Every industry has a set of principles that hold true despite years of change, innovation and disruption. Direct marketing is no different. Although there is an expanding array of channels, when it comes to the overall marketing mix, direct mail is still fundamental to marketing. It’s the flour to bread, the grapes to wine, and the apples to pie. It is the workhorse within direct marketing, and it absolutely should be the cornerstone of your marketing channel strategy.
These four principles of direct mail set the foundation for any successful campaign:
- Know what you want to sell or what your specific goal is. Before you begin any campaign, it’s important to know what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you acquiring new clients through selling a new product or service? Are you communicating with an existing client or member base? Are you trying to get recipients to visit your landing page? Another channel? Your goal will determine who you send to, how you craft your message and will set your overall creative direction.
- Reach the right people. Once you know what you want to sell, knowing to whom you’re selling is the most important fundamental to get right. Data mining has become very sophisticated and somewhat complex. Luckily, there are many great sources to get that valuable data today. Focus on the demographics and/or behaviors that fit the type of customers you are trying to attract. Over time you can refine your data through modeling and continued data testing.
- Design for impact. Creative design is what gets the prospect to open the piece and pay attention. Focus on how the mailpiece looks and what it says. That includes effective use of color, graphics, fonts and personalization, but also make sure it tells a story that begins with a teaser and creates a sense of urgency.
- Track and Analyze. One huge benefit of direct mail is that it is quantifiable. Its performance is easily tracked. As such, don’t make the mistake of not taking advantage of this built-in ability for continuous improvement. By constantly testing new variables and finding new ways to tweak and improve your data, message, creative, etc. you are also improving your ability to provide better ROMI for you and your company. After all, you are not living to mail; you’re mailing to live. Use this fundamental to improve how you use direct mail as part of your overall marketing efforts.
These principles of direct mail remain relevant and stand the test of time because they work. What will change and is already changing is how they will be used across multiple channels. Today there is growing evidence that tying direct mail to other channels, such as email or social media, can dramatically impact the effectiveness of those channels. While the science of attributing which source is benefitting from which channel is not yet perfected, it seems to be evident that pollinating direct mail with other channels, particularly in certain applications, is beneficial to all channels. It will be exciting to see how this continues to unfold in the future.
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