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Direct Mail: How And Why To Launch Your Successful Campaign

For many business owners, digital marketing encompasses 100% of their marketing efforts. In some circles, direct mail is talked about as if it’s some outdated method reserved for people still living in the dark ages.

Despite the rumors, direct mail marketing isn’t dead, and it’s the number one marketing method employed by top businesses including Google, Ikea, Costco, and many others.

If your marketing campaign could use a boost, direct mail will give you the edge you’ve been looking for. Don’t worry, you don’t need to ditch your digital marketing efforts; you can merge your digital marketing with direct mail into an overall strategy. However, once you get a taste for direct mail, you’ll never look back.

Here’s a closer look at why direct mail works, and the components necessary to launch your own campaign.

Direct Mail: How And Why To Launch Your Successful Campaign

Response rates are higher for direct mail

Getting your message read is the first step to a successful marketing campaign. In the digital world, that’s not so easy. People are distracted and bombarded with marketing emails that hardly stand out from the crowd. Subject lines once considered catchy are now overused and don’t always deliver as promised.

If you want a response, your message must first be read. Digital marketing, by default, is at a disadvantage. Infinite messages can be delivered, but it takes a lot to get people to read them.

It’s not that digital marketing strategies aren’t effective; they can be. However, response rates from direct mail campaigns are 37 times more effective than email marketing. Why? Direct mail is more effective at getting messages read. Especially when you know how the pros (like Dan Kennedy and David Deutsch) get people to open their letters.

Just like any other strategy, there’s a learning curve with direct mail, and jumping right into it is the best way to learn. Here are four foundational components that make direct mail work:

#1. Remember (and use) basic marketing principles

Best selling co-author Sean Platt wrote a three-part series for Copyblogger covering the evergreen marketing advice of Dan Kennedy – the world’s highest paid direct mail copywriter. In this series, Platt translates 14 important lessons from Kennedy’s book, The Ultimate Marketing Plan.

In part one, Platt describes the first five lessons including the importance of properly delivering your message without letting the customer get lost.

Your message is the same on and offline

Regardless of where you choose to deliver your message (on or offline), how you deliver your message will determine whether you complete the sale. The same marketing rules apply on and offline. This is important to remember.

Consider what your prospects need or want. Your message should offer your prospects something that will satisfy their desire. Then, you’ll need to demonstrate why you’re the right source to satisfy that desire. Finally, you’ll need to create a reason for them to act immediately.

For instance, let’s say you’re an online retailer selling rain jackets. Your message – digital or not – should contain images of people wearing your rain jackets, performing various activities and staying dry. If it’s rainy season, offering a generous discount, or a two-for-one deal will encourage people to buy now rather than never.

In part two, Platt discusses the importance of maximizing total customer value. This is important because the life of your customers over time is one of your biggest assets. Generating new customers is more expensive than keeping existing customers happy. Unfortunately, popular digital marketing advice focuses on strategies to generate new customers.

Lead magnets, squeeze pages, and PPC ads all focus on generating new leads.  These efforts tend to give new customers better deals while ignoring existing customers; this makes customers feel unappreciated when they find out.

If you want to increase the value of your existing customers, send them offers too good to turn down – the same kind of deals you give new customers.

#2. Engage the consumer in three dimensions

There’s a reason Publisher’s Clearing House (PCH) makes consumers hunt for special stamps and stickers they have to place in just the right spot on a game board. It works. The more time people invest in engaging with your direct mail piece, the more likely you are to make the sale.

Your direct mail piece doesn’t need to be as involved as PCH. The tedious nature of their strategy works because the consumer has the chance to win millions of dollars.

For your campaign, try something less time-consuming, like a sticker that doesn’t need to be hunted down, or a simple scratch-off game that gives the consumer a free item with their purchase.

#3. Add bulk to your envelopes to capture attention

Some of the most effective direct mail pieces add bulk to the envelope to encourage people to open it.

Don’t think too hard about what you put inside. What’s important is that what you put inside matches the message you deliver and adds dimension to the envelope.

Adding bulk to your envelope will take some cash, but you can find promotional items for under a buck. No marketing campaign will be completely free. Consider any money you spend to obtain customers an investment.

#4. Professional, persuasive copy is everything

Hiring a professional copywriter to write your direct mail piece is the best thing you could ever do. You can try it yourself, but you’ll get better results from a pro.

Professional copywriters know that persuasive sales copy isn’t necessarily grammatically correct or perfectly formatted to MLA standards. It’s a conversation in plain language that’s understandable and transparent. There’s a formula for writing perfect sales copy and it takes a trained professional to do it.

Sales copy is one of the most misunderstood elements in marketing. There is endless debate about whether short or long copy works better and there’s evidence to support both factions. Truthfully, it’s not the length of copy that determines how effective it is, but the quality.

An engaging, ten-page, captivating story will outperform a short, boring three-paragraph letter. People want to be engaged by a good story, and if it takes ten pages to do so, it will get read. As discussed in the beginning of this article, getting your message read is the first step to getting the sale.


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Jenna is a freelance writer and business consultant who covers business, technology, and entrepreneurship. She's lectured for several universities, and worked with over 100 businesses over the course of the last 15 years. Follow her on Twitter.

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