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FAQs

Why DM?

What is direct mail?
Why should I use direct mail for my marketing?
I want to do direct mail but where do I start?
How can direct mail help my small business?
How does direct mail fit with other advertising media?

Consumer Preferences

Do consumers really like to receive direct mail?
Do consumers prefer email or mail?
How do consumers feel about received direct mail, as opposed to other media?

Response Rates

What is a good response rate?
What affects the response rate?
How can the success of my direct mail campaign be measured?
Will the response rates be affected by different times of the year?
What response channels can I use?

Costs

How much does a direct mail campaign cost?
How does direct mail’s cost-per-thousand compare with other advertising media?
How can An Post help me with postage costs?

Testing

Why should I test?
Why should I use ‘coding’ in my direct mail campaign?

Database Marketing

What is a database?
Why should I have a database?
How important is the mailing database?
If I don’t have a database, who do I rent a database from?
How do I select the right database?
What are the sources for mailing databases?
How much does a mailing database cost?
How can mailing addresses be kept up to date?

The Creative

What are the components of a direct mail pack?
Is there a mailing format that consistently performs better than the others?
Should a mailing be personalised?
How important is the envelope?
How long does it take to produce a direct mail campaign?

Writing the Letter

What questions should I ask when I'm reviewing the letter?
How long should a letter be?
What is a ‘Call-To-Action’?
Do you have any letter templates I can use?


Direct Marketing Specialists

Why would I use a direct marketing specialist, and where can I find one?
Do I need a creative agency, and where can I find one?
Where can I find a printer to print my direct mail campaign?
Do I need a mailing house, and where can I find one?

PostAim

What is PostAim?
What is the minimum quantity for PostAim?
What are other alternatives if I do not have that minimum quantity?
What size, dimensions and weight restrictions apply to PostAim?
Where on the website can I find more information on PostAim?

Publicity Post

What is Publicity Post?
How much does Publicity Post cost?
What zones can I use for my campaign?
Do I have to cover the whole zone?
Where on the website can I find more information?


Why DM?

What is direct mail?

Direct mail gives you the ability to target individuals through their letterbox, addressing them by name and offering them your product or service, which is relevant to them. It can be as simple as a letter, or as complex as a box wrapped up with a bow.

The beauty of direct mail is that you know enough about your audience to be able to make a personalised offer that they will be interested in reading about.

Why should I use direct mail for my marketing?

Direct mail is personalised and it’s targeted. There is no better way to talk directly to your prospective customers and there is no better way to keep in touch with your existing customers.

Because you can be so accurate with your targeting, your cost per contact and wastage is far lower than mass advertising (e.g. TV or radio advertising). You can measure response and you can test different approaches and different audiences.

In short direct mail offers the best way to talk directly to the best audience to generate the best sales. And remember, while there are hundreds of different marketing channels out there, there is only one letterbox.

Take a look at our ‘Why DM’ section, where you can find out how direct mail can deliver new customersretain existing customers and drive customers to your website.

I want to do direct mail but where do I start?

Start by taking a look at our ‘How To’ guides, which contain useful information on the steps involved in planning, carrying out and evaluating the success of a direct mail campaign.

You may also like to get some help from a direct mail specialist, who can assist you with databases, creating your mail pack, printing and packing your campaign. See our IDMA Supplier Directory for a range of companies who can help.

How can direct mail help my small business?

With the high cost of advertising, small businesses need to find a way to sell their products or services in the most economical way possible. Direct mail can be ideal for small businesses because of its affordability and effectiveness. If you aren't currently mailing to your customers and prospects, you’re leaving money on the table.

Take a look at our ‘Why DM’ section, where you can find out how direct mail can deliver new customersretain existing customers and drive customers to your website.

Find out how other small and medium sized businesses have found success with direct mail in our case study section.

How does direct mail fit with other advertising media?

Direct mail can be used on its own or it can be used as part of an integrated marketing campaign. It will depend on the goal of the activity and the target audience you’re trying to reach.

The benefit of direct mail is that it can reach individuals with targeted, relevant messages, whereas broadcast media, such as radio and press, are about reach (a percentage of people in your target audience that are exposed to your campaign) and frequency (the number of times a person sees your message). By integrating broadcast media with direct communications with your customers using one-to-one mail, you’ll see real results for your campaign.

If you’re only talking to your existing customers, then direct mail is one of the most personal and effective ways to do it.

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Consumer Preferences

Do consumers really like to receive direct mail?

Yes! 29% of consumers report that they like receiving addressed direct mail (25% unaddressed). They like that it gives them useful information about products and services and keeps them up-to-date on the latest special offers. Everyone likes to feel that they are valued and more consumers feel that direct mail makes them feel like a valued customer, than any other BTL media and most ATL media channels (bar TV).

Do consumers prefer email or mail?

Overwhelmingly consumers prefer to receive direct mail over email. In fact nearly twice as many consumers like receiving addressed direct mail versus email advertisements. When you consider that 14% of consumers receive advertising emails on a daily basis, relative to only 3% receiving addressed direct mail, it is easy to understand why. Their preference for direct mail is further demonstrated in the fact that over twice as many people are encouraged to buy the product/service advertised in ANY form of direct mail versus those advertised via email (33% vs. 16%).

How do consumers feel about received direct mail, as opposed to other media?

Direct mail is the most trusted form of BTL advertising. In fact nearly twice as many consumers trust addressed direct mail versus email advertisements (46% : 25%). It is also more trusted than online advertising (26%). Direct mail is more impactful on consumers than other BTL media and online and poster advertisements, given how they report its likability and ability to encourage their interest.

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Response Rates

What is a good response rate?

It is impossible to know your response rate until you have tested a specific offer, at a specific price, with a specific mail piece, with a specific list, dropped on a specific date and so on. You have to create your own benchmark for results, and then build a better understanding of what’s possible through testing so you can start to track results and calculate profits. See our case study section for a variety of campaigns and the different results they achieved.

What affects the response rate?

In general, the database you use for your mailing is the most important thing in determining response, followed by the offer you make. From there, timing can play a big role in response, and so can creative execution.

How can the success of my direct mail campaign be measured?

This depends on what you set out to achieve and is the reason that setting specific targets is so important. Tracking responses to your campaign is what will show if you have been successful or not. See our ‘How to evaluate your campaign’s success’ guide for more information.

Will the response rates be affected by different times of the year?

Different times of the year can affect different response rates, depending on the campaign. For example, gift catalogues will naturally do better at Christmas than at other times of the year. Other seasonal variations may be more subtle, and it's worth experimenting with timing to see what gives you the best response.

What response channels can I use?

The more ways you give your customer to respond, the higher your response rate will be. There are many ways you can direct your customer to respond:

  • by mail (include a freepost envelope with your mailing)
  • by phone (use a 1850 or lo-call number)
  • by email
  • by store visit
  • by visiting website
  • by coupon/special offer

You should track the responses to see if your customers prefer a particular response method over another.

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Costs

How much does a direct mail campaign cost?

That depends on several things: the nature of your mailing, how many people you are trying to reach and whether you plan to do the work yourself or use specialist suppliers. The more customers you contact, the lower your cost-per-piece.

It’s best to start with your budget, decide how many people you want to target, and what level of return you expect to receive. You can then work out cost-per-piece, cost-per-response and overall return on investment. See our ‘How to plan a campaign’ guide for information on budgeting.

How does direct mail’s cost-per-thousand compare with other advertising media?

It is true that, for direct mail, the cost-per-thousand is greater than those of broadcast media. However, direct mail's cost-per-response and in many cases its cost-per-sale is in fact the lowest of any advertising medium.

The cost-per-thousand figure refers to the cost per thousand people reached. Most broadcast media include a considerable amount of "waste circulation," bringing your message to thousands or even millions who are simply not interested in your product or service.

But with direct mail’s exact targeting, you can get into the hands of the right people, and not spend money reaching large numbers of the wrong people. With direct mail, you pay to contact fewer individuals, and every one of them really matters so the result is the industry's hardest-working advertising euro.

How can An Post help me with postage costs?

An Post offers a range of reduced postage rate options. Visit our pricing section or call our Customer Services team on 1850 57 58 59 for more information.

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Testing

Why should I test?

The most powerful advantage direct marketing gives any business is the ability to test promotions quickly and cheaply before you commit that hard-earned cash to a full rollout. For a small business, the temptation is often to send everyone the same promotion, but your bank balance and bottom line will thank you if you test, test and test again.

Remember, not all customers are equal, some are much more valuable to others. To find out more about testing read our Step-by-Step Guide to Database Marketing.

Why should I use ‘coding’ in my direct mail campaign?

A code will tell you how successful your mailing has been. If you mail 100 people and twenty reply quoting your code, then you know you have a 20% response. If you’re mailing different lists, with different offers, then separate codes for each variation will tell you which one is most effective. You can then use these learnings for the next time and it will also help you to plan other marketing activities. The code should appear close to the call to action to make it easy for the respondent to find and quote.

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 Database Marketing

What is a database?

A database is a record of all your customers. It may also include prospects who have expressed an interest in your company. It is information that you own, organised and stored on a computer system.

Why should I have a database?

The current turbulent economic climate offers you the opportunity to outperform your competitors by putting high value customers at the centre of your business plan. But to really ‘know’ who these high value customers are, you need ‘Database Marketing’.

Database Marketing can help you identify your most valuable customers, build profitable relationships with them and help find new similar customers to further increase profits.

Database Marketing is an alternative to competing on price alone, allowing you to select the right marketing mix for your target customers. Usually for valuable customers, price is not the only selection criteria. For some, risk of product or service failure can be more important than the lowest price. What is most important to your most valuable customers?

Don’t worry, you don’t need to make huge investments or spend weeks learning how to use Database Marketing to reap the benefits of ‘knowing’ your customers. If you’re interested in learning how, visit our Step-by-Step Guide to Database Marketing.

How important is the mailing database?

The database is the most important part of any direct mail campaign. No matter how cleverly worded, how beautifully produced, or how strong the offer, if you are not talking to the right audience it’s a waste of time to use direct mail. Conversely, if your database is absolutely spot-on, you are well on your way.

If I don’t have a database, who do I rent a database from?

There are several List Brokers in Ireland, offering various marketing lists including business, consumer, and farming to name a few. Our Supplier Directory offers a number of List Brokers for you to speak to.

How do I select the right database?

The best place to start is to consider your most valuable customers. What do you know about them? Form a profile as you want more of these types of customers. Give this profile to the list broker and they will be able to steer you towards the relevant lists and selection data.

What are the sources for mailing databases?

Essentially there are two sources for mailing databases: your own list (or database) and lists you buy from outside suppliers. Every company has a list of their own customers and this is one of your most valuable assets.

If you want to recruit new customers then you need to look at renting a database from a List Broker. These databases are generated from the Census, the Electoral Roll, from customers who have responded to surveys or other mailings, from magazine subscribers, or from a list of Irish shareholders. Your List Broker can inform you about the lists you’re considering renting.

How much does a mailing database cost?

A mailing list can cost anywhere from €95 per thousand to €270 per thousand. There are additional costs like set-up charges, cost of supplying names on labels or on disk as well as costs for multiple mailings and phone numbers. Talk to a List Broker to get a quote for your campaign.

How can mailing addresses be kept up to date?

On all communications you mail you should include a statement beside their current address that requests they write to you or phone you with their new details.

Make sure that there is always a return address (i.e. to you) on the back of the envelope. This caters for ‘goneaways’, when the delivery isn’t made at all and the mail pack is returned to you. You should also check that your Accounts department hasn’t received more up-to-date information.

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The Creative

What are the components of a direct mail pack?

Direct mail packs come in all shapes and sizes, though the classic pack includes a letter, brochure, reply envelope and outer envelope.

Depending on your budget, you could also include product samples, vouchers or even had a chocolate bar. As long as it can be posted, it can be part of a mail pack.

Remember to make it easy for people to order, by giving them a simple application form pre-personalised with their name and address details.

Is there a mailing format that consistently performs better than the others?

This depends on what you're mailing. Any format will work if its personalised, executed successfully and appeals to your audience. Never be tempted to send the brochure alone and leave out the letter!

 

Should a mailing be personalised?

Absolutely! If you know your customer’s name and address, then the letter should ALWAYS be personalised. People respond to seeing their name in print (so make sure it’s spelt correctly), and your customers expect that recognition. Also use the word YOU as much as you can.

 

How important is the envelope?

Often ignored, the envelope has its part to play in direct mail. From a direct mail perspective there is only one purpose to the envelope, and that’s to encourage the recipient to open it.

You can leave it blank, although this will not raise expectations, before it’s opened. Colour and/or copy on the envelope can raise expectations and clever shapes or sizes may also stimulate response. However, if you do decide to go with a special envelope then bear in mind that extra costs and extra printing time may be required. The simplest approach may be to take a standard envelope and overprint it. See our guide for getting your mailing opened.

And remember, no one’s going to be very happy if your mailing doesn’t fit through the letterbox, or you can’t read the address. Check with our Customer Services team on 1850 57 58 59 if you’re unsure.

How long does it take to produce a direct mail campaign?

From a few days to a few months depending on the size and complexity of the pack. If you are sending a simple letter to your customers, then it is only a few days between writing the letter and the postperson pushing the envelope through the letterbox. If you are intending on a more dynamic pack that includes an elaborate offer it is easy for a campaign to run for several weeks.  Find out more about planning and executing your campaign with our How to Plan a Campaign guide.

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Writing the Letter

What questions should I ask when I'm reviewing the letter?

A helpful anagram is AIDA. Your direct mail piece should generate Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action from your audience, so try to put yourself in their shoes when reviewing the piece. Even better, ask someone who fits the audience’s profile to look at it.

Make sure that it sells the key benefits of your product or service in an easy to understand manner. Make sure the offer is clear and succinct. And finally, make sure it is easy for your audience to respond. For more, read what esteemed copywriter Robert Hayes McCoy has to say, and our how to write a sales winning letter guide.

How long should a letter be?

Some favour a one page letter, others prefer two or more. It doesn’t really matter as long as you follow specific rules:

  • It must always be relevant and interesting to the audience reading it. Usually you can do this in a single page, but if your product/service is complex, or you have a story to tell then more pages may be required.
  • Remember, once you start to waffle, chances are the letter will be binned. TIP: once your letter is written, leave it aside for a day and then have another look at it. You can probably cut 20% out and make the letter more succinct.
  • Bullet points, benefits, a guarantee, great offer as subheadings and a PS will make the letter more attractive and highlight major points.
What is a ‘Call-To-Action’?

Every direct mail piece should have a call to action. It’s usually a telephone number or an address that the recipient is urged to contact. This should be prominent throughout the piece, as different readers will respond to different ‘triggers’ in the mail pack. It should appear on the letter and the leaflet/brochure.

If an offer is being promoted then the call to action should be right beside it, as this is likely to trigger response. Your tracking code should always appear next to the call to action, so the reader can find it easily when contacting you.

Do you have any letter templates I can use?

Yes! We’ve provided a number of letter templates for you to use in our Tools section – see our Sales Letter Templates for more.

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 Direct Marketing Specialists

Why would I use a direct marketing specialist, and where can I find one?

Every advertising medium has its own particular creative and production requirements, and direct mail is no different. Direct mail can involve specialised creative, lists of names and addresses, mail merging, bulk printing, item sourcing... But while this can sound daunting, there are professionals who know how to do all of that, very well.

Direct marketing specialists can fall into:

  • Creative direct marketing agencies
  • List brokers
  • Printers
  • Mailing Houses

Take a look at our Supplier Directory to find the company to help you with your direct mail campaign.

Do I need a creative agency, and where can I find one?

Take a look at our Supplier Directory to find a creative agency to help with your direct mail campaign.

Where can I find a printer to print my direct mail campaign?

Take a look at our Supplier Directory to find a printer to help you with printing your direct mail campaign.

Do I need a mailing house, and where can I find one?

Take a look at our Supplier Directory to find a mailing house to help you with personalising and packing your direct mail campaign.

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 PostAim

What is PostAim?

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to get your message into the hands of the people you want to reach, then PostAim is your answer. It offers you considerable savings on the standard rates of postage, in return for preparing your mailing to our requirements. Find out more at our PostAim section.

What is the minimum quantity for PostAim?

2,000 items

What are other alternatives if I do not have that minimum quantity?

If you do not have a minimum of 2,000 items, you can consider our Bulk Mail rates. Call our PostAim team on 01 705 8489  to discuss the options.

What size, dimensions and weight restrictions apply to PostAim?

You can post any item up to 1kg. The minimum size is 140x235mm, right up to 400x300mm.

For 3-dimensional items the minimum is 100mmx70mmx25mm, with a maximum dimension being a combined length, width and depth of 900mm, with no dimension exceeding 600mm.

Find out more at our PostAim section.

Where on the website can I find more information on PostAim?

Visit our PostAim section

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Publicity Post

What is Publicity Post?

Publicity Post is An Post’s leaflet delivery service. You can target specific areas with your leaflets or brochures, delivered by An Post with the regular post, from as little as 7c ex VAT per item. Visit our Publicity Post section for more information.

How much does Publicity Post cost?

Publicity Post costs from just 7c per item ex VAT. Visit our Publicity Post section for more information.

What zones can I use for my campaign?

The beauty of Publicity Post is that An Post can deliver right across Ireland, from apartments in cities to more rural, hard to get to areas. We have access to 1,876,500 addresses with 262 zones nationwide.

You can see the full list of zones here:

Do I have to cover the whole zone?

Yes, you must cover the whole zone with your campaign. Find out more about your zone with our online mapping tool.

Where on the website can I find more information?

Visit our Publicity Post section.

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