Having a complete plan for a direct marketing effort, from beginning to end, is as important to success as an attractive offer or an eye-catching mailer.
Making sure that everything from total budget to expected response rates are planned out can help businesses craft a more effective mailing campaign. A complete strategy will also reduce stress and mitigate the number of delays and mistakes that can crop up. With the need for an end-to-end plan in mind, here are five steps businesses can take to develop an effective direct mail strategy:
- Have an end result in mind: It may seem counterintuitive to decide how a campaign will end before it starts. Having a clear picture of the desired result will make it easier to plan out budget allocations, design timelines and coordination with other areas of a company, however. If a mailing effort is supposed to involve free samples or a specially tailored URL and a corresponding website, having the extra time to coordinate and create these resources is invaluable. Working backwards, and deciding on benchmarks for completion of various campaign components, can be the easiest approach.
- Budget: This is an incredibly important component of any mailing plan, according to Direct Marketing News. Having the budget in place often makes decision-making easier, as it eliminates options that are too costly to be considered seriously. By applying this practical constraint to a plan, fewer choices have to be made. Including a complete assessment of expected costs, and not just the cost of the mailer and postage itself, can lead to a more fully realized campaign. Include funds allocated for mailing list cleansing, free samples, response rate measurements and follow-up efforts. Budgeting the hours needed from all the employees involved in these efforts can also help.
- Decide on the offer first: Having a great offer will help set a piece of direct mail apart from other postcards and letters. Business 2 Community said a great offer is often what pushes customers “over the edge” into buying a product or service. While design is a very important part of all direct marketing efforts, matching the appearance and style of a mailer to the offer being touted may be even more crucial. Having the visual design, product or service and offer all work in sync can lead to a more effective mailer.
- Make drafts and collect feedback: Very few direct mail efforts will involve a single person being responsible for all aspects of production. No matter how many people are involved, seeking feedback outside of the team working on the project is important. People who are involved with materials on a regular basis can become immune to issues that may be readily apparent to others. Soliciting feedback from employees not directly involved with a project can help craft a more effective campaign and point out previously hidden flaws.
- Don’t neglect list management: Having the best possible direct mail campaign won’t mean much if it doesn’t get to the right customers. Although list management isn’t as exciting as creating the right offer or finalizing an eye-catching design, it’s just as – if not more – important to the success of a direct marketing effort. Keeping mailing lists up to date and free of errors means that businesses can reduce duplicates and undeliverable items, providing more opportunities for conversions and wasting less money and effort. Businesses should be doing everything in their power to make a campaign a success, including focusing on mailing list accuracy.