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5 Direct Mail Marketing Secrets Your Brand Should Be Using

July 7, 2016

In light of direct mail’s increasing popularity among growth marketers, we’ve created a list of some of the best direct marketing secrets to help ensure that every campaign is highly engaging to your customers.

The principle function of marketing your business is straightforward - you tell potential customers what you do and why you do it better than everyone else. In theory, this sounds simple but in reality, it is an immensely complex process because of the extremely competitive business world.

Marketing thought leaders are noticing upward trends in direct mail effectiveness as people welcome non-computer screen channels of engagement with their favorite brands. Therefore, direct mail marketing remains one of the most fundamental means of outreaching to consumers because of its ability to separate itself from the noise of online media.

Getting ahead of your competitors in the world of marketing is no easy undertaking but the five underused methods we’ve outlined below can be the ideal catalysts for improving your campaigns in the rest of 2016 and beyond.

1. Things That Go Bump

The overriding objective of direct mail is, of course, to get your recipient to open and interact with it. If you use an envelope for your direct mail campaign, consider placing something tangible and slightly bulky within the envelope to give it an unusual form.

Why does this work? Because curiosity inevitably gets the better of human nature. They are more likely to feel compelled to open the envelope to find out what the object is. Appealing to someone’s natural human psychology is one surefire way to catch their attention. There are a number of clever little psychological tricks that can help make sure your mail piece is seen.

There are all sorts of small items that you can include within a direct mail campaign such as keychains, pens, magnets, and other various tidbits that can help to enhance your marketing message, pique the recipient’s curiosity. There’s an added bonus as well when the item is kept and used within the household to extend the marketing benefits.

Pros: This is a simple and effective addition to your direct mail marketing campaign engaging.

Cons: This is can be a costly addition to traditional mailings. We recommend using this strategy for either your hottest leads or highest-value prospects.

2. Look For Strategic Content Partnerships

Other brands or companies that share similar customers but aren’t direct competitors can become a mutually beneficial partnership. Think about ways that you can partner up to share the expense of a direct mail campaign featuring both brands. There are many benefits of working alongside other brands on a direct marketing campaign. If the company is agreeable, you can make use of each other’s consumer lists and cross market to to a larger audience.

Why does this work? If you’ve selected a content partner for a direct mail campaign that has similar customer demographics to your own, the chances are good that the audiences’ interests will be similar as well. You should both be able to effectively market to a much larger group of potential customers than would otherwise be possible. If you or your potential partner are worried about soliciting each other’s customers, think again! Most customers welcome being informed about companies with similar interests and will likely view the campaign as a welcomed alternative to the more common self-centered business message. A partnership campaign shows your customers that you’re working for them, to give them the best possible products or services even if they aren’t your own.

Bouncing ideas off brands with a similar mindset is a great way of coming up with more creative and engaging campaigns. As they say, “two heads are better than one.” So if you can find a brand that you’re happy to work with on a direct mail campaign, it is likely to have a positive impact on the effectiveness of the campaign as a whole.

Pros: Reduce marketing risk by sharing the cost of the marketing campaign as well as cross-marketing to potentially warm prospects.

Cons: Mail has limited messaging space available per piece and a very short window to grab your audience's attention. If not done properly, this strategy can backfire by trying to force too much messaging to the campaign recipient. To offset this risk, we recommend consulting a graphic designer or using a tactic to redirect mail recipients to an online portal where their experience with both brands can be more tightly controlled.

3. Opt For The Personal Touch

Our society has hard-wired us to bypass something that we recognize to be mass-produced because it feels impersonal. This is both a good and bad phenomenon for marketers depending on if you’re able to use this social conditioning to your advantage.

One way to personalize your mail is with handwritten cards, letters, or envelopes addressed directly to the recipients. This old-fashioned detail on mail marketing is sure to grab the attention of your prospects as it’s rarely done anymore.

However, handwriting won’t be suitable for every direct mail campaign that you send due to its obvious constraints when mass quantities are being produced. But for any small scale campaign, opting for a very simple personal touch on your mailer with a stamp or handwritten envelope is likely to resonate well with a recipient.

Consider reserving these campaigns for those smaller batches of core customers, it might just make the difference in capturing their attention and compelling them to take the desired action.

Why does this work? We respond more to personally-written letters because it unconsciously causes the though, “If someone took the time to write something to me, then they must know who I am and value me.” This is one of those human psychology tricks that we all fall prey to. Is this 100% effective? No, but it will certainly out-perform its mass-produced alternative.

Pros: As described above, this taps into the benefits of personalization and outperforms mass-produced campaigns by creating an emotional connection. This is likely the fastest way to create brand ambassadors for your company.

Cons: This is either A) more expensive if you use a service or B) significantly more time-consuming. Either option likely means you’ll be reaching a much smaller audience than would otherwise be possible with digital printing.

4. Make The Most Of Color

Too many colors on your campaign can seem very cluttered and overwhelming to the eye. A minimalist design is usually a better choice as it allows the message to pop and enables consumers to easily absorb what is being communicated to them. Perhaps opt for one or two main colors along with a complementary color, which can be used to attract the recipient’s attention to important information throughout the postcard or mailer.

Why does color matter? In case you haven’t noticed yet, human behavior is fairly predictable in mass numbers. As part of our developmental psychology -- back when we had survival on our minds, different colors triggered different responses. This has not changed. Color theory suggests that we still have unconscious reactions to colors. Check out our article How to Use Color to Encourage Direct Mail Responses.

Pros: Colors can be used to grab the attention of your recipients, and they can greatly reinforce your campaign messaging and it’s effectiveness.

Cons: Unless you have put some thought and strategy into your color choices, color can also negatively impact your effectiveness by overwhelming your audience. Also, printing in different colors can accrue additional costs, which can impact your marketing ROI.

Direct mail, especially with postcards, is an extremely visual and tactile medium. You need to carefully consider how best to weave color into your marketing collateral. Knowing what colors to use will largely be determined by your brand guidelines, the type of campaign that you’re sending, and the message that you’re using to attract customers.

5. The End is Really the Beginning

Thinking your job as a marketer is done once you’ve shipped out your marketing collateral can be detrimental to a campaign. This really is the start of the customer’s journey with your company - the conversation has just started.

Think of mail as your greeting to someone at a sales meeting. After your introduction, you still need to have a conversation and a series of other actions to get a sale. The mail piece is the figurative appointment on your calendar. What happens from there is still in your hands. Put some follow-up activities in place for your potential leads so that you can guide them through a purchasing process or whatever the next step in your business may be (appointment scheduling, phone call, ebook download, etc.).

From the moment you’ve launched your direct mail campaign, you need to make sure your business is ready and able to deal with any incoming leads that your mail campaign delivers. It wouldn’t serve your company to promote a service and then not be prepared with staff or other necessary resources when consumers want to complete the transaction.

The above are some of underutilized strategies for making the most of your direct mail marketing campaign. Consider these tactics before sending out your next piece to help achieve the best possible response rate from current and potential customers alike.

There are so many variables that can potentially impact the effectiveness of a campaign, but by having a variety of tools at your disposal, you can make your direct mail marketing impactful.