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Direct Mail

This category in our blog provides useful information about the world of direct mail in general as well as hints and tips about getting the most from your campaign   

Amazingly, many companies still don't understand the true value of a good direct mail campaign. Instead they focus all of their efforts on digital methods or other advertising and marketing methods that don't include a direct mail strand. The consequence of this strategy is that they miss out on one of the most effective and trusted methods of marketing a company and its products or services. This post looks at some ways in which you can get the most out of a direct-mail marketing campaign.

Your first step is to ensure that you know who your customers are. If you can truly target your mailing campaign to people who actually buy from you or want to buy from you, you have a better chance of succeeding. This means identifying who your target customers are and ensuring that you send a mailing campaign to these people only, rather than sending out a 'blanket bomb' approach to mailing that covers most of the town. Be sure to think big though. You must send out a direct-mail campaign to a targeted audience of at least 500 people for it to be effective in any way.

Another effective technique that will boost your return on investment with direct mail is to make the mailings as personal as possible. Some companies really work hard at this and they know that the more personal the direct-mail campaign is, the more likely it will be opened and engaged with. Many direct mail companies offer a service that provides personalised mail, even to the extent of using handwritten envelopes. You can even appeal to the tastes of the people you are trying to reach, by offering treats inside the mail, from sweets to perfume samples. All of this makes sure the mail seems more personal and more targeted to your customers. Done effectively, it goes a long way to making your direct mail campaign a great investment.

Keep it professional

Direct mail campaigns should be treated as professional marketing campaigns, which means that you should think about the aspects of a professional marketing campaign that you could use with the direct mail campaign. One of the biggest aspects is maintaining an appropriate level of contact. Many companies send out one letter or a postcard, and then leave it at that. This is counter-productive. The best thing you can do with your direct mail is to send out at least three mailings as part of your campaign. This means you are establishing contact, maintaining that contact and sending out a clear message. It also makes you appear more professional, because you are committing time to discussing your company and products and services with potential customers.

Direct mail is still a useful and very effective way of reaching out to customers and developing relationships. Make sure you follow the few ideas outlined in this post and you should be one step further to producing an effective direct-mail campaign that brings in revenue.

 

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Direct mail is still regarded as one of the most effective and personable ways with which to conduct marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, in a world where email marketing and social media are just a click away, this treasured form of communication has developed a reputation of being somewhat cumbersome to administer.

The main reason for this is that direct mail campaigning requires time, skill and experience in order to make it effective. Few businesses have the resources available to develop those three attributes which is why mailing houses can prove to be something of a revelation for firms wishing to communicate directly with their customers. 

The concept is simple enough. Businesses can outsource their direct mail campaign to a company which produces and sends it for them. Simple. But how does the business in question benefit from such a service?

Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, mailing houses offer a serious time saving benefit for their clients. Printing, packing and sending even the smallest of mailouts is a job for which few businesses have specific staff available, and those that do undertake it are likely to do so begrudgingly. As a result, they can be done in a hurry and risk damaging the company’s brand with a substandard mailout. 

For example, if a company sells conservatories, it should be focussing on convincing potential customers of the benefits such a purchase would bring. It doesn’t need staff folding fliers and licking envelopes.

Mailing houses also offer a very real cost saving. Printers capable of producing customer-ready fliers and leaflets aren’t cheap, and nor are the running costs for keeping them topped up with ink and high quality paper. Staff need paying too, and if they are spending more time franking envelopes than getting on with the task for which they are employed, overheads can become significantly distorted.

Perhaps most importantly, direct mail marketing isn’t easy. At AMS, we have over ten years experience printing, packing, delivering, database managing and handling responses. For any marketing campaign to be truly effective and to offer a satisfying return on investment, it needs care and attention and the ability to bring all of those elements together. The end result of outsourcing direct mail will ensure the recipients are presented with professional and engaging mailings which will encourage them to become paying customers.

 

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Over the years Direct Mail has been and continues to be one of the most cost effective ways of reaching the people you want, when you want.

Main Benefits of Direct Mail

  • Tailored – Can be highly personalised to improve impact and help increase response rates.
  • Highly Targeted – reach only the audience you want to reach, saving money and reducing environmental impact.
  • Less Intrusive – it can be opened at a time to suit the recipient and can be referred to when it is convenient for the recipient to respond.
  • Tangible – can be kept for future reference or can be passed on as a warm lead to someone else.
  • Flexible – can be as detailed or simple as you require.   You are not constrained by space or time unlike other forms of marketing.
  • Time Controlled – often marketing material can be more effective if the delivery time can be controlled. With a full range of delivery speeds this can easily be achieved.
  • Measurable – you can include an easy response method such as application forms and reply paid envelopes.  It is also easy to measure the cost of every response which can help when planning your next campaign.
  • Easily Tested – small test cells can easily be tested prior to committing to full implementation of direct mail campaign.
  • Reliable – Lets you get your message directly into the hands of the audience you want to reach.  Unlike e-mail marketing which can often be blocked by ever sophisticated spam filters.
  • Universal Acceptance – Direct Mail can be received by everyone in society  as no need to pre-own of have experience of technology.
  • Attention Grabbing – whilst reading direct mail, you can be sure you have the reader's undivided attention. 

Examples

Here are just a few examples of what Direct Mail can do for your business.

  • Generate new business;
  • Build relationships and maintain the loyalty of existing customers;
  • Create awareness of new products and services;
  • Promote special offers and events;
  • Provide information on Company's current of future activities.
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One of the best things about using direct mail as part of your marketing strategy is the fact that, unlike many other channels, you can be as creative as you want to be. There are so many options available to you across the design, copy, and composition, that you have a great opportunity to make the most of what direct mail has to offer.

Four ways to think outside of the box with your direct mail campaign:

1. Give something away

Everyone likes a freebie. If you send your direct mail campaign with a little surprise contained inside, your audience is more likely to open it and, by extension, engage with your company in the way that you want them to. This option isn’t just available to companies that actually supply products, service providers can get in on the action too. What’s more, no matter what your design, you can shout about what you are offering on the mailings external packaging as well as in the direct mail piece itself. If you are offering the right freebie, you should see higher levels of response.

Why not make your gift seasonal, for example, a voucher for some suntan lotion or garden products for the summer.

2. Make your point in an unusual way

Who says that you have to be conventional with the way that you present the information in your direct mail campaign? Why not try something different such as printing your message backwards or upside down, not only will people look twice, but curiosity will get the better of them and they will want to find out more. Being a bit different is something most brands can get away with.

3. Offer a discount competition entry

This follows on from the freebie suggestion made earlier. Offering a discount or opportunity to win something will encourage the recipients to respond to the call to action you set – either by entering the competition or taking advantage of the discount being offered. This is great for encouraging a brand switch or trial of the products or services your company offers. If your product or service is as good as you say it is, and why wouldn’t it be, you are bound to pick up some new customers.

4. Send a postcard

Consider a move away from the standard A4/A5 letter in a windowed envelope – why not send a postcard. People always read postcards, the information is right there to see and furthermore, the recipient doesn’t have to open anything to be able to see the information, it’s the height of convenience. You may even get some interest from people who see your mailing when it’s being delivered.

We are bombarded with marketing messages from many different sources on a daily basis. It has never been more important to differentiate yourself, a creative direct mail campaign can really set you apart from your competitors.

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For the small to medium business, mining local prospects is key to sustaining growth, with direct mail continuing to be the primary method of keeping channels between businesses and local customers open.

Many of you might be thinking, 'But it's too expensive!' Think again. There are a number of cost effective solutions such as AMS's Direct Mail Services that are designed to lower postage and packaging costs; often saving businesses up to 47% on standard tariffs; thus allowing more time to be spent on ensuring higher response rates from their marketing campaigns.

The 40/40/20 Rule

Rules are fantastic because they dictate the way things actually are, thus removing a substantial amount of the guess work. This rule applies to direct marketing specifically, and states that 40% of a campaign's success depends on list selection; 40% on the offer; and 20% on creative execution.

Targeting your audience

Building and developing a mailing list is crucial to an effective campaign, but list buying can be fraught with pitfalls.

Don't be tempted into buying large amounts of untested data. Ask for a small sample to validate the list first, and do some research into the company selling it. Buying from Direct Marketing Association (DMA) members will guarantee that the list adheres to UK and EU marketing laws; and safeguards against the negative implications of using poor quality and illegal data.

The Call-to-Action

Developing your brand and increasing awareness is all well and good, but sending out a mailer without a call to action will be a waste of time. Tell your audience what you want them to do (come into the store with the mailer to receive a 15% discount; book a 30 minute free consultation); will compel them into action and increase the effectiveness of the campaign.

Use your content space – and a great copywriter - to tell your audience what they want to know: Where are the benefits? What are they key selling points that make your company stand out? Do you have any testimonials regarding what other businesses/customers have to say about your business?

Let your mailing house look after your print

By working with a mailing house that also offers print services, you'll be killing many birds with the same stone: Not only will they provide the design, management, and expert finishing to give your campaign the creative execution it needs, but they will also save time and money.

Follow-Up

Plan and implement a follow up message that ties in to your initial call-to-action. This will serve to build brand awareness, and ensure that your business is at the forefront of the target's mind when it's time for them to buy. Think about the menus you get from your local Chinese takeaway...it's usually the same one, but when you're in the mood for a takeaway, they'll immediately spring to mind!

Taking the time to effectively plan your strategy at the beginning of a campaign is well worth the money it saves in the long run. By working closely with industry professionals – from list brokers and copywriters; to designers, printers, and mailing houses – you will see a significant return on your investment.

 

What are your tips for direct marketing success? Share them by posting your comments below.

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