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7 Ways to Improve Direct Mail Response

1.      How
While there is no set rule for the number of pieces that
constitute a good campaign, two or three mailers seems to be a reasonable
amount for a short-term program. Some products—such as high-ticket items or
goods with a long sales cycle—may lend themselves to a more extended schedule,
such as a year-long monthly mailing. Remember that a campaign may only be as
strong as its weakest component, so if adding one more mail piece to a series
feels like a stretch—or the concept just isn’t flowing—you may have already
found the optimal number of pieces.

2. How often? The timing of the arrival of each mailer is
probably as important as mailing frequency. In general you will want to space
mail drops to be close enough together that preceding mailers will be recalled
by the recipient, but not so concentrated or clustered as to become annoying or
seem overly extravagant or anxious. In instances where the objective of a
campaign is to quickly generate excitement and attention, a succession of
mailers sent within a short time frame can be effective. If the mailers are for
items or services that are seasonal, clustering during a particular time frame
often makes sense. The cost of postage is typically a consideration in
determining how often mailings are sent; while first class postage costs more
than standard mail, it also takes less time to deliver to recipients, which can
impact a project’s timeline.

3. In what order? For some products, a “buildup” approach
works best. This may mean messages accumulate to reinforce each other and lead
the recipient to a desired action or conclusion. A buildup method might also
mean that the campaign itself is designed to crescendo at its conclusion. For
example, in a three-part mailing, an initial, simple postcard may be followed
by a more elaborate pop-up piece and conclude with an interesting box mailer.
This tactic creates anticipation and can generate a spike in response rates as
the program moves forward. For other campaigns, a reverse order might make
sense, where an especially striking or innovative mailer is sent first and is
followed by pieces that serve as reminders or as a means of extending the interplay
between the sender and the recipient.

4. Flat or 3-D? The type of mailers deployed in a campaign
will be driven in many cases by budget. Three-dimensional mailers and those
that feature a lot of special effects can cost more than a simple postcard or
flat mailing, but dimensional mailers frequently yield greater results. One
consideration in deciding whether to choose a 3-D design format is the target
audience. In a typical business setting, some ordinary envelopes might not make
it past a secretary, but when a package arrives it could receive special
treatment, granting it a greater likelihood to reach a decision maker.

5. How much variety? This too can be a decision that is
influenced by budget. A good campaign can be built using a variety of mailer
shapes and sizes but is sometimes expensive since print economies—such as
printing the program on one run—might not be possible. On the other hand, an
effective campaign can be created out of nothing more than a simple series of
clever postcard mailers, as evidenced by some examples shown in this article.
Some very effective campaigns have also included a multimedia approach: for
example, a mailing that drives the recipient to a website or is followed up
with an e-mail.

6. Which response mechanisms? Depending on the objective of
the mailers, the inclusion of a response device can alternately be unnecessary,
a good idea or absolutely essential. If the sender does not want or need to
engage in an exchange with the recipient—for example, with a campaign whose
only objective is awareness—no sender contact information would be
incorporated. On the other hand, multiple response mechanisms are vital in
instances such as catalog sales campaigns. In these situations, providing the
options of telephone, fax, e-mail, business reply and web contact info is not
just logical, it’s crucial.

7. What about a teaser? Some effective mail campaigns have
been built around giving incomplete information or only parts of a message
initially. Others work by sending half of a gift—such as one glove or a single
bookend—with a message indicating that the missing component will be sent in
exchange for the recipient completing a certain action. Care should be taken
when using this approach to avoid irritating or annoying the prospect.


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