Despite all the excitement about digital marketing, direct mail continues to drive real-world results. New printing technologies, particularly in personalization, and localization can make direct mail more effective than ever. But taking care of basics can lead to consistent good results.
For direct-marketing companies, your customer and prospect databases are a crucial element to your business. Keeping this database updated is an important; even though the USPS requires lists to be run through the National Change of Address (NCOA) database for bulk mailings, keep in mind it only updates addresses of people who have moved in the past four years and, then, only those who filled out the change-of-address form. You can improve your database reliability by using “address service requested” endorsements at least once a year. Even if this doesn’t return a new address, it is a way to screen out bad addresses.
Personalization efforts rely on the quality of the customer database. No database will ever be perfect, but avoid embarrassment by sending only one mail per per household and regularly run your list through deceased suppression. Further, look into de-duping services to manage your master list; this is especially important if you are gathering leads from multiple sources, like from web sites and email sign-ups.
You can have the most creative, thought-provoking direct-mail piece ever created, but if its not delivered to the right people, it’s not going to be effective. This can especially be true for catalogs sent to entire apartment buildings or condominiums. Look for these to end up in the recycling bin.
Marketers sometimes don’t understand the role of direct-mail pieces in their marketing mix. A direct-mail piece is not a one size fits all marketing piece, designed to get attention, inform the buyer and close the deal, all in one envelope. Remember the classic quote by Patrick Lencioni: “If everything is important, then nothing is.” Think of your direct-mail piece as an invitation to get people to respond for more information. Don’t over-do it.
Even though a direct-mail piece is not intended to be all-encompassing, you still need a compelling call to action to get the recipient into motion. Have a specific, time-limited reason for being in the mailbox.
Marketing has become a multi-channel exercise. Customers - and especially Millennials - expect brands to be consistent, whether they are online, in an app or in a retail store. Therefore, a successful direct-mail piece recognizes this, and acknowledges the website as prominently as a store location. This sort of integration builds customer loyalty across demographics. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, 100-year-old retailer Nordstrom was shown to build tremendous customer loyalty through multi-channel marketing, increasing revenues 50-percent over five years.
Many marketers combine print and email campaigns, so it’s vital these two work together to maximize response rates. Response rates may be impacted if an email arrives within 24 hours of the direct-mail piece or if it arrives days later. By Mark Pageau, vice president, sales and marketing email: email@example.com Twitter: mpageau