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How to Optimize Your Direct Mail Letter

Posted by David Kindervater on Apr 17, 2018

In a world of emails, texts, and social media posts, people still look forward to checking what's in their physical mailbox each day. Approximately 41% of Americans, in fact. And not just older folks—those under 30 feel the same way. Research shows only about 6% of people discard mail without opening it.

Some marketers question the role of direct mail solutions in an increasingly digital world, but the truth is in the statistics. Direct mail is far from obsolete. It has declined in volume over the past 10 years, but savvy marketers are finding new and innovative ways to get even greater returns on their direct mail investments.

As a result, marketers report direct mail response rates of 3% and higher. That's 28 times greater than email, thus a win by any modern-day marketer's measurements.

You can do the same. Here's how to optimize your next direct mail campaign.

Targeting: Know Your Audience

3-Effective-Ways-to-Incorporate-Direct-Mail-Into-Your-Multi-Channel-CampaignsKnowing the wants and needs of your target market is vital. For direct mail to be successful, you need to know who you're selling to. Begin with an up-to-date database.

Your campaign's ROI is strong when it's delivered to targeted mailing lists. Clean up your current list by detecting and correcting inaccurate records, like duplicates. Track your duplication percentages for specific lists and try to assess the root of the issue. This helps you clean up your lists before each campaign.

Personalize to Connect With the Recipient

direct-mail-letterMail personalization is about more than just using someone's name. That's a great start. People love to see their name in print, and it creates a connection between you and your customer. But there's more to it than that.

Here are a few personalization ideas to try:

  1. If you center your mailing around a franchise location, try adding a local angle to the piece. Include the address and hours of operation of the closest or most frequently visited store using geo-location and user shopping habits.
  2. If you're using a return piece, save time for the customer by filling in data, like their mailing address. This increases the chance of a response by making it easier for them to complete.
  3. In your copy, direct your recipients to a personalized URL, or PURL. They'll find custom content, plus you can more effectively track what they do. You can even use custom QR codes to make it visiting these personalized pages easier than ever.

Is personalization time consuming? It doesn't have to be. Variable data printing capabilities allow you to create hundreds or thousands of variations of a mailing piece at mass-production rates. This way, you enjoy the benefits of personalization without sacrificing time.

Use a Successful, Proven Format

When you're creating your direct mail letter or mailing piece, there's a formula you can use that has been proven successful. You'll optimize your results by following a few tips:

  • Headline – Have a clear headline that reflects your goal. After all, humans have an attention span of eight seconds. Get their attention right away.
  • Body – People tend to spend more time with physical mail than its electronic counterpart, so include more information. But don’t get carried away. Simple is still better. Also, sell your story with images and visuals. Our brains process them faster than words.
  • Call to Action (CTA) – When you're crafting your call to action, clearly tell the recipient what you want them to do. And because some people are sure to only skim the content, repeat the CTA several times—in an obvious manner. Don't forget to use a P.S. section to repeat it.

Allow for a variety of ways to respond. Direct mail campaigns that include email, web, and social channels (aka omnichannel) receive a 37% increase in response.

Consider the power of the outside of your mailing, too. A callout of the special offer waiting inside (or something similar) can increase your open rates.

Timing: When You Send Your Letter Matters

targeted-mailing-listsDid you know Monday is generally the day when people receive the greatest amount of mail? Avoid it. The same goes for Fridays. Everyone's usually in weekend mode at this point. By scheduling your direct mail piece to arrive between Tuesday and Thursday, you're increasing your chances of direct-mail success.

Measure Your Success

There's an advertising rule that claims it takes at least six impressions before people decide to connect to a product or service through a marketing message. Applying that notion, plan on sending multiple mailings, and use direct response for more immediate feedback. Your customers can:

  • sign up for an email newsletter
  • call for more information
  • visit a web page
  • place an order

However you decide to elicit a response, you'll be better prepared to track and measure your results.

A/B Testing

omnichannelHere's a fairly obvious but important question to ask yourself with any direct mail campaign. How can you increase your ROI if you don't know what's working? Don't let A/B testing intimidate you. From the simple to the complex, these comparisons can provide valuable information for future mailings.

Simple Test - At the very least, run a simple A/B test that includes one difference, which is typically the offer. Split your mailing list in two so one half receives one version, and the other half gets the second version. Then track the results to see which offer was redeemed more often. Remember to use unique coupon or promo codes, or even unique urls to make comparing redemption rates easier.

Control Group Test - A control group test would involve something you've mailed before and a test piece. Decide what you want to test, such as design, color, images, etc. Then split the list in half to see which gets the better response.

Complex Test - Of course, you can conduct a more complex test. You could break up your mailing list by purchase history or demographics. Then create mailings for each one. You could also test a variety of direct response methods, as mentioned above, to determine what works best. For instance, see how a phone number CTA performs against a website URL or QR code.

Innovate and Integrate

direct-mail-lettersIf you’re looking for ways to improve your direct mail efforts, consider a new approach. One of the main reasons people ignore direct mail is because there’s too much of it. They don’t have the time to sort through it all. So you need to get creative.

Experiment with Sensory Devices

Innovative marketers are testing sensory devices with their printed materials. Incorporate smell, touch, taste, sound, and video into your mailers. It’s called “embodied cognition.” The more senses you appeal to, the better encoded the message. The result: increased response rates.

Postal Optimization

There are other ways to innovate. Take advantage of postal service discounts by optimizing your mail for delivery.

  • Presorting - Get a cheaper postage rate by presorting your outgoing mail by zip code.
  • Intelligent Mail - This 65-bar barcode provides the USPS with more information and functionality.
  • Commingled Mail - Consider mixing your individual pieces of mail with other direct mail marketing companies to receive USPS discounts.
  • Co-Palletization - This method shares trays of mail on a pallet for a discount.

Both commingled mail and co-palletization reduce the times the post office touches your mail. This results in faster shipping and discounts.

Try integrating some of these innovative steps into your next direct mail campaign to see which works best for you. MSP has dedicated staff that runs a postage and freight feasibility report on every job. You get the lowest postage rate while also meeting your “in-home” date requirements.

Create Targeted Mailing Lists

You can create a direct mail campaign that stands on its own. Or you can design an omnichannel campaign to compliment your electronic efforts. No matter what method you choose, you can optimize your direct mail letter to become a very effective form of marketing.

MSP can help you make the most of your next direct mail program with competitive rates and enhanced personalization techniques, like those mentioned above. Visit the MSP website to learn more, or contact us for a free consultation.

Topics: Direct mail