How to Persuade Buyers With Your Direct Mail

Direct mail marketing is a very powerful response driver when used correctly. If you have not been getting the results you need, there are many different choices you can make to change the outcome based on several possible problem areas.

Direct mail marketing is a very powerful response driver when used correctly. If you have not been getting the results you need, there are many different choices you can make to change the outcome based on several possible problem areas.

The problem area we are going to highlight today is your copy and messaging. If your copy and messaging is not compelling, you will not get a good response to your mail.

How can we best create compelling message and copy?

  1. Storytelling – The first way to draw people in is with storytelling. You need to make sure that you are telling real stories about real people. If you are not authentic, your prospects and customers will know. Keep in mind that details make it seem more real and believable.
  2. Emotional associations – These are very important especially if there has been a strong negative association with your product or service. You can counteract these associations with good emotional associations you create. The simpler they are to comprehend the better. Emotions often trump logic, so make sure you manage emotions in a positive way.
  3. Statistics – Statistical evidence is a credibility builder, and should be used to illustrate a relationship. It’s more important for people to remember the relationship than the actual number. Keep in mind that statistics are not inherently helpful; it’s context that makes them helpful. Use them correctly in your copy to convince people to buy.
  4. Recommendations – Authorities are a reliable source of credibility; we trust recommendations from people we know, like, and want to be like. Use these testimonials on your mail pieces to show how great your product or service is.
  5. Details – Identify details that are compelling and human as well as meaningful; details that symbolize and support your core idea. Don’t be long winded.

This can seem like a lot of information you need to convey on your mail piece, but you can do these things in a concise way. You also don’t have to do all five on every piece. Pick the ones that will work best for what you are trying to say. You also need to consider the type of piece you are using. A postcard will have less room for copy than a letter.

The most important thing is to be authentic. Direct mail is the most trustworthy form of marketing according to consumers, but you can override that inclination with misdirection or shady copy. Don’t be the “used car salesman” that no one likes — be the honest, helpful marketer and win the business. Did you know that 62% of people who responded to direct mail made a purchase? Are they purchasing from you or your competitor?

Good direct mail drives increases in response rates, so make sure that you are creating the best direct mail with compelling copy and a great call to action. Consider trying one of the options above on your next campaign, to see for yourself what works. Are you ready to get started?

The Key to Effective Direct Mail Is Communication

Too many times, marketers are so focused on design that they lose sight of the importance of good copy. They end up with direct mail copywriting that is talking at someone instead of to them. This is not effective communication. This is seen as preaching to your prospects and customers. There is no value in that. Do not waste your time on copy that will not sell; after all, that is the whole point — to sell your product or service. Let’s look at how to make your direct mail copy sell.

Effective direct mail copywritingToo many times marketers are so focused on design that they lose sight of the importance of good copy. They end up with direct mail copywriting that is talking at someone instead of to them. This is not effective communication. This is seen as preaching to your prospects and customers. There is no value in that. Do not waste your time on copy that will not sell; after all, that is the whole point — to sell your product or service. Let’s look at how to make your direct mail copy sell.

Effective Direct Mail Communication is About:

  • Connecting Authentically: Create real emotional connections with your prospects and customers. Provide them with copy and offers that are relevant to them.
  • Share Your Values: Let customers and prospects know what is important to your company and what you stand for. Then, all your communication should reflect that.
  • Show Gratitude: Thank your customers for their business because they don’t have to choose you.
  • Questions: Take the time to know and understand the needs of your customers and prospects. Answer their questions before they have to ask them.
  • Testimonials: Be open and trustworthy — show your prospects on your direct mail what your customers truly think of you. Make them want to jump on board with you.

The more authentic your communication in your direct mail, the more trusted it is, therefore, you are going to get better results. People do business with companies they like and trust. Do you approach your direct mail messaging in this way right now? Once you are including the five elements above you are ready to finalize your copy writing. To do that, there are four more things you need to include.

Direct Mail Messaging Should Include:

  • Benefits : Let prospects and customers know how great life will be with your product or service.
  • Create Urgency: Give them a reason to respond quickly.
  • Highlight the Offer: Make sure it is clear and concise.
  • Response: Tell them what you want them to do and how to do it. Give them more than one way to make a purchase.

The more time you take to write good selling copy, the better your results are going to be. It is critical to include these four items in your direct mail copy. Without all four, your results will not be as good as they should have been. We always recommend having a person outside of your organization read your copy to make sure that it is understood in the way you intended it to be. There is nothing worse than flubbing your copy and making your customers and prospects angry.

So, are you and your team ready to create the best direct mail yet? When copy writing is done correctly, direct mail is very powerful. It is the only marketing channel that allows your customers and prospects to have a tactile experience. Take full advantage of that! Make it the best experience they have had with you yet! Now that you are creating great selling copy, you can take the time to get more creative with the design. Have fun with it, but remember that your copy writing is more important than a creative design! If your direct mail piece looks great but sends the wrong message, it will be ineffective.

Create a Compelling Direct Mail Moment

When you create and send direct mail to prospects and customers, you are creating a conversation with them. You get to control the message. So as you consider what your message is going to say, here are a few things to consider:

compelling direct mailIn order to be as effective as possible, your direct mail needs to be compelling. There are several factors involved with this. You need to send to a list of people who will be interested in your product or service — targeting to well-qualified people will make your offer more compelling to them. You need a good relevant offer and finally you need a good attention getting design. For now, let’s assume you have a good list so that we can focus on your design and messaging.

When you create and send direct mail to prospects and customers, you are creating a conversation with them. You get to control the message. So as you consider what your message is going to say, here are a few things to consider:

  • Decisions: Are you clearly stating the benefits your prospect and customers will get by purchasing your product or service? Write your messaging from their point of view — what is in it for them? They will be making judgments about your product or service quickly, so you need to have them fall in your favor.
  • Layout: Do not overcrowd your message. Be clear and concise. Use bullet points, bold key information and vary the font sizes you use. Keep white space in your design to give a calmer feel. Too much copy and imagery too close together is overwhelming.
  • Interpretation: People interpret your messaging differently based on their life experiences. It is best practice to have your messaging read by a variety of people to see how they interpret the meaning of what you are trying to say. You may be surprised that the message you thought was so clear is not.

Now you are ready to tackle the design. The first decision is what format you want to use. Do you want a postcard, self-mailer or a letter in and envelope? They can all be effective when done correctly. To make your postcard or self-mailer compelling, you need to consider more than if you use a letter. Consider the following things:

  • Images: You need to select images that convey your message and draw attention. Emotions are very important. The right images can enhance the appeal of your direct mail piece. They are the first thing people see when they look at your mail piece.
  • Colors: You need to select colors that create the feeling you wish to convey. Really take the time to plan out your color pallet. Colors have meaning, so make sure yours mean the right thing. Want more information on the meaning of colors? Check out this article.
  • Fonts: Choose fonts that are easy to read and set the mood. The sizes matter as well as the format. Consider your audience before choosing. Larger fonts for older people really do help get your mail read. We do not recommend super script fonts. They are hard to read. Make it easy for people to understand.

Compelling direct mail is really well planned. You know your audience, you know your message and you know your design are all aligned to bring you the best results. Focusing on the perspective of your audience will drive response. One thing we did not talk about is the offer/call to action. Create your offer as a special onetime thing. Give it an expiration and an exclusivity that is only for a select few. Be very clear on how they can respond to get the offer and provide multiple ways such as web pages, phone numbers, email and more. Are you ready to create the most compelling direct mail ever?

Visually Appealing Direct Mail

With all of the election mail this year, we have been overexposed to many mailers with too much going on. Yes, images are necessary, as is text, but when you oversaturate a large mailer, it turns into only noise — and noise goes in the trash. So I would like us all to consider: How can we get our message across while using blank space to our advantage?

beach and tropical seaWhy are we afraid of blank space in our direct mail? More and more of the mail I receive is crowded with text and images. I am overwhelmed visually, and I am willing to bet that most people are. With all of the election mail this year, we have really been overexposed to many mailers with too much going on. Yes, images are necessary, as is text, but when you oversaturate a large mailer, it turns into only noise — and noise goes in the trash. So I would like us all to consider: How can we get our message across while using blank space to our advantage?

Rather than call it blank space, I prefer to think of it as the space in-between, because really that’s what it is. It’s between images, between copy and between your call-to-action. It opens up our mind as a peaceful place between thoughts. It’s calming and refreshing to have that in-between space for a breath, as preparation for what is to come next. Our brains need that little downtime to organize and digest what we see.

Here’s how to create the space in-between:

Images

Select one or two images for the mailer. When sizing them, make them large enough for comprehension while allowing for space between the image and the copy.

Copy

Do not put copy over the images. Use bullet points and bolding to draw attention to your concise copy. Mailers are not letters — do not get too wordy. Allow for space between lines and use an open font instead of a compressed one.

CalltoAction

This needs to be in its own area with plenty of space around it to stand out. Get right to the point: What do your customers/prospects need to do? Make sure to tell them.

Color

The color(s) you choose for your mail piece is very important. You need them to work together with your copy and images to convey your message. Don’t go crazy with a ton of colors — pick a theme and have that guide your choices. When trying to create blank space you can use color, but keep it mild so when it is combined with open-spaced copy you are not overwhelming the visual senses.

The whole point of your mailer is to get people to respond. When you turn people off with too many images, too much copy or over-the-top colors, your mailer is ineffective.

With digital marketing always in our faces flashing images and endless pop-ups, it is refreshing to get mail pieces that are not scattered all over the place, but focused on one clear message. These mail pieces get acted upon. Create these pieces for your next campaign.

In no way am I saying that your mail piece needs to be boring — in fact I believe the opposite. You need to grab attention in a good way. By adding space between your attention-grabbing images and focused copy, you are able to draw attention to the right areas of your mailer. No one is getting lost or confused by what they see.

Still not swayed? Sample a test piece with added space against your current piece to see what works better for you.

You want people to remember your message and act on it. Have you had really successful direct mail? What has worked really well for you?

Direct Mail for 2017 

How did 2017 come upon us so quickly? Time is flying so we need to get started on planning direct mail campaigns for 2017. I really do mean planning, too. It takes time to plan out an effective direct mail campaign. Before we start though, let’s look at what we will not do in 2017.

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-2-35-33-pmHow did 2017 come upon us so quickly? Time is flying, so we need to get started on planning direct mail campaigns for 2017. I really do mean planning, too. It takes time to plan an effective direct mail campaign. Before we start, let’s look at what we will not do in 2017.

Don’t:

  • Overcrowd: Using too many images or too much copy is overwhelming.
  • Be Generic: You need to target your offers — they should never be generic. Specific offers get responses.
  • Rush: Just because you can push to get your mail out fast does not mean you should. Thorough effort in strategic planning is essential for sending quality mail.
  • Send alone: Your direct mail campaign should be tied to other channels, in order to amplify your reach and increase response.
  • Send once: Direct mail works best when you reach out to people several times — particularly if they are prospects and unfamiliar with you.

So now that we know what we won’t do, let’s take a look at what direct mail should entail in 2017. Technology will be the key to improvement. There are now so many ways to integrate direct mail with mobile and online content. Integration increases engagement, and new varieties of integration surface all the time. The pace of change in marketing right now is staggering.

Focus on direct mail’s strengths: it is targeted, tactile, scheduled and trustworthy. Take full advantage of these characteristics by applying tailored lists, textures, smells, inks and tracking. Make your drab direct mail fab. Customers and prospects will notice and appreciate your creativity.

Here are some ideas for fun direct mail:

  1. Textured or coated paper: Make your message pop with textures and coatings that will alert your targets via fingertip. This is relatively inexpensive and will boost response.
  2. Dimensional: Dimensional mail is any mail that is not flat — boxes, tubes or any other 3-D shape pops in the mail. Note that postage on dimensional mail is more expensive.
  3. Endless folds: Create fun and entertaining mail by sending a folded piece. These go beyond visual stimulation by requiring recipients to touch and manipulate the piece.
  4. Video: These mailers have an audiovisual player that is embedded within them. The video content is played after opening the mailer or pushing a button.
  5. Scavenger hunt: Launched with a direct mail piece, you can send your customers on a fun adventure.
  6. 3-D: Create a mailer with 3-D images, send some 3-D glasses along with it and let the fun begin.
  7. Ink: Try using some of the new, reactive inks that change color with temperature, and more.

These are just some of the creative ways direct mail can be used. Get your customers excited about your direct mail. There are so many new and fun options you can be taking advantage of. Not everyone has a big enough budget to take advantage of the more expensive options, but there are plenty of ways to spice up your direct mail while staying within your budget.

Let 2017 be the year you create better direct mail, and have fun doing it!

How Do You Decide What to Test in Direct Mail? 

Do you have three tested direct mail packages waiting in the wings to use when your control starts to fatigue? If you don’t, you should. It’s never a question of if a control will die, it’s when. So what is most important to test now to get to that breakthrough package? Here are some ideas.

Direct mail testDo you have three tested direct mail packages waiting in the wings to use when your control starts to fatigue? If you don’t, you should. It’s never a question of if a control will die, it’s when. So what is most important to test now to get to that breakthrough package? Here are some ideas.

Smart direct mail marketers are constantly testing. It may be the offer, positioning, format or anything else — but what variable gets you the biggest bang for the testing dollar? And which test delivers the most favorable cost per acquisition?

Traditional mail testing can be very expensive, time consuming and yield limited insight if not executed correctly.

After personally overseeing and writing multitudes of direct mail packages, it’s still tough to choose just one variable to test. The reality is that several variables should be tested all at the same time to get to a new control faster. These are the types of tests I’ve found most successful in revealing key attributes for a new control:

  • Your offer is highly influential in your response. If you’re testing price (most typical), you can test dollars off or percent off. I’ve found offering dollars off to be best, but every market is different.
  • Are you including a bonus or free gift?
  • Repositioning your product — or testing a new unique selling proposition — can reinvent your complete message and offer to produce sizeable increases in response rates.
  • A new production format can refresh an existing control. Perhaps you’ve used a #10 outer envelope for a long time. A simple switch to a #9 or #11 envelope can make a difference.
  • I like to include showstopper text and graphics on my envelopes, each worth about a half-second of time for the recipient to pause and study the OE. I’ve found elements such as faux bar codes, handstamps and seals yield favorable impact.
  • Evaluating data overlays from models or profiles will return tremendous information and insights. But if you don’t spend the time to interpret it and imagine the possibilities, you can overlook great new ideas.

So with all these test possibilities and data, what variables should you test?

In my last column, I shared a new Bayesian Analytics methodology that I think will upend direct mail testing as we know it today. Bayesian Analytics isn’t new, though its current applications are new and spreading to many fields, including weather forecasting, insurance risk management and health care policy. Later this month I’m moderating an online session on this topic (learn more at my website).

A/B testing is effective, but usually builds a new control quite slowly (how many times have you tested, only to find the test performed under your control?). Multivariate testing enables you to isolate variables and achieve a new control more quickly, but it still takes several packages to confidently identify the winner. But the use of Bayesian Analytics in direct mail gathers substantially more testing insight and produces more cost savings, while taking less than half the time of traditional testing.

I believe in taking out the guess-work of testing where it’s possible. Otherwise it is easy to incorporate our own personal emotional appeals and biases, like when we say “I’d never respond to that!” We’re probably not our own market. We’re often wrong, even as informed as we are about our products and audiences.

My point is this: You must keep testing. Test outside your comfort zone. Let your prospective customers tell you what variables they’d respond to by using Bayesian Analytics methodology to deliver the emotional insights that big data can’t deliver.

If you don’t have at least three tested packages, or knowledge of what variables form the magic combination necessary to increase response rates, Bayesian Analytics will save you a lot of time and resources.

Download my new report, “Predicting Direct Mail Results Before You Mail” to learn more about Bayesian Analytics.