I know I don’t need to establish the efficacy of direct mail (DM) for this audience. (Points for legitimate use of efficacy in the first sentence of my blog. Mrs. Sheffield, my eighth grade English comp teacher, would be pleased.)
Where was I? Oh, right. For any new visitors who are curious about whether direct mail belongs in their marketing strategy, here’s the proof (aka efficacy).
Short story: Direct mail works
- 4.9%—the DM response rate for prospect lists in 2018, the highest since the ANA/DMA started tracking this stat in 2003.
- 9%—the DM response rate for house lists the same year. Also the highest number for this category since 2003.
- 5-9X greater—how much more direct mail pulls than any digital DM medium.
I could go on, but I think you’ll agree that direct mail deserves to be included in any serious strategic marketing conversation. And now that we’ve reminded ourselves of direct mail’s muscle, we can proceed to the fun part of this month’s exercise: What can we do to further amp the performance of your direct mail packages?
The answer is in the card
That’s right. The simple 2 1/8” x 3 3/8” (credit card-size) promotional card that’s often affixed to the upper panel of the direct mail letters you receive. Don’t let its modest dimensions fool you; this one’s a workhorse when it comes to generating lift.
How do we know that? To paraphrase a spokesperson for an insurance company, we know a thing or two about cards because we’ve tested a thing or two. The numbers I cite are the result of our own frequent testing of promotional card vs. no-card mailings and the cumulative results.
Why use promotional cards?
In short, they generate results, for a number of reasons.
Start with feel. If a prospect doesn’t open your letter, you don’t get to make your pitch. Since most mail is floppy—i.e., it bends easily—mail containing a promotional card automatically stands out for its thicker feel. That leads to curiosity, which leads to opening. Another way to spark curiosity and encourage prospects to open your letter? Affixing a card in a spot where it’ll be seen through the window of the outer envelope.
Cards extend the brand and response cycle
People peel cards off a letter and keep them as a reminder before they discard mail. Your card could end up in wallets, pinned to a bulletin board, or tucked in a “to do” file. When the prospect is ready, they reach for your card, which can extend your response cycle by weeks or months.
Cards get results
A plastic card can generate a 20-25% lift, sometimes more. Paper cards are another option—cards from heavier stock can also produce up to a 10-12% increase. Of course, cost is a factor. There’s a tradeoff, as you might expect. That’s something you can test, too.
And let’s not forget the value of personalizing. Variable personalization also increases lift; your mail will generally perform better when you use (not over-use) the prospect’s name throughout the package, including—and, perhaps, especially—on the card.
Don’t waste the hot spot
Typically, a card occupies the “hot spot”—the upper-right corner or the “Johnson Box”—of a direct mail letter. So, if a prospect does open your envelope and ALL they do is glance at that upper right corner, they can get all the top-line information they need from the card.
This is direct mail 101: Your card must contain the essentials of your offer. Those can include:
- Who it’s from (logo, company name)
- What the offer is (max loan amount, discount, free product or service, etc.)
- An access code or special customer number for tracking response
Above all, your card must contain a prominent call-to-action (CTA), e.g., “Call (phone number)” or “Visit (URL).”
Never tried cards? Had a bad experience with cards? Want to know more about how to make the most of a card in your mail package? Or just want to get it right? Get in touch with IWCO Direct. Our depth of knowledge and experience is at your service to help make your direct marketing more effective (and full of efficacy, right Mrs. Sheffield?).
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