3 Methods of Increasing Direct Mail Response Rates

Many marketers struggle with how to increase their direct mail response rates year over year. There can be many reasons for falling response, such as the offer, the creative or the list.

Many marketers struggle with how to increase their direct mail response rates, year over year.

There can be many reasons for falling response, such as the offer, the creative or the list. Sometimes, it’s because the lead attribution is unclear. Because many customers travel through varying channels before purchase, it can be hard to know where they originated.

So with ever-increasing pressure to stay out in front of current marketing trends, it becomes very important to validate the use of direct mail.

Therefore, we need to find ways to continue to increase direct mail responses.

3 Ways to Increase Direct Mail Response Rates

  1. List The first place to look to increase your responses is your list. This is your most valuable asset. Hopefully, you have maintained a good clean list that you can rely on to be accurate. If so, you are able to glean a lot of information about who your customers are and what offers will interest them. The most effective way to target offers to the right people is with variable data on your mail pieces. This will create unique pieces, with not only variable offers, but also corresponding images. It is not enough to personalize the piece with just a name; you need to target your messaging and offer to each person through the use of variable data.
  2. Offer  Your offer drives people to respond. When you get a lackluster response to a mail campaign, you need to look at what offers you used and who you sent them to. Start by looking at the wording of each offer. Are they too long or confusing? Did you provide a good incentive? Is the offer easy to find on the mail piece? You want your offer to be simple, concise and relevant to each person. Create some new offers on your next campaign to test which offers get the most response.
  3. Creative  Before anyone actually reads your mail piece, they make a decision on whether to read it or to throw it away. Your creative design matters. The images you choose are very important, as they convey your message before anyone reads what you have to say. The wrong images have a big impact on response. Have you made any changes to your creative design recently? What formats have you tried before? Sometimes, just changing from a postcard to a letter in an envelope can help you increase responses. You can test different formats at the same time. Create curiosity about your mail piece and do something different. You may be surprised by your results when you change things up.

These are by no means the only factors that contribute to direct mail response rates; they are, however, the three most important ones. Yes, timing matters; but in many cases, that is out of your control, anyway. So focus on what you can control and create the best direct mail pieces for each of your customers and prospects. Your mail service provider can look over what you have been sending and any new ideas you have in order to help you find the best fit for you and your customers/prospects.

Direct mail response attribution can be a challenge; but if your direct mail results really matter, you can find ways to track customers, even with omnichannel experiences. How, you ask? The easiest way is to provide different offers for different channels. You can then track exactly which offer was responded to and what channel they chose. Just keep in mind that most people who get direct mail pieces are going to make a purchase online. So be prepared. Are you ready to get started?

How to Perform Generational Targeting in Direct Mail Marketing

Generational targeting in direct mail can be instrumental in increasing your response rates. As brains age they change, and the way we need to target people also changes. Because the majority of the buying public falls into three generations now, we will focus on Boomers, Gen X and Millennials.

Generational targeting in direct mail
Credit: Getty Images by Jasper Cole

Generational targeting in direct mail can be instrumental in increasing your response rates. As brains age they change, and the way we need to target people also changes. Because the majority of the buying public falls into three generations now, we will focus on Boomers, Gen X and Millennials.

Generational Targeting in Direct Mail

Boomers — As we age, it becomes hard to filter out distractions. This means that your direct mail should have a clear message in a big font. Do not clutter the mail piece with tons of copy and a bunch of images. Include white space around your copy and images to allow time for absorption without distraction. Because older brains filter out negative messages, you should accentuate the positive benefits of your product or service. They have time and, therefore, value more information before making a decision — unlike Gen Xers and Millennials. Make sure to respect their intelligence and include details about your product or service that are relevant to them. The more they are exposed to a message, company and brand, the more it becomes true for them. So make sure that your messaging on your mail piece matches your message on other channels.

Gen X — The first thing we need to note about Gen Xers is that they are very busy people; you will need to grab their attention quickly. Coupons are a great way to reach Gen X. They love a good deal. They love companies that do “good for society.” So when they make a purchase, they can also help out others. They like loyalty programs that help keep them on track through busy weeks and months. Keep in mind that this generation loves direct mail. Of course you need to send them mail pieces that are relevant, but you should expect good response rates from them. Because lack of time is an issue, make sure that you go with less copy and get right to the point of how your product or service can help them.

Millennials — The most important thing to know about Millennials is that they value social issues over economics. So you need to make sure that your messaging taps into that need. Another factor is innovation. This generation is always looking for the next best thing. How can your product or service fix their problems in a new way? Millennials love reviews, so make sure you provide real testimonials from customers on your direct mail pieces. They, like Gen X, are big on loyalty programs; so make sure you have a robust program.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that each generation is comprised of unique people; not everyone will respond the same way. Don’t replace your other demographic targeting and segmentation strategies. These notations should help you shape your direct mail concepts, but by no means should they become the “be-all, end-all” strategy. Are you ready to get started?

5 Key Direct Mail Design Strategies and Elements

After your list, your direct mail design strategy is critical. Your images, layout, fonts and colors all contribute to whether your mail piece will be read or thrown away. Obviously we want our mail pieces read and acted upon, so how do we best design our direct mail pieces to accomplish that?

After your list, your direct mail design strategy is critical. Your images, layout, fonts and colors all contribute to whether your mail piece will be read or thrown away. Obviously we want our mail pieces read and acted upon, so how do we best design our direct mail pieces to accomplish that?

5 Key Design Elements

  1. Images — These are extremely important. Images that are emotionally compelling work really well. Facial images stand out and our eyes are naturally drawn to them, so use faces if possible. You can also use images that are iconic and easily recognizable; our eyes and attentions are drawn to familiar images. You need to make sure that you are using images that are consistent with your brand and your message.
  2. Fonts — These are commonly overlooked in direct mail marketing. Not all fonts are the same. When you use interesting or unique fonts, you draw people in. Be careful about using too many different fonts. Your mail piece can look cluttered with too many fonts. The same goes for font sizes, try not to use more than three sizes throughout your mail piece.
  3. Layout — The layout of your mail piece is crucial to response rates. You need to make sure you include white space so that the layout is not cluttered and overwhelming. Images and concise copy need to flow together in sync with each other. Depending on the type of mail piece you may need more than one image, so make sure they work together and do not clash. Do not place wording over the top of images, it will be ignored.
  4. Copy — Keep in mind that people find it easier to read copy that starts on the outer left edge and reads into the center. They pay less attention to copy that starts in the center and reads to the right edge. Make sure you are concise and use common language without acronyms. You want to make it easy to understand quickly.
  5. Color — Colors evoke emotional responses on a subconscious level. Choosing the right colors on your mail piece can make a difference. If you are not sure what colors are right for you, there are many color guides online you can check out.

All five of these elements must work together to create an irresistible mail piece. Your message and call to action are also important so make sure you plan those out thoroughly, too. Your design is there to stand out in the mail box and compel your prospects and customers to read your message and respond. Once you have a design in place, it is a good idea to show it to a few customers to get feedback before your roll it out. You want to make sure that it is compelling to them. If not, you will need to fix areas that they identify as issues.

Direct mail design can seem daunting, but if you take it a step at a time, you will have a well-designed piece before you know it. Keep in mind when you are choosing your mail piece format that you need to allow enough room for your images and messaging. This may mean that a small postcard is not going to work. The last thing to remember before you print is to make sure you are meeting postal requirements. You do not want to have to pay extra postage because your design did not meet regulations. If you are not sure, send a PDF file to your mail service provider to review. They can let you know of any issues before you print. Are you ready to get started?

5 Ways Direct Mail Can Give You a Marketing Advantage

Direct mail has consistently performed well for many years, providing the results marketers need. However, not all direct mail is the same. There are things you can do to gain an advantage over your competitors. Are your results as good as they could be? Let’s check out the segments you can focus on to use direct mail to its full advantage.

Direct mail has consistently performed well for many years, providing the results marketers need. However, not all direct mail is the same. There are things you can do to gain an advantage over your competitors. Are your results as good as they could be? Let’s check out the segments you can focus on to use direct mail to its full advantage.

  1. Pursue The first way to take full advantage of direct mail is to go after the right people. This will depend on what your offer is, as well as if you are going after prospects or customers. There is a difference in the way you target these two groups. Use your data to segment people into like categories. Sending to the right people makes all the difference and can save you money by not sending pieces to people who are not interested.
  2. Clarity — Next, you need to make sure that your messaging and offer are very clear. If not, you are going to miss out on the people who misunderstood what you were trying to say. Keep your wording simple and stay away from acronyms; in the texting age, your acronym could mean something very different.
  3. Succinct — Your copy needs to get right to the point. Make it easy and fast to read. You can use bullets, bolding and other text highlights to get your most important information to stand out. The less reading required, the more people will scan your piece.
  4. Interest — Does your mail piece generate interest? Your images and messaging need to call people to your piece to look closer at what you have to offer. The more interest people have in your mail piece, the more likely they are to buy.
  5. Cohesion — Do your marketing channels work together? Can customers and prospects flow easily from your direct mail piece to your website or other online platform? When they can, you will get better response rates.

When you have all five segments done correctly, you will see an increase in response. Don’t let your competitors win. Use direct mail to your advantage and get ahead of them. You will need to block out time to get your best mail pieces conceptualized and created. Do not rush the process, or you risk your results. As they say, Rome was not built in a day — and neither are your direct mail pieces.

One of the best features about direct mail is that it arrives in the mailbox and is a physical piece. No other marketing channel is physical in this way. In order to draw interest to your mail piece, you can add features to enhance the sensory experience for your customers and prospects. There are many features you can add, such as textures, foil, embossing, debossing, die cuts, special folds and more. Most of these features are not very expensive but can boost your direct mail advantage. You can also add scent for a multi-sensory experience. Get creative and allow your prospects and customers to have fun.

Boring direct mail will not get you the results you want. You need to find ways to enhance your mail pieces to increase prospect and customer engagement. The better you are able to do this using the five segments above, the bigger your direct mail advantage will be. Are you ready to get started?

5 Steps to Spark Great Direct Mail Ideas

If you are like many marketers, direct mail has been a part of your marketing strategy for a long time. This can lead to boring mail pieces with a declining response rate. So, how can you find new, great direct mail ideas to get your response rates back on track?

If you are like many marketers, direct mail has been a part of your marketing strategy for a long time. This can lead to boring mail pieces with a declining response rate. So, how can you find new, great direct mail ideas to get your response rates back on track?

5 Steps to Spark Direct Mail Ideas

  1. Doubt – You need to be able to start fresh. This means that everything you think you know about your mail pieces needs to go out the window. You need to be able to challenge every aspect of your mail pieces so that you and your team can build great new ideas from the ground up. This is where you need to be willing to take some risks and try out new ideas.
  2. Possible – Here you should identify the changes you and your team believe will be the best possible choices to improve your direct mail pieces. Here you will create a list of goals and objectives for your mail campaign. How can your direct mail be changed to meet your needs? What areas could stand some real improvement?
  3. Diverge – Here you will want to explore a lot of different ideas with an open mind. The best way to have a good idea is to have many to choose from. Write down every idea, even if you think it is a bad one or will never work. At this step you want to create as many ideas as you can think of. During this creative step you and your team will have fun with wild ideas. The longer you do it the more creative your ideas will get.
  4. Converge – Now it is time to really look at each of the ideas you have with a more analytical approach. Which ones will have problems? Once you find them, eliminate these ideas. Really question each one to find the best ideas to keep. You may end up with only one idea after this which you may be happy with. If not, go back to the diverge step and generate some more ideas.
  5. Reevaluate – This is the step once your mailing has been completed. Did your new mail piece meet your goals and objectives? If not, you need to go back to one of the other steps to make more changes. You may need to restart at Step 1, or if you got better results but feel like they fell somewhat short, perhaps starting at Step 2 or Step 3 is a better choice. Keep in mind that even if you got the best response rate ever with your new pieces, it will not last forever. You need to be vigilant in reevaluating what you are doing consistently after each mailing.

This five-step process can help you create great direct mail campaigns. You always need to keep in mind postal regulations so that you do not have to pay extra postage for a mail piece that does not meet the standards. This can be done during the “converge” step as you eliminate ideas that have problems. The best direct mail pieces are targeted to the right people with the right offer and grab attention. The way you go about getting attention has so many options. During Step 3, let your creativity flow and see all of the ideas you can create. Always remember to design and write with your customers and prospects in mind. Focusing on what they want will drive your response. Are you ready to get started?