Speaking Directly

THE
DATACORE
BLOG

It’s Spring, Time to Rejuvenate Your Direct Mail!

It’s hard to believe, we know, but Spring is actually here!

The days are beginning to get longer, temperatures are creeping up and there’s that exciting feeling of renewal and rejuvenation in the air. It’s the perfect time to take a look at your direct mail program and test out some new ideas to give your direct mail new life and your results a boost. Here are some ideas for you to consider.

Reinvigorate with Outside Lists

Rented names from outside lists are a great way to find new customers. There is a wide variety of lists out there with characteristics that might be the perfect match for what you have to offer.

Response lists, such as magazine subscribers and merchandise buyers, have always been good bets. Compiled lists and special interest lists often come with extensive demographics and other selections that can help you hone in on your likely prospects. Canada Post’s Canada Complete database offers some pretty serious options and is worth checking out.

If you don’t have experience with selecting and renting lists, definitely make sure you work with an experienced professionals (like DataCore) who knows the ins and outs of the Canadian list rental scene.   

Change Up Your Format

Always mailing the classic #10 envelope package? Try testing a 9.5” x 5.75” outer envelope or even a 12” x 9”. Tests have consistently shown that larger packages pull higher response.

Try adding elements to your direct mail package that are known as response boosters. A classic addition is a “lift memo”. It’s usually a folded piece that contains a separate thought or additional offer. It’s called a lift memo because it is a proven way to “lift” response.

Although the traditional envelope direct mail package is definitely still king in the world of direct mail, there is much to be said for self-mailers. Often more economical to produce, they can be a palette for some creative thinking.

If you use Neighbourhood Mail and tend to send flyers or postcards, you may think that an envelope package is just not the accepted format. But think again. Even though Neighbourhood Mail is not personally addressed, direct mail packages fare very well and can boost attention and response. And do consider making a letter the key element inside your package. In a mailbox full of shouting graphics, sometimes it is the more personal-looking communication that gets the most attention and response.

Take Advantage of Personalization

Go beyond just name and address. Use the transactional data you have at hand such as past purchases, demographic and psychographic attributes like age, gender, income and household make-up, or data about their interests to make your message and proposition more directly relevant to the individual. Sometimes you may even be able to personalize the visuals you present to each recipient based on such things as known preferences, geography, age, etc.

Test a Different Offer 

It has been shown that if you change up the creative in your direct mail, you can possibly double response. But if you successfully change the offer, you can increase response four-fold!

An entire book can be written about offers, how to construct them and how to test them. Suffice to say here that there is a world beyond % discounts or $$ off you can try to stimulate not just better response to your mailing, but possibly even higher spending per sale. Free gifts, added or extra value, buy one get one free, exclusive discounts…the list of possibilities is endless.

Here are some important tenets of making an offer in direct mail:

You should always present the offer as something of value and something of importance. And if your offer doesn’t have value and importance, you should be looking for a new offer.

  • Free is key. If you are offering something free, shout it. It will almost always increase response.
  • Get specific. Are you offering a travel brochure… or a free 32-page special booklet with 18 color photographs, including everything you need to know before you book your trip? The more specific you get with your offer, the more people will respond to it.
  • Make it unique. Chances are, if you think creatively about it, you can come up with an offer than no other company can duplicate. You may even be able to come up with an offer that “money can’t buy.”

Two-Step, Anyone?

A one-step approach generally means that you hope your customers or prospects will make a purchase as a direct result of the mailing you send them. But have you considered taking more of a lead generation/conversion approach, also known as two-step marketing?

If the first step is less of a commitment by the customer, you can sometimes get more people to respond, and have a second step that then works to convert them into buyers. Overall, you may end up with more sales.

For example, consider asking people to sign up online in order to become eligible for a substantial discount. When they do, send them their discount coupon or code via mail or email, then track the redemption. Because you know who has received the discount offer, you can follow up with reminders, potentially boosting your overall conversion.

Combine Mail with Email

It has been shown that when an email is sent about one week to the same audience about one week after they have received a direct mail package, response can be increased by as much as 10%, sometimes more. The best emails call attention to the direct mail package. (Did you receive our mailing?) Of course, you can only do this with the customers for whom you have a valid email address on file. A good reason to work hard to get those email addresses!

Rewrite Your Mailing So It Talks to an Individual

Direct mail is the most personal of media. Its roots are in the personal correspondence people used to send each other, which was once the only way to communicate with each other from long distances.

Do you remember getting your first letter from someone? You were probably pretty excited, wondering who it had come from and what it would say, and you probably devoured it word for word.

That potent feeling has been behind some of the best direct mail letters ever created, letters that helped build powerhouse companies like American Express, Time Inc., and so many others.

If you use a letter in your direct mail, try a new version of it. Sit down and imagine who your ideal prospect is. See them in your mind. Is a woman or a man? Middle-aged? Older? Younger? Do they make a lot of money? Do they have children? What do they do for a living? For fun?

Some in marketing call this building a persona. It’s really a profile of a living person who represents who you want to talk to. Now with that person in mind, sit down and begin writing them an impassioned and persuasive letter addressed just to him or her. Use the word “You”. Use it a lot. Think about what they want to know, and then tell them just that. Ask yourself what their objections will be. Then address them. Tell them what you are asking them to do…clearly, passionately, persuasively.

No other change you make to the content and design of your direct mail package would have as much impact as rewriting it to make it from you to him or her, personal and relevant.