September 9, 2015

Developed by marketing guru Ed Mayer, the 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing is a tried-and-true formula for success that has been proven and followed for decades. The principle is that 40 percent of your direct marketing success is dependent on your audience, another 40 percent is dependent on your offer, and the last 20 percent is reserved for creative and content (presentation).

10 MUST-DO’s for a Successful Direct Mail Campaign:

  1. Plan the entire campaign before you begin it. Put it to paper, or write it on a napkin even! But identify who, what, how, why and when.
Who am I sending it to
What am I sending
How am I sending it
Why am I sending it
When am I sending it
What are my goals/expected results

And always remember that direct mail plays well with others! Give serious consideration to making it one component in a multi-channel campaign. It gets lonely out there being one single mail piece that shows up and hopes to make an impact.

  1. Identify your target audience. Don’t just throw the offers up against the wall and hope they stick. Might work with spaghetti, but not with direct mail! Be smart about who you choose to mail to and why you are mailing to them. Consider different offers for different demographic groups.
  1. If leasing or purchasing a list, find a reputable list broker who will take the time to listen to details of your project and your target audience, and help construct criteria to refine your list pull to meet your needs.
  1. In-house data – keep it updated. Make sure you leave the proper amount of time on the front end of your project to research and confirm the data on your list. Better to have a smaller list that is accurate than a large list that is questionable. And once per year, spend the extra money for a return service to receive back all mail pieces that are undeliverable. This will help you to keep your list current.
  1. You must present a compelling offer. Refer to the 40/40/20 rule – a well-designed campaign to the wrong audience with a poor offer will generate poor results. Test the offer on small controlled groups first and tweak it if necessary until you get it right. But get it right!
  1. Talk to them like you know them. We all pay attention if the offer is actually of interest to us. We pay even more attention if we don’t feel like a numbered data record in a database. Give your audience an easy way to respond to your offer by customizing the response mechanisms. Use names, create custom PURL landing pages, give them an opportunity to update their data and interact with you or tell you to bug-off if they aren’t interested in hearing from you again.
  1. Don’t forget the call to action. What was the purpose of your direct mail piece? Be very clear on your offer and how they are to interact with you or respond to you. Test whether your message is clear and the offer is concise – send it to your family or a few friends who have never seen it before and let them tell you if they were able to figure it out.
  1. Design and content is important. Budget to spend the appropriate amount of money for professional copywriting and design. Don’t be a “closet designer” or “closet copywriter.” Leave it to the trained professionals. It WILL pay off and there is no substitute for good solid design and copy.
  1. Determine the tracking mechanisms. You need to know if your direct mail efforts worked. Find every available way to incorporate tracking options. These could include codes on coupons, creating a special toll-free number, buying a specific domain to build a micro-site, or creating a landing page associated with a specific campaign.

10. Have a follow-up plan. And the follow-up plan isn’t the end, it’s the beginning of the next phase in the campaign plan. Don’t leave it open-ended, and hold people accountable for follow-through.