It has become common knowledge that the success of a direct mail campaign can be broken down into three primary components:
· The mailing list or target audience
· The offer or incentive for the customer to buy the product
· The creative package or communication message conveyed in the overall package
Experts in the field of direct mail have even established the ratio in which these elements affect the success of the campaign:
· 40% is driven by the mailing list,
· 40% by the offer,
· 20% from the creative package.
This is all true from a big picture point of view. But when going into details, you have 9 key strategic factors to consider:
Knowing the customer or decision maker for your product/service is instrumental in developing a successful direct mail campaign.
No matter what criteria you use to organize your mailing list, it is critical to understand your intended buyer/customer and select a mailing list within an appropriate and useful target audience.
Every direct communication should include an offer or incentive for the customer to buy your product/service. A general rule is that money tends to produce the best results. But be careful, you don’t want to give away too much – a lucrative offer such as 50% off might generate a wonderful response rate, but it might be an expensive proposition.
Message & Copy (Creative Package – part 1)
What is your product? What are its benefits? Why does your audience need it? Where does the reader sign up, and by when? These are examples of the critical messages that need to be clear, concise, and even repeated several times in your communications. If your readers are confused, they will not buy.
When developing copy, assume your reader has a short attention span. It is best to use short sentences, bullet points and headlines that can be read quickly. Finally, while grammar is important, your English teacher is not grading your letter. Feel free to take creative license.
Format & Graphics (Creative Package – part 2)
Using different type styles such as bold, underline and ALL CAPITAL letters can be used to draw your reader’s eye to key messages. Headlines and/or changes in font sizes can do the same thing. However, be judicious in your use of these techniques, as over use will lessen the impact.
Consider highlighting your offer, call to action, and response date, while using headlines as an opportunity to state benefit messages throughout your communication piece.
Call to Action
The bottom line with any direct mail piece is to generate action or sales. You have to be very clear as to the action you want the recipient of the message to do. Do you want your prospect to fill out an application or do you want them to call for more information?
Testing Multiple Variables
The greatest benefit of using direct mailing is the fact it generates immediate response. The results can easily be measured, but the problem is you can’t tell which of the elements you used attracted the client, and determined the positive response.
As a result, consider creating “test cells” by mixing key variables of your campaign. For example, divide your mailing list into four parts and send:
Offer A with Copy X to 25%
Offer B with Copy X to 25%
Offer A with Copy Z to 25%
Offer B with Copy Z to 25%
Another testing opportunity is mailing a 2nd and possibly even 3rd letter to the same person approximately 1-4 weeks apart.
A general rule of advertising is that people do not really see and/or internally comprehend a marketing message the first time around. Using this rule of thumb, it might take your target market 2-3 “viewings” to open, comprehend and internalize your message enough to buy your product/service.
Creating Tracking Measures
Establishing accurate measurement tools such as promotion codes and/or coupons cannot be overlooked when designing your direct mail campaign.
For example, if you are selling newsletter subscriptions, ask your customer to mention the coupon or read a promotion code when they sign up. Keep track each time a customer mentions or reads the code so that you can be sure they were responding to your letter, versus signing up on their own.
The financial success for a campaign can be measured in many ways, for example Cost per new accounts (CPA) and return on investment (ROI). To calculate a CPA, take your total program expenses and divide by the number of new accounts acquired. A simple ROI equation takes the total program expense minus the additional money generated as a direct result of the campaign.
Direct mail can be a very important element of your marketing mix. When used correctly it allows for high target market selectivity, personalization, testing, and most importantly, it enables you to measure results. So, take the time to consider the details of a successful campaign.