When you think of new marketing and sales strategies to boost your business, direct mail probably doesn’t come to mind.
It should, though.
In this article we’ll discuss what direct mail is, why it’s beneficial to both marketing and sales professionals, and how to create a successful direct mail campaign for your company in five simple steps. Let’s get started!
Direct mail involves sending letters, postcards, or other physical items to potential buyers and existing customers in order to compel a purchase or other action.
You know the letters you receive in your mailbox from restaurants, big box stores, and local mom and pop shops advertising new products and sales? That’s direct mail. Both B2C and B2B organizations can find success using this classic marketing and sales strategy.
We live in a digital world. Why would anyone send a physical letter or postcard to a lead when they can send an email, text message, or direct message via social media instead? Is direct mail really worth the time and expense? In short: yes—when used correctly.
Direct mail does still work. In fact, a properly planned and executed direct mail campaign can be extremely beneficial. Here’s why:
Sure, you could send an email to your list or blast your marketing messages across all of your social media platforms. There’s nothing wrong with this strategy and many companies find success with it. But here’s the thing: every other business is doing that too. The average office worker receives 120 emails every single day!
Direct mail gives you a golden opportunity to cut through the noise, reach prospects in a unique way, and engage with them on a more personal level than most digital marketing channels.
Many sales and marketing professionals dismiss direct mail because they think it’s impossible to track. This simply isn’t true. Yes, digital marketing usually offers more precise detail on audience engagement. But with a little forethought, direct mail can be surprisingly insightful.
For example, you could put a unique phone number or web URL on every direct mail piece your company mails out. Then you could track conversion rates by the number of calls and website hits you receive from each of those unique channels.
This is a tactic that Flynn Zaiger, a Strategist at Online Optimism uses. He says:
“If you pay for a cheap, one-time domain for one year, you can then use UTM codes to further track clicks and visits to the domain, which is a significant step forward in tracking the ROI of your Direct Mail campaign.”
If you mailed out 100 letters and received 20 website visits and 12 phone calls, all of which translated into six new sales, you’d have a conversion rate of 6%. Pretty simple, right?
Lastly, direct mail provides great ROI to companies who use the strategy effectively. How great? The average direct mail campaign earns a 29% ROI, which is better or equal to most digital marketing channels.
Many marketing and sales professionals are surprised when they hear this. Here are a few more mind-blowing statistics regarding direct mail:
These stats help prove the effectiveness of direct mail. Now the question is, how do you build a successful direct mail campaign for your company? Keep reading to find out!
Creating a successful direct mail campaign can be done in five steps, which we’ll walk you through in this section. By the time you get to the end, you’ll be a direct mail ninja, guaranteed!
Assuming you’re a salesperson or marketing professional, you’ve probably taken the time to build a detailed buyer persona or two that exemplifies your ideal customer. (Note: if you haven’t done this yet, we suggest doing it right now. We’ll be waiting for you when you get back.)
If you don’t truly understand the people you’re trying to reach, on a deep, intimate level that goes beyond general demographic information, your direct mail campaign will likely fail.
So take the time to really get to know your audience. Talk with your company’s customer success team, interview your top customers, read online forums dedicated to the problems your target market deals with—anything to learn more about your potential customers.
Once you know your audience like the back of your hand, feel free to move on to step two…
You know who to target with your direct mail campaign, but do you know where you can reach them? If not, it’s time to build a mailing list, which can be done in a few different ways:
If you already have a mailing list, be sure to update it before you begin mailing. That way you can be sure your target recipients still live at the addresses you have on file. To update your list, view the National Change of Address (NCOA) database.
With a firm understanding of your target audience and an up-to-date mailing list in place, it’s time to design the perfect direct mail piece. Here are a few things to consider:
Pro tip: Be sure to proofread your mailers before finalizing the design. A mistyped word will make your company look less professional. A mistyped URL will completely destroy your direct mail campaign and could end up being a very expensive mistake.
You’ve worked really hard to design the perfect direct mail pieces. Now it’s time to get them printed and send them out! The easiest way to do this is to work with a direct mail company like PostcardMania, Mail Shark, or Modern Postcard. But you can also DIY the process if you want.
Whatever you choose, aim for 14-point cardstock, which is industry standard, and a gloss finish so that your mailer really catches the eye.
You’ll also need to think about postage. This is normally the largest expense when it comes to direct mail, but it can be reduced by mailing in bulk, or by working with a direct mail company that has previously negotiated discounted postage rates. Like anything, prices can vary widely, but plan to spend at least 25 cents to mail each of your direct mail pieces.
Speaking of prices, you’ll want to factor in the cost of follow up direct mail pieces.
“Make sure you have enough budget to hit everyone you’re sending to three times or more,” says Christopher Johnson, Postcard Evangelist at Thanks.io. “A big mistake marketers make is to make one mail drop to 15,000 people when three drops to 5,000 per usually has a better result.”
Pro tip: Many direct mail companies, including the ones listed above, are equipped to handle the entire direct mail campaign process for you, from list building to mailer design to addressing. For busy professionals, this might be the preferred option.
Now that your direct mail campaign has launched, it’s time to track your results and improve your efforts. How did your campaign do? Did it result in more leads and sales?
Hopefully you included a unique phone number, email address, or URL to better track interest. If so, take a look at the data and analyze the number of clicks/messages/calls you receive, then brainstorm ways to boost your results for future mailings.
For example, if your unique URL gets a lot of hits, but doesn’t result in any sales, perhaps the messaging on your mailer isn’t aligned with the text on your landing page. By better coordinating your messaging, you should be able to improve your ROI.
Your job, once your direct mail campaign is live, is to become a detective. Release your inner Sherlock Holmes and find out how your mailings can be more effective in the future.
In the digital age, direct mail is an underused strategy, which is one of the reasons why it can be so effective for the businesses that invest in it. If you’re looking to stand out from your competitors and improve ROI, a direct mail campaign might be the perfect tactic.
Just be sure to follow the five-step strategy we outlined in this article:
While it will take time and effort to plan, execute, and optimize your direct mail campaigns, the increase in leads, sales, and revenue will be more than worth it. Good luck!
Join 30,000+ other sales and marketing professionals. Subscribe to our Sell to Win newsletter!