Direct Mail Acquisition vs. Retention

Surprisingly, many people don’t know the difference between sending direct mail for acquisition purposes and sending direct mail for retention purposes. The most common response we get is, “why can’t I send everyone the same thing?”

direct mail retention vs. acquisitionSurprisingly, many people don’t know the difference between sending direct mail for acquisition purposes and sending direct mail for retention purposes. The most common response we get is, “why can’t I send everyone the same thing?” The reason is that prospects (acquisition) and customers (retention) are very different. You know about your customers, who they are and what they have purchased from you before, so your direct mail to them can be much more personalized. Let’s take an in-depth look at the two:

1. Direct Mail Acquisition

Direct mail that falls in this category is to get you new business. This means that you are sending to prospects who either do not know your company or may know of you a little bit. So the first thing you need to do is to get their attention before your piece is thrown out. Once you have their attention, you need to concisely convey who you are and what you can do for them. The key here is to list all the benefits they will get from your product or service — creating a need for your offer is a must. Then you need a strong call to action to drive their response. In many cases, a small, free giveaway or an introductory discount is given to entice them. It is also a good idea to create a sense of urgency by limiting the length of time the offer is available.

2. Direct Mail Retention

Direct mail that falls in this category is to keep your customers buying from you. This can be to get them to buy new products or services you offer, or ancillary items to what they have purchased before. The types of products or services you offer may limit the frequency of this type of mail. Do not send the same direct mail over and over to your customers. It will be trashed. You need to only send them mail that has new offers.

Retention mail is easier because your customers know you and are willing to read what you send them. You also know your customers so you can provide them only the offers they would be most interested in. This keeps your costs down and your ROI up. This is not to say that you don’t need strong benefits and a strong call to action, it is to say that you already have their attention, so use it well. Keep in mind that giving them a special customer only offer really helps to get responses.

Your direct mail campaigns can be a combination of acquisition and retention as long as you use the correct messaging to both. Variable data can help you do that while keeping everything together as one mailing to keep your postal discounts. Many times it is necessary to mail separately simply because you are mailing to acquisition people more often than you are to retention people.

Keep in mind that your response rate on acquisition mail will be smaller than retention mail. It takes seven to 10 touches for people to feel as though they know your company and would be willing to buy from you. Keep in mind that the touches can come from all different channels, they don’t all need to be direct mail. Another way to help acquisition people to buy from you is to include testimonials. When they can read how others feel about your product or service it eases some of the tension they feel trying something new. Give unique attention to both groups of people to improve your results.

Author: Summer Gould

A blog about Direct Mail Marketing, tips, tricks and what not to do.Summer Gould is President of Eye/Comm Inc. Summer has spent her 27 year career helping clients achieve better marketing results. She has served as a panel speaker for the Association of Marketing Service Providers conferences. She is active in several industry organizations and she is a board member for Printing Industries Association San Diego, as well as a board member for Mailing Systems Management Association of San Diego. You can find her at Eye/Comm Inc’s website: eyecomm.org, email: summer.gould@eyecomm.org, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @sumgould.

2 thoughts on “Direct Mail Acquisition vs. Retention”

  1. It’s surprising that some marketers would assume the same piece would work for prospects and customers, but that’s why we’re here…to provide some education. With rare exceptions, it’s critical that you speak to your customers differently than prospects when you are mailing or emailing them, or you risk turning off your customers by showing that you don’t know them. Retention communications are also a great opportunity to strengthen customer relationships beyond cross- or upselling, and potentially build a referral network.

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