Direct Mail

Tips for improved direct mail response rates

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
August 20 2014,
July 3 2020

Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to get more for their direct mail buck? We’ve been looking at “best practice” and, using the 4 critical elements of a campaign – planning, creative, execution and measurement - have pulled together some top tips to help you extract more value from your investment. 

1. Planning (the stuff you need to do before you can get cracking)

  • All campaigns start with data. Analyse and segment yours wisely so that your mailing is a) more relevant and b) focused on your target audience.
  • Check lists are accurate and up to date. When did you last do any data cleansing? Remember B2B data decays at around 30% p.a.
  • Build in testing and sampling time. You might think you know what headlines and content will work but it’s not always what you think! Test, test and test again, it ALWAYS pays dividends.

2. Creative (the compelling copywriting, format and imagery that sets your dm apart)

  • Design your campaign to incorporate variable data to make each piece customised and personalised to the recipient.
  • Back up direct mail with at least one additional channel. Consider email, the various social media channels, etc. but keep the design and theme consistent and recognisable.
  • Be clear with your messaging so the recipient immediately sees the benefits of your offer and understands “what’s in it for me?”
  • Don’t send anything unless it offers either a benefit or incentive. Stick to one, straightforward offer if you can, too many will just confuse.
  • We’re all bombarded by marketing “noise”; make sure your designs stand out and have impact.
  • Avoid jargon, it can alienate and irritate your audience.
  • Reel the reader in with a compelling headline that attracts attention.
  • Write in a personal, friendly manner. Don’t be overly-familiar or overly-formal (you don’t need to sound like Charles Dickens!)

3. Execution (the getting it done and making it happen bit)

  • Make it easy for prospects to respond by giving them plenty of options and letting them choose the channel they prefer.
  • Make sure one of the response mechanisms is an optimised landing page (preferably personalised) created specifically for your campaign as, more and more, people prefer to respond online rather than by phone.
  • Make offers time-sensitive and ensure a sense of urgency with a deadline.
  • Mailing pieces should have a single purpose and “Call to Action” (CTA).
  • Research shows that larger envelopes generate a higher response rate than smaller ones.

4. Measurement (knowing for sure a campaign’s been successful rather than relying on gut-feel)

  • QR Codes that invite a smartphone user to scan them make a printed piece interactive and can deliver a wealth of analytics information.
  • Intelligent Print Recognition and Augmented Reality provide similar statistics but provide an even richer, more rewarding user experience
  • Unique URLs or pURLs are also good for tracking responses to your dm, by making a site visitor feel valued and personally rewarded.
  • Unique SMS or landline numbers are an invaluable and highly accurate way of measuring who and how many are responding to a specific mailing piece.
  • Promotional codes, reply slips and coupons might be traditional, but they still have a place in modern marketing.

The research tells us that direct mail’s still right up there when it comes to generating ROI. We hope you find these tips useful and that they help deliver that “more bang for your buck” we’re all after!

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