8 Direct Mail Enhancements, Other Than Paper, Finishing, Coating

Enhancing your direct mail through paper, finishing, and coatings are great, but there is one more category to discuss. And Part 4 in this series is about “other” direct mail enhancements.

Enhancing your direct mail through paper, finishing, and coatings are great, but there is one more category to discuss. And Part 4 in this series is about “other” direct mail enhancements.

So why use these things in your direct mail? The special effects of enhancements change the appearance, dimensions, and texture of your mail piece. They are beautiful and eye-catching, so that they draw attention to your message and increase your response rates.

So what are some options to consider in beyond paper, finishing, and coatings?

Other Types of Direct Mail Enhancements

  • Die Cuts: There are many options for die cutting, based on your design and desired effect. Make sure to consult with your mail service provider on postal regulations if you are sending a self-mailer. Create something really fun.
  • Maps: If you are trying to drive traffic to a store location or event, use personalized maps to show your prospects and customers how to get there. The easier you make it, the more likely they are to attend.
  • Informed Delivery: The post office has this program that sends emails to people who sign up every day with images of the mail pieces that they will get that day. You can include a web link with the image of your mail piece so that people can start shopping right away.
  • Personalization: Personalization of offers is an easy way to enhance the effectiveness of your mail pieces. When you send someone a special offer tailored to them, you drive response.
  • Augmented Reality: This is a really powerful and engaging enhancement for direct mail. You can make your mail pieces come to life when your prospects or customers scan the piece with their smartphone. This is only limited by your creativity and your budget. Imagine what experience you could create.
  • Video: You can include a video screen on your mail pieces to provide an enhanced way to share your message and create a little fun. Keep them no longer than 3 minutes and make sure they are not just informative but also entertaining.
  • Social Media: When you run social media ads for your mail list on Facebook or Instagram in conjunction with your mail pieces, you increase your response rates. Of course, they need to have the same offer and general design to be recognized as part of the same campaign.
  • Google Ads: Just like with social media ads, Google ads help increase response rates. You target only the people on your mail list by appending IP address information to it.

These are just some of the things you can do with your direct mail to enhance your ROI. When adding these enhancements, you increase the value of your mail piece and make a better impression. What we touch shapes what we feel, so how are you making your prospects and customers feel? Use enhancements to create a better experience.

One thing to keep in mind as you add enhancements, you increase the production time of your pieces. So make sure to add extra time into your schedule. Make the best impression with your next direct mail campaign and see your ROI increase. Are you ready to get started?

7 Instances of Well-Intended Direct Mail Gone Bad

There are many things that can go wrong with a direct mail campaign. Before you plan your next campaign, see to it that you are not making any mistakes that can not only cost you money, but also responses. Believe it or not, bad direct mail is very common.

There are many things that can go wrong with a direct mail campaign. Before you plan your next campaign, see to it that you are not making any mistakes that can not only cost you money, but also responses. Believe it or not, bad direct mail is very common.

How Direct Mail Goes Wrong

  • List: There are many things that can go wrong with your data. You can have old, outdated information. You can select the wrong people to get the wrong offer. For example, an offer for men only, but some women are entered with the wrong gender code. These can cause problems with personalization and have you sending to people who are no longer interested, who never were interested, or are no longer at that address.
  • Call to Action: Worst case scenario is no call to action at all, followed closely by a poorly worded CTA. In order to drive response, you need a CTA that resonates with your audience.
  • Wordy: Too many words or the wrong words can get your mail piece tossed in the trash. Be concise and to-the-point. Let them know what’s in it for them and how they can get it. Details on products are a turn-off; use benefits to them to draw them in.
  • Images: The wrong images can turn people off or confuse them. Make sure you choose images that support not only your message, but also your brand.
  • Grammar: Misspellings and poor word choices are very common. You need to make sure that your copy is free of errors to get your point across correctly. Mistakes like these give you a bad reputation from which it can take a long time to recover.
  • Format: There are many USPS regulations that can cost you a lot of money if you do not follow them. When you are creating your campaign, it is best to consult with your mail service provider to find out specific details about your design idea. This can save you from paying extra postage or not being able to mail your piece at all.
  • Timing: Granted, there are differences in delivery times across the country, but there is enough information out there for you to plan on a schedule that will most likely occur. If you have a short response window, you need to make sure that the mail piece does not arrive after the window has closed. There is nothing worse than a mail piece that is trying to drive traffic to a store sale, but the mailer arrives after the sale is over. Make sure to allow yourself enough time for concept, design, print, and mail.

This is, by far, not a complete list of bad direct mail, but it does give you a comprehensive look at several key areas where things commonly go wrong. Sometimes, knowing what not to do is the best place to start planning from. Many times, the best way to stop mistakes is to allow enough time for the creative and production processes. It is also a good idea to have someone from outside your organization look over your final concept to make sure that person understands your offer and that it is appealing. Are you ready to get started on better direct mail?

How Dimensional Mail Can Be an Impressive Direct Mail Strategy

Sometimes, direct mail marketing is really fun. Have you ever opened a can of worms? I did, and that dimensional mail really was a can of worms.

Sometimes, direct mail marketing is really fun. Have you ever opened a can of worms? I did, and that dimensional mail really was a can of worms.

I received a soup can in the mail about 25 years ago. It looked just like a Campbell’s soup can, but instead of chicken noodle soup it was labeled “Can of Worms.” If you didn’t look too closely, you would swear it was a real soup can. Being in the direct marketing business, I appreciate stuff like this. It is one of the best promotional items I have ever received and I have never forgotten it.

Dimensional items are fun to get in the mail. What fun mail pieces have you seen or mailed?

More recently, I received a direct mail piece that focused more on personalization than on a cool factor. It was a full-color 6 x 9 envelope with a headline that read, “Values are way UP in the Gould neighborhood.” It had an aerial picture of my neighborhood, with my house highlighted. Below the headline it said, “(Yes, that’s your house!).” When I opened it (and who could resist opening an envelope like that?) there was a brochure, again with a picture of my house, describing the product and offer. This is very impressive to recipients.

  • What have you received that really caught your attention and motivated you to buy?
  • What are you doing to create that experience for your customers and prospects?
  • What do you know about the people you mail to and how can you use that to get them to buy?

As marketers, we grapple with these questions all of the time as we try to come up with more effective mail pieces. Obviously, the answers to these questions will be different for every company as your goals, what you sell and how you sell it all factors into how you create your direct mail marketing.

The worst direct mail strategies are the ones where they add a dimensional piece or personalization that means nothing to their customers and prospects. What you are sending needs to be relevant to recipients and needs to coincide with the messaging of the campaign. When there is a clash between what you say and what you sent, people will throw it away. This is just a waste of money. The can of worms worked because it was a unique dimensional piece that was selling software to keep people from creating a real can of worms. Then the hyper personalized house mail piece was selling homeowners insurance.

You must have synchronicity in order to get results.

Creating an impressive direct mail campaign takes time and commitment. Create fun experiences for your customers and prospects that they will remember and share it with others. It probably won’t be 25 years from now. But if it’s good, it can lead to referrals six months from now. Are you ready to get started?

 

How to Execute a Direct Mail Campaign

Many marketers are great at generating direct mail ideas and building creative and strategy, but when it comes to execution, it fails. Why is that? For the most part it is because there are no educational opportunities for execution, only for strategy. So how can you combat that to execute an excellent direct mail campaign?

Many marketers are great at generating direct mail ideas and building creative and strategy, but when it comes to execution, it fails. Why is that? For the most part it is because there are no educational opportunities for execution, only for strategy. So how can you combat that to execute an excellent direct mail campaign?

Steps to great direct mail execution:

  1. Focus: You and your team need to have true focus on all the details of the creation, through the execution. Who are you mailing to? What is your message? What images will you use? What is your call to action? How can people respond? When do you plan to mail? How will it mail? Can you do it in house or do you need to outsource? How long do people have to respond? Are you doing any follow up? There are a ton of questions to answer before you even get to put the piece in the mail.
  2. Measurement: It is extremely important to know what is working and what is not. How can you measure direct mail? One way is by response, how many people called, emailed or went to your link. Another way is by sales, how much money was generated based on the mail piece. There are many metrics that may be important to you, so plan ahead on ways to track them before you mail. Providing a coupon code or special phone number/landing page is a great way to know who is responding to your campaign.
  3. Reports: Create reports that show your metrics so that your team knows what is working and can build off of your success. They should be posted for all to see and kept current. If you are getting more of a response from one offer than another your team needs to know it. You also need to know who responds in what ways by phone, email, website or even in store.
  4. Accountability: Everyone on the team needs to know who is in charge of what so that nothing falls through the cracks. Create a calendar of your schedule so that everyone one knows when things are due and you meet all your deadlines. Designate a point person for each section of the campaign.

Direct mail is a great driver of response as long as you send to the right people with the right offer at the right time. You will learn all of this information from prior mailings. Over time, you will build a rich data base, which will allow you to select very targeted people who are most interested on your offer. Many times we spend so much time on creative and copy that the way it gets in the mail is overlooked. You need to build into your timeline the printing and mailing of the pieces. Timing of the mail can really matter especially if you are having a limited time sale.

Mail service providers can help you plan out your timeline and keep you on track. They can also help determine when you should mail based on your in-home dates. You should consider the type of postage you will be using too. Do you want the look of stamps, meter or indicia? There are a lot of details that go into direct mail execution, do not be afraid to ask for help from the experts, that is what they are there for. Are you ready to plan and execute a great direct mail campaign?

Why Use Dimensional Mail?

The good part about dimensional mail is that each one may cost more to produce, but you will get more responses with this type of mail. Here are the top three reasons to use dimensional mail:

dimensional mailDimensional mail is mail pieces that are not flat like normal, but have dimension such as boxes or tubes. They have a much higher response rate compared to traditional mail pieces. Switching from direct mail postcards to a dimensional piece is very costly — before you consider this, you need to know your budget constraints. The good part about dimensional mail is that each one may cost more to produce, but you will get more responses with this type of mail.

Top three reasons to use dimensional mail:

1. Appeal

This unique mail piece resonates with recipients. Not only will they open it, but in most cases, they share it with friends and family. It’s also remembered much longer than other types of mail.

2. Response

Dimensional mail has a higher response rate than regular mail. According to the 2010 Direct Marketing Association report, the average response is around 8.5 percent.

3. Longevity

In many cases, the dimensional mail is useful to recipients and is kept to be used over and over, thus keeping your company top of mind each time they use it.

Since this can be costly, it pays to plan ahead. Generating cost saving where you can is the best way to increase your ROI. This is not to say go cheap on paper and packaging, but to consider all your options and pick what will work best for your campaign. Many times you can take advantage of a sale on items you want to use.

Here are some other cost saving ideas:

  • List: Really take time to target your list to the right prospects and customers. Don’t spend money on people who will not want or need your product or service.
  • Size: The dimension of your piece will help it stand out in the mail so there is no need to go for extra-large. The printing and assembly of a smaller package will save you money.
  • Method: You can mail in batches if that is preferable, but make sure your batch sizes allow you to take advantage of standard mail postage rates. Your mail service provider can give you all the information specific to the size of your piece.

Dimensional mail is a great opportunity to showcase your product or service. There are so many options to choose from, so you can get very creative. Remember to keep it relevant to your audience and that you need to stay in line with your company brand. Just sending any old thing to stand out does not work: You need to have a symbiotic relationship between the mail piece and your company along with the product or service you are trying to sell. Keep it functional but add some fun to it. Creating something fun that people like is a great way to get them to keep it and show it off to other people to increase your campaign’s reach.

As with any new direct mail venture, take the time to really plan out your campaign. All the little details really matter. You will find that there are fewer bumps in the road when you have a fine tuned plan ready to tackle any problems that creep up. Make sure to consider how the post office handles mail so that you do not end up sending out items that arrived damaged. The strength of the carton and the way the contents are packed matter a great deal in how the materials arrive to your prospects and customers. Are you ready to try dimensional mail?

Direct Mail: Why A/B Test?

This is a very common question our clients ask, especially the smaller ones. They need to know if they should be A/B testing. The easy answer is “yes.”

This is a very common question that our clients ask, especially the smaller ones. They need to know if an A/B test is something they should do. The easy answer is “yes,” because it allows you to try out different offers to see which ones work best.

Stressed, anxious person biting finger nails.If you don’t know what is working, how can you increase your ROI? Not to mention that, when you are using only one offer, what if it’s a bad one? What money are you leaving on the table by not A/B testing? Usually, the main reason people don’t want to test is because they think it will be complicated. That really is not the issue. You can create a very simple test and still gather valuable insight to apply to future direct mail projects.

Here are some ways to test your next direct mail campaign:

  • Simple test: In this test, everything about the mail pieces are exactly the same except for one element, which is usually the offer, but really you can test anything you want. You then take your mail list and split it in half, so half your list goes to one version and the other half to the second version. After you get all your responses back, it should be easy to tell which version had a better response. If you don’t have the time to collect your responses, talk to your mail provider, they can help you.
  • Control Group test: In this test, you will use a piece that you have mailed before and one test piece. You can use entirely different pieces. Decide what it is you want to test — usually design, color and images are tested in a control setting. You will split your list in half and see which one gets the better response. This works great if you are considering a new format and want to see how well it is received.
  • Complex test: In this test, you will be testing at multiple levels. This takes a lot of planning and strategy. You can test so many things — such as breaking your list of people up into like groups based on purchase history or demographics, and then creating multiple versions for each group to see what works best with each one. You can also test types of response methods from mobile texts, phone numbers, URL’s, QR Codes, reply cards and more.

One of the great results with testing is what you learn each time. It is extremely important to add this information to your database so you have it available for future testing. The more you know about your prospects and customers, the better your direct mail offers will be. Basically, A/B testing is a waste of time if you are not tracking your results. So let’s look at ways to do that.

Here are some ways to track direct mail results:

  • Unique phone number: Create a special phone number for each campaign.
  • Unique URL: Create a special landing page URL for each campaign.
  • Unique coupon code: Create a special code for people to use at purchase for each campaign.
  • Unique short code: Create a special texting short code for each campaign.

Now that you have tracking information, you can analyze it to create reports. You want to know which version had the best response, the most spend, who responded to what, and so on. The most important thing to know is what your ROI was on each version. Some things we do cost more money than others, so knowing if spending more gets you more money is vital otherwise you could just be wasting your money.

Have you tried testing? What has worked best for you?