Tips for Improving Direct Mail Response Rates

Posted by Chris Wheeler on November 11, 2021

Tips for Direct Mail-1

How much effort have you put into direct mail marketing in recent years? Many companies have reduced their traditional mail marketing and have focused on digital marketing. While digital is essential, you can’t forget about the benefits that direct mail can still provide. If you haven’t focused on this area lately, or if you have had lackluster results, there are things you can do to improve your success.


You Can Still Benefit from Direct Mail

People enjoy getting direct mail, as long as it is something that appeals and applies to them. They like getting coupons, free and discounted products, catalogs for types of products they need or enjoy, etc. They even like getting postcards thanking them for their patronage, especially if it also includes an offer.

People are more apt to delete or forget about email than they are a piece of direct mail that has an offer on it. They keep the mail, put your magnet on their fridge, or give a coupon to a friend. Direct mail has the potential to provide results over a longer period. It’s possible to find new clients using direct mail and to nurture leads you already have.

Benefits abound for direct mail. However, if you are just starting in this area or if you haven’t had luck, you might not be doing it right. Below are some simple but important tips to keep in mind. Understanding the basics will help you to improve your direct mail response rates.

Make the Mail Stand Out from the Crowd

Marketing through direct mail is not as simple as sending out a letter or a flyer now and then. You need to put care and attention into the direct mail you are creating and sending. It must stand out from all of the other mail that people are getting so it doesn’t get ignored.

You can do this in a few different ways. Making your envelope larger and unique can be a good way to get attention. Marketers have found that when someone receives an oversized envelope, they are more likely to respond. It’s believed that postcards get a response rate of 4.25%, catalogs get 3.9%, and large envelopes get 5%.

Regardless of the type of direct mail that you are sending out, try to find ways for it to look different from the rest of the mail. People are more likely to keep it, read it, and respond to it.

Use the Right Lists to Target the Right People

If you want to receive more responses, target the right audience with your marketing messages. It doesn’t make sense to waste money sending mail and promotional products to people that will never buy from you. It can often be more difficult to sort your target audience for direct mail than it would be for something like social media, for example.

However, it doesn’t have to be. You can find and curate lists that are geared toward your type of audience. In some cases, companies can provide these lists and ways to better segment them for smarter marketing campaigns.

Is a List Required?

Do you always need to use highly targeted lists? When you use these lists, you are likely to get a better response rate. This is because the people who are receiving the mail are already predisposed to the products or services you are offering.

However, there may be certain circumstances where you want to do blanket coverage for a certain area. Instead of relying on certain demographic factors and your lists, you could mail items to all homes in a certain zip code. If you are starting a new dental practice, real estate office, or auto mechanic shop, for example, this could be a good option.

Clear and Legible Text and Photos

Another way to make sure your direct mail gets more responses is by ensuring it looks good. Not just should it look unique, as mentioned above, but it should also be easy to read. You need to have clear images and logos. You need to be sure the text is legible, as well.

Have you ever received a postcard in the mail that was written in a font with tight kerning, making it difficult to separate the letters and words? What about the text that was written in a “fancy font” that is too difficult to read? Maybe you’ve seen mail with blurry text, so you couldn’t make out any of the important content.

These types of problems happen more often than you might think. It’s sometimes due to bad design. It could also be caused by poor quality printing. Regardless, it’s not something you want to occur with your direct mail. After all, if people can’t read it, they aren’t going to respond. It will go right into the recycling bin.

Free Mail Guide

Design and Brand Consistency Matters

Brand consistency ensures that your image, logo, messaging, and brand values are the same regardless of platform. You shouldn’t have different variations of your logo on your website, social media, direct mail, etc. It’s too confusing and people won’t remember you. You want people to recognize your company when they see your logo and colors in their pile of mail.

Take the time to create quality brand designs and assets and continue to use them in your marketing efforts. The more often people see the branding, the better.

Of course, even great brand design might not catch the attention of everyone who sees it the first time. This is why you need to be consistent. The more times people see your brand the sooner they will associate with your company and what you offer. They will start to build recognition and then trust, which can help them feel more comfortable buying from you.

Direct Mail Messaging: Benefits Over Features

Your products or services might have a wide range of features that make you proud. You want to show them off. However, you don’t need to do this with your direct mail. You have a limited amount of space on the postcard, letter, flyer, etc. You need to make the best possible use of that real estate.

Therefore, you should focus on the benefits that you can provide for your customers. What can you do that will make their life better or easier? People know what issues they have, and if you know your customers, you know their pain points, as well. The direct mail messages need to show what benefits the customers can expect. This information should be simple to understand.

A feature is something that the product has. A benefit is the result of the customer using that product. Benefits are emotional, whereas features are logical. You want to appeal to the emotional side.

For example, if you are selling massage chairs, people care more about how much better it will make their backs feel than they do about its technical specifications. Save the technical stuff for your product page on your website. Of course, you don’t want to forget to add the benefits there, as well.

Show the Value Quickly

People have a limited amount of time to spend looking through each piece of mail they get. You want them to read yours, and you want them to see the value it offers as quickly as possible. Don’t dance around the value you are providing with your offering. You should be able to sum up the value in a few words or a couple of sentences at most. It should be one of the first things people see.

In some cases, companies might even include the value statement on the outside of the envelope. This ensures that they see it, and it serves as an enticement to open the envelope to learn more about the offer.

Create an Easy to Understand Offer

People expect value when they receive marketing material in the mail. Every piece that you sent out should include an offer that is compelling enough to make the recipient want to learn more or make a purchase.

The simple trick is to give them an offer that they can’t resist and to make it as simple as possible. There are many possibilities.

It could be a coupon for a discount, which is always appreciated. It might also be an address to a website where they can download a free e-book. For example, if you operate a dermatology clinic, you could provide a call to action on the mail telling people to go to your website to download a free e-book on holistic skincare. You might even add a QR code to make it easier for them.

Regardless of the offer, make it clear and easy for the reader to understand what you want them to do.

Create a Sense of Urgency

This is a tool that’s been used in marketing for ages. By putting a deadline on the offer, it helps to spur the reader toward taking faster action. If they know they can get 10% off products in your store if they use the coupon before the 15th of the month, or if they can get free shipping, they are more likely to act right away. They don’t want to miss out on the deal.

This is a win-win situation. The customer benefits from your products and your discount, and you get more business. You don’t need to create these deadlines with all of your marketing messages in direct mail, but you will want to experiment with it to see how it works for you.

Add Contact Information, Social Media, and Website

Sometimes, businesses are so worried about their marketing message and logo placement that they forget to add some of the most important pieces of information to the material.

The last thing you want to do is have a great offer and forget to give customers ways to contact you to redeem it. Always double-check to make sure that you have your phone number, address, social media handles, and website address on the material.

You want to give the recipients as many ways to contact your business as possible. The more options you offer, the better. Some people, for example, will feel more comfortable visiting your website and checking out your social media for information rather than talking on the phone. Make it possible for your customers to respond online to the offer if they choose.

Consider Sending a Promotional Product

In addition to flyers, brochures, postcards, and the like, you might want to consider sending out some promotional material with your logo on it to your leads or current customers. There are many types of promotional products that you could use, such as notepads, pens, flashlights, and even water bottles and clothing.

Of course, you have to weigh the cost vs. the benefits when sending out promotional products. They are costlier than other types of materials sent through direct mail. In some cases, such as with loyal clients and great leads, it makes sense to use this tactic. However, you probably can’t afford to send products to everyone on your list. For them, use discounts and other offers.

Compare Response Rates of Different Types of Direct Mail

Once you start using direct mail, you will want to pay close attention to the response rates that you are getting for different campaigns. What seems to be working best for you? Do your postcards bring in a lot of new clients, or are you getting more traction from letters?

Compare the response rates and then reevaluate how you are using direct mail. You might need to change up the marketing messages if they are weaker on the material that is not performing well, for example. Just as with any other type of marketing, you will need to test and adjust to improve the results.

Combine Direct Mail with Other Marketing Techniques

Direct mail continues to be a fantastic way to market and reach a large number of people. However, it shouldn’t be the only way that you market. You need to make it part of your marketing campaign, but not your entire focus.

Spend time marketing with social media, email campaigns, using online ads, blogs, videos, etc. By incorporating all of these branches of marketing, it will provide you with the best chance of reaching more people. Just remember to keep your branding consistent regardless of how and where you are marketing.

Work With a Company that Can Help with Your Direct Mail Needs

Most companies do not have printers capable of producing top-quality direct mail marketing materials. They may not have an effective and efficient way of mailing out all of that material, either. This doesn’t mean that you have to invest in these printers for your own company, of course.

It simply means that you need to find and work with a company that can provide these services for you. Working with professionals for printing will make your job much easier.

Make sure that you choose a printer that produces professional-quality materials and that can help with all of your printing and direct mailing requirements. The company should be capable of providing personalized direct mail and mass-produced materials alike. If the company can also handle mailing out the materials, and they can provide good rates, even better.

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Topics: Marketing Operations, Direct Mail, Commercial Print