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How to Create a Successful Direct Mail Campaign


Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "How to Create a Successful Direct Mail Campaign," explains step-by-step how to create an effective direct mail marketing campaign. The odds of enjoying increased response rates and higher ROIs increase when executing a well-crafted direct mail marketing campaign. The recipient that receives a useful direct mail campaign piece of printed collateral in effect has received a worthy, if not desirable, offer. On the other hand, there is a difference between direct mail and junk mail. Junk mail typically fails to contain important customer data points that will engage, resonate, and elicit a response. 

Our Quote of the Day: 
"If you want to build your online business, research shows that one of the best ways to do it is to use direct mail to drive prospects to your site. It's the combination of direct mail with an online presence that packs such a powerful marketing punch.  Even Google, probably one of the iconic internet businesses, sends out direct-mail campaigns." 
– Craig Simpson

With the pandemic now escalating at rates scientists refer to as "out of control," all must observe and adhere to federal, state, and local health advisories.  More states and municipalities are ordering various areas to shut down.  With more stay-at-home orders on the horizon, reaching customers and constituents by mail is the safest likelihood that all pertinent communications are deliverable, received, and read. 

How to Start Direct Mail Marketing

Creating a direct mail marketing campaign would appear to be a simple process.  However, it is essential to recognize the importance of the plan and the overall campaign strategy. To achieve optimal results for your campaign, follow these steps.  First of all, three main areas comprise the starting point for any direct mail marketing campaign.  They are the target list, the offer, and compelling creative.  These three considerations fall along with demographic markers such as income, age, gender, marital status, zip-code, purchasing habits, language preferences, ethnicity, education, and employment.

Identify the Target Market

The process begins with identifying the correct target market.  If you can't identify the people you wish to sell to, you are flying blind.  Think of targeting this way.  Would you try and sell the average 18-year-old a new house?  Would you try and sell a car to a person with bad credit?  Would you try and sell a musical instrument to a person who is not a musician?  Therefore, take extra care to ensure that you are targeting the right people.  As you compile your list, take the time to review the targets on your list.  Also, you should clearly understand the wants, needs, and pain points of your intended targets.  Now let's examine a 5-step process to identify and categorize the best targets correctly.

1. Examine Current Customers

Assuming your company has a database of current customers, examine all particulars to determine why they buy your products or services.  Try and identify any similar traits among buyers, next, of those customers, which of them purchase the most and those that buy the least.  Your list of current customers can serve as a baseline benchmark.  Next, you want to identify additional prospects.   These prospects may share similar traits with your existing customers.   Be sure to identify those prospects that would also be in the market for your product or service based on your needs criteria.

2.  Benchmark


Most organizations conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis every year. If so, your competitors should also be a part of that analysis. If not, this is an excellent time to analyze your competitors. It is essential to understand your competitor's customers and targets, as you may be competing for the same market. Alternatively, instead of competing in the same market as your competitors, you may decide to identify a niche market where competition is limited or non-existent.

3. Evaluate The Offer

In an extremely competitive landscape, the buying public values products and services that will solve their problems.  In this step, measure the benefits your product or service provides, what issues or challenges they address, and how those benefits compare to the competition.  Now, make a list of the types of consumers looking for your product or service offerings based on solution solving capabilities. 

4. Target By Demographics

At this point, you should identify which demographic(s) need a product or service in conjunction with those most likely to buy.  This step is critical.  Therefore it is a good idea to include traits such as purchase history, age, household income, location, gender, income, education, occupation, travel, marital status, and ethnic background for starters.

5. The Psychographic Factors

Psychographics encompass a broad scope of personal data based on individual character traits. I n short, psychographics is the key to understanding lifestyle habits.  These unique traits provide the overall lifestyle habits of a consumer.  These traits identifiers can consist of interests, hobbies, values, attitudes, and overall personality.

For example, Subaru recently began targeting reliability, top safety scores, and how long their vehicles last.  In one spot, Subaru says that parents have a way of imagining the worst -- especially when it comes to their easily distracted teenagers. A montage shows teenagers in wrecked cars appearing unbothered and staring at their phones.  Subaru says parents' worries about distracted drivers can be put to rest knowing their children are driving the Subaru Forester with Driver Focus Alerts.  Conclusion: Subaru's spot appears to target the values and attitudinal traits of parents who express concern about their child's safety.

When determining which psychographic characteristics would fit your product set, specific questions can lead to a correct assessment of your targets. Questions such as:

  • What types of products do these prospects shop for, and which kind do they purchase?
  • What are their life challenges?
  • Where do they receive their news and information?
  • Which types of websites do they frequent most, and why?
  • How many times a year do they travel, and if so, when do they go?
  • Identify their most common habits
  • When will they use the product or service?
  • How are media and marketing communications received, and how do they feel about those platforms?

This set of psychographic questions are the tip of the iceberg to start you in the right direction. Depending on the industry, there may be more questions that you may need to identify.

Target Lists

Half of the marketing campaign's success or failure depends on the list.  Your list should comprise targets that need or would find your product or service of interest to them.  There are different types of lists, including emails you gather, purchased, social media, and of course, current and former customers.  Your goal is to create a 'direct response list.'  This list will invariably provide you with better outcomes than a list you compile from unknown sources.

Valid lists require precise targeting data points, and the more time is given to creating a targeted list, the better the response will be.  As with all lists, keep in mind that the target list will need to be cleansed and categorized with the demographic attributes, whether internal or purchased.  Cleansing the data is necessary to take advantage of today's technology.  It is an essential process when using variable data printing (aka VDP, or variable digital printing), which contains the technology to print collateral for each targeted demographic.

For example, if the brand targets Hispanic, Asian, and African-American communities in a single offer, each diverse demographic may have different data variables that appeal to each group.  Variable Data Printing can automatically sort the messages, creative, colors, and call-to-action attributes in a single digital print press action. 

The Offer

After the target list is complete, the focus now moves to the offer.  It will help if you refrain from focusing on your brand's product or service.  Instead, focus on the promotional offer.  Sales generally occur when you follow the sales funnel process.   It's the best course to run.  Therefore, avoid focusing on the sale itself and focus on the steps to secure the deal.  It would help if you consider promotional offers that are already generally accepted by consumers.  They include special discounts, freebies, free trials, gifts, time-sensitive offers, and of course, BOGO (buy one get one).  Make sure the call-to-action is easily understood and well-placed on the brand print collateral.  You should also provide a QR code for mobile users to locate the digital destination quickly, whether it's a blog page, website, specific landing page, or even a social media destination.

Compelling Creative

As in society, looks and appearance are everything.  Remember when folks held their nose at the first hybrid vehicles due to their lack-luster presence?  It should come as no surprise that Tesla's Elon Musk took what people were saying to heart about hybrid and electric vehicles.  Tesla is an attractive car by most standards.  Your direct mail piece should also be compellingly creative.  Direct mail pieces that are attractive will increase the probability of a better response rate.  To attract attention, the creative needs to consider colors, copy, texture, size, and if using envelopes, the text on the outside of the envelope must be attention-grabbing.  Whether the recipients receive a postcard, flyer, brochure, or envelope, the piece will need to have a concise, easy to see call-to-action.  If the recipients find it challenging to respond or no response directive, the creative could be for naught.  Keep in mind that the creative can contain multiple versions for each demographic included in the data points target list.

The Net-Net

How to create impactful direct mail marketing campaigns is more of a science than art.  That said, it is only after a brand has taken all of these steps that it can be sure that it can create compelling marketing messages that appeal to targets that can convert into buyers.  When this happens, the brand can expect to reap new business and increase sales.  We hope you found value in this article, and thanks for reading "How to Create a Successful Direct Mail Campaign!"

Let's have a conversation about integrated business solutions and how they can help grow your business, change behavior, and improve the customer experience. 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 has an official USPS certified bureau located within our offices that will save you time and money. We can even 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
  • Secure Data Life Cycle Management

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

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