As entrepreneurs, we are constantly seeking new ways to reach customers. Our businesses thrive when we can connect with our target audiences. Modern technologies promise that we can make those connections in less time. However, there is still a lot of value in the old ways.
When we get mail, we often encounter bills or tax forms. We would much prefer mail with a personal touch. The memory of handwritten letters can make us smile. The good news is that you, the business owner, can own the mailbox.
I have extensive marketing experience, and one of my companies offers services in the direct mail marketing space, so I’m here to show you how to channel that desire for printed connection to grow your customer base.
What is direct mail marketing?
Direct mail marketing, also called mail advertising, means using the post to send out promotional documents and items to consumers. It’s a simple, and literally timeless, strategy.
The practice dates back to 1,000 BC in Egypt, but we didn’t get mainstream catalogs until the 1800s. That’s how Sears became a profitable business. Customers in the city and country received better prices on products they liked and didn’t have to rely on local stores. Sears used national mail to create a long-lasting retail empire.
Today, you can do wonders with a mailing strategy. The right postcard or letter could bring customers to your door, brick-and-mortar shop or webpage. You can send personalized, targeted mail that will lead consumers to trackable landing pages. Below are some tips to help you get started:
Purchase or develop a specific mailing list.
It is legal to purchase mailing lists, unlike with email, but make sure to source your companies when doing the former. Zip codes are too broad — you have to figure out who specifically you want purchasing your products.
When drafting your own mailing list, use a form of demographics or psychographics to determine your target audience. Take note of who becomes customers, and use metrics to analyze conversion rates.
Personalize your material.
Consumers like to know that someone cares about them. “Dear Sender” or “Resident” can make a person feel like a commodity, but using their names will convey respect and decency. Knowing you value them as individuals makes consumers more likely to engage.
Proper names are a good start, as is including a handwritten note on the material. If you are including any discounted freebies that can be personalized to the recipient, do so. Make sure all your information is publicly available so consumers can easily find contact and other details about your company.
Use mail material as a call to action.
Motivate your consumers. Encourage them to visit your stores, browse websites or call in an order. Promoting sales or special events on flyers can do this — you can also include inexpensive freebies, discounts or coupons that must be redeemed online or in store. If you want to do freebies, consider what you can mass-produce affordably.
Implement metrics to measure success.
Thanks to the internet, you can use analytics and data to see how a direct mail campaign is doing. Start small with your campaigns and test them with tiny pools of audiences. Measure progress and change tactics if, for example, postcards don’t work in one area but flyers do.
Design your mail with the audience in mind.
Graphic design sells products. It conveys a message through more than just words. Especially with mail, you want a graphic design that convinces readers that your brand has value. The right font can call them to action without shouting, while color palettes can reflect your brand.
Know your paper-grade quality. Thicker sheets cost more but have a tactile experience, while thinner letters may remind people of vintage onion-skin paper. For example, Trader Joe’s uses cream-colored, thicker grade paper to advertise sales and trending products. It adds to its rugged brand look while motivating consumers to visit its brick-and-mortar stores.
What are the potential costs?
As mentioned above, rather than sending out messages blindly, you need a good mailing list to identify potential customers. That comes with a time and cost investment. From there, you can choose to DIY your mail marketing campaign, via design or printing, or outsource. Always experiment to find what works for your business.
The right message for your target market guides your campaign costs. You need the right message for your direct mail so that a reader will enjoy your content, pay attention and heed your call to action. If you’re printing postcards for dental patients due for a checkup, you can print a brief message quickly. If you want to print a detailed newsletter, you need to account for graphic design and copywriting to provide valuable text.
The one cost you can’t avoid is postage, especially if you plan to use USPS. Postage rates vary depending on the weight of the items you send and what services you use.
Make that emotional, cost-effective connection.
We all have the resources to utilize marketing tools developed over history. Consider the power of a memorable printed product in a consumer’s mailbox. We all like receiving mail, so think of ways to surprise and intrigue the consumer. There is no doubt it will leave a lasting impression.
IT consultant with over 11 years of e-business experience in digital marketing, e-commerce and integrations. Co-Founder and COO of Optimum7.