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Dove Direct Print & Marketing Blog - “How to Plan and Execute a Direct Mail Marketing Campaign”


Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "How to Plan and Execute a Direct Mail Marketing Campaign" examines direct mail marketing best practices to ensure that your direct mail marketing campaign is optimized to deliver stated goals based on performance expectations.

At the outset, there are a number of checklist items that should be addressed for any marketing campaign, such as website traffic, social media engagements, qualified lead capture, specific niche targeting, site registrations, and of course sales, which ultimately leads to increased ROI. Therefore the first step is to ascertain which goals and objectives are most important.  Direct mail remains a very effective marketing tool, and rates among the top three marketing vehicles when it comes to personalized content. Personalized content is the driver that pushes prospects to online destinations, and direct mail cuts through the digital clutter, in that direct mail pieces are absolved from having to compete in an overcrowded digital market place.

Understanding Your Market

Flying by the seat of one's pants is a recipe for disaster when it comes to failing to properly identify the target market you are competing within. However, before we get to understanding the market, there are some prerequisites that need to be taken into consideration prior to getting started on this quest. That said, here is a short list of questions that should prime the pump so to speak for being able to determine the basic ingredients necessary to address initiating a direct mail marketing campaign.

  • Would you be willing to use direct mail marketing more than one time? Note: Like any other advertising campaign, mailing requires some frequency and is a prerequisite for most successful direct mail campaigns.
  • Will you or do you have the data required to launch a personalized targeted campaign? And if so, is that data broken into segments delineating your niche targets?
  • Do you have the resources to properly plan campaign details? The time it takes to plan requires addressing a number of areas such as creative, design, personalization, and call-to-actions.
  • Similar to A/B testing in the digital world, will the direct mail campaign be sizable enough to conduct A/B testing?
  • Besides the direct mail budget, have you determined the budget and resources to include other marketing channels, such as social media, blogs, and websites?

Addressing these aforementioned questions will undoubtedly direct your path to better understanding your market, including both the challenges and opportunities that present themselves. As you push forward, the clearer the path becomes, although the aforementioned work is considered prep work at best. Still the effort is generally rewarded, as direct mail campaigns have demonstrated a propensity to increase emails being opened and read at higher response rates.

The Buyers Journey

Keep in mind that direct mail strategies are not a one-off kind of machination. In fact, most successful marketing campaigns of any sort require some degree of frequency, and direct mail marketing is no different. Moreover, nearly every marketing campaign is steeped in messaging and communication strategies based on where the targets are in their buyer journey. In addition, it is critical to take into consideration how your messaging will change based on where the prospects are in the buyer's journey as the campaign moves forward.

There are a plethora of organizational objectives that can be applied across various industry sectors, and depending on the nature of each industry, may require divergent tactics. In addition, one must take into consideration such variables as the product set, product popularity, sales cycle length, state of the economy, churn, industry demand, and other identifiable factors based on industry and market trends. That said, take a look at the following goals to help steer your process:

  • To generate 200 targets download a white paper from the company website.
  • Meeting the goal of 300 prospects to sign up for a webinar via the website.
  • To up-sell 50 current customers with companion products.
  • To generate 250 qualified sales leads in a single quarter.
  • To illicit some 100 prospects to call in for a tour or product demo.

The most effective types of direct mail collateral are those that are designed with clear, precise call-to-action based on the stated goals. For example, if an organization is looking to discover qualified leads, then the most efficient approach would be to direct prospects to fill out a form online. Note: make sure the from is simple and takes as little time to complete as possible. In the event the organization has a longer sales cycle, such as B2B marketing, then it may be more efficient to simply ask for a phone number, especially since longer sales cycles require person-to-person communications.

Cost Comparison Analysis

There is an ongoing sizable debate in full swing to determine which is more effective, a digital campaign versus a direct mail campaign. However, most marketers allude to having both, as they compliment each other. That said, as an organization, the bean counters will be assessing the cost benefit analysis based on a number of issues, including ascertaining the exact costs of a direct mail campaign. At the end of the day, creating a cost analysis for a direct mail campaign contains a number of variables to address including:

  • Postage: First Class, Presorted, Standard, etcetera
  • Number of Targets, and the variances of those targets
  • Cost of collateral and design considerations
  • Mail Formats including postcards, brochures, flyers, envelope sizes, and more

Once those outgoing costs are established, then comes the campaign measurement data. Typically, successful marketing campaigns generate anywhere from 1 to 5 percent response rates, although as of 2017, direct mail is said to generate response rates as high a 7.2 percent. However, there is more to campaign measurement stats besides response rates, and the conversion rates, whereby prospects actually became purchasing customers. Lastly, best practices for cost benefit analysis also should consider the lifetime customer value versus the initial cost per acquisition. Yes, direct mail marketing may seem expensive on the upfront, but in the long run, when executed correctly, will prove to be a boon for the organization.

Digital Opt-Ins and Direct Mail

Digital opt-ins and direct mail collateral have the capability to enhance overall response rates for both mediums. For example, Millennials tend to gravitate towards printed books, catalogs, and direct mail notifications. Therefore, by not simply isolating the focus on Millennials per se, but rather taking the initiative to present all website visitors with a digital opt-in form within the brand's website to receive printed collateral, goes a long way towards connecting the two mediums. For one, this process captures prospect data and as a result, personalized direct mail can now be achieved. And to that end, direct mail can be displayed in multiple formats including catalogs, newsletters, postcards, letters, promotional kits, and other special offers.

Target the Right Audience

Make no mistake. Conversion rates versus behavior and purchasing habits tend to vary dramatically between targeted segments and verticals. This is where marketing to personas can close the gap. Different personas contain divergent habits, particularly within sales cycles. Understanding your buyer personas will help to determine the type of communication and messaging that would be suitable for them, and more importantly, for the stages within the personas respective sales cycles.

Direct mail marketing is by no means a singular approach, and the one-size-fits-all tactic is a set up for failure. The art of effective personalization dictates that communication offers are sent out in a timely fashion, based on the variables gleaned from data lists, which should contain up-to-date information on the various buyer persona segments. If you don't have a CRM to capture buyer persona data, then maybe it's high time to invest in one.

Predictive Analysis Matters

Being able to predict the future is always an interesting fable of sorts, and to that end, in the context of being able to predict marketing campaign outcomes, there could be dots to connect right in your rear view mirror. Prior to investing in a direct mail campaign's predictions, most likely, your organization has had some successes with other types of marketing, such as in the digital space. Therefore, it would make good sense to take a trip down successful campaign marketing lane, and make notes of those that generated some level of success. Regardless of the medium, albeit social media, or influencers, digital paid advertising, or even organic SEO growth, there are nonetheless some take aways to build upon.

Since it is well established that data collection and data cleansing provides the backbone for literally all marketing initiatives, the data your organization is privy to can serve as a predictive marketing model that can also support your direct mail marketing efforts. You may already have in your data arsenal many predictive consumer traits such as region, company size, contacts, web habits, social media frequency, and other data points that together can help to provide a better, more finely tuned personalization model.

The Direct Mail Send Variables

Once you are well on your the way towards investing in a direct mail marketing initiative, the question now looms as to what precisely should be sent that would invoke engagement, response rates, and ultimately conversions.

AIDA is an acronym comprised of Attention, Interest, Desire and Action; in the event that you are not familiar with the AIDA formula, then the following list provides a fuller explanation:

  • Attention - Captivate a prospect/user's attention
  • Interest - Generate interest by zooming in on benefits and advantages for the prospect
  • Desire - Persuade consumers that the products being offered will fulfill desires and wants based on meeting their needs
  • Action - Steer prospects and customers down the path of taking action and making purchasing decisions

In addition, besides the sidebar requirements needed to plan and execute a direct mail marketing campaign, there are more caveats to consider, including creating compelling call-to-actions, designing various types of direct mail offers, creative design considerations such as die cuts, paper types, inks, color matching, choosing a printer that has extensive direct mail experience, and of course, testing different offerings.

The Net-Net

Lastly, when it comes to calculating the direct mail marketing campaign ROI, use the following variables, such as cost per mailing, campaign target size, response rate, conversion rate, number of buyers, average buyer spend, total revenue generated, profit margin, and total campaign budget.

In addition, at the end of the day, it's a best practice to include LTV (lifetime value) when completing the cost-benefit analysis, of which direct mail targeted customers typically rate much higher LTV versus customers converted through alternative marketing channels. Thanks for reading "How to Plan and Execute a Direct Mail Marketing Campaign!"

Let's have a conversation about direct mail strategies, printing, print software, transactional documents, variable digital printing, brand equity and unified marketing collateral during our next Open House. We invite you to join us on Thursday, October 25, 2018, for an hour or two, anytime between 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Let us show you how to improve your document processes to optimize your workflow, reduce your costs, and maximize your organization's printing, letter shop and mailing capabilities. Dove Direct does have an official USPS certified bureau located within our offices that will save you time and money. And, if you bring us your files, we will create a demo file for you. For more information call Carla Eubanks at 404-629-0122 or email Carla at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dove Direct, your Atlanta based print and mail solutions provider offers organizations end-to-end data, printing and mailing solutions: Data Management, Variable Digital Printing, LetterShop and Fulfillment, Fully Automated MLOCR Presort Bureau, Marketing and Production Management Support and Secure Data Life Cycle Management.

If you don't want to wait for the Open House, you can reach Dove Direct today by calling 404-629-0122 or use the contact form for Dove Direct.

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