4 Ways to Increase Your Direct Mail ROI

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) changedkey dollar1 resized 600
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.

Are people confusing popularity with influence?

According to Klout, a company that “uses over 35 variables on Twitter and Facebook” as a Standard for Influence, Justin Bieber is the second most influential person of 2010.  Bieber is preceded by President Barack Obama and followed by Sarah Palin.  I wouldn’t consider this his usual entourage.
Here’s something else I found interesting about Klout’s 2010 influencers.  The top three most influential musicians are 1) Justin Bieber, 2) Lady Gaga and 3) Michael Jackson.  And the top three most influential TV shows?  1) Lost 2) American Idol and 3) Red Eye.  Stop and think about that.

Not to be insensitive to Michael’s family and fans, but he’s dead.  How is it he is more influential than all live musicians, except Justin Bieber?  It’s not that I have anything against MJ.  I love to rock out to a little Smooth Criminal from time to time and I completely respect the way he revolutionized dance.  It’s just I don’t understand how he can be characterized as currently influential.  Let’s look at another celebrity that’s passed on; this one is a personal favorite of mine – Walt Disney.   Walt Disney was an extremely influential person during his lifetime.  He was a film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, international icon, and philanthropist.  Many of his dreams became a reality, and to this day delight hundreds of thousands.  I truly believe Disneyland is “the happiest place on Earth,” and I love how his movies, shows, and theme parks bring out my inner child.  But that’s just it, the movies and theme parks created under his brand have this influence over me – not Walt.

I’m also curious about the kind of influence the TV show ‘Lost’ has on our society.  Are planes suddenly crashing onto uncharted islands?  Have we unexpectedly started time traveling?  I’ll give American Idol both popularity and influence.  The show has made an impact on our society.  From giving the everyday person a chance to make it big to the Idol Gives Back campaign every year, American Idol has given – and continues to give – us a lot.

Maybe my definition of ‘influence’ just isn’t in line with the modern world.  I relate to the definition found on www.meriam-webster.com/dictionary/influence: “to affect or alter by indirect or intangible means.”  At Klout they look at how many people read your tweet, how many friends you have, how many people retweet/like your status and other similar variables.  Again, to me this sounds like a way to measure popularity.  Merriam-Webster defines ‘popular’ as “of or relating to the general public” and even “frequently encountered or widely accepted.”  That second option sounds exactly like what Klout is looking at.

Can someone or something be popular and influential?  Of course they can!  Being popular, or famous, certainly helps, but it doesn’t mean the words can be substituted for one another.  And it’s all relative, which makes it extremely difficult to rank.  I mean my parents have been extremely influential – to me at least, and perhaps a few of my friends, but they aren’t popular.   So what does that have to do with the world of social media?  Well, I think social media is an amazing outlet that allows people to express themselves.  But does that expression translate into authority? I’m not so sure.  Social media, and what we can do with it, is still evolving; it’s just one piece of the puzzle. What I mean is that a person’s track record on Facebook or Twitter shouldn’t be the only thing considered, and measured, when it comes to determining how influential they are.  So while I appreciate the concept behind Klout – as a way to identify and measure, and I’m assuming eventually market (there is already a ‘Klout for Business’) – I think it’s too early to assume they know all the answers.

Use a PURL on Your Direct Mail

In my original post about QR Codes I briefly mentioned Personalized URLs (PURLs) and thought today might be a good time to expand on the concept!

So let’s start at the beginning…what is a PURL?  Although it is apurl resized 600 type of stitch in knitting, that’s not the kind I’m referring to here today.  It’s also exactly what it sounds like; it’s a URL or website that has been personalized for the person viewing it.  Just like your direct mail piece could have the recipient’s name, so does a PURL.  Their name is even included in the website address; for example g3direct.com/bill.hirte.

Once the reader goes to the website not only can they find out more about you, but you find out more about them!  You can see when they viewed the website and how long they stayed there.  You can also track what other pages they clicked on; in other words, you continue gathering information about them.  Now that you have gathered more data on your consumers, you can create more targeted advertisement campaigns in the future.

Other benefits of PURLs are difficult to ignore too.  According to the Direct Marketing Association a PURL can increase response rates by as much as 400% and it can reduce the cost per lead by 50%.  Those are some pretty impressive numbers!

I mentioned PURLs in the QR Code posting because they work so well together.  Having a QR Code on your direct mail piece means if the consumer has a smartphone he/she doesn’t have to wait to view the website.  People aren’t always right next to their computer, but most don’t ever leave their phone behind; they don’t have to remember they wanted to check you out, but rather they can view the PURL instantly!  Also, printing a PURL can take up quite a bit of space.  Whereas a QR Code can be as large or as small as you’d like.  And they are actually kinda neat looking, so they help out in two more ways.

So now, with the use of direct mail, a QR Code, and a PURL you can create a trinity of targeted communication!

Direct Mail and QR Codes (Part Deux)

Now that I’ve noticed them it seems like I can’t get away from these QR Codes.  Just this week I’ve seen two advertisements; one in a magazine, and one on a piece of direct mail I received!  Amazing! They truly are the new big small idea.

Here’s another article I just had to share involving Direct Mail and QR Codes.  The first page talks about the why, while the second gives more tips on the how.  Check it out!