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Top 10 Direct Mail Mistakes That Cost You Money

Direct mail can be complicated. From choosing the right lists to having a compelling design and making the perfect offer, there’s a lot that can go wrong. We’ve compiled a list of the ten most common direct mail mistakes to help you save money and avoid the pain from kicking yourself later.

1. Mailing Too Far From Your Location

If you own a small local business, what are the communities that you serve on a daily basis? It doesn’t make sense to send direct mail to communities outside of your regular service area unless you’re opening a new location. Keep your mailing area within a reasonable distance from your location.

2. Forgetting a Call to Action

The main point of advertising is to get prospects to take action. Whether you want to build awareness, encourage downloads from your website, or push free samples, you need to give the reader a reason to reach out. Before you send out your next mailing, make sure your pieces include a clear call to action (CTA) and that they provide something beneficial that rewards the prospect for taking action.

3. Offering a Lame Discount

While stinginess can be helpful in other aspects of business, you don’t want to pinch pennies when it comes to your direct mail offer: It needs to be compelling. A mailer that only explains product or service features does not give people a reason to respond. Ignite action with one of the following offer types:

  • A bonus gift
  • A deep discount
  • A two-for-one deal
  • Limited time pricing
  • A free trial period

The offer should create a sense of urgency and be so compelling your audience would be dumb not to respond. If you give away something of value, you’ll get the response you want!

4. Not Identifying a Targeted Audience

What if I told you there was a way to find prospects that are already highly likely to purchase your products or services? By using targeted mailing lists, you can focus in on the specific demographics and traits of your ideal customers. You just need to do your homework.

Targeted mailing lists allow you to filter by age, sex, income level, interests, purchasing behavior, and just about anything else you can imagine. However, the more refined your criteria, the more the list will cost you.

Consider the characteristics of your ideal customers and work with a list provider to find a list that’s tailored to your business.

5. Using the Same Message for Everyone

If your company serves multiple audience segments, then a lack of personalization in your direct mail campaign can undermine the rest of your efforts.

To address the needs of all your customers, you need to start with a firm understanding of their varying needs and pain points. Then, create multiple direct mail pieces that speak to each segment of your audience with messages that convert.

6. Using Inaccurate Data

One of the most obvious ways to waste money on direct mail is to send it to the wrong address. Make sure you practice regular list hygiene to keep your addresses accurate and up-to-date.

Comb through your list periodically to remove duplicates and addresses on your in-house suppress file. Crosscheck with the National Change of Address list to see if any of your list members have moved, and have your list provider CASS certify your addresses to improve their accuracy and deliverability.

7. Attempting to Sell with Postcards

One major mistake some direct mailers make is to try and sell with a postcard. While postcards are great for prospecting, they’re not ideal for making a sales pitch. They must be short and sweet and invite the recipient to learn more about your business by calling or visiting your website.

There’s simply not enough space on a postcard to clutter it with text, so remember to be concise and clear with your messaging and leave the selling to your website, sales team, or a future direct mail piece with more space for sales messaging.

8. Failing to Execute on Design

A clean design with easy to read print and eye-catching graphics are necessary to grab the attention of your audience. If your mail piece is dull, it’s going to blend in with the rest of the mail, but too much flash can distract the reader from the message or offer. Work with a professional designer to strike a balance between simplicity and visual interest.

Avoid excessive amounts of small print but do clarify exclusions or limitations, such as “for new customers only” or a specific timeframe or location. You’ll also want to inspect the quality of your printed pieces to ensure there’s no smudging or other print errors. A well-executed design can have a huge impact on the response you get.

9. Not Tracking Campaign Results

If you’re not tracking the results of your direct mail campaigns, how could you know if it’s working or not? The golden rule in tracking response for direct mail is to make sure you have a unique tracking method for every contact method or coupon you have on your direct mail pieces. Just be sure to use different codes for each campaign you send.

When customers use a coupon in the store, call in, or contact you online to redeem the offer, they should be directed to provide the code on the direct mail piece. Be sure to train your staff on how to capture additional information from call-ins like their full name and current contact information.

You can also utilize other tracking methods like phone call tracking or campaign-specific URLs to gauge the response to your campaign. Make sure you’re also tracking the cost of each campaign and the money generated from it so you can determine your profit and the effectiveness of any given campaign.

10. Forgetting to Test Your Mailings

Many direct mailers see success with their direct mail efforts but struggle to tell you exactly what about them is working. If you’re running multiple direct mail campaigns throughout the year, you need to be tracking and measuring the success of each mailing and using that data to test changes.

You can test just about anything including the list, messaging, design, offer, envelope, paper, format, etc. Try experimenting on a small group before mailing to your whole list, or you can run tests with each mailing you send out, making steady improvements as you go. Just be sure not to test too much at once, or you won’t be able to tell what is and isn’t working.

How Can You Make Sure You Avoid these Mistakes?

There is a lot to consider when planning and executing a direct mail campaign. Luckily, our direct mail experts are available to discuss your specific needs and recommend the best direct mail solutions to achieve your marketing goals. Contact us today for help with your next direct mail campaign.