April 22, 2019

So, you haven’t given up on direct mail? Good call, because, done right, direct mail still delivers solid results. According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), 39 percent of customers try a business the first time because of direct mail advertising, while an Epsilon study found that half of US consumers prefer direct mail to email. There’s never been a better time to include direct mail as part of an integrated strategy, but there are risks.

Lack of Testing

The biggest mistake is lack of testing. And when marketers do test, they look at the wrong things or make no effort to beat existing benchmarks or controls. We see over and over that the postcard worked or the ad worked, but compared to what? Every mailing should include a test and should always try to be at the controls.

Not Testing Boldly

Don’t test minor factors, such as letter length or changing the shape or color. While these affect response a little, tweaking them won’t deliver breakthroughs and new benchmarks. Test major factors, such as pricing, list source, package format, and, especially, the offer. Offers and calls to action (CTAs) drive response. Test offers to see which pulls better, 50% off versus 25% off, or $14.95 versus $19.95. See what CTA drives the next level of engagement. A printed QR code linking to a video may generate more views and click-throughs to a website than a link in an e-blast. Test boldly!

Sticking with the Status Quo

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is not a good motto for direct mailers. Companies fall into the trap of not checking the quality of their lists, due to the time-consuming nature of it. Do an internal audit of your database every year; choose one mail piece and pay the extra postage fee for undeliverable mail to be returned to you, giving you the opportunity to update your database. Continuing to send mail to duplicates, undeliverable addresses, and erroneous zip codes adds up to a tremendous waste of dollars.