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5 Things You’re Probably Doing Wrong with Your Direct Mail

You may have heard that there are a lot of “rules” when it comes to direct mail. While we feel that calling them rules is a little too inflexible, there are indeed many tried-and-true practices that have been proven to improve the performance of many a direct mail campaign.

If you wish your direct mail efforts were working a little stronger for you, here are 5 things you might be doing wrong.

No. 1 | Not Making Your Offer the “Star”

Assuming you have come up with a strong offer (you have, haven’t you?), never let it play second banana to any of the other messages you are including in your direct mail piece. Yep, that includes statements and copy that are part of you Brand messaging or guidelines. Make sure the offer is visible, repeated and possibly even the biggest message in your piece. Remember, people want to know what’s in it for them. So you need to tell them. They won’t be bothered hunting for it either, so make it the “star”.

No. 2 | Not Having a Clear Call-to-Action

This is what it is all about, getting your target audience to respond. Ask yourself: what do you want people to do when they get your direct mail piece? Don’t assume they know or care. It’s your job to ask for action. You need to define it very clearly, make it obvious and repeat it several times.

Whatever you do, don’t be vague or generic. “Call us” or “visit our website” ‘come to our store” are bland, easily ignored requests. Use an active verb, tell them what will happen when they act, be specific, and incite urgency. “Bring this coupon in by March 31st for your 20% off” is a good retail example.

No. 3 | Not Repeating Key Messages

Repetition is bad, right? Not in marketing, and especially not in direct mail. Remember, people scan first looking for interesting things that catch their attention. Repeated items give them a clue that those items are important. Good direct mail repeats the offer, the call-to-action, and critical action information like website addresses, phone numbers and street addresses.

No. 4 | Not Making It Easy to Respond

Whatever your call-to-action, make sure you make it as effortless for the respondent as possible. They won’t bother to respond or will abandon the effort if it is complicated, long, frustrating or inconvenient.

It’s their time and effort from which you benefit, so take the time to ensure it goes quickly and smoothly. Is the phone number easy to read? Is it toll-free or can you provide a local number? Can you avoid including an extension? (And is it answered by a real person?)

Is the URL simple and as short as you can make it? Are you sending respondents to a landing page or making them search your regular website for relevant information? Is your online form easy to complete or confusing and glitchy? Is your printed form easy to complete with lots of room to write? Have you provided a postage-paid reply envelope?

Remember, what may seem like a minor thing to you might be viewed as a major impediment to someone trying to respond.

No. 5 | Not Using the Pronoun “You”

Next to “Free”, it is considered the most powerful word in direct marketing, arguably in all of marketing. Direct mail is a personal medium and the use of the word “You” is a key indicator that the message they are about to spend time reading is relevant and of benefit to them. It also forces you to think in terms of what your reader will get out of what you have to offer, rather than just about yourself. Oh…and try to use it in the headline if you can.

There you go. There are many more factors that affect the performance of your direct mail, but improve these five and you’re on your way to better response!