Direct mail isn’t dead! Tips for building a successful campaign

Is direct mail, or snail mail (as it’s aptly nicknamed), facing extinction? The rationale behind email campaigns is compelling – with the ability to reach your customers and prospects instantly, and eliminate the cost of printing and postage, it’s easy to see why many small businesses have chosen the digital route when it comes to marketing. The downside of our digital age is that all of our inboxes are constantly flooded with emails, many of which are irrelevant and untimely – and ultimately wind up being marked as Spam or heading straight to the deleted folder. As a result, we’ve seen open rates erode, as Spam reports head in the opposite direction.

So, is snail mail worth another look? According to many marketers, the answer is yes. The mass move to email marketing has reduced the volume of direct mail, improving your odds of success. Plus, even in the case of a non-response, the postcard has to be viewed by someone in the organization before it hits a recycling bin – unlike emails that can be deleted without ever being seen.

Here are some tips to consider when embarking on a direct mail campaign:

  • List hygiene is critical. Use existing customer or prospect lists, or rely on a trustworthy company to provide pre-vetted addresses and eliminate postage and paper waste.
  • Think beyond the traditional. Set aside standard business-related stock photography and aim for the creative. With direct mail, your designs can take center stage.  And that’s a big advantage over email – the most compelling creative content in the world may never be seen, thanks to our ability to instantly delete emails. We stepped out of our traditional “business” design box with a recent direct mail campaign – two of the postcards from the series are shown below.    
  • Consider frequency. The age-old figure is that it takes 3 exposures to gain brand recognition and awareness, but some expert marketers advocate up to 7 exposures. When it comes to planning your campaign, think about how many times you’ll contact a customer or prospect, and how far apart each mailing will be.
  • Worried about the environmental impact? Carefully targeted campaigns (as opposed to mass mailers) deliver higher response and conversion rates. Plus, many printing companies offer postcards and paper created with recycled content.
  • Control the costs. Online printers like Vista Print and offer bargain-basement rates for printing and will even take care of shipping the postcards for you. Want to reduce postage expense? Postcards less than 6” long by 4.25” high will only set you back $.28 each, while larger cards (like 5 x7s) yield a more costly $.44 cent postage charge.
  • Make your call to action clear, compelling and simple. Give readers just one action item to avoid indecision or confusion. Pairing your call to action with a small incentive increases the chances that your audience will comply.

Has your organization successfully launched a direct mail campaign, or have you limited the scope to digital communications? Tell us why in the comments.

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  • Amelia@ International Business

    For me, direct mail is more personal. That’s why I tell my friends and family to send me a direct mail when they’ll give me Christmas cards or invitations to a wedding. When you use direct mail, you can have a clearer person-to-person communication, which could be a great marketing strategy to apply.

    However, we should also take into consideration that direct mail can also resort to spam. You should not overdo your direct mail campaign so as not to annoy those who receive it – even if your mail contains some useful stuff such as coupons, gift cheques, and / or discount cards.

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