What is direct mail?
Direct mail is advertising sent via the U.S. Postal Service to recipients at their homes or businesses.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 44% of direct mail, often called “junk mail,” is discarded without being opened or read, equaling 4 million tons of waste, with only 32% recycled.
Direct mail is most often used to
- Convince existing customers to buy more
- Convince new customers to purchase for the first time (lead generation/sales prospecting)
- Get people to attend an event or visit a trade show booth
Why do marketers continue to use direct mail?
Direct mail is one of the most targeted and cost-effective ways to get the attention of customers and prospects.
Many people look forward to receiving the mail each day and find direct mail postcards, letters, flyers and catalogs helpful to learn about new products and services from companies they don’t know about, as well as to be reminded about relevant news (sales, new products, new staff, etc.) from the companies they already use.
With direct mail, unlike most other traditional marketing tactics, a marketer can easily calculate ROI (return on investment). Direct mail can also test variables (different lists, offers, creative, formats, timing) to improve response rates, sales conversion and ROI.
You can use direct mail to:
- Increase volume of sales among current customers
- Cross-sell additional products
- Build or improve relationships with customers and prospects
- Acquire new customers
- Establish a referral program
- Sell your products directly
- Persuade dealers to stock more of your product
- Attract people to your website
- Generate leads for your sales force to follow up with
- Survey your prospects and find out what their opinions are
Direct mail is an effective way to keep your name in front of your existing customers. That way, they won’t forget about you and go somewhere else. The Direct Marketing Association recommends mailing six times a year to your active customers.
A customer contact plan is a proactive 12-month plan to ensure your customers and prospects are hearing from you at least six times during the year. Those could be three email newsletters, an invitation to an event, a direct mail postcard, and a personal call, text message or email.
Lifecycle Marketing – this is a marketing technique to develop communication plans for customers and clients at different stages of their lifecycle with your company. For example, new customers may need different information and advice than established customers.
Planning Direct Mail
To ensure the best investment of both your time and money with direct mail, you’ll want to spend the time up front to:
- Analyze your target audience and determine who to send your mail to
- Develop clear and measurable goals for the campaign. Usually the goal of a direct mail program is to move the prospect to the next stage of the sales cycle. What do you want the prospect to do when they get your mail?
- Formulate key selling messages that will appeal to your target audience and differentiate your company from your competitors
- Determine what will be the most effective offer(s)
- Determine the best timing for your mailing(s)
- Plan for how to quickly and appropriately follow-up on all leads
- Determine mailing size and budget
- Determine your “team” to do this — what you’ll do yourself and who you want to hire to help you with all of, or parts of, the process