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?

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?