Direct Mail

Some things we've learnt about DM (Direct mail)

The Envelope

• In weighing the elements, the outer envelope affects about 10% of the final decision of whether to respond or not.

• The envelope has one job - to get itself opened. Making your DM package stand out in the mailbox is not the objective. Prospects are looking for an excuse to throw your Direct Mail communication away - so tease, excite or dazzle. Make it so that if the prospect throws out your communication, they are giving something up. The closer you can make your envelope to look like personal correspondence (e.g. #10 envelope) the better, since people sort their mail over the trash can. That means you only have a split-second for them to decide if they’ll open your letter or not.

• Window envelopes look like bills so don’t use them, however it does guarantee that they’ll be opened.

• Labels are impersonal.

• Address printed directly onto an envelope gives a much more personal touch.

• Handwritten envelopes, in the past, have had by far the best impact because they are the most personalized of all addressing methods - but test into this as, for some, handwritten notes may cause suspicion.

• Test outer envelope copy. Test instructional copy, test a provocative statement or graphic. If you’re giving away a premium, feature it on the envelope.

• Postage stamps are much more personalized than franking or any other postal mark. Bulk rate is the dumpster rate. After taking the proper steps to get the best list, don’t blow it by being cheap on the postage. In fact, the Post Office freely admits that 20% - 30% of all bulk mail gets thrown out for various reasons.

Random Facts

• Creative will only affect about 20% of your response rate. The other 80% will be list and offer. The list, therefore, is the one area in a campaign where the marketer should spend most of their time.

• The brochure, in some Direct Mail pieces, can affect up to 25% of the final decision making process.

• Make sure all elements do their part and look like they are part of a cohesive package. And most of all, inside the envelope - create a friendly atmosphere that makes the reader feel special and recognized. The more pieces the better - varying colors and varying sizes.

• Same offer presented three different ways (Bob Stone’s “Successful Direct Marketing Methods:”)

- Half price!

- Buy one - get one free

- 50 percent off!

- Each statement conveys the same offer, but No. 2 pulled 40 percent better than No. 1 or No. 3. Consumers perceived No. 2 to be the most attractive offer.

• The sales letter - not the outer envelope, the brochure, or even the reply form - is the most important part of your direct-mail package.

A package with a letter will nearly always out pull a post-card, a self-mailer, or a brochure or ad reprint mailed without a letter. Recently, a company tested two packages offering, for $1, a copy of its mail-order tool catalog. Package “A” consisted of a sales letter and reply form. Package “B” was a double postcard. The result? “A” out pulled”B” by a 3-to-1 ratio. Why do letters pull so well? Because a letter creates the illusion of personal communication. We are trained to view letters as “real” mail, brochures as “advertising.” Which is more important to you? One recommendation is to try an old fashioned sales letter first. Go to a fancier package once you start making some money.

• Some copywriters save their strongest sales pitch for last, starting slow in their sales communication and hoping to build to a climatic conclusion. A mistake. The typical prospect reads for five seconds before s/he decides whether to continue reading or discard your communication. The copy must grab your prospect’s attention immediately. So start your communication with your strongest sales point.

Customer Contact Strategy

• Direct Marketing best practices dictates that you create a plan for multiple contacts. People will move in and out of different needs and wants as they go through changes in their life. Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re an owner of a furniture store and you sent me an offer for deeply discounted furniture. Well, you probably wouldn’t have much luck because my house is full of furniture. But what if when your second (or third or fourth) offer came, my fiancee had left me and taken with her all our furniture. Now, all of a sudden, I’m a very eager customer. That’s why using multiple mailings often leads to double-digit returns. With each subsequent mailing, tweak the offer. After 5 mailings, if your prospect hasn’t purchased from you, it isn’t likely economical to continue mailing that name.

• MAIL, REMAIL, ROTATION - After you’ve dropped your initial mail, test remailing the top 1/3 of your best performing list within 10 days of initial mail. Many times you will get a response rate between 40- 60% of your initial response rate. Then use a model or rule-based decision for name rotation.

• How do you identify the top 1/3 for remail? Typically any list or any score in your list that is double your normal net response rate, warrants being in the top 1/3.