Direct Mail – The Forgotten but Ever Effective Channel

Happy Tuesday and it’s finally nice to see Spring show up!!!

Quick Quiz for you: What Channel delivered a 5.1% response rate in 2017?

Give up…. it’s Direct Mail. That’s right, the much maligned Direct Mail channel. With everyone pushing for more A.I. driven marketing, digital targeting, mobile targeting and social media targeting – the channel that still delivers the best response rate is direct mail. I’m a little old school and I grew up in the industry when mail was still king, but there is something about Direct Mail that still makes it very effective. So before you put 90% of your marketing dollars into the newest A.I. driven digital campaign, let me introduce to your old friend, Direct Mail and print channels.

Highly Targeted:

As anyone who has used Facebook or Google Adwords to target prospects knows, I hope you’d agree – the demographic choices available to you are general at best. You can target by age, income, gender and some rolled-up zip+4 level “Affinity Groups”. These are not exactly precise selects and it certainly drives the concept of mass targeting in the digital space.

Planning a direct mail campaign allows much more precise targeting. The ability to bring multiple targeted list sources into a campaign gives you the ability to find your exact  prospect. If you want females, with an interest in gardening, with a child age 5 and married, there are lists and databases out there that will deliver that exact list to you. Additionally, most list companies have access to other data sources that can include Aggregated Zip+4 level Credit Data Scores, transnational and self-reported hotline data for people who have been recently been active. Even the New Mover and Pre-Mover channels are great segments to use in a direct mail campaign. These more trigger based sources are truly responsive and get you to people who are in the purchasing mood.

The point I am making is the targeting that can be used for a direct mail offer is precise, where the digital world can be like throwing a dart against the wall. Direct Mail is one of the few channels out there that still can get you or your mailer the exact prospect universe for any offer.

Engagement Time:

We live in a world of immediacy today. We want to know the weather, we pull out our phones. We want to order a pizza or buy a new hat – we pull out our phones or tablet and order online. It’s why the digital channel works so well for certain demographics. The problem with digital advertising is there isn’t a lot of room for copy to seduce the prospect. The offer has to be clear and has to be upfront. There is no wasted time in digital advertising. The goal is to drive the purchase decision to be made in the moment.

Our old friend, direct mail, is like the Marvin Gaye of marketing. It slows the decision process down. The prospect spends time engaging with the direct mail piece. A well-written letter with a perforated order form and a buck slip with a clean image of the product or service gives the prospect time to really engage with the offer.

Also, direct mail gives you the opportunity to have multiple contact options – send the form back in a BRE/CRE, include a link to a landing page where they can make their purchase immediately or have a landing page where they can go to learn more about the offer. The point is that a direct mail piece is a channel that can be used to really  connect with your prospect – not just a quick hit like digital offers.

Envelope Packages:

envelope package

The most challenging part of making the direct mail channel work in 2018 is getting the consumer to engage with it. I love envelope mailings, but if your envelope is not appealing or if the copy on the outside does not immediately engage the viewer – it will not get opened.

There are certain verticals that I think the envelope packages still work – non-profits for instance. Arts or cultural membership mailings can feature the images of the most recent exhibit that really entice a person to open the mailing. Animal cause non-profits, who use images of say the kittens or puppies up for adoption, are another great example of direct mailers who can make the envelope package work.

If you’re using an envelope package, make sure that the copy and design create a sense of urgency to open the mail piece. The biggest challenge is getting people inside, where you can wow them with a letter, buck slip or premium offer.

Postcard Mailings:

I love postcard mailings – double-sided, over sized. They are clean, efficient and offer immediacy and intimacy. They also bring a nice postal discount as well.  I would say that 85% of the mailings I get today are postcard mailings.

Unlike a digital ad, a postcard allows you to have great and compelling sales copy. Postcards are a way to use images and photos that either sell your brand or show off the product. Postcards are ideal for giving the prospect an easy way to respond – you can either tear the postcard and mail it or use it for a drive to web campaign. In 2018, driving traffic to your website is paramount – and postcard mailings are one of the best way to do this.

One last word on this topic, there are programs available that allow for Variable Display Printing (meaning you can sub-segment creative to targeted audiences) and also take advantage of bulk postage rates. This is ideal for a mailer who wants to do an A/B split in creative but control their mailing costs.

Tracking Results:

Bedford Street Marketing, LLC highly recommends that for every response vehicle included in your mailings – have a unique source or promo code. For example, if you are doing a postcard mailing that give the prospect three ways to respond – send the postcard back in, purchase now on the web or visit a page that gives more information on the product or service – set-up three distinct promo codes. This allows you to start tracking and analyzing attribution on your customers, without having to use costly software.

That’s it for tonight. We look forward to your comments and let us know what topics you want to hear about!!!!


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