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Don't Lose Your Message in a Pretty Design

Don’t Lose Your Message in a “Pretty” Design

While you certainly want to grab people’s attention with your direct mail, it is important to keep your focus on the information you are trying to convey rather than just the design. It doesn’t matter how pretty your design is if it’s not clearly getting your message across to the people viewing it. Here are some tips to make sure you don’t lose your message in a “pretty” design.

Make sure it’s legible.

This is the number one tip for any piece of marketing! As discussed in a previous blog post, your piece needs to be easy to read. Confusing headlines, too much text, and bad grammar or punctuation can easily land your design in the trash. People don’t want to expend any amount of effort to understand what is going on in an advertisement. Another very important factor is word legibility. Make sure that the text you use is a readable size, color, and font.

Focus on hierarchy.

What is the most important part of this piece? Are you trying to get people to purchase a specific product? Are you trying to get them to call a phone number in general? Figure out what the most important bits of your direct mail piece are, and make sure they stand out the most. The most important details should stand out against the rest. You can draw focus to a specific area by using a different color or size of text. You also need to think about the direction in which people generally read. If your direct mail piece is a letter, you don’t want your most important information to be in the last paragraph. In fact, should you be using a letter at all?

Choose the right format.

Would your message be better conveyed via a postcard, letter, or self-mailer? Format is important because it dictates the amount of copy and images you can fit onto your piece. If your goal is to provide plenty of detail about your products or services, a larger piece like a self-mailer might be the best choice. On the other hand, if you just want to announce a sale or provide a few coupons, a postcard is probably your best bet. PrimeNet has several customizable options for you to choose from depending on what your needs are.

Organize your information effectively.

You want your direct mail piece to flow and be easy to understand. It should make sense. All of your coupons should be in one spot, and contact info in another spot. Generally, each type of information should have it’s own section of the mail piece. If a customer wants to contact your business, they should be able to easily find your contact information without searching too hard.

Use effective and quality imagery.

The design elements that you choose to use should be of high quality and purpose. Don’t just put a picture on the piece for no reason. Any images you decide to add should be related to your business in some way. Additionally, you want to make sure that your images are of good quality. This includes things like: high resolution, good lighting, and being in focus. It’s also generally a good idea to choose photographs with a background that isn’t busy. If you choose to put text on top of an image, you want to place the text in a way in which it can still be easily read. This is most well done on top of a solid background.

Design with purpose.

Finally, make sure that your design elements serve a purpose. If you use decorative swooshes or bursts of color, use them to draw the eye to an important piece of information. Every single item on your direct mail piece should have a reason for being there. Without having purpose, these design elements can end up just making the piece too busy and far too difficult to easily understand your message.


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Car Dealership Marketing Agency Direct Mail

Why It’s Wise For Automotive Dealers To Use A Marketing Agency

Are you an Automotive Marketing Agency? We’d love to work with you. Contact us here.


New or used car dealerships who work with a trusted automotive marketing agency typically see better ROI than those who don’t, but that may or not be the case for your dealership, depending on several factors. We’ve done some research to hopefully give you a better understanding of how working with an automotive ad agency may benefit your bottom line.

Every dealership needs marketing to attract customers.

Besides their need for marketing, small used car lots and big multi-location dealerships’ plans will be quite different. Advertising a 4-location dealership group in a major city will be very different from a single-location store in a smaller town, but even two dealerships that are similar may have different marketing needs.

Marketing an automotive dealership requires a very different set of techniques than selling cars to someone who is already at the store. So, while a few dealerships have been successful with doing their own marketing, most will find they need the experience and resources that an advertising agency is able to offer. Advertising a dealership requires expertise in media buying and producing ads for direct mail, television, online, social media, search, and other avenues necessary to attract today’s consumers. Dealers’ time is usually best focused on selling cars at the dealership rather than learning to do all their own marketing.

Deciding to use an ad agency is the first step. Next, you will need to find an agency that is a good fit for your dealership. Automotive marketing is different from other industries and what dealerships need varies from lot to lot, so agency research and ‘interviewing’ is important.

There is much to consider when choosing an auto advertising agency. Do you need one in the first place? Do you need a separate firm for your print and online marketing? To help navigate these and other questions about finding the right automotive marketing agency partner, consider the following:

Does an agency relationship fit the scope of your dealership?

Fact: Sports teams perform best with a coach. The same is true with dealership teams. Many dealerships have groups within their teams who could potentially perform very well with their own advertising strategies, but to what end? In-house may be the best option for a small-scale mom-&-pop dealership who serves their section of the community and has no plans to expand, but what about if your needs exceed that model?

On a short-term timeline, DIY can be a cost and time saver, but how about long-term? Does the dealer have the time, experience and resources for planning and buying media – or online marketing staff versed in optimizing keywords, scheduling email blasts, managing paid search ads, and updating web specials? How about a team of professionals designing ads and direct mail campaigns, or writing and producing TV segments– and a team to track ROI and web conversions? Do you as a dealership have the allocated resources and budget to manage all of the above in-house OR would you rather sell more cars to make more profits?

Agency Access to Dealer Marketing Tools and Networks

Most automotive ad agencies have their own access to extensive networks of media providers including broadcast networks, automotive listing companies and more. Agencies also have access to lists and data sets in the automotive industry, as well as tools that focus on display advertising, social media, SEO, email marketing, rewards programs, equity mining, and OTT (over-the-top) advertising through media streaming devices. A good agency will spend a significant amount of time and resources to make sure that their team remains on top of the latest auto industry trends.

What portfolio should you look for in an automotive advertising agency?

A critical requirement of an automotive advertising agency is the ability to see beyond what the competition is doing. A great agency will develop unique and innovative solutions to create more traffic and generate more sales for your dealership or dealer group. So much dealership advertising is “copy-cat” and unimaginative – which can cause car sales to stagnate for dealerships. When researching agencies, be sure to look for an agency that stands apart from the usual, and is equipped to lead your dealership to a distinctive competitive advantage apart from the typical “low prices” message. Don’t be afraid to ask for a few samples and recent ROI report snapshots.

How is advertising an auto dealership different from advertising other businesses?

Car dealers, especially dealer groups often have hundreds of different types of vendors all trying to get a portion of a dealership’s budget, and often have multiple decision makers to coordinate strategies. The auto industry is unique in that it requires a balance of short-term sales metrics, extended marketing goals, solid communication, and consistent execution to increase a dealer’s success. The ad agency should fully understand the automotive industry and know all aspects of a dealership’s operations – they need to be versed to work with a dealership beyond basic advertising and marketing goals.

The best automotive marketing agencies are results-driven.

For independent dealerships, key performance indicators include the number of leads generated, brand reach in the marketing list area, and amount of online engagement with potential customers looking to purchase within a specific amount of time. Good automotive marketing agencies will spend the time necessary to review the results of each campaign and make recommendations on how to improve outcomes for the next marketing campaign.

What should dealerships expect the ad agency to provide?

Ad agencies should have a clear and concise way to prove ROI. From ROI reports, dealers should be able to look at increases in:

1.) Overall traffic vs. unique visitor count on their website

2.) SRP (Search Results Page) and VDP (Vehicle Detail Page) views and

3.) Time spent on site, # page views, # map & directions views, and phone calls

What metrics the agency provides the dealership is actually less important than the metrics the dealership provides the agency. A good agency should ask clients to send feedback on a regular (at least weekly) basis, containing the following:

  • Opportunity Count – total number of web leads, separated by type and source, inventory inquiries, online credit apps, in-bound phone calls, walk-ins
  • Number of showroom visits
  • Number of total write-ups
  • Number of credit applications
  • Qty of new vehicles sold, used vehicles sold
  • Sales divided by total opportunities
  • Sales divided by total visits
  • Sales divided by credit apps
  • Average front-end gross, average back-end gross, total gross per vehicle
  • New inventory
  • Used inventory
  • Used inventory ACV (actual cash value)
  • Average age of used inventory
  • Total sales gross
  • Fixed gross
  • Dealer-tracked marketing cost per vehicle sold
  • Dealer-tracked return on investment
  • Marketing spend separated by media (if using multiple vendors)

 

Stability, Market Research, and Experience

Back to the subject of DIY advertising; car dealerships are known for high turnover rates, and when working with an in-house team, the creative department may begin to become stagnant and often feel as if they have already tried everything. Successful campaigns consider lessons learned in previous campaigns, and with or without a formal non-disclosure or non-compete agreement, there is a risk of employees leaving a dealership, and taking their knowledge of those lessons learned with them, potentially leaving the dealership at a disadvantage for future marketing campaigns.

Working with an agency will help your dealership maintain forward momentum. Since your marketing agency isn’t involved in the day to day running of your business, this acts as a benefit to your dealership. Agencies are experts in their industries and can provide dealerships with an outside perspective on what is working and what needs improvement. Automotive marketing agencies share  “best practices” through other dealerships similar to yours.


There are many benefits to working with an agency. Agencies are a valuable resource for marketing your dealership and providing reliability that can be critical in helping you set clear and relevant marketing objectives which align with the goals you’ve set for your dealership.


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Keeping Momentum 2019 Blog Image

Keeping Momentum: Advertising AFTER Holiday Hype

So, you’ve had great success with your Fall Savings, Thanksgiving Deals, Black Friday Blowouts, Holiday Specials, and End-of-Year Extravaganzas, but now it’s January and the “Holiday Hype” has come to an end. You may be wondering–what now? Although the 4th quarter can account for more than half of a business’s profits for the year, it is important to keep that momentum continuing into the new year. Continue reading to discover 5 useful tips to allow your business to have a successful January leading into a wonderful 2019!

Appeal to the “New Year, New Start” Mentality

The new year is traditionally the time for making a new start, breaking bad habits and forming good ones. Using those themes in your marketing strategies for January can be pertinent to keeping up your current momentum. Don’t limit yourself to self-improvement for people; this can also apply to businesses. For example, if you sell office supplies, advertise those supplies as a way a business can organize for a successful upcoming year. The new-start idea is also applicable to renovating a home, learning a new skill, or starting a hobby.

Discount Old Inventory

Shoppers have come to expect just one thing from retailers after the holidays: clearance. So think about additional ways to promote post-holiday buying.

By offering up-sells, you can prompt more shoppers to reach thresholds on purchase amounts. You could also offer volume pricing or bulk buying discounts. This works well on smaller items that can be used as supply stock-ups or as simple gifts throughout the next year. And what about shipping? Flat-rate or free shipping still wins in ecommerce.

If you run a loyalty or rewards program you can offer incentives for January purchases to both new and existing customers. Double points are attractive, as are additional points for performing certain tasks. You might also want to discount gift cards or certificates to help build revenue more quickly.

Give Your Business a “Fresh Start”

Use the new year as an excuse to give yourself a fresh start as well. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to revamp your data lists. Make sure that your lists are up-to-date to ensure that you aren’t wasting effort (and money) reaching out to customers who have changed addresses, lifestyles, or are no longer in need of your services.

You can also take this opportunity to take a look back at all of the data you’ve been collecting and see what worked (and what didn’t.) If you’ve noticed that a certain coupon seems to bring in more new customers, keep using that! If another direct mail piece hasn’t seemed to have much of an impact, regroup and try again.

Try Something New

So you’ve looked at your past year and discovered what kind of ads have worked, and what haven’t. Now is the perfect time to replace old, outdated ads with something new! PrimeNet is always coming up with new, innovative direct mail pieces that are sure to stand out against the crowd. Perhaps if you tend to stick with mailing out self-mailers, you can switch to postcards. Or try a new technique altogether–die cuts can be a creative way to capture attention.

Take Advantage of Upcoming Events

Although the holidays may be over, don’t forget that there are always upcoming events that you can cash in on. In January, you can focus on winter sales, or fresh start savings. February brings the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, and Presidents Day and after that you can start promoting “Spring into Savings” events. Anything can be marketed as a way to get customers interested in your products or services.

 

Overall, the point is to just keep going! Once you quit building momentum, it’s hard to start again. If you use these tips throughout the year, your profits will continue to snowball– and the next thing you know, holiday season 2019 will be here!


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Image of Man Holding Postcard

Six Things That Should NOT be on Your Direct Mail Postcard

Postcards can be one of the most profitable (and cost-effective) types of direct mail that you can use. However, in order for your postcards to be the most effective, you need to only have the most important information and leave off anything superfluous. It’s definitely important to give the customer enough information about your business that they want to work with you, but remember less is more. Bombarding the customer with clutter or too much text is overwhelming and will give them reason to put your postcard straight in the garbage.

Here are 6 things you should NOT include on your direct mail postcard:

1. Confusing Headlines

A catchy headline is certainly important, however, they also need to be fairly obvious. Jokes and cleverness can be great for attracting attention but you need to make sure they aren’t going to go over people’s heads. No one is going to put in ANY extra amount of effort trying to figure out what your message is, not even an ounce of energy, so your message needs to be clear.

2. Too Much Text

Speaking of having a clear message, the easiest way to lose your message is to bury it in too much text. Once again, your customers aren’t going to put in ANY amount of effort to see what you’re selling. No one wants to read paragraphs of text on an advertisement. Try to stick with short, easily digestible copy. You don’t need to list every service you provide, or every detail of your business’ history–just the important parts.

3. Bad Images

Photos can be very useful in capturing someone’s attention. However, that attention can be bad if you are using low-quality (pixelated, blurry) images. These will come across as unprofessional, and that is the last thing you want your company to be seen as. Also, make sure that your photographs make sense. If you are advertising a special for the fall season, you shouldn’t still be using last season’s beach photographs.

4. Unnecessary Images (or Graphics)

Sure, using flashy graphics can be a great tool for capturing attention, but make sure it’s not at the expense of getting your message across. Function is more important than form. It is definitely important to have a good design and layout, but this layout should help make your message clear, not deter from it.

5. Too Many Offers

Having a coupon or promotion is one of the best ways to promote your business. However, you want to stick to one or two GREAT offers, not 4 or 5 just okay ones. Having too many offers can be overwhelming, and distracting. A customer doesn’t want to sift through too much information to see which offer may be the best deal for them.

It is also important to note that sometimes the best solution is to mail out different versions of the same postcard with varying offers on them. This can help for multiple reasons; you can test to see which offers garner more attention. You can also differentiate between new customers and returning customers. You may insult a current customer by sending them a “first time shopper” coupon.

6. Bad Grammar and Punctuation

It should go without saying, but please make sure that you are using correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. There are other common mistakes that appear in the advertising world that shouldn’t be common practice. For example, using “unnecessary” quotation marks. Make sure that you know what quotation marks should be used for. There are other ways to emphasize a word. For example: you can italicize, underline, or change the color, size, or weight of just that word. Also Try To Avoid Using Random Capitalization and excessive punctuation!!! This style of writing comes across as unprofessional.

 

In short, you want your message to be as clear as possible while also being as easy as possible for the customer to read. Keep this basic motto in mind and you’ll have no problem remembering what should NOT be on your direct mail postcard. For a reminder of what SHOULD be on your postcard, check out our other blog post, “Five Tips for Creating a Stand-Out Direct Mail Piece.


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make money with direct mail postcards

Turning Your Direct Mail Postcard Into Revenue

Your daily mail will almost always contain at least one postcard – for the simple fact that postcards are great performers for marketers. Direct mail is easy to track, so marketers can know what types of pieces are performing the best for certain campaigns. Well-designed postcards are a smart and economical choice for your next direct mail offer because of their high impact, lower cost, affordable postage and outstanding ROI.

Exploring the Impact of Postcards

With a constant influx of media messages of all types, we have to find creative ways to produce the ones that will really stand out. Consumers switch tv channels, close browser tabs, switch radio stations, and use ad-blockers to snuff out mundane advertising.  In today’s age, we have shorter attention spans than ever before – we skim through news stories and web content, often reading only the first paragraph of an article post before moving on to the next.  Print advertising has a high-impact, tactile, even interactive presence, and that is where direct mail fits. Direct mail almost “demands” that the recipient make a conscious choice to read it. Well-designed postcards are able to capture attention quickly. They don’t hinge on the decision whether or not to open something like an envelope or self-mailer, so the offer and the message are immediately visible with a postcard. Census has shown that 50.9%¹ of postcards received are read by at least one member of the household. That number is higher than other direct mail formats studied for comparison.

Why do postcards usually cost less?

Direct mail postcard printing typically costs less to produce than other direct mail formats. A creative designer is able to produce a postcard design in much less time than it would take to construct the components of an envelope mailing package (often consisting of the outer envelope, a letter, a buckslip or brochure and sometimes even a reply envelope). Fewer components to design and print equates to savings on the cost of paper and ink, production setup time and time on press. With a postcard, the only bindery finishing step is trimming the cards to final size, which is often done in-house. Postcard personalization is usually performed on high speed inkjet addressing systems, the least expensive method of addressing for postal acceptance. Postcards also save on postage because they can be sized as large as 6-1/8 x 11-1/2 and still qualify for letter postage rates.

Postcard Performance vs. Other Pieces

While direct mail postcard response rates might not be as high as uniquely shaped dimensional mail or oversized envelope mailers, the average response rate of 5%, house mailing lists and 3.6%, prospect lists, offset by the lower cost of production still equates to postcards scoring the lowest cost per response in comparison to other direct mail formats. Postcards provide a cost per response of approximately $17 for house mailing lists and $30 for prospect lists².

Even with all the available outlets, direct mail still remains the leader in multi-channel marketing efforts. Print does cost more than email and web based advertising, but higher response rates justify the expense in comparison to other marketing channels. Postcards are top performers because they boast a high impact, placing messages and offers in front of the recipient without requiring a decision to open an envelope or not. Postcards cost less to produce, which makes them attractive for marketers with limited budgets for direct mail printing. Favorable response rates plus low cost make postcards difficult to top for new customer acquisition and consumer retention.

1. DMA Statistical Fact Book, 2016
2. DMA Response Rate Report, 2016

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Five Tips for Creating a Stand-Out Direct Mail Piece

Approximately 40% of people look forward to checking the mail – the ACTUAL mail, that is – while the rest just check from habit or consider it a chore (2015 Gallup poll report). Direct mail is one of the most effective ways to get your message to a potential customer, but if you are unable to capture their attention, your amazing direct mail piece will head straight to the bin.

The advantage to direct mail is its tangibility, physically putting something in customers’ grip. If you can give people a reason to look just a little longer – or keep your mail piece, they will repeatedly see your company name, message and offer.

Direct Mail Stands Out

Here are five creative tips to make your direct mail pieces stand out:

1. Send Useful Pieces

Useful items hang around. Magnets are a tried and true direct mail tool. Put your offer or brand message with your phone number on a magnet, and customers will see it every time they go to the fridge – or file cabinet – or look at their memo board. Alternatively, your mailer can function as a to-do list, keeping your product or service info handy. Another popular strategy is calendars – especially with notable local dates for sports or event schedules. If you send a mailer that is a multi-tasker, people will hang on to it.

2. Spark Peoples’ Curiosity

Use direct mail’s tangibility to your advantage. Try varied tactics to stick out in the stack of mail in your customer’s mailbox. Try making it “lumpy.” People will be intrigued to open an envelope with a bit of a bulge. You’ll grab their attention immediately – then all you need is a personal and direct message. If you’ve got a product for sale, you could even send a small sample. Because who doesn’t love gadgets or free stuff?

3. Make it Personal

Are you sending direct mail to existing customers in your database? If so, tailor the mail piece based on their history with you. When you add the customer’s name, it becomes more of a personalized letter rather than just a marketing message. For example, if you’re a dentist, you could say something like “Paul, It’s been awhile since your last cleaning, so now would be a great time to schedule your next…”

4. Pay Attention to Seasons

Different seasons make way for different activities. A mail piece that includes information relevant to the season is a good way to trigger nostalgia for the time of year. Recipes for fall and winter holidays, party ideas, craft instructions, yard care maintenance information for the spring and summer – are all good examples of seasonal attention to detail. When paired with a time-sensitive offer, people will hang on to your mailer for the season and see your company name much longer.

5. Keep it Local

Tell people what’s going on in their neighborhood or town. You could send a calendar of events, or possibly a list of shops and restaurants close to their home, just be careful not to promote your competitors – If your mail piece includes a guide to a town or neighborhood, locals will keep it. This can be quite useful if you’ve narrowed your list down to new homeowners or people who have recently moved to the community.

The combination of unique, useful and informative wins the day, so keep these best practices in mind when developing your direct mail campaigns – so you can keep your business coming in the door.


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Track Direct Mail Response Blog Image

Best Practices to Track Direct Mail Response

To be able to have the most effective direct mail campaigns, you have to be able to see exactly what is bringing in your customers. The only way to be able to tell this is to track the direct mail response each campaign receives. When you know your response rate, you can test and change different methods to see which methods achieve greater success. There are several different tools and methods you can use within your direct mail pieces that will not only help draw more business, but will allow you to track the response rate that these pieces garner. We’ll discuss these techniques below and how they can be useful in your direct mail.

Coupons

First of all, coupons are a just a good business tool. People love to get a good deal and seeing a coupon will entice a potential customer to want to make the purchase. Not only will coupons drive more business, but they are one of the most effective ways to track the response rate of your direct mail. There are essentially two different types of coupons: physical coupons or coupon/promo codes. Physical coupons can be printed on postcards, brochures, or other direct mail materials with tear-away perforated edges and are typically used in person. Coupon codes/Promo codes/ Discount codes are typically used for online purchases. These usually consist of a code that the customer can enter in their online shopping cart to receive a discount before they “check out.”

An important factor in tracking direct mail responses is to use exclusive coupons and codes for each direct mail campaign. This way you can differentiate between campaigns to see what worked, and what didn’t. It’s up to you to keep track of these coupons. Organization is the key! Figure out a system that works for you, and stick with it. Whether you have a program that will count the coupons automatically via a sequence number or bar code, or you simply keep a tally in a spreadsheet, make sure you track how many of each type of coupon has been used.

Variable URLs

Variable URLs are a creative way to drive business to your website. There are two common ways you can use variable URLs to track your response rate. The most popular variable URL is probably the promotional URL (ex. website.com/summersale) which enables advertisers to create a landing page to funnel traffic to. Generally, you want to have this unique promotional URL to have some sort of deal or access that your regular home page doesn’t have, to incentivize the customer to use it. The other common type of variable URL is a PURL. PURLs are personalized URLs that are created for specific customers (ex. website.com/johnsmith.) This type of personalization can entice a customer to respond. Using web analytics, you can track how many times these unique pages were visited and what else they did while they visited your website. This can lead to other target marketing opportunities in the future.

QR Codes

QR codes are an excellent way to track direct mail response. QR codes can also incorporate the variable URLs mentioned above, without the customer having to type in the entire web address. However, keep your audience in mind. Most people under 30 are familiar with QR codes and find them an easy, convenient way to reach a website. While on the other hand, the older generation may not even have a device capable of reading a QR code, nonetheless know how to use it.

Phone Calls

Not everyone is a fan of online shopping, or checking out websites. Some customers still prefer calling a business to learn more information. A great way to track direct mail response is to use a customer phone number on each direct mail piece. This way you can track how many calls each direct mail piece received. If you use the same phone number for everything, you can still ask customers how they heard about you or just pay attention to call volume overall in relation to when you’ve sent out direct mail.

Foot Traffic

Similarly, some customers prefer doing things face-to-face. If you pay attention to how many customers you have at a certain time compared to when you have sent out direct mail pieces, you can find the correlation and see what may have brought them in.

And Of Course, Purchases

If your marketing campaign is requesting that a customer purchase a specific item, you can compare different direct mail campaigns against the number of purchases to see which direct mail pieces were most effective. You can also just compare your average number of sales against those during the number of sales garnered during a direct mail campaign to see if the campaign has impacted your average number of purchases.

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All of these methods can track direct mail response, however, those with campaign-specific numbers are the most accurate. Take a look at the data you have compiled and see which direct mail campaigns seem to be the most effective. Now, figure out why. Were you running a better sale than usual sale? Did you try a different art style? Did you promote web traffic instead of foot traffic? Did send your direct mail to a different audience? It is important to keep in mind that there are always different factors in play. What season it is, if a holiday is nearby, or a million other reasons can impact how many people will respond to your direct mail, but you should be able to see overall trends that tend to be the most effective in your direct mail campaigns. Stick with these trends, and keep improving, and you will get the most out of your direct mail efforts!


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what not to do for direct mail

Direct Mail Strategies: What NOT to Do

The world of direct mail can sometimes be tricky to navigate. While trying to remember all of the goals you have in mind, and everything you need to do to accomplish them, it can be hard to keep in mind what NOT to do. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of 10 things NOT to do when using direct mail.

1. Don’t make your message hard to read.

Of course you want to have an eye-catching design to capture the interest of potential customers, but if they can’t read the information it becomes pointless. Many people make the mistake of choosing a “fun”, whimsical font. While this may be okay for one or two words, you certainly don’t want to use it for the entire text. It is important to choose a font that is easily legible. While we are on the subject of legibility, please proofread! A glaring typo or weird formatting issue will not only make your message harder to understand, but it will also look like you don’t know what you’re doing or simply don’t care. If you can’t make sure your own advertisement is 100% flawless, why would someone trust you to do something for them? You also don’t want to include too much copy. No one wants to read a wall of text on their mail. Try to keep it simple, using only the necessary information. If a potential customer has to spend an ounce of energy trying to decipher what the message is, they are just going to lose interest and throw it away. Let your overall design and imagery do the attention-grabbing.

2. Don’t lie.

You should never lie or “stretch the truth” in your direct mail. You want to make sure you can actually fulfill the promises you have offered. You may still make the sale on a technicality, but you won’t keep them as a repeat customer that way. Overselling yourself is also a great way to ruin your reputation in the long run. Another important thing to note is to verify that your disclaimers are correct and include as many details as possible. You don’t want to end up losing hundreds of thousands of dollars because you forgot to type the correct amount of asterisks.

3. Don’t use out-dated data.

Old data is no longer good data. People move, businesses transform, and circumstances change. You can either clean up the list you already have or purchase a new list, but either way you need to make sure the information you have is correct and up-to-date. Sending mail to people who no longer live at that address, or a business that no longer exists, is simply a waste of money. If your data is more than 3 years old without ever being refreshed, don’t use it. Advertising a product directed towards the mother of a newborn isn’t going to be effective if it’s now being sent to the mother of a 5 year old.

4. Don’t forget to include a Call-to-Action.

You are sending out direct mail because you want the people receiving it to do something. Be sure to let them know what exactly it is you’d like them to do. Be clear and concise, make it clear what they should do, how they should do it,  and when they should do it. For example, “Sign up for this free trial by calling within the next 5 days!” By the time a prospective client is finished reading your piece, they should have a clear idea of what exactly to do. They should also have a sense of urgency to do so. Be sure to have a deadline for them to get whatever you are offering, so they feel they have to “act now” before they lose their opportunity.

5. Don’t focus on just the features.

You may be excited to share all of the features of your newest product or service, but honestly no one cares. What they do care about is how these features can benefit them. Instead of listing all of the services that are included in your monthly lawn care treatment, list why someone would benefit from having this service. For example, “Let us rake, mow, and weed your yard so you can enjoy your weekends with your family!”

6. Don’t ignore the benefits of tracking.

So you send out a few direct mail pieces and business is booming, great! But what piece of the puzzle was most instrumental at bringing in business? Was it one specific design that was more eye-catching, or was it that the list was better targeted for your desired audience? To be able to know the answers to these questions, you’ll want to employ some sort of tracking. An easy way to do this is by using a specific, different coupon code for each new direct mail piece. This way you can track which coupon codes brought in more business, and further analyze the data about what was different with this direct mail piece. If you notice that one of your coupon codes didn’t seem to bring in as much business, analyze the data. Did you try a different data list to send this piece to? Did you try a different discount? Was this design different than your standard? Figure out what works and what doesn’t work this way. Tracking your customers is also a way to keep up with new customers. Once you know who’s attention you’ve grabbed–you can keep it!

7. Don’t be impersonal.

Everyone likes feeling like they are special. Avoid using general statements, and try to make your piece appeal directly to your audience. A great way to do this is by using variable data within your piece. Using variable data, you can put in the customer’s name and other information you may know about them that way it feels like you designed this piece just for them! Being more personal and friendly establishes a relationship with the customer that makes them feel like you care about them, and will make them more likely to want to work with you.

8. Don’t forget to include a compelling offer.

You have to convince people why they should be interested in what you are selling, and why they should be interested now. The best way to do this is to give them some incentive with a special deal, coupon, discount, or bonus–with an expiration date of course. It’s great to give them the information about your product or service, but that is only half the battle. Giving them a reason to purchase your product/service by making them feel like they’ll be missing out on a great opportunity if they don’t, tends to be a great strategy.

9. Don’t focus solely on the design.

Of course you want to make your piece eye-catching to grab the attention of potential customers, but you have to make sure you’re getting your message to the correct people to begin with. The tried-and-true method of marketing known as the 40/40/20 rule says that 40% of your success will come from how effective your mailing list is, 40% will be decided by how compelling your offer is, and only 20% of your success will be determined from everything else–including your design, body copy, imagery, and delivery method. While having an amazing design is important, it doesn’t matter how eye-catching it is if it’s not getting to the people who would be interested in your product.

10. Don’t keep doing the same old thing.

Our last tip is to experiment! Change your offer, change your design, change your mailing list, and refer back to tip #6 to track which of these changes seems to work best for you. It is important to remember that you’re going to have to keep changing also. Just because your direct mail piece was a hit the first time you sent it out doesn’t mean it will have the same results the tenth time around. Times change, people change, competition changes. Try new formats, offer new specials, even something as simple as a headline change can attract a different customer. Do everything you can to keep changing and you will continue to grow as a business.

 

 


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