For decades, direct mail has driven profitable customer acquisition efforts for financial, insurance, cable, and a variety of other verticals across both consumer and business-to-business industries. With the rise of digital marketing, we’ve seen marketing dollars shift in part to digital, but much of that spend later returns to direct mail after marketers found they could not generate the volume of profitable leads needed through digital marketing alone. As a direct marketing strategist, I work in both digital marketing and direct mail, and have found that when they are both utilized in an integrated fashion, marketers benefit from enhanced response and a lower cost of acquisition.
Direct Mail Works—Even When You Think It Doesn’t
But what if your business has never tried direct mail? Or maybe you tried it once, and pronounced “direct mail doesn’t work for our business”? Or you work for a business that doesn’t market directly to customers? After years of working with both direct mail and digital, I’m confident in saying that if direct mail didn’t work for you, one or more of its key components was not successfully applied. Effective direct mail requires several optimized components working together—a strong offer, compelling creative, and accurate data—in order to profitably generate and retain customers.
The Offer Is Key
Effective direct mail promotions need a persuasive offer—one that aligns with the needs and wants of the recipient. It must be well presented, and not get lost in the copy or layout. Ideally, it should be unique, with a high perceived value. It should also be well supported by properly identified benefits.
Creative Design and Copy Make the Offer Shine
Closely aligned with the importance of the offer is the creative. Creative must include well-written copy and contain an attention-getting headline featuring a key benefit, along with other offer-supporting benefits in the copy. It must overcome perceived barriers and provide an urgent and strong call to action. The copy must convey credibility and emotionally engage the audience. The direct mail package and its various parts must apply design best practices to connect with the reader and strike the right mix of copy, headlines, bullet points, graphics, and imagery to drive the desired response. Need a reminder about best practices? IWCO Direct Executive Creative Director Mike Dietz laid out a few of our current direct mail best practices here.
The Right Data Sets Your Campaign Up for Success
Last but never least is the data, or list. Depending on your industry, product, or service, the right list can range from relatively basic demographically-oriented data to specialty lists to sophisticated, analytics-driven data. The right list is crucial for success.
Effective Direct Mail Provides Significant ROMI
We recently worked with one of the largest consumer electronics manufacturers in the world, a new client who had never tried direct mail and hadn’t marketed directly to consumers. We developed a campaign test that successfully applied all the necessary components. The campaign generated sales that were more than 40 times the marketing costs—a tremendous return on marketing investment (ROMI) for any business.
For another client, a small business insurer for whom direct mail had failed, we pulled the right components together and lifted response by more than 50% while reducing their unprofitable cost per acquisition from $500 to significantly below their profitable target of $100.
As we’ve stated many times, testing is critical for effective direct mail campaigns. Even when we work with clients with little direct mail experience, we test to reduce potential risk, and continue to test to improve future results.
The benefits of direct mail, especially when part of an integrated direct marketing strategy, couldn’t be clearer. So before you say “direct mail is old school” or “direct mail didn’t work for us,” talk to us to ensure you’re taking full advantage of direct mail’s potential.
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