Marketers today rely on data to personalize content, measure results, and improve future marketing efforts. Email marketing is a well-known path with plenty of well documented best practices. Direct mail, which has traditionally been viewed as an old, analog channel is making a comeback as technology is being created to make it smarter and easier like its digital counterparts.
Marketing professionals who are turning to direct mail should take a digital marketer’s approach to their campaigns. Over time, they’ll get higher ROI and lower CPAs. In this post, we’ll cover some ways to apply email marketing best practices to direct mail marketing campaigns, especially postcard mailers.
1. Build and optimize targeted mailing lists
Who you’re targeting is more important than what you’re promoting. You could have a great offer, but if the audience doesn’t care about the product or service, they won’t care about your offer. Consider that in-house lists (i.e your customers) convert at 5-10% while cold lists (i.e cold outreach) convert at 1%. Knowing this, the smartest thing to do is continually segment your lists and update its data.
Segmentation is a powerful way to take the data that lives in your existing marketing tools and CRM to create mailing lists that are generated by some combination of filters and/or properties. You should use that data to define your mailing list.
Let’s say you’re sending a mail campaign to all of your customers in San Francisco to promote a summer promotion. You could stop there, but you should dive deeper. You could build your mailing list to include all customers in San Francisco, but only those who have spent > $100 in the past three months.
By focusing on customers who have a history of spending money, you’re more likely to send mail to the people who have the highest probability of making sales, thus increasing your campaign’s ROI.
Manage your list
Once you start sending mail to a mailing list, use the data you get back to optimize it. One example here is to either update or exclude customers who had undeliverable mail in your prior campaign. You could look at either the returned mailers that come back, or delivery tracking data if your tool supports it. Doing this will lower your total mailing cost and your CPA.
2. Create relevant content people want to see
With a well-defined mailing list, you’ll want to create a design that catches the eye and is designed for conversion. You already do this for email, but it’s even more important for physical mail as you only have a few moments to make an impression. Simplicity is key here. Bold, concise headlines, and high-quality imagery are a must.
Personalizing content with your customers’ data is what separates modern, targeted direct mail from the shotgun-like approach of years past. You should be using data from your existing data sources to make each mailer highly relevant and personalized to the recipient. Some examples include:
- Using a first name on a thank you mailer
- Using property data on a real estate mailer
- Highlighting the company name for B2B outreach
Always have a clear, measurable call-to-action
With email, you often have huge buttons that are designed to funnel views into clicks. With mail, you should apply similar tactics. The goal of a mailer is to drive some sort of action. Having a single, clear call-to-action makes that happen. Your call-to-action should be measurable so you can determine the effectiveness of a specific campaign.
First of all, and most importantly, you want define what action you want the recipient to take. This could be anything from visiting a website or calling a phone number. Once you’ve determined the desired action, make sure your CTA is clear and prominent in the mailer.
One effective way to make your CTA stand out is to use design elements such as color, font, and size to draw the recipient’s attention to it. Consider using contrasting colors or bold text to make your CTA pop.
3. Attribute results to understand ROI
Another important aspect of creating an effective CTA is to make it measurable, therefore attributing results directly to your mailing campaign is important. This means that you should be able to track how many recipients actually take the desired action as a result of the mailer.
Attribution isn’t as easy as email marketing, but it is possible.
One way to do this is to include a unique URL, a QR code, or an offer code in the mailer that recipients can use when they take the desired action. This will allow you to track how many people used the code and determine the effectiveness of the campaign (very important for helping to refine your future campaigns).
You could also consider campaign-specific landing pages so you can attribute traffic as well as campaign-specific promotion codes so you can attribute sales and signups.
4. Always be testing
Data-driven marketers understand the importance of testing to optimize results over time. Mail is another channel where you should be applying the same rigor and methodology. A/B test your list and content to learn what works best so you can optimize your ROI. It’s better to send three 5,000 piece mailer campaigns with different content than to send one 15,000 piece mailer campaign with the same content.
How to apply this to your direct mail marketing
Email marketing will always offer some functionality that you can’t replicate with direct mail, but as new data-driven tools emerge to send direct mail smarter, your methodologies should adapt. At Mailjoy, we offer a DIY tool for marketers to create smart, personalized direct mail campaigns. If you’re looking for a new way to engage or acquire customers, give it a try.