You’ve identified your target audience, finalised your offers, established your measurement framework and completed your campaign plan. Now it's time to put your planning into practice.
First, here are some pointers and resources on creating your direct mail pack, ensuring you get the best response. The classic direct mail pack has three main elements:
Secondly, there are direct marketing professionals who can help you create, print and fulfil your campaign. You might see if a direct marketing agency or a mailing house can help you with your campaign:
DIY or use:
Getting your mailing opened
Often ignored, the envelope has a vital role to play in direct mail. It’s the first thing your customer sees when they’re determining if your mailing is relevant, or not. The envelope’s one and only purpose is to get your customer to open it.
There are lots of ways to grab the attention of your customer and encourage them to open your envelope. Why not test different envelopes to see what works best for your business.
Entice your customer with a thought-provoking question or a compelling statistic that intrigues and motivates them to open the envelope.
Make your mailing appear individual and personal. Put your customer’s name right on the front of the envelope, and not just on the address label. Use their first name: ‘John, you can save 25% on your membership today’.
Add a little colour
As the majority of envelopes are white, by using a different coloured envelope or including images you’re automatically making your campaign stand out and be noticed.
Use the front and the back
The back of the envelope is one of the most visible spots and often the most underused.
Big or small?
Use a different size or shape. Just remember to check that your mailing will fit through the letterbox. Talk to us if you’re unsure.
Envelopes can also come in a variety of textures and materials. A see-through envelope gives your customer a sneak preview for what’s waiting for them inside. While textured papers that feel good to the touch promise a premium message.
The good news is that recycled papers are now equal in quality and cost to non-recycled papers. You’ll find recycled envelopes available in bright whites and a variety of colour options. Our ‘Six steps to reduce your mailing’s carbon footprint’ can give you more information on taking a greener approach.
Make a mark with your postage
Talk to An Post about the range of postage options available. Stamps are the most personal, with many charities finding that they boost their response rates. Personalised Postage allows you to create your own postage mark to intrigue your customer.
Or just leave it plain
Sometimes a plain envelope works as well as anything else. Plain envelopes can make your campaign look like a more important piece of business mail, and therefore more likely to be opened.
Always make sure your return address is in the top left-hand corner of the envelope. This will ensure you receive the undeliverable mail quickly so you can update your database.
You can find a range of envelope suppliers from our Supplier Directory.
Write a winning sales letter
Did you know that An Post handles 3,500,000 pieces of mail every day? Letters play an important part of communicating with your customers and for reaching prospects. But how many letters actually get the message across and prompt the customer to respond?
A good sales letter will always follow the long time marketing principle, AIDA:
- Attention: Grab your customer’s attention with a hard-hitting opening statement or paragraph. This could be a question, quote or interesting, relevant fact.
- Interest: Hold your customer’s interest by focusing on a problem, need or want they might have. What better way to hold your customer’s interest by promising that you can solve a problem for them?
- Desire: Create desire for your product. Elaborate on how your customer will benefit from taking up your offer.
- Action: If you don’t ask… Now that you have created a desire to buy, ask for the sale. Make your call to action as easy as possible with a deadline to respond.
Now that you have the basic structure of an effective sales letter, here are a couple of other hints and tips to keep in mind.
One of the biggest advantages of direct mail is its ability to make a personal, one-to-one communication. A little personalisation makes your letter more relevant to your customer and as a result, they’ll be more inclined to purchase.
Personalisation can be as simple as using your customer’s name, or more complex with different messages, images and offers for different audiences.
You, you and you
Always use the word YOU, and use it as many times as you can.
Make sure you have your customer’s name and contact details correct. Spelling errors will stand out a mile and distract your customer from your key message.
Research indicates that the first place a person looks on a letter is their name. The second place is the PS at the end. The PS is therefore the perfect place to repeat the call to action, the offer and/or the key benefit.
Keep it simple
Try to limit your use of superlatives. Using ‘brilliant’, ‘very’, ‘huge’ and other such words will wear your customer out. To keep your letter succinct, once it’s finished, go back and review it. You can probably knock 20% off the length by eliminating unnecessary copy.
Talk benefits, not features
Customers won’t buy your new lawnmower because it has the ALX 2000 rotary system installed (feature). They’ll buy it because it will get the mowing done in half the time (benefit). To help you describe your product benefits draw up a list of product features and add the words "which means that..." after each point.
Don’t expect your customer to respond unless you make it easy to do so. The phone number should always appear in the copy and can be repeated in the PS. If there are alternative response media (reply envelope, email, website), these should also be prominent.
Typefaces and fonts
Larger copy can be used to emphasise a very important point. The same applies to colours, underlining, bold, and italics. Telephone numbers, offer details, closing dates and the PS. are the most important elements of the letter (after the individual’s name & address details), so this might be the place for them.
Headlines are used to identify a clear benefit, to promote the offer or to introduce new sections of the letter. For instance, you can make the call to action stand out by including its own headline.
Bullet points are another very useful way to break up a letter and to make important points stand out.
If a customer writes to you and raves about your product, you should use this in future marketing material.
A lasting impression of your business
Did you know that 72% of people put time aside to read their mail, and 27% of people hold onto their direct mail for future reference (Amarach 2007)? One of the benefits of direct mail is that Irish households like to read at their leisure and a brochure ensures a long-term presence in their home.
A brochure is not always required, but if you have a lot of information or want to tell your customer about what your product or service can do for them, a brochure or catalogue can really help with the sale.
Start with a bang
The first page your reader will see is the front cover. A strong headline that motivates your customer to pick up the brochure and open it is paramount. This could be the main benefit, or a thought-provoking statement. Add a flash that tells your customer there's something inside that will interest them, like an exclusive discount or offer.
Show and tell
Once your customer has read your letter they’ll be eager to see what you are trying to sell. Make sure that your brochure includes photographs and illustrations. For less tangible or visually exciting products you could show your product or service being used by a customer.
With advances in digital printing, you can now personalise your brochure to each customer. You can include their name, giving them their very own personal brochure. If you have other relevant information, you can personalise their brochure with imagery and messages.
Make it sticky
Include helpful information in your brochure to increase the chance that it will be passed around, read and stuck to the fridge for future reference. For example, if you’re a leisure centre or gym, you might include low-fat recipes, or if you’re a mortgage broker you might include a Moving Home checklist.
Don’t be a square
A brochure doesn’t always have to be a standard A5 or A4 shape. Use your imagination to create a brochure that really stands out from the crowd to produce better results.
Ask for Action
Always make sure your call to action is clear and easy to find. Include your phone number, Freepost address, email and website. If you’re asking your customer to visit your retail store, include a map with your opening hours, and parking or public transport highlighted.
Nothing says you're trustworthy as much as raving testimonials from your other clients. Ask your clients for testimonials and highlight them in your brochure.
A good finish
The choice of paper can enhance your brochure and feel solid in the hands of your customer. Ask your printer for advice on the paper stock.
If you want help from a specialist you can find them by searching our Supplier Directory for graphic designers, creative agencies or printers.
Direct marketing agencies
Do it yourself or hire an agency?
Planning, creating and implementing a direct mail campaign can take a lot of time, energy and co-ordination. Direct marketing agencies can provide a simple, one-stop-shop solution.
Do you need to use a direct marketing agency?
Sometimes you might want a fresh idea, or need a skill set that you don’t have in-house. A direct marketing agency can provide an outside perspective, offer objectivity and help you with creative, innovative marketing solutions.
As direct marketing agencies frequently work across a variety of market sectors, they can evaluate what has worked for other clients in other areas and apply many of those strategies to your marketing campaigns.
Invite the direct marketing agency to make a credentials presentation to you. This is an opportunity for the agency to tell you what they’ve done, how they do things and for you to assess the quality of their work.
What’s the ROI?
The direct marketing agency should be able to demonstrate return on projects like yours. Ask them how they have measured past success and how they recommend doing this for you.
How much will it cost?
Get a quote for the work before anything billable begins. Your campaign plan will help the agency understand what you’re looking for, and will help establish an upfront quote. Agree a fixed cost or “not to exceed” amount to avoid difficult and expensive problems later.
Understanding your business
It’s important that the direct marketing agency understands your business. Ensure that they know as much about your sector as possible, and that they appear to take an interest in what you do.
Or keep it in-house
It’s possible that your business isn’t ready for a direct marketing agency. Maybe the campaign – or your budget – just isn’t big enough. Consider the benefits of hiring an internal marketing manager. This individual might have enough database, writing, and design experience to get your company started. Later on that person can become your company’s liaison to greater marketing efforts with agencies.
Our Supplier Directory has details of direct marketing agencies to help with your campaign.
Bringing your campaign together
The final stages of bringing a direct mail campaign together include preparing and sorting the database, personalising letters, printing labels, stuffing and labelling envelopes... and all of this can sound daunting, not to mention time-consuming.
But that’s all right. There are people out there who know how to do all of that, very well. And we can put you in touch with them.
Do you need to use a mailing house?
You might be able to print and pack 500 letters in-house, but for larger volumes you might want to consider talking to a mailing house.
- Have the expertise and technology to handle large and small volumes of mailings
- Can laser personal data onto your letters and envelopes using the data in your database
- Can add barcodes to coupons and to your envelopes to help with tracking
- Can stuff and label your envelopes, taking responsibility for getting your direct mail campaign on time to An Post.
Our Supplier Directory has details of mailing houses to help with your campaign.