Don’t Be Trashy: Keys to Direct Mail Success

Direct mail is the top advertising revenue generator, and is expected to grow at least 3-5 percent through 2016.  The 18-34 year demographic likes direct mail and in general, direct mail is the preferred information channel. With that said, sending just anything in the mail to a consumer doesn’t guarantee revenue, or even that they will look at it.

“I guess I understand why people trash advertising, because a lot of advertising is trashy. “ – Liz Dolan, Chief Marketing Officer at Fox International Channels

On average, 76 percent of mail is thrown away unopened.  As a consumer, how do you determine what is trash and what is worth opening when you sort through your mail? As an advertiser, how do you break through to the 24 percent of mail that is opened? Luckily, there are guidelines to help ensure your direct mail efforts are fruitful.

The three keys to success of direct mail:

  1. Quality of the list (40 percent)
  2. The offer (40 percent)
  3. Relationship between copy and visual placements (20  percent)

1. Quality of the List:

The first key to success is making sure your direct mail arrives at a correct address. Sounds pretty straightforward, but there were 7 billion non-deliverables in the US last year.  In one month, about 3-6 percent of your list can be obsolete, so run your list through the NCOA (National Change of Address) every month for the best delivery accuracy.

2. The Offer:

Once your direct mailer reaches the correct address, the offer must answer two main questions in order for a consumer to pay attention to it:

  1. Why should I?
    i. Is the offer alluring, engaging, incentivizing and seductive?
  2. By when?
    i. Is there a sense of urgency on the call to action?
    ii. Is the timing right?

Both of these questions boil down to one important key factor: relevancy. The offer must be what the consumer needs right now. Picture this:

During the Holidays, a large store in an urban setting wanted to incentivize customers to shop in the store rather than online.  The direct mail offer needed to outweigh convenience of shopping online and avoiding Holiday shopping mayhem. That offer was FREE valet parking because one of the biggest hassles of shopping in an urban setting during busy season is finding a place to park. Instead of choosing a discount on in-store purchases, the store knew what was relevant to it’s consumers “right now” and experienced great success with this offer.

3. Relationship Between Copy and Visual Placements:

Copy placement is more important than visuals in direct mail. Typically, seeing the offer will allure the consumer more than the visual.  This doesn’t mean that the color and design aren’t important – think of the “cool” direct mail pieces you keep and share with others because of the type of paper, the clever fold techniques or the creative design.

Start a conversation with M3 Group today to learn more about direct mail opportunities and if it fits into your integrated marketing strategy.

Footnote: M3 Group attended a “Life with Print” Lunch & Learn hosted by Foresight Group earlier this year.  Daniel Dejan, Sappi North American ETC Print & Creative Manager, equipped attendees with some useful direct mail knowledge. Most statistics in this blog come from notes taken during this insightful presentation.


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