Do You Treat Direct Mail This Way?

  • Jul 12, 2011

Let's face it. In this age of internet marketing, postal mail suffers from the Rodney Dangerfield complex - it just can't get any respect. When you bring in the daily mail, if you're like most people, you don't take long to sort through it. The marketing pieces in the stack will only get more than a glance about 20% of the time. If they survive that first pass, only highlights like headlines, pictures and captions will grab fleeting attention. Scanning replaces reading. That quick scan will eliminate about half right on the spot. Of the 10% that remain, another half will stumble on some little detail and toss the piece into the trash. Now the advertiser is down to 5% who might actually think about the offer that landed in the mailbox. Is it any surprise that direct bulk mail typically only gets 1-2% positive response?

Of course, all this generalizing applies to true bulk mail - a generic piece mailed to a large list. A more targeted and personalized mailing will generate a much higher response. It doesn't take a lot of improvement over 1% to create a real return on investment, even with higher unit costs. But for now, let's look at four steps that should be considered in order to improve even a standard direct mail piece.

Direct mail will go directly to the trash can unless you follow this advice 

  1. Use the right list. The only way to find the right list is to test. Mailing list companies that we represent have many ways of selecting prospects based on criteria that can make a difference. Send the same message to different lists in smaller lots, and compare the results. You should always do this first.
  2. Sell a quality product. This should go without saying, but a look at your daily junk mail will tell you that it isn't always followed. New products always get attention, but the safest bets are something that people already need, that they can understand clearly. Venture too far out of familiar territory at your own risk.
  3. Make your offer attractive. You only have a few seconds as people glance at your mailing. The right prices is always important, but premiums, free trials, and strong guarantees can make the difference between a sale and another piece hitting the trash can.
  4. Don't forget the basics. The headlines are the most important part of any advertisement. The body copy must be clear and fill in all the details. Pictures not only need to be attractive, they have to be useful and relevant to the buying decision. Finally, the call to action and ordering process have to be simple and straightforward. Make it easy.

By following these four steps, you can do your part to improve on the 98% rate of direct mail pieces heading to the trash can. If you'd like to explore how direct mail can benefit your business, contact us here at APTCO.

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