Unfashionable, unpopular, marketing dinosaur from the past… Uhmm, these are terminologies used to denote good old direct mail. The demotivating notion is that direct mail is cumbersome, expensive, and disgustingly clogs people’s and business mailboxes. The flipside truth is that it’s email inboxes that are choking with spam and suspicious notifications.
While denying proof that direct mail works, many people and organisations are steeped in thinking that it’s the digital world that is calling the shots. Truth be told, reverberations from the tech-savvy marketing arena cannot beat a direct mail approach if the right strategy is applied.
In Singapore and other global markets, evidence indicates that direct mail is making or rather has been causing ripples. Companies are using it to reach high profile prospects with highly personalised messaging. As a standalone or an integrated strategy, your business can leverage direct mail marketing to enhance branding and brand recall.
What is Direct Mail?
Direct mail refers to the act of sending physical letters, promotional material or package to a targeted recipient. Direct mail is a sales and marketing strategy where a business can send brochures, postcards, or a letter.
The process involves existing clients or prospectives. It can be between a B2B and a B2C entity. A courier or a postal service is involved in the relay of the mail to a commercial or residential premise. A huge percentage of the mail arrives without invitation, which is why it’s termed as “junk mail” in some circumstances.
To succeed with direct mail, it calls for creativity and a minimalist approach. Your prospects have a short attention span. You need to be precise and back your message with a call to action, especially if you’re looking to drive sales and conversions.
The good thing with direct mail is that you have complete control. You communicate directly with customers. Further, you determine when the message gets delivered, the content of the mail, plus the number of people/businesses you want to reach.
Types of Direct Mail Marketing
What comes to mind when you come across the term direct mail marketing? Could be you’ll think of conventional letters as a marketing channel. You couldn’t be farther from the truth. Letters make up the larger direct mail marketing arsenal.
These are printed brochures or postcards that can be sent without an envelope. The recipient will see you message whatsoever since they don’t have to rip an envelope open to see your message.
These are printable that provide a huge display of products. A recipient can see a variety of products and their briefs.
These are sent to existing customers to inform them about new occurrences, sales, and brand news, and so on. You’ll find it taxing to produce a newsletter with the right blend of news, sales copy, and product information. However, newsletters are easy and cost-effective to print.
This entails a package in an envelope with multiple elements. They can be a letter with a response form, brochures, flyers, and freebies. These packages facilitate personalised marketing. They can be designed to fit a specific customer.
Does Direct Mail Marketing Still Work?
Don’t point fingers. You’re probably among the number that thinks direct mail is dead. Paid search and other tech-powered marketing mediums may have stifled direct mail but not entirely so. Breaking news- direct mail returns higher ROI compared to paid and display ads.
If I told you that direct mail competes with social media channels, you’d probably say I’m bluffing. Studies indicate that direct mail returns over a 5% response rate compared to the email whose returns are barely 1%.
For your direct mail to work, you need to pivot your campaign on a reliable mailing list. Setting up a mailing list is the genesis of it all. You know, direct mail returns the desired results only if you place the right message at the doorstep of a viable prospect.
With other marketing channels, you expect that random prospects will get the message and reply. However, direct mail finds only those prospects who need your service. Direct mail thus has a bigger impact on prospects more than PPC, display ads, and many other traditional marketing models.
Benefits of Direct Mail Campaigns
Marketers in the digital era harbour denial when direct mail gets all the accolades. If you’re still fence-sitting, here are some benefits of direct mail marketing.
Direct mail marketing is highly targeted, and that’s a bonus. You can purchase a rich mailing list packed with prospects that match your requirements. If you run a kid clothes shop, you can buy a list of customers who’ve purchased kid’s apparel in the past. You can launch a campaign intending to attract these customers to your products.
Direct mail marketing is extremely measurable. You can track campaign results easily. It’s possible to build landing pages and direct traffic to them. You can easily tell what is working or not.
Don’t be surprised. Direct mail campaigns are easy to customise. Consider applications that enable companies to interact with customers and prospects on a personal level. Addressing prospects by name enhances user and brand experiences.
Affordability makes direct mail marketing a darling for many businesses. In Singapore, it takes a negligible amount to print and distributes your campaign materials. Surprisingly, you can comfortably dispatch material in smaller quantities to test the waters.
To give you a courteous, direct mail marketing view, it’s not all about sending some bland letters or postcards. Your start-up can set up a campaign on a budget, send personalised mailers or brochures with captivating information. You can send out the right amount of information depending on your budget and objectives.
Reasons Direct Mail is More Effective than Email Marketing
Lately, there’s strong evidence suggesting that direct mail works magic. True, social media and mobile are the new fads, but it doesn’t relegate direct mail to the grey areas. If you’re still convinced direct mail is a non-starter, here’s why it’s better than email marketing.
You don’t need opt-in
Emailing or text messaging requires a recipient’s nod. With direct mail, much of what is sent is uninvited. If a customer isn’t on your email list, you can still send them physical mail. They are sure to open it.
Direct mail lingers longer
Direct mail is like that notice that lingers on the board all year long. Even if a recipient will keep the envelope on their desk for weeks, it stays there, reminding them about your brand. Emails get deleted if they spam the inbox.
Direct mail gets noticed
If you’ve addressed a particular recipient and they’ve moved to another company, your mail will still get noticed. If your postcard gets to the new guy at the desk, it means you’ve already introduced your business to them.
Direct doesn’t mail fight for attention
Emails are effective, but they are always competing to get noticed. Direct mail doesn’t bug a recipient the way emails do. You’re always overwhelmed over what email to open, plus you don’t know which email might end up as a Trojan horse.
Print is king
B2B decision-makers will tell you that some content doesn’t pay when sent via email. Direct mail makes the difference, especially if it’s a high-value product or service deal. Mailers are the best if you’re conveying trust-building content.
Direct mail influences high-level decision-makers
Email doesn’t offer diversity if you want your message to gain traction. With direct mail, you can opt for unique packaging, kits, dimensional mail, and other fun ideas. The point is, the mail is always opened by the top decision-makers once it hits their in-trays. Don’t forget, direct mail carries no virus.
When to Use Direct Mail Marketing
You’ve appraised direct mail marketing is the best approach for your next campaign. However, you need to know that it can only work if it’s employed at the right time and intervals.
To promote products
Of the many times you can go for direct mail approach is when you have a product or event to promote. It’s ideal if your goal is to build brand awareness in a specified cluster or targeted demographic.
To reach diverse demographics
Your prospects prefer different technologies when searching for the same products you’re offering. Older clusters won’t go for social media. They can do so, but they prefer not to spend time online. But who said younger people are completely disinterested in physical mail? To manage different demographics, direct mail is your best bet.
When you have time to follow up
The success of your campaign depends on how you interact with your prospects. You can spend all the resources you want to do ads, create content, and fine-tune your website. It’s another thing to ensure your prospects get the response they deserve. If your leads participate in your direct marketing, you should repeatedly respond, not just once.
Why Direct Mail is Crucial in the Singapore Marketplace
Direct mail is one of the widely used campaigns in the Singaporean marketplace. Both B2C and B2B sectors can attest to using direct mail even when digital channels were readily available. But what makes direct mail popular with businesses in this country?
Outstanding response rate
It seems as if technology hasn’t threatened the existence of direct mail. The response form direct mail somehow validates its acceptance in the modern age. The response rate goes up to 5%, but email performs dismally. Its clutter-free nature makes it more preferred than digital mediums.
Perceived value and interactivity
Feed humans with all the technology you can find, but they’ll still gravitate towards the conventional. Nobody discards an envelope before reading through. They want to ensure that they’re not throwing away important stuff. It’s the innate human attribute that makes direct mail highly valuable.
Have you heard of companies that invest heavily in procuring letter reading software? Me neither. The truth is that letters, postcards, and brochures are easy to read and comprehend. You and your target audience don’t need algorithms to decipher the content. With an easy understanding of the mail comes high chances that the message will resonate deeply with the prospects.
Steps to Conduct a Direct Mail Advertising Campaign
Specify your target market
Direct mail advertising campaigns succeed if you are communicating with the right people. It could be a group of voters or demographic clusters that are aligned with your product offering. If you fumble with the audience, your ads will fail.
Generate a direct mail list
If you have a relevant direct mail list, you can launch your campaign. If not, you’ll need to solicit for a viable mailing list. You can buy or lease a list from a third party direct mail firm or a political outfit.
Write effective copy
The comprehensive mailing list isn’t everything. You’ll need a compelling copy to engage and persuade your prospects. An attention-grabbing copy is the reason why your mailers won’t end up in the trash bin. Accompany copy with visually appealing elements. Also, ensure that it matches your strategy, whether it’s for marketing or political purposes.
Boost your inventory
If you are running your campaigns progressively, you need to maintain a solid inventory of mailing materials. You need to be consistent, and a backup of mailing and physical material is essential.
Pack and send
Your business needs a streamlined packing and shipping process. Consider third-party services like couriers or direct mail companies. It’s advisable to take advantage of the discounts that come with bulk mail services.
Tips for Creating Unique Direct Mail Campaigns
Bland direct mail doesn’t work; keep that in mind. To appeal to your prospects, consider a bit of kink. Don’t send bill-like letters but customize your postcards. Twist some with folds and make the letters interactive.
Logical formality isn’t what gets your prospects to take a specific action. It’s the emotional connection to your product or brand. Let your mail invoke various feelings if you want your message to get customers to the homestretch.
Excellent graphics give your direct mailers the Midas touch. It makes every recipient want to open them. High-resolution graphics grab attention. If you settle for second rate graphics, you’re not only wasting money, but you’re turning off a recipient even before your mail.
Incorporate other marketing forms
Direct mailers are powerful. What if you incorporate them with another form of marketing? Touche! You can score high if you let the mail act as a mirror to the same ads you’re running online or on billboards. If the imagery and taglines are similar, the consistency will do wonders for your campaign.
Tips for Creating Effective Direct Mail Pieces
Direct mail marketing gives the right results only if you know how to make the most out of your mailers. Like mentioned before, “tasteless” pieces will hurt your efforts. Here’s how you can make your mail pieces stand out.
Consider paper size and feel
Always choose quality paper and size that represents your business professionally. Check whether you’re addressing high profile clients and whether you need to spend on quality paper. Also, check whether you need a minimalist style or whether full make do with a catalogue.
Don’t send mailers if all you’ve done is to tell customers about your name and what you do. Instead, captivate them with brand stories. Inject the warmth and value that your products offer in the mailer use photos and compelling words.
Keep it simple
Don’t go overboard with artful fonts and confusing punctuation. Always keep your direct mail messages professional, easy to read, and use a minimalistic style wherever possible.
Leverage colour and white space
If you are not a designer, get a professional graphic designer who knows how to blend text, whitespace, and colour. Graphically congested mailers won’t do your campaign any good.
Provide essential information
Your mailers aren’t from outer space. You’ll need to highlight valuable content therein, but you cannot leave a recipient second-guessing your businesses. Always provide adequate info about you instead of a prospect doing so on their own.
Don’t gimmick or trick prospects
If your mailer sounds too gimmicky, you’ll lose customer trust. Always highlight what sets your offering apart. Don’t dupe prospects with the lowest price claim when it’s the exact opposite.
Offer practical freebies
Your mail pieces will impress if you include practical pieces. Pens or decorative pieces with your business colours enhance brand recall. Other items you can use include flash drives, mugs, 3D décor pieces, and desktop organisers.
Direct Mail Trends to Note in 2020
Direct mail boasts excellent targeting capabilities. The new world marketing order has left direct mail proponents looking for survival tactics. However, there nothing to worry about since direct mail can thrive amid technology, integration, and customization capabilities. Here are some direct mail marketing trends to watch in 2020:
The tendency to personalise direct mail has enjoyed popularity in the past. It’s expected to advance thanks to the entry of AI. Marketers can glean more about their prospect’s behavior and tastes. Data-driven personalization will give direct mail an edge it hadn’t discovered before. Consumers love brands that identify with them on a personal level.
Mixing your direct mail with digital campaigns optimises your messages significantly. Direct mail marketers will reap more if they turn to the omnichannel approach. It becomes easier to convey compelling messages to customers regardless of their location. You can reach them on the go, online or offline. An omnichannel strategy is the best for businesses looking to command the market.
Bespoke design trends
How long do you have to capture your prospect’s attention? It’s less than a few seconds. In 2020, customers prefer personalised designs. The trend is moving towards customised design graphics, interactive content, 3D, and bold typography.
Tips for Future-Proofing Your Direct Mail Marketing Campaign
Nobody is contesting the fact that people are always checking their PCs and mobile devices. It’s also true that people check their mail too. If you deliver mail at the right time with the right information, there’s a possibility that you can make direct mail your favorite tool going into the future.
Define your targets
Direct mail will flop if you’re sending mailers to a random audience. Start by reviewing key statistics from your customer data. Define your audience according to their age, locality, and income bracket, and so on. It shows you the demographics that are likely to respond. Consider mailing to prospects in a related demographic to draw new leads.
Note audience’s interests
With general demographic data in hand, you need to delve deeper into the interests of the audience. Are they older individuals with family values or millennial whore tech-savvy and fitness aficionados? Understanding these details helps you in crafting the right message detailing how your products and service fulfills their needs.
Create a realistic message
Your prospects feel inclined to connect with your brand if you’re realistic. Don’t take them for a ride. When creating your mailer message, show how you can offer value. For instance, send a brochure to a new home buyer showcasing your pocket-friendly furniture offers. Do include a discount of 15 % with every complete set purchase. They will keep coming.
Use a clear calls-to-action
If you’re sending mailers with brand recognition in mind, it’s okay to create awareness. However, if you’re selling, always have a clear call to action accompanying your message. Prospects will always remember you if you make offers and keep your promise.
Pick the right medium
If you’ve settled on an audience, the wise thing to do is to pick an audience-appropriate medium. Your budget matters and your goals too. Choose a catalogue if you want to promote your products. Always go for a medium that fits your business and your target audience.
Different Direct Mailing Lists Categories You Should Know
The type of mailing list you choose for your direct mailing campaign determines the responses you’ll get. With a business matching mailing list, you’re guaranteed top value for your marketing effort.
The catch, however, is in focusing on the prospects you want to mail to. Don’t concentrate too much on the headers, content, or mailer imagery. Before you proceed, you must know the top lists to target.
Response lists contain information about prospects who have responded to your offer or promotion in one way or another. They can be first time customers who are trying out your product. They can be prospects who have expressed interest in your offer, but they are yet to make a purchase. These lists are the most profitable since it’s easier to make more from customers who’ve made a purchase already.
Compiled lists are referred to as cold prospects since the contacts are gathered from different sources. These sources can be telemarketing databases, residential zones, or survey firms. The names are prospects with no idea about your products or services. Also, contacts have not initiated or communicated with you in the past. It takes lots of effort to engage, captivate, and convert from such lists.
CRM or marketing automation mailing lists
A business will have its list of contacts in its internal databases. These lists are the best since they consist of people who know you and your brand. They are customers who’ve interacted and even purchased from your brand. Additionally, you don’t have to pay to access your internal mailing lists. What’s more, you have a clear-cut idea regarding the thought processes of the demographics in your internal lists.
Techniques for Selecting an Effective Direct Mail List
Successful direct mail campaigns draw a lot from the mailing lists in use. But, is there a superior mailing list? Do you know the right way to choose the direct mailing list? If you want to end up with a list of targets who are interested and with the capacity to buy your products, here’s how to go about it:
Investigate the mailing list sources of list providers
It’s prudent to ask a direct mailing list vendor to disclose the source of their contacts. You want to know whether the names are actual prospects who have an interest in your offering. Usually, vendors can glean contacts off government resources, event attendee lists, phone directories, business records or subscriber lists among others.
Ask list providers the right questions
Probing a direct mailing list provider is the ideal first step. You need to check whether they have been successful in providing highly viable lists for other businesses like yours. If they can deliver hotlists with excellent return rates, they’re your best bet.
When was the mailing list updated last?
An ideal list is updated at least once a month. A vendor needs to be straight up about such. If they appear dodgy, don’t risk it with their mailing list.
Have other mailers used the list recently?
Knowing whether your competitors have used the same list is crucial. You may need to rent another mailing list. Making inroads to prospects who haven’t gone through a competitor’s hands is easier. If you believe in your killer strategy, you can still use the list that a competitor has rented recently.
How long has the list been used?
You need to know if a vendor’s list has been rented exhaustively. You don’t want to spend money on a list whose potential to return results has been milked dry.
Are there discounts?
If you want to save some on a mailing list, ask the vendors whether there are incentives for multiple list use. Always work with the vendor who discounts you if you’re a repeat mail list customer.
Things to Ask When Choosing a Direct Mail Vendor
If you’re having a difficult time getting your direct mail act together, you can outsource that to a direct mail vendor. By doing so, you leverage the expertise of a provider that has seen it all. Instead of gambling with a random vendor, shortlist a few and ask the following questions:
Can you help to incorporate my direct mail efforts into other marketing campaigns?
You’ve just learned the impact of omnichannel-ing your direct mail campaign. Then, you’ll need to ask potential vendors whether they have the expertise. Combining direct mail with other methods is a killer strategy, and your vendor should be in a position to execute.
Are your customers succeeding on your direct mail platform?
Potential direct mail vendors need to showcase their experience working in your vertical. Other than their portfolio, ask them to show the level of success that their past clients have achieved on their direct mail platform.
What direct mail formats are you familiar with?
Your company may want to send postcards or formal letters. Not all vendors can indeed handle all formats professionally. Check whether they can hack data-driven postcard marketing or whether they are conversant with personalised messaging.
What is the total cost?
You need to ask a vendor to explain their pricing and every detail therein thoroughly. Ask the vendor to explain their costs surgically or you’ll be bombarded with unexpected costs down the line. Ask them whether they quote comprehensively for postage, design, mail support, and marketing automation efforts.
What is your printing and sending process?
Since time, speed-to-market is a known direct mail bottleneck. You know it’s not the best solution for real-time marketing. You need to ask the vendor to explain the time they need to print and send. Always go for a vendor who has innovated the process. In the process, don’t forget to ask whether they apply minimum batch volumes and sizes.
Examples of Direct Mailing List Providers
Your direct mail campaign requires the richest of mailing lists for your efforts to pay off. Before you delve into mailing list quality, you need to know the sources you can contact to rent or buy.
Mailing List Brokers
These agents facilitate the renting process between you and a mailing list company. List brokers hunt for the most viable lists with prospects that best fit your business offering and objectives.
Mailing List Managers
These managers oversee the rental of niche-specific mailing lists under their care. They promote mailing lists in an attempt to get list renters to subscribe or lease their resources. A list manager and owner are compensated according to the number of renters who lease their lists.
Mailing List Managers/Brokers
These are agents with mailing list renting from a broker and a manager’s perspective. They are versatile, but they’re not highly preferred, given the conflict of interest in the context.
Mailing List Compilers
These managers oversee lists that they have complied. They undertake the compilation getting names from government records, corporate resources, credit offices, telephone directories, and the like. You can deal directly with a list compile without engaging a broker.