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5 More Tips for Effective Direct Mail

Row of mailboxes on rural road

Image by Yannik Mika

Everybody knows digital marketing is essential in 2018, and it's popularity will only continue to grow. But what does this mean for direct mail marketing? Is it still relevant?

We recently discussed how data show that---even in the digital age---direct mail remains an effective tool for marketers. In fact, direct mail response rates are more than 800 percent higher than response rates for email marketing, the top-performing digital format. With that sentiment in mind, we provided five tips for effective direct mail for you to deploy in your next campaign.

Well folks, that was just the tip of the iceberg. This month, we're back with five more tips for effective direct mail.

1. The Best Direct Mail Design: Make it 'Loud'

There's a phrase we use around here at A Willing Participant that goes, "Neatness rejects involvement." In a nutshell, this means that if your direct mail piece reads more like a page out of Tolstoy's "War and Peace" than say... the entertainment magazine covers at the supermarket checkout, it's not likely to grab your reader's attention.

Remember, the person who receives your mail is looking for any reason to throw it away. The average American household receives dozens of "junk" mail pieces each week, and most of this junk just doesn't provide value to the recipient. Don't be another marketer bombarding these poor people with junk.

To ensure your piece doesn't get tossed too soon, make sure that it's easily scannable. Include a variety of text colors, fonts and sizes. Don't be stingy with italics, underlines and bolded text. While you're at it, throw in some bullet points, text boxes and captions. The less monotony in your mailer, the better. Don't give your recipient a reason to throw it away.

Make your mailer "loud" with the use of exciting text and a bold design---plus copy that's easily scannable---and your reader won't be able to ignore it.

2. Put Yourself in Their Shoes: How to Build Buyer Personas

Let's say you're marketing a sports drink. You probably have a sense of your target audience---something like athletes and people who lead active lifestyles, right? You're off to a good start. But wait, there's more! It's time to dig deeper. Let's get into the heads of your audience by creating buyer personas.

Meet Dan, 25, from Denver. He makes a modest income at the local ski resort and lives in a small apartment with two of his best buds. Dan's life lacks luxury, but as an avid snowboarder, he couldn't be happier. Meet Maria, 44, from Miami. As a top-performing pharmaceutical sales representative, Maria's hard-pressed for time Monday through Friday. When the weekend hits, though, the only thing she might love more than brunch with her friends is a day on the tennis courts. Now, Dan and Maria aren't real people, but merely personas that represent segments of the real population.

Dan and Maria represent two very different kinds of people. But what do both have in common? A passion for sports and outdoor activities. These personas represent two types of people who are likely to buy your sports drink.

Identifying these personas allows you to work within a far narrower scope of communicating with your audience. After you've identified your personas, you can target each one individually with separate mailers tailored specifically to them. You'll really know how to speak to your reader, and your conversion rates will be higher as a result.

Draft five buyer personas before you start your campaign. Buffer recommends including the following questions for your personas:

  • Job

  • Company size

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Income

  • Location (City/suburbs/rural)

  • Education level

  • Family situation

  • Primary and secondary goals

  • How they help achieve these goals

  • Primary and secondary challenges

  • How they help address these challenges

  • Values and fears

3. Check Out What Other Marketers are Doing

Before you launch your direct mail campaign, take a look around and see what other successful marketers are doing.

Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple---arguably the most influential company in modern history, famously described the scenario during an interview way back in 1994. "We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas," he said. What it really boils down to, is that it's the execution---not the idea---that's most important.

Does this mean you should blatantly steal other marketers' copy and/or design? Of course not. But is it OK to draw inspiration from others' work and then execute with your own personal touch? Definitely!

So before you start ideating your campaign, take a look around and see what other marketers are doing. Check out all the direct mail pieces coming into your office or home and take note of the ideas you like. You can even gain inspiration from email blasts or other marketing formats that can be applied to direct mail.

Feeling inspired now? Then it's time to start creating.


Want to talk about more direct mail marketing tips and tricks?

Contact us to set up your FREE creative audit.


4. Fail Until You Succeed

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Yeah, yeah, it's a cliche. But it's true!

Great ideas are the result of countless others being scrapped. Before you sit down at the computer to begin writing your copy and executing your design, sit down with a notepad and pencil for a good old-fashioned brainstorming session.

Sketch some designs that might work. Punch out some copy. And don't be afraid to hit a dead-end on any given approach. Once you determine what's not working, you become closer to striking gold.

After you come up with a few "winners," it's time to take a step back from your work. It's easy to develop "tunnel vision" that warps your perspective on the big picture. Take some time to work on something else, go for a cup of coffee or even take a walk while your work settles for a bit. Creativity cannot be forced. The best ideas often come when they're least expected.

The "step-back" stage presents an excellent opportunity to garner feedback from your team members or client. Again, sometimes we can develop a warped perspective when we're too close to our work. Feedback from others can be huge in identifying a glaring mistake or missed opportunity.

By now, you've scrapped your bad ideas; You've taken time to really perfect the good ones; You've considered feedback from your stakeholders to refine your product further. Now it's time to put your plan into action.

5. Be Consistent Across Your Campaign

Direct mail is best used to complement other marketing formats these days, not replace them. And when marketing across multiple media, it's important to be consistent.

Even in the digital age, direct mail response rates are far better than those of digital formats like email blasts, social media and paid search. But when used together with at least one digital media, direct mail sees a 118 percent increase in response rates.

When sending direct mail as part of a broader campaign, your content better be consistent. Use the exact same design elements as you did on your social media posts. Did you run an email marketing campaign? Simply reformat your copy for direct mail, don't start from scratch with new messaging.

Building consistent branding across multiple channels helps your business gain recognition among your target audience. When you appear before them in different places throughout the day, they're bound to think, "Hey, these guys are everywhere. They must be doing something right!"


Contact us to set up your FREE creative audit

to discuss more direct mail marketing tips and tricks.


Do you have an opinion on direct mail in 2018? Have some tips and tricks you want to share? Well we'd love to hear them! Join the discussion in the comment box below.

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