There’s a historically-proven, effective and friendly way to market to new
and existing customers, but many marketers are missing out on it. What’s
more, the fact that so many marketers are missing out makes it that much
more of a potentially successful option.
It's direct mail marketing: sending postcards, brochures, newsletters,
catalogs and more to the mailboxes of your prospects and existing customers.
With direct mail marketing, one of the most time-tested marketing campaign
tactics is hiding in plain sight. It worked for many years, but the boom in
email and social media marketing distracts us from this fact. The truth is,
a successful direct mail marketing campaign is still one of the most
effective ways to generate and keep customers for your business. Even if
you’re already effectively marketing through digital means, implementing a
direct mail campaign works well in conjunction with digital marketing
and can help you reach customers you might not otherwise reach. Whether it’s
because they aren’t active on social media or because they’re sick of
sorting through crowded email inboxes, there are customers out there who
just are missing out on your business and brand.
Simply put, not knowing how to pull off a stellar direct mail marketing
campaign (or not even trying to) puts your business behind the curve, but
fear not: The steps aren’t hard to navigate, and this guide will ensure you
understand each of them.
Much of the success of a direct mail marketing campaign happens before the
campaign really begins. The planning of the campaign determines its success:
the more you can account for variables and create a response to them, the
more you increase the efficacy of your campaign. And it all starts with
Setting Goals for Your Campaign
All good marketing campaigns strive to meet a combination of three goals:
Building brand awareness, improving customer relationships and generating
new leads. The first, building brand awareness, should be an integral part
of all marketing campaigns. The second and third goals can vary in
importance to specific campaigns, but one or the other will always be a core
focus of a properly planned marketing campaign. Importantly, the most
well-planned and effective campaigns can achieve all three, regardless of
the core focus of the specific campaign.
There are, however, a few caveats to consider when shaping the goals of a
marketing campaign. The first is to remember to be as specific as possible
when outlining goals. Vague goals will inherently lead to vague planning,
and it’s hard to track the results of these goals. Conversely, being
specific will encourage creative thinking and a more nuanced approach. For
example, it is more effective to set a goal of “Generate 10 new leads for a
recently hired salesperson” or “Make contact with customers whom we haven’t
sold to in 6 months, and generate a sale with at least 25 percent of those
customers” than it is to say “Further build our brand” or “Increase sales”
because the former goals are detailed and trackable, while the latter two
goals are abstract and mean very little in a technical sense. Remember, aim
for detailed goals with trackable effectiveness to ensure creative campaign
planning and usable data to learn from after the campaign.
Creating Your Mailing List
The details of your planned campaign will determine the recipients of the
mailing pieces you use. When you’ve decided who your campaign’s target
audience is, you can then start shaping your mailing list. For broad-based
campaigns based on generating new leads and boosting brand recognition
amongst a large audience, you have a few options.
The first option is employing
EDDM mailing services. This service doesn’t use a mailing list per se; it uses a specific ZIP
code or carrier route and delivers your mailing piece to every household
within that ZIP code or carrier route. It’s most effectively used for
campaigns that seek to establish new customers from a broad, untapped base.
EDDM is valued for its cost-effectiveness and convenience, but it requires
mailing pieces that adhere to certain specifications. Its major drawback is
that there is no way to tailor an EDDM mailing list; they’re all or nothing
undertakings. You may find that because of this lack of specificity, an
EDDM-based campaign casts too broad of a net to match your goals. This is
usually the case for campaigns marketing niche products or services or
seeking to reach out to existing customers. But if the broad net of EDDM
mailing does fit your campaign, it’s the most cost-effective option.
Another option is the traditional purchased mailing list from an outside
source that’s tailored to fit the needs of your campaign. These lists are
designed to target a specific audience based on demographics like age,
household size and income level. Like EDDM, they’re well-suited to finding
leads and establishing new relationships amongst potential customers, but
they’re much more specified in the audience they target. You should only
invest in a mailing list like this after you’ve determined what demographic
statistics most correspond with your marketing campaign. For your
convenience, U.S. Press can help you find the mailing list that fits your
campaign through our third-party mailing list providers.
Finally, you may choose to use an internal list. These are, of course, the
most useful when reaching out to existing customers and strengthening those
relationships. They should be treated like purchased mailing lists,
however: Tailor the recipients of your mailing pieces to match the goals of
Deciding What To Mail
At the same time, you’ll need to select which type of mailing piece you’d
like to use. More common options include brochures, postcards and catalogs.
Just like the type of mailing list you use, the type of mailing piece you
select will depend on the specific goals of your marketing campaign.
work best in efforts to grab customer attention and deliver a quick, strong
message. They’re easy and affordable to design, print and ship. Including a
call to action increases their effectiveness and including codes, discounts
or other redeemable benefits makes them good for tracking the effectiveness
of your campaign (this will be addressed specifically in a later section of
this guide). They’re also easy for customers to hold onto; when they’re
designed well, they’ll wind up stuck on customers’ refrigerators or message
boards to keep raising your brand awareness with passersby. Because of all
of these reasons, postcards are likely to be the right choice for campaigns
centered on reaching out to new customers and building a client base amongst
serve a similar purpose in that they recruit and promote your brand, but
they’re oriented more towards delivering information than they are capturing
attention. A brochure may sacrifice some of the visual design appeal of a
postcard to afford itself more space for information. This doesn’t mean that
brochures can’t be well-designed, attractive mailing pieces, however.
Brochures are especially useful for more in-depth marketing. For example, an
amusement park might send a postcard to notify customers of one specific
event, like a concert or a new themed ride that’s opening up, but they’re
afforded little more space than that. With a brochure, the same amusement
park can tell customers what their hours are, how much tickets cost, details
about all of their events and attractions and even driving directions.
Brochures give you the elbow room to truly sell your business to customers.
are often best sent to existing customers to promote purchasing and
introduce them to new additions to product lines and inventory. Many
companies routinely send out catalogs at one-year intervals to keep
customers engaged and introduce them to new products. A well-designed
catalog that engages customers will make them more likely to do business
with your company.
Designing Your Mail Piece
In designing your piece, consider what the ultimate purpose is that this
piece is to serve, just as you did in selecting your mailing list and your
type of mailing piece. But in doing so, remember there are common themes of
effective design that will apply to direct mail marketing pieces across the
board, and they should be adhered to by designers.
Effective direct mail pieces are always attractive, unique standouts that
set themselves apart without being too busy or effecting the clarity of the
message they present. The design of the piece as a whole should be
attractive and pleasing in order to create a memorable, lasting effect.
Thus, making sure that your primary message is displayed in clean, clear
text across the front of your mailing piece is a must. Something direct and
bold will grab your customer or prospective customer’s attention and direct
it towards the rest of the mailing piece’s message.
Additionally, make sure your company logo is visible on the piece so that
viewers can readily associate your brand with the piece’s sharp design and
its message. A good thing to remember when designing any marketing campaign
is that this is your company’s primary means of making an impression with
customers. This is true for existing customers, and it’s even more important
to keep in mind when marketing to new or potential customers. The quality of
your design is your chance to show them the overall level of quality they
will come to associate with your company.
Include in your design space for any coupons or codes that customers can use
for discounts or as loyalty rewards. This is a great means for encouraging
purchases or building existing relationships, but it’s also where you track
your campaign’s effectiveness through measuring the number of people who act
on those codes or coupons, and it should be included in any direct mail
Printing And Preparing For Mail
After you’ve finished with selection and design and have determined what
your mailing list will look like, your campaign is ready for printing and
mail prep. U.S. Press has printed and mailed direct marketing campaigns
since 1981 and will be happy to produce yours for you. From mail list
acquisition to design, printing, and mail services, we’ll do the heavy
lifting for you.
If you’re using an
mailing list for your campaign, the mailing process is already determined
for you. Outside of this, you will need to be aware of postage classes,
rates, mail panel design, and how these apply to your specific campaign.
Check out our guide to make sure your campaign is ready for mail:
Mailing Guidelines 101: Understanding USPS Regulations.
Before you move to mail your pieces, format your mailing list in an Excel
spreadsheet with columns for each piece of information in the list. Column A
for company name, Column B for contact name, and so on in this manner for
address, street, city, state and ZIP code.
Measure Success Of Your Campaign
The last step of a direct mail marketing campaign isn’t at the post office.
Once you’ve mailed out your marketing pieces, you’ll have to wait until
after their delivery to test your campaign’s effectiveness. As mentioned
before, this is where including coupons, redeemable codes and other rewards
or incentives in your design comes in. The more activity you receive in
direct response to your campaign, the more effective your campaign was.
Minimal response may indicate a need for tweaking your design or revisiting
the details of your mailing list in relation to your campaign’s goals.
Examples of how to do this include a creating a unique URL that’s attached
to a specific page on your web site, a unique phone number or extension, or
codes to be entered for discounts at purchase. Remember to make the reward
for following the call to action a strong enough reward to incentivize the
action. Another tracking strategy is using variable data to create
differences in design or message to test their strength against one another.
Measure and record the results of this campaign over time, and compare them
to the results of past marketing campaigns.
After your campaign has been successfully completed, think about how you can
best capitalize on its results. Reach out to new contacts and develop those
relationships. Keep rewarding existing customers. Continue researching new
markets to deliver your company’s message to, and then refer back to the
beginning of this guide as needed.