Our Print Production Manager, Stacy McNail, cracked her knuckles and laid down some pro-tips to help you avoid getting yourself or your direct mail program into hot water. Here are some of the glaring mistakes she sees in the realm of direct mail.
1) Not knowing your audience. The great thing about direct mail is that it allows you to target a specific audience; YOUR audience. Depending on the product or service, media such as broadcast television or radio may be an ineffective or inefficient way to spend your money. Since radio and TV have such a broad reach, you could be advertising to people who have no need or interest in your product or service.
2) Buying a bad mail list. Sending a mailer to someone who does not meet your audience criteria is a waste of money. I’m single and a dog person; I don’t need life insurance for my non-existent child. List brokers and companies that sell mailing lists can help you buy a list that meets your exact needs and can help you reach the right people.
3) Using dirty data. You should scrub your house list to make sure it’s as up-to-date and clean as possible. People move, they request to be taken off your mailing list, and they even pass away (those are never good phone calls to get, trust me on that one).
4) Sending out an unappealing offer. When it comes to getting great response from your direct mail, in order of importance: list, then offer, then creative (sorry Art Directors). You want people to respond to your mailing. If your offer is non-existent, weak or unappealing, it’s going to show in your response rates. You need an appealing offer, and then you need to tell the person why they MUST HAVE your product or service.
5) Not providing a call to action. How do you want people to respond to your offer? Call you? Go to your website? Email you? Come into your shop? You need to make it easy for people to take advantage of your awesome offer (see #4). You also need to create a sense of urgency so they act fast.
6) Using less than stellar creative. Sure, your nephew may know enough about Illustrator or Photoshop to be dangerous, but this is not the place to skimp. While in the world of direct mail creative comes 3rd (see #4 – again), creative is still key. The correct tone of copy, the positioning of the offer and accompanying artwork is important. You don’t want to mail a piece that screams like a used car dealer postcard if you are a non-profit organization soliciting donations. NOTE: starbursts are never good…unless they say KA-POW! and are accompanied by an actual superhero.
7) Not testing. The only way to learn is to test. You can conduct small tests on variables such as lists, formats (postcard vs. self-mailer), offers, messaging. Don’t test multiple things in one mailing, or you won’t know the thing that failed miserably or did the trick!
8) Not tracking your results. You need to be able to track the success of your mailing. Ways to track response are special codes on your coupon, a special 800 # that is only used on that direct mail piece, or create a landing page to send people to instead of your main website.
9) Not responding quickly. You hooked your person! You have them waving their hands, saying “Me! Me! I want that! I want that!” You need to be prepared to respond. If you don’t fulfill their order or their request quickly, you could be trouble. We’ve all heard it – an unhappy customer will tell 10 people about their experience…unless they have 345 Facebook friends.
And since I was too busy for a 10th mistake, what do you think? What are some common mistakes you see in the direct mail world?