FreshBooks banner ad

How to Use Direct Mail Effectively to Keep Costs Down

Direct mail

Direct mail

It’s reported that 98% of Americans check their mail box each day. From restaurants to credit card companies, direct mail still remains a strong advertising medium to reach customers. Why? Direct mail is used to get orders and take sales.

However, the same report indicates 86% of people sort their mail over the garbage upon retrieving – meaning if your piece doesn’t interest someone in four seconds, it’s going in the trash. Is there a way to make sure this doesn’t happen? How can you use direct mail at a low cost even though postage rates are on the rise? Like Internet marketing, good old fashioned snail mail still works if you know how to make an immediate impression and have a targeted list. Here are a few tips to keep your marketing targeted and responses measurable.

  • Mailing list. Your mailing list is the direct mail campaign foundation. You can buy a list from a mailing service broker, or compile your own list using past customer information. If you don’t have a list at all, buying a list is a good option as long as you have various filters and parameters set up (e.g. families making over $100,000 with children ages 4 and younger in the specific Boston zip codes). Most mailing list companies have to keep lists NCOA compliant which will give you the most accurate information. Plan to spend around $100 to $400 on 1,000 names.
  • Paper quality and weight. Some business owners think the most expensive options are what they need to use to achieve the highest response rate – not true. Postcards, for example, can be very effective, and prove to work well for restaurant coupons, retail gift cards, and some services (car repair, house maintenance, etc.). If you choose a postcard, pay attention to the guidelines and work with the USPS to keep the costs down. At the same time, don’t just choose a postcard because it is the cheapest option. If you’re marketing a new green or organic product, use recycled paper. It doesn’t cost much more and leaves a lasting impression with the recipient.
  • Reduced postage rates. Depending on how many pieces you plan to send out, you could qualify for a bulk mail rate and reduce the postage rate of each piece. A bulk mailer pre-sorts pieces by ZIP codes, for instance and saves the post office time. The USPS will also work with you to make sure the barcodes, presorting, standardized addresses, etc. are all optimal sometimes lowering your mailing costs up to 50%.
  • Volume and mailing permits. If you plan to mail a significant volume amount for your business, you could qualify for a permit instead of going through a mailing service company. A mailing permit, known as indicia, is placed on your pieces and replaces a stamp and could lower your costs. Check with the USPS to see if you qualify for a permit.
  • Personalization. Creating a handwritten piece personalized to the sender is easier to achieve now with laser jet printing and distinguish the piece from the rest of your mail. Ask your printer about costs to personalize your pieces.
  • Effective messaging. What’s the action: tell your audience. We have millions of messages going through our head each day. You may have an 800 number or an email address on your piece, but it doesn’t tell people exactly what they need to do and why they need to do it quickly.
  • Consistent messaging. Combine direct mail with another aspect of marketing. The more times people see your brand, the more they will remember when they are ready to make a purchase.
  • Make it simple: include a tracking URL. If receivers need to fill out a form and mail something back in, your response rate is going to be less than 0.1 percent. Don’t just list the URL with the promo code in large font, list a trackable URL so they don’t even have to fill out a promo code. Include an 800 number and set up an inbound call center to answer any questions and take orders. According to data from the Direct Marketing Association, approximately one-third of consumers who receive information via direct mail- such as a discount offer, a personalized invitation, or a gift certificate- visit the website of the company to respond or learn more about the offer.

The DMA predicts that total U.S. spending on direct mail will hit $67.2 billion and generate $846.9 billion in sales in 2011. Looks like it’s time to get started.

Image by visual.dichotomy.

About author

Betsy Brottlund
Betsy Brottlund 12 posts

Betsy Brottlund is the Director of Marketing at Resource Nation, an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for entrepreneurs and business owners ranging from payroll services to phone systems. Brottlund frequently contributes to several sites that offer tools and advice for business owners, including Dell and BizEquity. Previously a communications consultant, Brottlund has worked with start-ups to Fortune 500 companies managing their marketing and communication programs.

Funding Note

You might also like

Tips

5 Steps to Building a Social Enterprise

Is social enterprise for everyone? Well not really as the essential quality that any social entrepreneur must possess is a “social bent of mind”. Having said that here are 5

Tips

The Advantages of Becoming Self-Employed

If you’re seriously considering self-employment, it’s important to be aware of the benefits and the challenges of striking out on your own. Becoming self-employed can be challenging and even quite

Tips

10 Things To Keep In Mind While Selecting An SEO Company

“How do I find the right SEO company?” This is one question that will keep on haunting your mind if you are looking to promote your website online. So, what

 
  • SSAE 16

    I miss reading posts that are this helpful, its rare to locate them anymore recently with so many copy cats!.

  • Blackhat SEO

    This just goes to show that Internet Marketing strategies are becomming more and more covert and it’s time to step up your tactics.

  • Thanks Rick….

  • Great Post! Your blog is one I try to always read.

  • Hi Betsy, great article.

  • Good article. I especially like the points of importance of a mailing list, personalization and having a consistent message.
    Try to find a company that does radius mailings and your list will be automatically generated around a current customer, your store, or even within a desired neighborhood.
    In addition, find someone that can include variable text into your postcard so each card will be personalized. And find a company that requires a low per piece minimum mailing so you can include one of the most important things, frequency, into your mix.