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Marketing For Some That Time Of Year

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Direct mail is great for your business



These days, marketing is all about digital. We are emailing, blogging, Tweeting and Face booking our little marketer hearts out.  So direct mail (the kind that the postal delivery person puts in your mailbox, remember?) must be dead in the water. Right?


Wrong. According to the Direct Mail Association (DMA) for 2013, 65% of consumers of all ages have made a purchase as a result of direct mail.


According to Direct Mail News, in 2012 the average response rate for direct mail was 4.4% for both business-to-business and business to consumer mailings—considerably higher than industry expectations, and surging past electronic mail’s response rate of just 0.12%.


All this indicates that direct mail is alive and working well, thank you.


Even Google is using direct mail now!


Cost Per Lead about the Same as Email


“Well, OK,†you might argue. “But it still costs more to mail something printed than to send out email. What about ROI?â€

Good question.  The raw cost of a campaign isn’t the true test of success. Cost per lead is. The DMA reports that the cost per lead of direct mail is in line with print and pay-per-click, and significantly less than telemarketing (See Table 1). Direct mail production costs are somewhat more than email, but not enough to make email the holy grail of direct marketing.


Table 1: Cost per Lead Comparison



Yep*Source: DMA, 2012 Response Rate Report


With a higher conversion rate than any other medium, the Print on Demand Institute (PODI) found that direct mail out-pulled all other channels tested in terms of conversion rates, both for lead-generating “free†offers and one-step “buy now†offers. Direct mail’s edge becomes even more dramatic when it is optimized with personalization and other factors, and combined with personalized landing pages.


Try adding your existing landing page URL to direct mail. Some buyers really prefer to respond online, and this may bring in more business at zero additional cost. This becomes even more effective when you use a personalized vanity URL that is easy to remember and to type—www.ABCcorp.com/John.Smith makes it simple for customers to use even though they can’t cut and paste.

Direct mail also enjoys longer “shelf life†than email, so it might be profitable to evaluate your existing landing pages and offers to see what can be re-purposed to offer through direct mail. If you do, remember that people may access it weeks after the mailing, so make sure that the pages and offers are still good—or put a firm deadline on response time.


Try Postcards


Direct mail doesn’t have to be large and expensive to be effective. The U.S. Postal Service found that postcards are the mail format most likely to be read or scanned.

It may be that postcards don’t take much time to read. This means that to be effective, the prospect needs to understand your offer within seconds of glancing at it. Some of the same rules apply to postcards as to emails in terms of how much information can be effectively communicated.


Test postcard performance by using your best-performing promotional email as the starting point. Put the image and header on one side and the body copy on the other. Oversized postcards tend to get more attention, so try a large-format card size. Then see how your postcard test performs against email.

Remember, postcards are a great deal less expensive to print and mail than most forms of direct mail. DO NOT use postcards for B2B (business to business) as they rarely make it to the right person.


Use the Right Direct Mail Format


How well does your direct mail format correlate with what you are selling? Fun, glitzy pieces that work well for cosmetics or fashion will not fly if you are selling financial services; a somber No. 10 envelope would be more credible because that’s what people expect from financial services. Start collecting direct mail pieces as a reference library. Focus on direct mail aimed at your audience and analyze what the senders’ intentions were, the calls to action, graphics, etc.


Get Personal


Personalized communications continue to out-do generic pitches in all categories.

But using a person’s name is just the beginning—the content needs to be personalized as well. For example, if you are marketing high tech products that run on different platforms, users will have different hot buttons. A generic message that focuses on only one platform will not be relevant to other customers. Wording that tries to cover issues for all platforms will be cumbersome and uninteresting to most recipients. It’s worth the extra time and small expense to assure that your piece says the right thing to the right people.


Timing Is Everything


Direct mail campaigns used to take weeks to execute because of the time it took to develop concepts, print, etc. That can still be true of large and elaborate campaigns, but now marketers can take advantage of digital print-on-demand.


This allows you to be far more flexible in how you use direct mail. For example, American Signature Furniture once conducted a test, sending a self-mailer to people who visited a showroom but did not buy. The mailer included the customers’ names and the name and contact information for the sales rep who served them, as well as the date and time of the visit. Photos displayed the styles they considered during their visit to the store


Results were impressive. People who receive the mailer and return to purchase spend about 40% more than those who did not receive the mailer. The reminder also boosted return visits to the store by 10%.


Use direct mail as an adjunct to other sales and promotion efforts. Salespeople who complete a sales call can drop a postcard in the mail on the same day, thanking the customer and perhaps offering a special discount. Direct mail can support an email campaign as well.


Of course, seasonality is important. If your swimming pool-supply business peaks during the warm months, be sure to send direct mail in March reminding pool owners of the delights of the summer to come—and the importance of having a clean, sparkling pool to enjoy.


Test Everything


Amid a plethora of promotional techniques that are extremely hard to quantify (such as social media marketing), direct mail remains refreshingly measurable. Every lead or order can be traced back using source codes or other techniques. This allows you to experiment with different approaches to determine which ones are the most successful. It also allows you to quantify your ROI and justify costs


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I use direct mailing targeting only houses with roof streaks. Any realtor company in any given area or places like Zillow makes it easy to identify houses with alage. They also give the address on the same page. Not only do they display houses for sale, but also homes that have recently sold. So for houses that are for sale, this is what's on my envelope top right corner " Trying to sell your house? Increase your curb Appeal! We remove those black streaks on your roof!" This targets well and gets attention. Last year I had an incredible 20% return on my direct mailing. Out of that 20% that actually called everyone booked except for one house. 


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