Over the last 25 years, I have seen a lot of direct mail mistakes. Sometimes they have been really funny, like the time when a wrong phone number was put on the mail piece so when recipients called it they reached a sex hotline. That was pretty funny. Other times, the mistakes have just been sad, like when a nonprofit had the wrong return address on their courtesy reply envelopes, so they did not get the donation checks delivered to them. The worst mistakes are the ones that cost you the most money, so learning what to avoid can really help.
Top 3 Mistakes:
1. Missing or Unclear Call to Action
The purpose of direct mail is to get recipients to respond. When you are missing a call to action or it is unclear to recipients what you want them to do, you will not get the response you were planning on. If you get a response at all it would be surprising. Be sure to have a specific call to action that is easy to follow. Highlight the great things they will get when they respond. Remember that this is all about the recipient, what is in it for them. Engagement requires you to go beyond getting recipient attention and really getting them to interact with you. The deeper their engagement with you, the better the relationship and more money and referrals come to you.
2. Designed Without Postal Regulations in Mind
The USPS has many regulations on direct mail and if you do not follow them, it will cost you more in postage. Since postage is your biggest cost this can mean a lot of money. There are strict regulations on where an address can be placed and that will depend on which mail category you fall in. There are folding specifications as well as paper weight. Your best bet is to consult with your mail service provider during the design phase to make sure you are meeting all the requirements before you print. This can save you a lot of money.
3. Unorganized or Not Well Planned
Marketing in general is complicated. There are a lot of things to consider as well as keep track of. Direct mail is definitely one of the more complicated channels. Before you start a direct mail campaign you need to plan out all of it, from design through tracking. Set not only your goals and expectations but also your timelines with your mail date in mind. Many times, people run out of time to make their planned mail date. All the time get sucked up in design and printing without leaving enough time to get the mailing out on schedule. Whenever you rush through a step there are bound be to things that go wrong, so take the time upfront to address issues before they happen. Creating the follow up with tracking and reporting once the campaign is complete is vital to your success. You need to know what is working and what needs to be changed.
All three of these mistakes can cost you a lot of money. If you take the time to create a direct mail campaign, make sure to address the potential problems before it is too late. Don’t waste your money. Direct mail can be a great way to promote and grow your business when it is done correctly. With careful planning and tracking direct mail can increase your ROI. What mistakes have you done or seen in the past. I would love to hear about them!