Build direct mail campaign

13 Steps to Build Your Next Direct Mail Campaign

Despite its age (direct mail marketing got its start in 1892!) direct mail still looks really good to your customers.

There are a number of reasons why including that 73% of American consumers say they prefer being contacted by brands via direct mail because they can read it whenever they want.

Granted, you can’t simply send a direct mail piece and expect it to see incredible success. There is a certain amount of planning—combined with best practices—that must be followed.

So, before you send out your next direct mail campaign, consider following these 13 steps so you can find success with your direct mail marketing strategy.

1. Target the right leads

Businesses often send a direct mail piece to their entire mailing list. But as with segmenting your email list, you should also take time to segment your direct mail list so that you can more easily target the correct leads.

For instance, let’s say you sell smartphones tied to a specific network. You’re offering to buy out contracts if users switch from your competitor to you.

However, your direct mail list likely contains the names of existing customers in addition to prospects. And those people who already utilize your network shouldn’t be included in your direct mail send.

In keeping your list as tight and targeted as possible, you improve your chances of improving your ROI.

2. Clean Up Dirty Data

Reaching the right audience is pivotal to a successful direct mail campaign. But when was the last time you updated your list based upon the most up-to-date information?

Data enhancement ensures that your customer communications will reach the right audience. Use this service to ensure your customer files contain accurate and deliverable mailing addresses or to quickly identify duplicates and remove any unwanted data from your lists.

3. Determine Achievable Goals

In marketing, these are referred to as S.M.A.R.T. Goals. Because while it might be tempting to set a goal like, “the most popular women’s retailer in Los Angeles” that data is nearly impossible to measure. Here’s what we mean by “S.M.A.R.T.” goals.

SMART goals
  • Specific: What do you want to accomplish?
  • Measurable: How will you know you accomplished a goal?
  • Attainable: But not too easy!
  • Realistic: Don’t go for pie in the sky.
  • Timed: Give yourself a timeline to reach your goals.

Some examples of S.M.A.R.T. goals that pertain to the above examples include:

  • Increase # of customers by 10% in Q3
  • Determine where the new retail location should open
  • Increase loyalty program sign-ups by 25% this year
  • Send 2 direct mail campaigns per quarter

4. Review Your Budget

Once you’ve set your goals, you can determine how much you’re willing to spend. Be open! While direct mail can be inexpensive, costing mere pennies per piece, giving yourself some room in your budget can help you create an extremely unique piece that customers will be talking about with neighbors!

5. Compare Types of Direct Mail

What comes to mind when you think of direct mail? From letters to postcards to brochures and catalogs, there are a variety of options available. So, what do you think would appeal the most to your customers?

Woman reading flyer

Envelope and Letter
This is a highly personalized form of direct mail because there is a lot of work that goes into creating it. More importantly, your customers realize this! On average, businesses see a 4.3% response rate to the envelope and letter combination, giving it one of the highest ROIs.

These simple, affordable direct mail piece can be small or large and can get a point across quickly. They also get a fairly high response rate averaging about 4.25%.

Catalog or Brochure
Glossy catalogs and brochures are the perfect way to share in-depth details about your products or services in addition to any upcoming savings. And with a 3.9% average response rate, they continue to be a popular choice among various retailers.

In addition to shapes and sizes, don’t forget about how you prepare your direct mail piece. Recycled paper, chemical-free paper and even tree-free paper are more environmentally friendly ways to share your message via direct mail.

6. Create a Timeline

Are you creating a one-off direct mail campaign or will you be sending out two or three in a quarter? Will you send off a piece to your entire segment right away or will you send to half now and measure responses to see how it performs before sending the rest?

Determining a timeline for your direct mail campaign(s) is critical to their overall success.

7. Create Compelling Copy

Direct mail doesn’t give you much space to express a point. But no matter what kind of piece you send, remember to utilize the following copy every time.

This short phrase encourages your lead to keep reading. If a headline is boring, it won’t attract notice—and households could simply throw it away altogether. A good headline can be fun, witty, sharp, or playful and doesn’t necessarily need to be informative. As a general rule of thumb, direct mail subject lines should be no longer than six words.

Your headline is meant to entice while a subhead can offer more context to your reader. In direct mail, you should try to write no more than 8 words which offer more background on the line above.

Keeping readers engaged in your direct mail piece depends not only on headline and design, but also how intriguing your body copy is. Follow these rules as you write your body copy for your direct mail piece:

1. Don’t use jargon
Avoid shop talk and acronyms unless you’re speaking to a highly advanced audience. It’s true, there is nothing wrong with showing your customers or potential customers that you’re an industry expert. But you’ll lose them if they don’t relate to you or they can’t understand what you’re saying.

2. Do use active voice
Passive written voice uses words and phrases like am, was, are, and should be. But given the very limited time you have to make your point with direct mail, you should avoid these types of words as they weaken your copy.

3. Do keep copy brief
Direct mail readers are looking for quick, absorbable copy. Follow a logical structure and try to avoid paragraphs altogether. Instead rely on 1-2 quick sentences followed by bullets or subheadings to make it more scannable.

8. Write a Strong CTA

Technically, this belongs in the above copy section. But it’s so important, we had to give it it’s very own category.

A Call to Action or CTA is what you want your direct mail lead to do. Most direct mail pieces include a phone number to call, a URL to visit, or both.

9. Get Creative

In addition to graphics and colors, there are a variety of creative elements that today’s direct mail pieces can include. And using such elements can create a delightful user experience.

Talk to your creative team about incorporating texture, cut-outs, unusual sizing or folds, or even something interactive.

Ryan Reynolds creative

10. Add Digital Elements

Direct mail is a marketing superstar in its own right. Nonetheless, combining it with a digital element has been known to increase responses rates by 63%.

But how can you include a digital element in your next direct mail campaign? Unique QR codes, a URL that links to an online live demo or tour, and chips for smartphones are all ways to capture attention digitally with direct mail.

11. Consider an A/B Test

This refers to sending two versions of something, usually with a single minor change. For instance, you could send a postcard that is exactly the same in every way save for your headline. By testing our direct mail pieces with your audience, you can potentially determine what performs better and use that information to hone your direct mail marketing strategy over time.

12. Analyze Your Results

The only way to improve your direct mail ROI and meet the S.M.A.R.T. goals you set is by collecting results related to your piece. You’re not limited to collecting response rates, either! Have a way to collect more information from those who reply.

They can fill out a brief survey online when the visit the URL you share. Or a sales representative can request feedback at the end of a call. Finding out what compelled someone to take action or what appealed to them about your direct mail piece will help you with creating your future direct mail marketing strategy.

13. Partner with a Leader in Direct Mail AND Data

There are a lot of companies who can help you design unique direct mail pieces. But there are few who can also help you create or refresh a data list with today’s most up-to-date information. And because direct mail success is so closely tied to data, partnering with a company who does both can save you time and money.

Are you not already using direct mail as part of your overall marketing strategy? Connect with a marketing partner at Salesgenie®. We’re here to help you with all of your data and direct mail needs so you find success with your direct mail marketing strategy. From building your own consumer or business mailing list to creating unique marketing campaigns, to deploying them and tracking their success, a helpful marketing partner is standing by.