10 Effective Direct Mail Strategies for Growth Marketers
Effective growth marketers use direct mail as a complement to oversaturated digital channels, and as a way to incorporate your offline and online into an omnichannel marketing strategy. Direct mail can help all other channels be more successful. Fight email fatigue unsubscribes, and churn by staying top of mind using direct mail.
Ready to enhance your direct mail marketing strategies? Follow these ten tips to send effective direct mail that gets a response from customers.
1. Identify your direct mail opportunities
Everything, from International Donut Day to an abandoned shopping cart, is a potential direct mail opportunity. But not all opportunities are created equal. An effective direct mail strategy can increase customer acquisition, customer lifetime value, and mitigate churn by tailoring messaging to stages of the customer lifecycle.
- Acquisition. Start with direct mail to prospective customers that will raise brand awareness or share offers to get customers to sign up or make their first purchase.
- Cross-Sell/Upsell. Suggest the next logical purchase based on purchase history data. Using data you have about your customers will help you send targeted offers that convert and increase lifetime value.
- Retention. Reduce churn by staying top-of-mind with customers and providing relevant offers at exactly the right time in their customer lifecycle. Using triggers based on customer actions can help pinpoint the best time to send a direct mail piece.
2. Be tactful when selecting your form factor
By format, or the industry term “form factor,” we mean what you’re sending. What materials will your customers receive? What will it be made of, and what will it look like? Will it be a postcard or a letter mailer? Or a package with more weight and dimension... and a corresponding higher cost and greater environmental impact? Be tactful when selecting your format because the format you choose will contribute to what you communicate.
Imagine your electric company sent you a bill on a glossy postcard. You’d likely be surprised and a little peeved that the information wasn’t sent in an envelope. Every element of your direct mail—from the envelope you use to the layout of the text—suggests the type of message you’re trying to send. Craft your direct mail in a way that aligns with the purpose of your message.
In 2018 the ANA/DMA Response Rate Report showed that oversized envelopes had the highest response rate at 5%, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to use an oversized envelope to send a birthday card or coupon. Postcards showed a 4.25% response rate, and dimensional mail more than 0.75 inches thick came in at 4%.
Avoid designing direct mail in a way that feels deceptive or wasteful. Think about who will be receiving it and the action you intend them to take.
3. Think sustainably
Eighty-one percent of global consumers feel strongly that businesses need to do more to aid the environment.
Improve the quality and reception of your direct mail by choosing Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certified paper and companies that reduce waste and plant trees, and then communicating about that choice to your customers.
At Lob we believe that direct mail has a significant impact on change. We offset our paper consumption by planting more trees than we deplete in production, and we offer special donated and discounted pricing for charity and organizations through Lob for Good, a pillar of Lob.org.
Direct mail isn’t always supposed to be flashy—you may just be sending a simple invoice or a letter. But even for these types of mail, keeping your ethics at the forefront can go a long way toward keeping recipients engaged.
4. Focus on quality over quantity
Use your resources to produce top-notch direct mail pieces to segments of your customers and prospects. Focus on sending highly targeted and customized pieces that will drive conversion vs mass spray and pray campaigns.
The rule of thumb for effective direct mail is 40-40-20: 20% of a direct mail campaign’s success rate will be based on content and copy, design, and timing; 40% will be determined by your offer and 40% on the quality of your mailing list. We’ll get into how you can improve the quality of your mailing lists below, but to make sure you are sending quality mail:
- Keep your copy short.
- Make your call to action clear and compelling, and send small test batches to analyze your success rate and get feedback.
- Print test versions to check for image resolution issues and other design mistakes that don’t show up on the screen.
Don’t turn your customers’ mailboxes into another inbox clogged with spam. Focus on making each piece a high-value touchpoint that adds value to your customer’s journey.
5. Use personalization to send effective direct mail to your target audience
By personalization, we don’t just mean addressing your recipient by name. At this point, that’s the bare minimum of what customers expect. You should also consider demographics and past buying and search patterns to send mail that’s truly useful and relevant to the recipient. Direct mail should feel like it’s arrived just in time to solve a problem and meet an immediate need.
Personalize your direct mail at scale by using a platform like Lob. Our platform seamlessly integrates with parts of your marketing tech stack so messages can be triggered based on customer activity and other relevant activities. Lob also automatically replaces variables on a templated piece of mail — such as the recipient name, the campaign offer, the landing page URL, and more.
No need to worry about security: Lob is GDPR and HIPAA compliant, so you can send personalized mail without violating anyone’s privacy.
6. Collect data that will help you better segment
Using data to segment your marketing means sending targeted messages directly to the right audience, and it’s key to improving your return on investment (ROI) for a direct mail campaign. To collect data about your customers, start by choosing a customer relationship management (CRM) software with the right features for your needs. Your CRM will be your home base for gathering and sorting the data you collect about your customers.
There are three general ways to get more data about your customers:
- Ask them. Surveys are helpful to gather preferences and opinions that your customers have. This data can be used to understand the types of campaigns they want to receive.
- Track them. Transaction, search, and browsing history can all be useful in crafting effective offers and calls to action.
- Purchase data. Adding third-party data can help round out the data you collect about your customers; for example, a hotel site might buy data about customers who have recently purchased flights to their area in order to market to them directly.
As your customer data improves, you can better segment your marketing, analyze the results, and optimize based on the results. Turn your customer data into a positive feedback loop for your marketing.
7. Send mailers at the perfect time
Don’t assume you can send direct mail at any time. Send campaigns based on calendar events or actions your recipient takes in the customer journey, so the mail is useful.
Here are a few examples of well-timed direct mail:
Simplify the process of sending well-timed campaigns with an automated direct mail tool. You can set up triggers, so the platform automatically sends a piece of mail when a customer takes an action. For example, you might set up your system so people who fill out a landing page form receive a discount postcard.
With customers experiencing postal delays caused by labor and material shortages, it makes a big impact when you can manage your mailing seamlessly. Increase the emotional impact of a direct mail campaign by having it feel like it’s arrived right on time.
8. Utilize an omnichannel marketing approach
Your direct mail doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Make sure your brand messaging is consistent across channels by creating direct mail in harmony with your email, social media, and product marketing. This will improve your brand awareness and drive your pitch home to increase your ROI.
- Design your ads on different platforms using social media and IP targeting to match or enhance the mailers you’re sending.
Combine direct mail with social media, web ad targeting, and email marketing, so your customers feel that every time they see something from you, it’s coherent and relevant.
9. Collect detailed tracking and visibility
Today’s shipping environment is subject to all kinds of unexpected disruptions, so brands need a way to check whether their mail made it to customers. Look for a direct mail platform that tracks your messages, from print to delivery.
Lob uses Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) tracing to automatically track when mail is:
- In transit
- In the local area
- Processed for delivery
- Returned to the sender
With our platform, brands can get the most out of IMb tracking without getting bogged down in the complexity of it.
10. Send follow-up campaigns
Increase the success rate of your direct mail campaign by sending follow-up campaigns that build on the foundation you’ve laid with your initial send.
This messaging doesn’t need to be physical mail. A follow-up campaign could be:
- An email that invites customers to an exclusive event
- A social media campaign that takes followers behind the scenes
- A thank-you postcard that ties into a loyalty program
If someone didn’t engage with your first piece of mail, they probably don’t want to receive a follow-up message. Avoid frustrating your audience by using direct mail tracking methods — such as a QR code or URL — to see which recipients engaged with your first mailer. Send these people the follow-up campaign.
Make use of intelligent, automated mail to send customers what they need and want to increase the likelihood that they will take action on your campaign.
Conclusion: Send effective direct mail to increase ROI
Nobody wants to find their mailbox stuffed with unsolicited mail. Keep your direct mail helpful and engaging by crafting your messages for your target recipients. Follow the tips above, and dig into our guide, Running a Tactical Direct Mail Campaign. You’ll learn how to send campaigns that are compliant, environmentally friendly, and relevant to your customers.