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?

3 Fresh Approaches to Social Media

I was prepping for a webinar on marketing when one question caught my eye: “What are some new marketing trends that leverage social media platforms?” I did a little deeper research on the topic and came across some innovative ideas worth sharing.

The Email Idea Book - 5 Futuristic Email Tactics You Can Implement TodayEarlier this week, I was prepping to participate in a webinar on marketing and was handed a list of topics the moderator was planning to address. One specific question caught my eye: “What are some of the new marketing trends that have leveraged social media platforms?”

Like most of you, I’ve been involved in the traditional uses of social media — some were highly successful while others were deeply disappointing. But as the platforms evolve, so does the learning (from both the client and the platform), and both are looking for new ways to leverage the relationship between consumers and their apps.

I did a little deeper research on the topic and in speaking with the other panelists on the webinar, I came across some innovative new ideas I thought were worthy of sharing:

1. Snapchat Geo-targeting for CoverGirlSnapchat Ads
Adweek reported that P&G successfully used Snapchat to promote their CoverGirl limited-edition Star Wars collection of eye and face makeup. Since the products were only available at Ulta stores, P&G used Snapchat’s geo-targeting feature to offer a branded overlay/filter atop any post that was created within the specific proximity of an Ulta store. At first my reaction was “how could this possibly affect sales?” But the story went on to share that through segmentation and the isolation of key targeting variables, P&G could attribute sales to their Snapchat investment.

While P&G declined to share actual performance, they did compare same-store sales for a similarly themed Hunger Games collection (whose marketing included TV and Tumblr), and the Star Wars campaign was more cost-efficient and had more of an impact. My translation?

In trying to identify new ways to generate revenue, Snapchat has figured out how to leverage some of the data they’re already collecting. Since this app is tracks users by real-time location (as are most other apps), why not overlay that knowledge to specific retail locations in order to push a relevant message to the user? I can see lots of useful marketing applications for this intelligence.

2. Ezra’s Pinterest ‘How-to’sPinterest Logo
In the summer of 2014, Pinterest unveiled its new business model called Promoted Pins. If you know anything about Pinterest, you know that it’s about ideas and inspiration — and not about promoting items that are on sale. In all my research, the best article I found was from blogger Ezra. He spells out EXACTLY how he uses Pinterest to drive revenue, and what I loved most is that he did it by using tried and true direct response marketing techniques (which are often a lost art).

By using free and useful “how to” content as his lure, he then sent readers to his website where the “how to” guide continued with supporting video — and the opportunity to place the product right in your shopping cart. Ezra reports that a small $775 in advertising spend on Pinterest netted him $41,254 in sales. That’s a 5323 percent return on investment!

3. Target Marketing on PandoraPandora_logo
Pandora, the free, personalized music streaming service, reports that only 2.4 percent of their users pay for their subscription — so that means 97.6 percent are exposed to their audio (and digital) ads. One of my fellow webinar participants shared that one of their clients successfully used Pandora to drive traffic to their clients’ tourism website — and that those results were far better than any digital advertising they had ever used.

Pandora provides a host of case studies on their website but their most recent, for Woodbury University, was fascinating. By using age, gender, HHI, geo and Hispanic targeting tools, Woodbury served ads promoting their Graduate School program to a specific target in a specific DMA. As a result, they were able to increase page views to their campus tours page by an impressive 4,000 percent.

All of these uses of social media are smart, targeted, and painstakingly planned for success. I’d love to hear about more social media innovations — what can you share?