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How To Create A Direct Mail Piece That Gets High Response Rates

  alphagraphics trash can test don't let your direct mail piece land in the trashYesterday was like most days...return home from work, check the mail on the way up to the apartment, stop over the building waste bin to toss out all the "junk mail".  Everyday, this bin is filled with nothing but postcards, catalogs, and other direct mail pieces that don't end up making it up into the homes of the intended recipients. This is what we call The 3 Second Test....the 3 seconds most people take to decide which pieces of mail to read and which ones to toss. When your piece doesn't pass The 3 Second Test, it ends up in the waste bin. 

alphagraphics direct mail factWhen your direct mail piece passes The 3 Second Test, it can be one of the most powerful tools in your marketing tool box. 

Why?  Because direct mail drives high response rates when done correctly.
  • As a print piece, direct mail makes a connection and is more memorable through tactile experience.  Creating connection and being memorable are two major marketing challenges.
  • In today's digital world, great direct mail pieces are disruptive.  Think about the great pieces you get in the mail that you actually look forward to, that you are happy to receive.  This is your target as a marketer.  
  • Consumers take more direct action on direct mail than they do digital marketing.

Direct Mail Success Can Be Yours!

 1.  It must be personal.

In 2015, personalized communication is a key factor in all business communications. We now receive so many marketing messages that personalization, especially in direct mail, is one of the top keys to success. Personalization is more than adding the exact name and address of your recipient. It is sending the right offer at the right time to the right person in the right format with the right design elements. It's not as hard as you think.  You must think about your target audience...what is happening in their lives, what type of images and colors are they attracted to, what type of offer will they respond to?  When you can hone in on this type of personalization in your marketing, you find they key to both high response and higher ROI.  Throughout this piece, we will have an eye on personalizaton within each category.

Next steps:  Personalization starts by segmenting your customers. Start thinking in terms of groups. As you go through this article, start thinking about your customers and how you can personalize these categories. 

alphagraphics direct mail postcard sampleFor example, a university planning a direct mail campaign to increase enrollment might have 5000 potential students and parents that they would start to segment into categories. Each would get a different piece of direct mail with different images, colors, and content that speaks directly to that audience.

If you run a yoga studio, you probably have men, women, post-baby mothers, college students, etc. Each category would respond to different offers, images, etc. With some preparation and planning, even a small business can segment their marketing efforts by gathering information and entering into a spreadsheet that can be used to create marketing segments.

2.  It must be relevant.

Relevance goes hand and hand with personalization. Relevance is receiving the right offer at the right time. It's getting an offer for a great deal on car insurance right after you've purchased a new car. It's finding out your yoga studio offers special sessions for mommies and babies right after you have your first baby. Relevance can relate to life cycles, seasonal, and ancillary purchases.

Next, relevance must relate to the design, headline, copy text, images, and offer. We'll talk more about that below.

Next steps:  Look at your business and start brainstorming grouping by relevance.  Where can you build a critical mass of clients or potential clients who could benefit from your product or service based on relevance to life cycles, seasonal, or ancillary purchases?

3.  It must be attention grabbing.

We get so much mail these days, for your piece to even make it through The 3 Second Test, it has to be attention grabbing. We grab attention through direct mail with size, paper type, color, strong headlines and images. Think about your own process of sorting through mail. What gets your attention and what get's tossed? The pieces we tend to keep are  the ones that can quickly grab our attention and communicate value.

Read on....

4.  It must be well designed.

[caption id="attachment_480" align="alignright" width="300"]Alphagraphics direct mail embedded magnet postcard This direct mail card has a business card sized embedded magnet. It makes a great free gift and has a real "wow" factor.[/caption]

A well designed piece of direct mail is about grabbing attention and communicating a message of value specific to the recipient.

It should look high-quality: well designed and printed on high quality, attention grabbing stock. Once you have their attention, they start looking more closely; design and message are what keep them reading and move them through the process of considering the offer and responding to the call to action.

A well designed piece must focus on:

A clear bold headline:  Make it to the point and focus on the problem you solve.

Strong Graphic: Choose a graphic that appeals to your target group AND supports your message

Color:  Color catches the eye and communicates it's own values like action, calm, strength, etc.  Choose colors from your brand that are eye catching.

Sub-headline:  Sub-headlines often lead your customer into taking action.  Make it clear, concise, and to the point.

Outstanding Materials:  Not only should your offer make your client think "I must have that now!", you can tantalize their senses with a beautifully produced piece. Part of what makes direct mail powerful is the tactile experience of holding your direct mail piece in their hands. Things like unique sizing, special stocks, textured papers, raised print, and metallic inks make a huge difference in response and should be considered in your design plan.

You can take it a step further and use dimensional mail to land those big clients. 

5.  It must focus on benefits, solve problems, or address pain points.

Alphagraphics San Francisco Help Me to Happy Me!Too many businesses, large and small, make their marketing about themselves. "We are the best..." doesn't cut it. How does your service solve problems?  The client is thinking "What am I getting?". You answer that by translating your features into benefits. By focusing on benefits and remembering that people buy to either gain something or protect what they have, you will get better responses that convert to sales.

Next steps:  Devote some time each day (or week) converting your benefits into features that answer “What am I getting?” from the customer perspective. One of the best ways to do this is listen to feed back from your current customers. You will find how your features translate to benefits in their lives. When are they thrilled to do business with you?

6.  It must have a clear call to action.

The main function of a direct mail campaign is to generate action: call now, visit our website, schedule an appointment, etc. To ensure fulfillment, you must make it clear and easy. Simply, you must tell them what to do and keep it simple!

7. It must have an enticing offer.alpha graphics directmail postcard sample 2

We are firmly in the time of FREE. Consumers expect something to entice their engagement. And it makes sense. With so many new products on the market promising the world to consumers, a free or discounted taste of what you have to offer always makes for a strong offer that yields results. Employ power words like YOU, YOURS, FREE, NEW, SUCCESS, % OFF to drive home your message.

8. It must be measurable.

Direct mail, like any marketing effort can only benefit from measuring results. When you measure results, you know what works and what doesn't.  One way you can build measurement tools into your direct mail campaign through your call to action....request a brochure, call this number, etc. Then it's a simple matter of keeping track of incoming requests. If you can't have a dedicated line for calls generated from your direct mail campaign, a simple question of "Where did you hear about us?" to new customers can help you determine if they came in through your direct mail efforts.

Another great way to measure results AND gather more data, is to bring digital elements into your direct mail campaign by utilizing PURLS (Personal URLS) and landing pages. Not only do cross-marketing campaigns work more effectively than single channel campaigns, adding PURLS to your direct mail campaign can bring your customers and potential customers into your online world, allowing you to forge a deeper relationship, build trust, and establish your business as a leader in your industry.

Direct Mail Success With AlphaGraphics San Francisco

If you need expert guidance, execution, and management of your next direct mail campaign, AlphaGraphics is your one-stop shop to create a successful campaign.  We can help with:

  • Planning 
  • Creative Guidance 
  • Design
  • Printing
  • Mailing
  • PURLS and Landing Pages
  • Measurement and Metrics 
Maximize your budget and ensure success with the Direct Mail experts:
  • Determine target audience.
  • Ensure your piece is Post Office compliant before it hits the Post Office.
  • Determine the right mailing service for your audience and goals.
  • Get your piece into the right hands with our expert knowledge of San Francisco mailing demographics.
  • Grab attention with our guidance on appropriate size, paper, etc for maximum impact.
  • Determine cost of acquisition vs needed response rate to ensure financial feasibility of your project BEFORE you run it.
Contact a print and marketing specialist

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