In the late 1800s, American writer Mark Twain was reported to be in ill health, or possibly even dead. Tracked down by a reporter, Twain was found to be in fine shape and subsequently quoted as saying, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” The same can be said these days about the state of direct mail. While some naysayers and technologists deride the use of direct mail marketing campaigns as a throwback to a less technologically-savvy era, those with experience in the field know better. Direct mail works, and personalized direct mail works even better in the 21st century.
But personalizing your direct mail communications takes more than just software that fills in the blank in a “Dear [Customer Name Here]” program. There are concrete steps you should be taking to ensure that your direct mail campaign not only reaches its intended recipient, but that they open it and act upon the material inside. The following points are worth noting when creating a personalized direct mail piece.
1. Make Analytics and Data Organization Your Priorities
Tailoring direct mail content to the recipient is a fundamental “best practice.” Before you begin to craft your sales message, you should undertake some early research to be sure you know what your target audience wants. By utilizing analytics and insights, you can customize your direct mail pieces for specific audiences, personalize your message, and more effectively reach your goals. Remember that every interaction you’ve had with your clients has yielded valuable information about them. Be sure to utilize this information. Research shows that when compared to general ads, personalized direct mail was seen as 54% more engaging. If you’re not keeping track of your customers' preferences and previous interactions with your brand, start now.
2. Incorporate Past Behavior
When crafting your copy, be aware of a client’s recent buying behavior. Take into consideration what you already know, and use that to enhance the communications based on individual actions. For example, in a client’s buying history, if they bought outdoor furniture, let them know when seat cushions or outdoor lighting go on sale. And it always helps to consider including a coupon, to boost their interest. Direct mail personalization that factors in such history (and offers) makes a strong impact on the recipient and will help increase your response rate.
3. Segment Your Lists
Longtime customers should be treated differently than first-time prospects. Be sure to give your mailing list a careful once-over, and direct your material to the proper recipient. Include the location of the store nearest to your customer; adding the contact information for that outlet can only help as well.
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the leading trade group for direct mailers worldwide, reports that some 2.5 billion coupons mailed to customers were redeemed in 2015. Those sellers knew what was of interest to their prospects. To ensure a more positive response to your efforts, do the same. For example, if you’re in the plant business, sending targeted mail showing flowers that will thrive in their particular region of the country are sure to get a strong response.
5. Add Their Name Throughout
Receiving a personalized piece of mail is still appreciated, no matter who you are. People love the sound of their own name, as noted in this blog on the Value of Personalized Direct Mail. But you also need to “sprinkle” their first name throughout your message, to assure the recipient that it’s not just another generic piece of mail. The technology is available, and you should use it. Recipients will notice instances of their name popping up, adding to the personal feel that makes such a strong impact.
6. Utilize Personalization in Other Ways
Smart salespeople know the easier you make it for the prospective customer to say “Yes”, the better your chances of closing the sale. When building a piece of direct mail, include as much personal information as you can so the recipient doesn’t need to enter it. Even something as simple as filling out the customer’s mailing address for them in a return piece, so they don’t have to, is one less barrier for them to overcome. It also makes sense for the salesperson to include their name in the piece, to help jog the buyer’s memory. It’s the little things that can make a big difference.
7. ‘But Wait; There’s More!’
Variable Data Printing (VDP) allows senders to even further customize a direct mail piece. Using VDP software, a printed piece can offer up varied information – depending on the targeted recipient -- in the form of content, graphics and message. VDP works best when used in conjunction with data management, to assure the accurate targeting of products and offers. One example might be where an auto dealer sends a reminder for regular service, based on car ownership and past customer history.
8. Include a PURL for Personal Contact
A ‘PURL’, or Personalized URL, can be a huge benefit. An example of one would say, “For a special offer, go to OurSite.com / John.Smith.” OurSite would be where you’d put your company name, and John.Smith would be replaced with the recipient’s name. It’s a URL design that’s unique to the recipient, and matches the offer made in the direct mail piece.
By clicking on it, the recipient’s moves become further trackable and can help create a significant lift in program response. Every valid touchpoint brings them one step closer to being a customer. Best of all, this strategy works for any industry, from retail sales to recreation marketing.
Personalizing the direct mail you produce takes some extra thought, time and effort, but it will surely pay off in the end. “All things are direct and all things are measurable,” the DMA says in its 2016 Statistical Fact Book. “Campaign management, and reading and reacting to results in a timely and relevant manner, is key to your business and your increasingly personalized relationship with your customers.”
MSP can help you make the most of your next direct mail program with great competitive rates and enhanced personalization techniques like those mentioned above. Visit the MSP website to learn more, or click the link below for a free consultation.