We are often asked how to increase the response of direct mail. Today we are going to help answer that question.
1. Keep it Clean! Your mailing list that is. According to U.S. Census data, 12.5% of Americans (about 37.1 million) changed
addresses in 2009. Keeping an accurate database reflecting these frequent changes is an important part of getting results. Fortunately we can do a lot of this work for you. Using the U.S. Post Office’s National Change of Address database we can verify and make and necessary corrections for you. List cleaning requires constant maintenance, but the work is worth it. Knowing your advertisement is being delivered to the correct person gives you one less thing to have to worry about.
2. Keep it Simple! I took a class on advertising writing technique once. Although Dr. Gilmer was extremely entertaining, I have to admit I don’t remember much. I do remember learning about billboards – relay your message in no more than seven words, there isn’t enough time to read and process more than that, plus it looks cluttered – he said. That bit stuck with me; to this day when I ride shotgun I try to count the words on the billboards! What’s the point of this you’re asking, aren’t we talking about direct mail? Well yes, the design of your direct mail should be similar. Don’t clutter the piece. Be bold and direct. Think about how much space you have and what you are trying to communicate; you don’t have to tell them everything about yourself at once. Say you are a photographer and you’re using a postcard to get people to schedule family photos. Focus on just that. Show one maybe two photos of families on the front. Then put your information on the back. Don’t show them how great you are at senior pictures, birthdays, infants etc. Save that for another mailing.
3. Personalize It! It’s called “direct mail” for a reason. You get to directly address your target. Unlike other venues of advertising which are created to attract attention from a mass audience, the audience size of direct mail is one. It doesn’t matter if you have 50 or 50,000 people on your mailing list, your piece needs to grab the notice of each person as an individual. How do you do that? It’s actually easier than you probably thought – use their name! Whether you already have it from a membership list, a prospect list, or you purchased it you have it; use that to your advantage. Who doesn’t like to see their name in print!
4. Create Action! Let them know what is you expect from them. Now that you’ve found them and gotten their attention, talk to them. Tell them what you can offer, how you can benefit them. This is your chance to interact with them one-on-one. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, but at the same time don’t, as my mother used to say, speak just to hear your own voice. We know your message is important to you, make sure it’s important to them as well. Have a clear and concise call to action that allows them to quickly and effectively know what you’re selling and how they can get it.
The time of New Year’s and its inevitable resolutions is nearing. Have you given any thought to what you’re going to do? I usually have a couple, that way I if I break one I have another to fall back on! I think this year I’ll separate them into themes too; I’ll make a personal resolution and a professional resolution.
What are they you ask? Well, the personal one I’m still working on. There are the classics – eat healthier, lose weight, save more money, etc. They’re all important, but they feel so mundane and I can almost guarantee you by Easter I will have quit. I just love those Sweet Tart chicks and ducks! However, the professional one I’ve chosen. I am going to be more social! Not social as in I don’t like to talk with my colleagues, but social as in social marketing!
My resolution may not come as a surprise to many. I mean it’s something I’ve already been thinking about and working on in some respect. Take this blog for example. But the goal is to step it up several notches. I know I’m not the only one; although I may be the first to officially classify my commitment as a 2011 resolution. According to IDC, an IT Research firm, small and medium-sized businesses will use social networking to “establish a free online presence that improves their ability to acquire, engage, and retain customers.”
I’m clearly a part of one of those businesses IDC is referring to. And to tell the truth, I’m excited about what being social means. It is a great way for us to engage in conversations with our customers; whether they are past, present, or future. Being the numbers nerd I am I’m intrigued to see what kind of reputation (and ROI) my new social presence will bring me; but even though they say it’s difficult to measure, it’s a challenge I am ready to take on. Plus, now that I’ve told all of you about it I have to follow through right?!
What about you? What resolutions are you planning for 2011? Are any of you working on a social media strategy?
Have you been using the Intelligent Mail® barcode (IMB) technology? It’s a barcode system for letters and flats that according to the USPS’s FAQ’s will “expand the ability to track individual mailpieces.” The IMB will combine the current data schemes of POSTNET™ and PLANET CODE®. Currently it is an optional format, but for mail houses to continue getting automation prices, it will need to be implemented across the board by May 2011.
Letters have been able to be processed with IMB since late 2006 and the technology was expanded to automation rate flat sized mailers in 2007. The Postal Services feel most people have recognized the significant benefits of IMB the multi service barcode allows for. These benefits include delivery forecasting, free address change service, and payment tracking.
The one line barcode will encode 31 digits into 65 vertical bars. The data will represent:
- a Barcode Identifier which indicates the level presorting completed.
- a Service Type Identifier indicating class type and other services requested.
- a Mailer ID a USPS designated six or nine digit number assigned to the business mailing the pieces.
- a Sequence Number designated by the mailer to the individual piece.
- And a Delivery Point Zip Code. The Delivery Point Zip Code is optional, which indicates the delivery point. This can range from five to eleven digits.
Hopefully this gets you excited about the upcoming permanent change to IMB! I know we have already started using it and so far are pleased with the results. As always, feel free to let us know if you have any questions or concerns.