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Efficient Direct Mail Design Tips – IWCO Direct

How Design Can Impact the Efficiency of Direct Mail Production (And How to Find that Perfect Balance)

Matt Shanahan

I don’t know about you, but most of us in Minnesota are very excited that spring has finally arrived, and our lakes are ‘soft water’ again. Yes, terms like ‘hard water’ and ‘first ice out’ are common in Minnesota, where our lakes freeze solid every winter. Now that spring has arrived, it has us thinking of growth and partnerships, and getting outside to enjoy the warm weather. We can learn a lot from observing the best gardens and landscapes—they have a balance to them that helps the whole ecosystem thrive.

A successful marketing campaign is no different. Our goal is to always push that needle higher, and it takes a balanced approach to achieve the very best results. We have two main levers to push: efficiency (or direct mail production cost) and effectiveness (or ‘response rate’ in the direct marketing biz). In this post we are going to dive into the efficiency aspects of designing direct mail.

Direct Mail Production Efficiency is a Balance of Design and Cost

The likelihood of creating a successful, cost-effective marketing campaign is much higher when working with an efficient design. Efficient designs are fine-tuned to use the very best equipment at their maximum speeds and capabilities. This lowers the cost of direct mail production, which is a primary factor in determining the return on marketing investment (ROMI) for the campaign.

Run speed can be up to 10 times higher on some equipment when using an efficient mailpiece design instead of a less-than-efficient one. Since run speed determines how much mail you can produce in a given time, it will have a significant impact on production costs.

It can also have a significant impact on timelines. For example, an efficient multimillion-record mailing can be in production five to seven days after mail files are approved. With no alternative production capacity, a less-efficient campaign can easily take three weeks or more. Our efficient design options have built-in redundancy to allow for the most flexible and responsive scheduling options.

Three Tips for an Efficient Direct Mail Campaign Launch

Here are my top three suggestions for a client who needs to launch a campaign as efficiently as possible:

  1. Engage us early to review the design.
  2. Be open to suggestions and changes to the design.
  3. Make the suggested changes to the design.

Seriously, we understand how some designs can take on a life of their own. And if you find yourself at an impasse with changes, we suggest testing both designs and letting the measured results, cost, and response rates drive your decision. Typically, the suggested changes are minor and have no negative impact on the effectiveness of the piece. Common changes fall into three basic categories: materials, physical component dimensions, and variable and static print.

So when does it make sense to use a less-efficient design? Sometimes there are less efficient design elements that cannot be changed—like branding, special formats, or unique materials. There’s also the importance of having several designs to rotate between, which may also mean using a less-efficient design for the purpose of variety. We suggest testing the designs against your control or current proven design—the primary factor to consider is if the increased response rate justifies the increased cost.

The best advice I can give our clients on how to create efficient direct mail designs is to engage us early and often during your creative process. Be flexible and open to changes and be sure to ask for the most efficient option that still works with your initial design. Then engage our Creative Services team to maximize the effectiveness of the design, and you will have a winning campaign. After that, it’s time to soak up the sun and the glory of a job well done!

If you’re curious about how IWCO Direct’s R&D and Creative Services teams ensure great direct mail design, get in touch with us today.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2018/05/11/direct-mail-production-design-efficiency/
Matt Shanahan


Matt Shanahan

Director R&D/Production Engineering and graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Bringing the philosophy of “anything is possible with the right planning and resources” to IWCO Direct for over a decade. A sports and outdoor enthusiast, two of his greatest passions are the Metropolis Rugby Club and hiking with his family.

More Posts by Matt


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