th, he receives good tidings in his mail: the piece he had sent to himself.

Conner had inserted his own name in the mailing list, along with some friends and relatives. On the 29th he gets a couple of calls from these “insiders” letting him know, as they promised, that his piece has “hit the mailboxes.” Still no calls from prospects.

On the 30th, calls start coming in.
Slowly, at first, but they come.

“About half of them are prospects. Some sound like they are my friendly competition checking things out,” said Conner.

A few appointments are set. For the next ten days, the number of calls coming off the mailer increase daily. Some call and are ready to set an appointment, others want to speak with Conner to see if he’s the real deal. The calls level off and start to decline, and there’s a week in early February where only one call comes in. ”

Then they start to spike again in March and it’s a crazy-wonderful business until the 15th of April,” says Conner.

Conner is analytical enough to tracks all the calls and where his clients are coming from. He can’t really see a trend. After the tax season, in early May, he sits down to figure out whether all of this was worth it.

Here are the results:

Mailers actually sent (per USPO form 5053 ) 11,400

ItemAmount
Calls received 102
Appointments set 87
New tax clients 73
Total revenues from new tax clients $20144
Total cost of mailing $9420

Conner sees that he paid for 12,000 names but only 11,400 ended up being mailed. He sees that he paid $ 9,420 when he had firm quotes for around $ 8,500. He has a fistful of “nixies” — over two hundred, from that supposedly clean list, and those are the ones that were returned (the USPO only returns standard mail bad addresses by accident: they’re typically thrown away).

“I could be upset about the cost over-run, the under -delivered mailer, but, hey, $ 20,144 in increased revenues, is pretty good.”

Conner notes that the final cost of the mailer was more than he had budgeted; ($9,420/11,400 = $.826 each) or $ 826/thousand. He’d figured on $ 708/thousand, the difference had gone to up-charges and things he’d missed on the quote. He’s wiser, though, and says he will not let this happen again.

For next year, Conner will consider another mailer… and if he does, he will be just a bit wiser:

Successful Direct Mail Campaigns Real Estate

  • He’ll Screen each of his vendors more carefully
  • He’ll put a performance clause in each contract
  • He’ll audit things even more closely

You can purchase the eBook, “Successful Direct Mail Campaigns” here.

We live in a digital world where we are surrounded by technology and gadgets. However, even in the digitalized world of today, direct mail hasn’t become an obsolete relic. Rather, making direct mail campaigns a part of marketing strategy can pay off positively.

To boost your market response rate, you have to engage with prospective customers via multiple channels and platforms. When used as part of a well-executed marketing strategy, direct mail is a sure path to success.

Running a Successful Direct Mail Marketing Campaign

To ensure a positive response from the recipients, you have to put in some effort into creating a versatile and creative piece of mail. So, what are the things that can make your direct mail piece effective and stand-out from the marketing plans of your competitors?

Effective direct mail campaignsCampaigns

Let’s see!

Optimize Your Mailing List

Building quality mailing lists is the best way to go about creating an effective marketing strategy. No matter how useful your content is, or how valuable your offers are if you don’t have the ability to promote them in front of the right people, they will be useless.

Successful Direct Mail Campaigns Require

The first step is to put quality over quantity. Look at your current customers and check if you have their mailing addresses, email addresses, and assemble direct mail lists out of them. Once you are done, take a look and see if are any logical segments such as gender, order frequency, industry, etc. stand out that you can turn to your advantage.

Segmenting your direct mail list will help in making the direct mail pieces meaningful which will drive sales. Even if you have a direct mail list, it is a good idea to keep increasing it continually. Add a ‘Join Our Mailing List’ button to your website, offer them sample kits or free catalogs, etc. to grow your list.

Moreover, you have to keep the data fresh. Any type of marketing is the most effective when it targets the right audience. For instance, if you are providing lawn moving services as a lawn care company, it would not increase your chance of doing business if you send out discount coupons to the residents of an apartment building.

For maximum return on investment, delivery timing, physical location, demographic, postage rates, and a few other variables are aspects that you have to keep an eye on.

Personalize According to the Customer

Who doesn’t like feeling special? If you take an individualized approach with your direct mailers, they will create that feeling for the people you send them out to. Instead of seeing the mailers as junk, they will feel acknowledged and understood.

Start by adding the recipient’s name and then go from there. Find a way you can connect with them and then personalize your product or service accordingly. What is helpful here is to break down the target prospects into smaller niches and then tailoring your services for each person.

Not only will your content resonate with the audience, but will also generate sales down the road. For example, if you are a pediatrician, you should send out your mailers to parents with children instead of bachelors living in studio apartments.

You must take out the time to learn your audience and prospects first and then send out your mailers to achieve the best possible results.

Ideas

Create an Engaging Call to Action Message

The goal of sending out mailers is the same as marketing via any other channel. You want to convince the target market that using your services and products will improve their lives. This is where an effectively designed call-to-action comes into play.

It is the glue that will hold your entire successful direct mail campaign together. A compelling call-to-action will spur the target audience into action. Make the CTAs clear, powerful, and concise. Repeat it multiple times throughout the mailer.

This repetition shouldn’t be annoying – rather, it should act like something they will remember long after they are done reading the mailer. Using postscripts and sidebars is a great way of delivering CTAs effectively.

Tie back the call-to-action with the core message of your brand and see it work the magic!

Nail the Campaign Design and Creative

Once you know your audience, you have to turn the heat up with a perfect design. Whether you create brochures, flyers, or cards, make sure to let the creative juices flow and grab the attention of the recipient.

The ultimate goal of your mailer is to bring positive attention to your products and services. Make sure that the mailer excites them and they don’t discard it as junk not worthy of their time and attention.

Add images, bullets, and headings with CTAs that will keep the audience hooked. Not only do you have to consider things such as graphics, colors, fonts, etc. but you also have to use the white space carefully.

Using white space effectively will bring attention to the essential parts of the mailer while keeping it from being cluttered or overcrowded. An important tip is to step back and put yourself in the shoes of the potential customer while designing the brochures, cards, or flyers.

Best Direct Mail Campaigns

Are you fascinated by the design? Is it approachable and looks trustworthy? Is CTA effective? Run the mailers by your friends and family and take their opinion. Then make the changes in your design accordingly. Remember, the only value-added promotion will help the mailer land perfectly!

Integrate with Other Marketing Strategies

How would you feel if you are stranded alone on a desert island? Wouldn’t it be nice to have some help from other individuals? Similarly, you don’t have to use your direct mail marketing campaigns as stand-alone direct marketing campaigns.

Successful Direct Mail Campaigns Examples

Integrate direct mail marketing with other marketing channels and you will increase their effectiveness manifold. For instance, if you are sending out coupon codes, make sure to announce them on your social media platforms.

Build the synergy of your brand by using the same graphics, images, etc. that in both digital marketing strategy and physical marketing strategy. Align the direct mail marketing campaigns with social media marketing, online ads, emails, to get a successful campaign on your hands.

Consistency is the key here, folks!

Successful Direct Mail Campaigns – Final Word

Best Direct Mail Campaigns 2019

Direct mail isn’t a replacement for email marketing. Rather, these two have to go hand in hand in to give you an effective direct mail marketing strategy. Direct mail is not only tangible, but it is personal as well.

It creates brand awareness and builds customer trust and loyalty. A versatile, cost-effective direct mail marketing strategy complements other marketing strategies and makes them more effective. Use the tips that we have mentioned above to get your hands on a successful direct mail campaign!

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Successful Direct Mail Marketing Campaigns

Happy direct mail marketing, people!