Direct-Mail Techniques That Work

Even if you’re relatively new to marketing, you probably know that effective direct-mail promotions weigh features and benefits, provide an offer and deliver a call to action. At the most basic level, that will get you started; but professional marketers know there are many tricks to increasing direct-mail response and conversion rates to boost their return on investment. Throughout the years, a lot of trial and error has gone into defining direct-mail techniques that work; and this cycle of testing and retesting continues in today’s dynamic market. Some methods are enduring, and have been deployed thousands or even millions of times over by the best marketers in the world.

Here’s a small sampling of direct-mail techniques that work.

Build up to your offer

One of the best direct-mail techniques is to send multiple mailers to the same mailing list. Each mailer will have a different purpose with the same goal in mind; the first could be a postcard teaser introducing your company; the second could be a brochure that details your product and service offering and outlines some features and benefits; while a third could be a full-color catalog that makes it quick and easy for your prospects to view and order your entire line. Your pitch can be either a soft offer that asks for a response in return for a free gift or other benefit, or a hard offer that puts prospects in front of your sales team or even requires a purchase.

Unfortunately, sending multiple mailers to the list is often overlooked because companies are striving to blanket as many people in their target audience as possible, and they feel that they don’t have the budget to hit everyone three times. Research indicates, however, that mailing multiple pieces to the same mailing list yields a greater conversion rate. In short, you’ll make more money by mailing your promotions to 10,000 people three times than you will by mailing 30,000 people just once. Best of all, printing and postage should be identical either way, so there’s no excuse not to try this excellent marketing technique.

Beef up your package

In most cases, including multiple inserts in your direct-mail package can translate into a higher conversion rate. Personalized lift letters, which are short notes scrawled by a company head-honcho, can complement sales letters. Buck slips — “last-minute” inserts advertising a special offer — can draw particular attention to a product or service. Adding stickers to your catalog that prospects must adhere to the order form is another great way to single out a product.

Another way to enhance your direct-mail package is to put a teaser on the envelope, but beware: If it’s too obvious or irrelevant to your audience your sales literature could hit the trashcan without ever being opened.

Add a sample

If your business can offer a small free sample such as a packet of hot sauce or a sliver of silk to your direct mailer you can quickly and easily demonstrate the quality of your product to your prospects. You could also include promotional items such as pens or Post-It Notes stamped with your company name and contact information to increase brand awareness.

Include testimonials

Prospects like to hear what others have to say about your products and services. Gather legitimate testimonials from happy customers to include in your promos. If you provided a service that the general public can view — such as home construction or web design — tell your prospects where they can see the actual work you performed for the people giving the testimonials. Make sure you have permission to use the testimonials, and include photos if possible. The more earnest your testimonials appear, the more prospects will trust your company.

Make a guarantee and test

Simply put, this is the easiest way to turn those fence-sitters from prospects into customers because you’re offering them an out if they don’t like your product or service. Offer a money-back guarantee if you don’t hold your end of the bargain or if they’re unsatisfied for any reason.

Some companies don’t want to do this, because they fear scammers will take them for all they’re worth. Sure, there are scams out there — but most people will appreciate a job well-done and the compensation for this will far outweigh any damage scammers could inflict. A guarantee demonstrates to consumers that your company is legit, reliable and prepared to back up your work. Don’t go without one.

When testing small-scale campaigns to tweak your direct-mail promotional materials, you can try changing your offer verbiage. Instead of “$25 off on box cars now,” for instance, you could try “Now, save $25 on box cars.” You’ll be amazed at the differences minor changes like this can make. You can also try using specific figures below a major dollar threshold to lend credibility and make your offer more appealing. Instead of “Save $200,” you could try “Save $195.99.”

Above all, consider the features and benefits of the product or service you’re selling and relate them to your audience. Approach your direct mailer from a consumer’s point of view, and decide whether or not you would take the next step in the purchasing process. Be objective, incorporate some or all of the techniques listed above, and test your campaigns until you achieve a reliable and successful conversion rate. Finally, launch a large-scale campaign and realize the fruits of your labor!

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