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?

Direct Mail: Data Structure Really Matters

Many times, one key aspect of direct mail marketing is overlooked and that is the structure of your database. What information you put in each field can really make a difference when you process data through CASS, DPV and NCOA. The postal service has a set of expected fields for each type of processing and when your data does not match that structure, you will have issues with correct output from the software.

Many times, one key aspect of direct mail marketing is overlooked and that is the structure of your database. What information you put in each field can really make a difference when you process data through CASS, DPV and NCOA. The postal service has a set of expected fields for each type of processing and when your data does not match that structure, you will have issues with correct output from the software.

First and foremost, your data should be consistent within each field. If your data field is “company name,” then the only data found in the field is “company name.” Likewise for all other fields. If the information is not consistent, the coding programs cannot find the proper information which can cause them to code the record as invalid. This means it will cost you more money to mail it, as it will not be able to mail at automation postage rates. You can, of course, choose not to mail bad addresses, but it could have been a good address if the information were where it should be in the record. There is no reason to lose out on contacting a prospect or customer just because of your data structure.

You are welcome to have as much information in your database as you need. We always recommend keeping purchase history and any other information you collect to be used to target people to the right offers. You will just add that information into additional fields. Never add extra information to fields required by the USPS, it will be stripped off in the CASS/DPV process or it can cause the address to be found invalid. Create new fields to hold extra information.

So what does the post office require for processing with CASS and DPV?

  • Address
  • City
  • State
  • ZIP code

If you want the process to add information for full-service barcoding your mail service provider will need to add required blank fields to your data, they will be populated by the process. Once complete, your file will contain information on which addresses were found and which were coded as bad addresses. You may choose how you wish to deal with the bad ones.

What does the post office require for NCOA?

  • Name
  • Company
  • Address
  • City
  • State
  • ZIP code

You must have either a company name or a person’s name in order for NCOA to match. The verification process looks to see if that person or company is at that address. You can expect your processed data to come back to you with fields that code records as good, moved or moved, no address on file. You are then able to use the new addresses for the people who moved, as well as remove the bad ones.

So what other pitfalls are there in data structure? Many times, it is unrecognized characters that get pulled in by exporting lists from CRM software. The most common one are hard returns in fields, those need to be removed before data can be processed. There are others that crop up too, such as foreign characters. Each filed needs to consist of only letters or numbers. Commas and periods are okay, as well, but keep in mind the post office prefers no punctuation. The cleaner your data file is, the better results you will get when processing them for mailing. If you are at all concerned about your data structure, contact your mail service provider, they can help guide you.

10 Best Ways To Use Direct Mail With Success

Direct mail can be a very powerful marketing tool. When executed correctly you can see a great return on your investment. However, direct mail is not the be all and end all for your marketing. It is an important channel to utilize in conjunction with your other marketing channels. Direct mail can even give you a lift in online engagement. Let’s look at how to use direct mail to shine.

Direct mail can be a very powerful marketing tool. When executed correctly you can see a great return on your investment. However, direct mail is not the be all and end all for your marketing. It is an important channel to utilize in conjunction with your other marketing channels. Direct mail can even give you a lift in online engagement. Let’s look at how to use direct mail to shine.

10 best ways to use direct mail:

  1. Counter a Competitive Offer:
    Direct mail allows you to be covert with your offer so that the competition does not know what you are doing until it has mailed and is too late. It takes them longer to find out what your direct mail says and they won’t know when you are sending it.
  2. Generate Traffic:
    Whether you want to increase traffic online, for an event or to your location, direct mail is a great way to drive people there.
  3. Customer Acquisition or Referrals:
    With the ability to purchase very targeted lists, you can reach prospects to increase your customer base as well as provide a way for your message to be passed on to others.
  4. Generate Sales Leads:
    Send direct mail to prospects in order to get responses from qualified and interested leads.
  5. Building Brand Awareness:
    Since direct mail is a very trusted channel, you can really build your brand. The better recipients know your brand the more they buy from you.
  6. Customer Loyalty:
    You can reach out to your customers to give them special offers and coupons.
  7. Announcements:
    Direct mail is a great way to get information out to people quickly and formally.
  8. Cross-sell or Up-sell:
    Use your direct mail to not only drive response to that offer but also mention other things you offer that they may be interested in.
  9. Combining Mailings With Other Companies:
    When you do a cooperative mailing with another company you not only save money but you add value for your recipients with better offers or coupons.
  10. Augmenting Other Media Efforts:
    Direct mail is a great way to drive engagement with other channels such as email, web, social media, mobile, QR codes and so much more…

Direct mail is more effective than ever, with fewer distractions in the mail box and more focus online. Don’t let the direct mail opportunity pass you by. When used as part of a multimedia campaign, direct mail can significantly enhance response. Make sure that you work together with your mail service provider to create great campaigns that are designed effectively for postage savings. Get creative and have fun!

Get Your Direct Mail Noticed

Direct mail is not effective if recipients do not read it. The first thing that your direct mail needs to do is to get noticed in the mailbox. This can be a real challenge. Direct mail is a very effective tool when done correctly. The golden rule is list, design, and offer, generally in that order. However, if you stop to think about it, there is a reason for the golden rule. You need to send mail to the people who will want it, so there is your list. You then need to design an appealing piece and you need to provide them with a good offer. So assuming that you are mailing to the right people, you now need a design to get noticed.

Direct mail is not effective if recipients do not read it. The first thing that your direct mail needs to do is to get noticed in the mailbox. This can be a real challenge. Direct mail is a very effective tool when done correctly. The golden rule is list, design, and offer, generally in that order. However, if you stop to think about it, there is a reason for the golden rule. You need to send mail to the people who will want it, so there is your list. You then need to design an appealing piece and you need to provide them with a good offer. So assuming that you are mailing to the right people, you now need a design to get noticed.

Here are five ideas to get your direct mail campaign noticed:

  1. Variable Data Messaging: Target your message to the individual or to grouped personas. The better targeted the message the more likely they are to respond. This can be as simple as a tagline on an envelope or as complex as variable images and text.
  2. Use Color Envelopes: Color is inviting and not used often enough. Your envelope will get opened because it is unique. There are many standard colors available that do not drastically increase your costs. Keep in mind some colors are not USPS approved, so contact your mail service provider to make sure you stay within postal regulations.
  3. Use Stamps: Many direct mail pieces use indicias for postage. There is a stamp available for each postage class. In most cases they can be affixed by machine so you should not see a drastic increase in cost by using stamps. Stamps are seen as more personal and therefore more important.
  4. Use Larger Pieces: You can use up to a 6 x 10.5 self-mailer or a 6.125 x 11.5 postcard and still pay the lower letter size postage rate. Take advantage of that. Larger pieces get noticed. If you do not mind the postage cost increase, you can go even larger at a flat size postage rate. Your mail service provider can help you choose what will work best for you.
  5. Add Fun Taglines: Get your recipients excited about what they are going to find in the envelope. You can use color ink to make the tagline pop and even change the angle. It’s okay to be funny if you can do so while keeping with your brand image and the theme of your marketing piece.

Remember to change only one thing at a time, so that when you are analyzing your results you will be able to see if the change you made has increased your response. It would be best to have a control group of what you always have done, and then split off a segment to try the new piece with. This will give you the most accurate results and allow you to make adjustments with each campaign.

Direct Mail: If You Can’t Track It, Don’t Do It

How effective is your direct mail marketing campaign? That’s the question you need to answer in order to make the most of your marketing. Focusing on what works best and spending your budget in the most effective way is key to direct mail. Before you launch any direct mail campaign, set a system in place that will allow you to track the results. Tracking your results means you can see what resonated best with your customers or prospects, what got the most interaction, and what led to the most sales, sign-ups, or other action. You then have the information you need to focus on the things that work, thereby preventing your business from losing money on the things that don’t. Another benefit is that you can test different types of messaging at one time.

How effective is your direct mail marketing campaign? That’s the question you need to answer in order to make the most of your marketing. Focusing on what works best and spending your budget in the most effective way is key to direct mail. Before you launch any direct mail campaign, set a system in place that will allow you to track the results. Tracking your results means you can see what resonated best with your customers or prospects, what got the most interaction, and what led to the most sales, sign-ups, or other action. You then have the information you need to focus on the things that work, thereby preventing your business from losing money on the things that don’t. Another benefit is that you can test different types of messaging at one time.

Here are seven tips on ways to track your direct mail:

  1. QR Codes: The landing page for each scan should be created specifically for each campaign. You can easily track who is hitting the landing pages and what they do from there.
  2. URL or PURL: As with scanning the QR Codes, you need a unique landing page for each campaign.
  3. Coupons: Make sure to create a code on the coupons that you can use to track responses as people redeem them.
  4. Donation Reply Cards: Create a code for each campaign, and imprint that code somewhere on the reply device so that if they return it with their check you can track which campaign it came from.
  5. Phone Call: Use a special phone number for each campaign or if that is not possible, ask for a code you imprinted on the piece as part of your order intake.
  6. Text Messages: Many people find that text messaging it the easiest way to respond. When you setup your campaign either create a special number for each one or require that as part of the text message they need to enter a code from the mail piece.
  7. Mail Piece: One of the easiest ways to track direct mail response is to require the recipient to bring the mailer with them in order to get a discount or some other special offer.

Creating effective direct mail is all about knowing what works and what does not. That knowledge can only be gained through tracking of your own campaigns. Trying to utilize general direct mail trends published by the DMA or others is not an effective method. What you don’t know in direct mail can hurt you. No matter what kind of marketing response method you’re using, ask yourself first how you will track it. Give your direct mail campaigns the best chance of success by putting a tracking system in place so you can compare and contrast their effectiveness and return on investment. You can work with your mail service provider to decide which methods work best for each campaign you do.

When Is EDDM Right for You?

EDDM (every door direct mail) has gained in popularity. EDDM, as defined by the USPS, is designed to help you reach every home, every address, every time. You can map out a target area, use demographic data (e.g. age, household income, and size) to select a delivery route, choose a mailing drop off date, and pay online—all from your computer. And, you can create your mailings up to 30 days before you plan to mail them. Simply enter an address, zip code or city and state for your target area to get started. Sounds great right? So how do you know if EDDM is right for you?

EDDM (every door direct mail) has gained in popularity. EDDM, as defined by the USPS, is designed to help you reach every home, every address, every time. You can map out a target area, use demographic data (e.g., age, household income, and size) to select a delivery route, choose a mailing drop off date, and pay online—all from your computer. And, you can create your mailings up to 30 days before you plan to mail them. Simply enter an address, zip code or city and state for your target area to get started. Sounds great right? So how do you know if EDDM is right for you?

EDDM is right when:

  1. Your Business can Appeal to a Large Number of People:
    In other words, since you are selecting a geographic area that has a wide variety of people in it, you will need to be offering a product or service that most of them want or need. A few examples of broad appeal are dry cleaners, restaurants, general stores, delis, lawyers and other small business in local neighborhoods.
  2. Small Business:
    The reason that this works better for small businesses is because they do not have marketing departments or people who can handle more complex direct mail campaigns, nor do they have the budgets for them. Small businesses benefit from the ease of use and low cost of postage with EDDM

So, if EDDM is right for you, you have a couple of choices. EDDM Retail is designed for the small business to do it all themselves, while EDDM for BMEU is for a commercial mail service provider to do it for the small business. The benefit of having a mail service provider is that you can mail more than 5000 pieces per day and they can help you avoid problems with design, paper stock and any other issues you encounter. If you need help finding a provider you can visit https://mymailconnection.com/ to find one.

One of the key benefits of EDDM is all the space you have on the mailer to put your compelling message, add coupons and drum up interest in your business. You only need to leave enough room to fit the Postal Customer info and the indicia. This means on an 8.5 x 11 sheet you get to use almost all of the 11 inches. Take full advantage of the space with great graphic design. Make sure that your offer is clear and concise so that it is effective. Coupons are a great way to introduce people to your business and an easy way to track your responses. Even with EDDM you need to know what is working, so finding ways to track who is responding and with what coupons is very important. The only way to continue to improve your response rates is to know what works and what does not.

EDDM can be a great way to get into direct mail for small businesses. It is not cost prohibitive, can be done by the business if they wish to without too much trouble and allows for more room to advertise. Take advantage of EDDM and find a cost effective way to market your small business to potential customers near you. If you need any help with design, copy or have questions about EDDM a mail service provider near you can help.

Stand Out With Texture

How can you get your direct mail to stand out in the mailbox? Have you considered using texture? Coatings do more than just protect the print from scratching damage in the mail. They can capture interest for your direct mail piece. With all the different types of coating available, you can now choose one that really emphasizes touch. By creating a unique textured feel, your response rate will increase. Think of all the different ways you can add texture to your piece to grab attention to it.

How can you get your direct mail to stand out in the mailbox? Have you considered using texture? Coatings do more than just protect the print from scratching damage in the mail. They can capture interest for your direct mail piece. With all the different types of coating available, you can now choose one that really emphasizes touch. By creating a unique textured feel, your response rate will increase. Think of all the different ways you can add texture to your piece to grab attention to it.

Some fun coatings for you to consider:

  • MiraFoil: Create metallic effects in a precise fashion.
  • Raised: Gives the embossed look without actual embossing.
  • Pearlescent: Gives an elegant shimmer look.
  • Sandpaper: Gives a rough sand paper like feel.
  • Soft touch: Creates a velvet texture for a nice soft feel.
  • Glitter: A large glitter flake that is available in a variety of colors.
  • Metal Flake: Fine metal flakes similar to car paint.
  • Thermochronic: Temperature activated, changes color when heated.
  • Photochromic: This coating is activated by sunlight to change color.
  • Glow in the dark: This is a high gloss coating that will glow in the dark.
  • Scratch off: Available in gold or silver provides a non-see thru coat

Now that you have selected your coating, imagine how creative you can get with your design. You want to have the feel of bricks? No problem. 3D raised steps? No problem. It’s like the old “Pat the Bunny” books: You can have so many textures at your fingertips to choose from. It is not advised to go crazy and put several on one mailer, but you can mix a couple to really get a pop. Show your recipients how your product or service feels; grab that sensory emotion to increase response.

The standard coatings are:

  • Varnish: This is basically like a colorless ink and can be applied in gloss, dull or satin forms as the piece is printed. This is not environmentally friendly.
  • Aqueous: A water based coating applied as the piece is printed. It protects better than varnish and is more environmentally friendly.
  • UV: This provides superior protection and comes in glossy or dull.
  • Laminates: This is best for protection from water as it seals in the paper. This is not usually needed for direct mail pieces.

With any of the above coatings, it is a good idea to check with your mail service provider to make sure they can inkjet over the coating. You do have a couple of choices if the coating is not inkjet compatible. You can knockout the mail panel when coating to leave it unfinished for inkjet. Or you can use and envelope/poly bag as a cover. Just one more thing to consider is that a paper envelope can be inkjeted, but a poly bag will require labels. Make sure to consider all your options and costs before proceeding.

Direct mail is about engagement, pulling the recipient into your marketing by creating interest in your mailer. The more interesting it is, the better response you are going to get. You will also find that when you create a direct mailer that people really enjoy, they show it to others. The more people who see your mailer, talk about it and share it, the better your response will be. Sensory input leaves a lasting impression on the recipient. If you want to add another layer of input, check out our blog post on adding scent to mailers. A good combination of texture and scent can knock your ROI out of the park!

Direct Mail Design: Copy

At this point, after you have looked at the layout and color/images in the last two blog posts, you should have a general idea of what you want your direct mail to look like. There is another important factor that goes with your design, and that is the copy. Words have the power to inspire, empower and create desire

At this point, after you have looked at the layout and color/images in the last two blog posts, you should have a general idea of what you want your direct mail to look like. There is another important factor that goes with your design, and that is the copy.

Words have the power to inspire, empower and create desire. Direct mail marketing is especially vulnerable to a bad choice of words. The visual design catches their eye, but if the words do not convince them to take action, you will not get the desired response.

With that in mind, let’s look at the top five list of the best words to use in direct mail:

  1. Free: Who doesn’t love free stuff? This is very eye catching and sucks people in. We all want a good deal and nothing is a better deal than free.
  2. Amazing: We all want the best things, and if it’s amazing we have to have it!
  3. Discover: This is a challenge to find out new information. It makes us curious and we want to know more.
  4. Easy: These days we all need easy. There is just not enough time in the day to get things done. Whenever it can be easier it’s a good idea.
  5. You: It’s all about the recipient! What is in it for them? There should be lots of “You”s in the copy to show them all the great things that will happen to them when they buy from you.

On the other end of the spectrum, do not use these top five words to avoid in direct mail:

  1. Expensive: Duh! Who buys expensive stuff? We all want a deal!
  2. Charge: This word just makes me cringe! I don’t want to be charged! I want a positive, charge is negative.
  3. Price: It is never about the price! Do not even speak of it! It is about what you are doing for the recipient, like saving them time, money, headaches and so on.
  4. Cost: Just like price and charge, this is a turn off because you are focused on a negative.
  5. Sign: This is a real commitment it we have to sign for it. What if we are not ready? Think of ways to attract people, not scare them off.

These are by far not the only best and worst words to use, but they’ll give you a good start. When creating the copy for your campaign, be sure to consider how each word builds toward your message and call to action. Your call to action is the most important part. You need to give the recipient a reason to respond and how to respond.

Wonderful words mean nothing if they don’t drive the correct response. Tell your recipients exactly what you want them to do. Then provide them with multiple ways to do it. Keep in mind that we all have mobile devices with us 24/7, so you should allow for responses from tablets and cell phones. You will need your landing pages and website to have responsive design to accommodate this, but it will pay off for you big time. You can contact your mail service provider for help with the design, copy and pitfalls to avoid.