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Should You use a Direct Mail Campaign?


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Direct mail is not a new idea, but it can be a very effective part of your overall marketing plan. Today, when consumers are bombarded by images on their televisions and computers, there is significant value in being able to hold a written message in your hand for thoughtful consideration. The television and radio can easily be ignored, and spam filters has made a lot of email marketing a thing of the past. It is also one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising; with direct mailings you can reach a targeted audience for little money. Direct mail also has the advantage that you choose who you send your message to based on specific criteria that makes those people more likely to want your product or service.

The key to success with direct marketing is to create a plan and stick to it. You need to consider how large an audience you wish to reach and plan appropriately. A reasonable direct mail campaign averages a 3 to 4% response rate, an excellent campaign 5 to 10%. Plan to make your mailings large enough to bring in the numbers you will need to make it profitable. Think about who is most likely to want or need your product or service. Your list can be narrowed down based on any number of factors like age, income, location, etc. You can create your list in a number of ways depending on who your target audience is. It can be as easy as retrieving a list of past clients, using government statistic sites, or employing a reputable list provider. Make sure your list is “clean” — addresses are up to date and accurate. You don’t want a lot of return mail.

Once you know who you are mailing to, you need to decide what you will be sending, and how often. You can send something as simple as a postcard, or elaborate as a pop-up brochure with confetti. Remember, most people open their mail by the garbage can, so make your mailer something that catches the eye or makes the holder want to open it. For example, different shapes, bright colors, or “fat” mail - something bulky in the envelope that feels unusual - can all be used to make your mailing something your target audience notices and remembers. (You know when you get those envelopes that look like a check is enclosed? You open it even if you know it isn’t real, don’t you?) If you’re unsure what to use, consult with your printer, they have plenty ideas for effective marketing pieces and the costs associated with each one.

The frequency of your mailing can make a big difference on the effectiveness of your campaign. Don’t send one mailer out and then forget about it. At least five mailings spaced on a one to five week cycle is preferable to get a strong response. The farther apart the mailings, the slower and fewer responses you will get. It’s your decision on what you feel will be the best way to reach out to your target audience and inform without being annoying. For many, keeping up with the mailers is the most difficult part of their direct mail campaign. Substantial lists can make it a chore to print, address, stamp and mail your marketing pieces. It’s easy to put it off until later, then later becomes never and your campaign becomes useless. A good printer will let you set up a schedule in advance and take care of the mailing for you. While this costs a little more than do-it-yourself, you gain it back in saved time and completed work.

Track which pieces get the best response for future direct mail campaigns. You may want to cut a particular mailer for your next campaign, or add a similar piece to get better responses.

A direct mail campaign is a smart, economical way to get your message out to a large number of potential clients/customers who are specifically suited to your product or service. A good list of addresses, interesting marketing pieces, and a reliable schedule are all you need to have a successful campaign.


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