5 steps to planning an effective direct mailing campaign

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

 

3 direct mail mistakes to avoid

Written by dmsorlando .com on . Posted in News

Having direct mail as part of a marketing arsenal will pay off for many businesses. The relatively low cost, ability to effectively target individual consumers and tie a mailing campaign into other outreach efforts such as social media all play into the usefulness of a mailing campaign.

Companies using direct mail do have to make sure they follow some best practices, however, or they could lose out on the high return on investment direct marketing offers. Here are three common direct mail mistakes that marketers should avoid to make their efforts as useful as possible:

  1. Bad spelling and grammar: This seemingly simple part of direct mail efforts isn’t often ignored, but it can be overlooked at the most crucial points. Understanding Marketing pointed out that people expect more from a professionally produced piece of direct mail than they do from a text message, so clean copy is a necessity and not just a differentiator. Businesses often run into problems when last-minute changes or edits are made to the text used on a mailer because no one will think of the need to edit the modified words. Building in a little time to complete a final edit right before a mailer design is shipped to the printer can help solve this problem.
  2. No clear call to action: While very few mailers go out without some form of encouragement for readers to take the next step, the call to action is sometimes marginalized or placed in a less-than-optimal location, reducing its effectiveness. All Business suggested being as specific as possible in this part of the message. The call to action shouldn’t just suggest the purchase of a product or service, but detail the steps that a potential buyer can take to make the acquisition as easily as possible.
  3. An old or incorrect mailing list: Good copy and a strong call to action won’t accomplish much if an organization doesn’t have a plan for mail list management. Businesses need to not only make sure a mailer is interesting, but do as much as possible to get the promotional materials into the hands of potential customers. Making sure that the list of recipients is organized, correct and up to date can help boost the results of a direct mail campaign significantly.

Postal Service Launches Major Upgrades to Priority Mail

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WASHINGTON — Capitalizing on strong growth in its shipping business, the United States Postal Service has launched major changes to its Priority Mail line-up, with improved features including free insurance, improved USPS Tracking™ and day-specific delivery which are expected to generate more than a half a billion dollars in new revenue over the next year.
“This major upgrade of our Priority Mail products is one of the most dramatic new offerings from the Postal Service that meets the strong marketplace demand for core shipping features at affordable pricing,” said Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer. “We believe this Priority Mail line-up positions the Postal Service very competitively in the shipping marketplace and gives small businesses and other frequent shippers a continued and compelling reason to do business with the Postal Service.”
Priority Mail will now provide scheduled delivery – 1-day, 2-day or 3-day based on the origin and destination of the package.1 The Postal Service also will provide improved USPS Tracking™ for all Priority Mail products. Tracking and scheduled delivery information will be prominently and conveniently located on customer’s retail receipts and is also available online using Track and Confirm.
Free insurance is another new and important Priority Mail feature designed to close competitive gaps in the shipping market place and meet the growing needs of small businesses and other frequent shippers. Priority Mail 1-day, 2-day and 3-day will include $50 or $100 of insurance coverage depending on the payment method, such as whether a customer brought it to a retail counter or it was paid for online.

Postal Service Launches Major Upgrades to Priority Mail
“Our revamped Priority Mail product line should be a game changer in the shipping marketplace,” said Nagisa Manabe, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer. “We’re meeting the rising expectations of customers with important new features that include new packaging, free insurance, date specific delivery and free tracking.”
Newly redesigned Priority Mail boxes and envelopes are available in Post Offices and online at usps.com with many Priority Mail Flat Rate sizes and pricing. Express Mail services will continue as Priority Mail Express, providing next day service with a money-back guarantee and up to $100 of free insurance.
The Postal Service has seen strong growth in its package business, which grew more than 14 percent over the last two years. This e-commerce-fueled growth trend is projected to continue for the next decade. Online consumers are expected to increase their spending by 62 percent by 2016 and U.S.
E-commerce retail sales are expected to grow by 41 percent to $370 billion annually by 2017.
“With e-commerce driving major changes in shipping habits, and consumers becoming more reliant on delivery services, the Postal Service can play an increasingly vital role as a driver of growth opportunities for America’s businesses,” said Manabe. “We expect our Priority Mail product will continue to be very popular.”
Portland Head stamp

“Our customers see strong value in the national delivery platform we provide, and we anticipate continued package growth as small businesses take advantage of our new Priority Mail offerings.” stated Donahoe.
Other competitive advantages of Priority Mail products will continue to be the following:
Portland Head stamp

No hidden charges — no fuel or residential surcharges.
Free supplies — free boxes and envelopes delivered at no charge.
Free package pickup — regardless of the number of packages.
Multiple packaging options — full family of variable and Flat Rate packaging with a variety of package sizes and pricing.
The Postal Service plans to educate business and residential customers about its new Priority Mail products through an integrated marketing campaign that will extend through the holiday season.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Postmaster General Says Postal Service Health Care Plan Key to Solvency

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07098-1610-7-24-2007Will the Postal Service be given the authority and flexibility that enables it to continue as a self-funding entity? I believe everyone wants the answer to be yes.

  • The Postal Service can be profitable and pay down its debt.
  • It can continue to provide secure, affordable, and reliable universal service.
  • It can continue to meet the needs of rural America.
  • It can continue to drive economic growth.
  • It can continue to be a responsible employer and a great place to work.
  • And, if given the flexibility and authority to adapt to a changing world, it can meet all of these goals without becoming a burden to the American taxpayer.

The choice is simple: greater flexibility and authority now, or massive taxpayer exposure and service degradation later.

The Postal Reform Bill of 2013, S. 1486 goes a long way toward putting us on the path to financial stability.  It provides flexibility and authority in many critical areas.

Most importantly, it acknowledges our primary challenges — the related issues of health care benefits and the need to pre-fund liabilities.  As currently written, the bill would provide significant savings.  But, as both you, Mr. Chairman, and you, Dr. Coburn, have said: it remains a work in progress.  Working together with all stakeholders, and by including stronger language regarding Medicare integration and health care costs, Senate Bill 1486 can accomplish the goals we all share.

As the committee knows, we are seeking the added authority under the law to control our health care costs.  We want to negotiate better and more cost efficient health care coverage for our employees and retirees, and ensure better integration with Medicare.  If we do so, we can virtually eliminate our unfunded liability for retiree health care benefits.  We can also reduce the amount we will need to set aside for our retirees in the future to an amount we can manage.

This in turn will secure lifetime coverage for all of our retirees; it will maintain choices for all employees and retirees; and it will immediately reduce our health care cost burden from 20 cents out of every revenue dollar to just 8 cents.  This is a savings of approximately $8 billion a year through 2016, compared to our current expenses.

Today, the Postal Service and its employees are paying for benefits we don’t even use.  We are effectively buying insurance we don’t need, and we’re overpaying for it.

Both the Postal Service and our retirees have paid $27 billion into Medicare; yet many don’t draw the benefits that they’re entitled to.  And so we are obligated to overpay to compensate for this fact.

Under the current law, the Postal Service and our retirees pay full freight to insurance companies within the FEHB system.  Instead, our retirees should be using Medicare Parts A, B and D as their base coverage.  Under this vastly preferable scenario, the Postal Service and our retirees would merely need to fund far less costly benefits wrapped around full Medicare coverage.

This is more than just a budgeting issue: this is an issue of fairness.  It is fundamentally unfair to ask our employees, our retirees—and ultimately our ratepayers—to continue to needlessly overpay for healthcare insurance.

In simple terms, we are merely asking to be able to manage our retiree healthcare, not by reducing benefits — like many employers are currently doing — but by wrapping supplementary plans around Medicare.  This will allow us to maintain current levels of coverage and generate annual savings for both the Postal Service and our employees and retirees.  We can do this simply by eliminating unwarranted overpayments.

Does the Postal Service have an obligation to its employees and retirees to provide health care insurance for decades to come?  Of course it does.

And the best way to meet that obligation is to create a program that is financially sustainable in the long-term.  Our proposal accomplishes that goal.  We developed our plan with leading experts in the field, which is essentially the approach that nearly every other company takes, and which the GAO supports.

If we are allowed to negotiate our own health care program—either within FEHB or in a separate program—the Postal Service will be able to provide the same or better coverage at a much lower cost for the vast majority of our employees and retirees.

I cannot overstate how important it is for the Postal Service to have its own health care plan—or—to have the FEHB and OPM work with us to negotiate new integrated health care plan choices, specifically for the Postal Service, within FEHB.

We want to work with this Committee to establish an effective—and sustainable—health care program for our employees and retirees.  We want Senate Bill 1486 to include a clear mandate for the Postal Service, FEHB and OPM to make this happen.

Mr. Chairman, by taking this approach, the Postal Service can reduce its annual costs by up to $8 billion dollars annually through 2016.  This goes a long way toward our goal of closing a projected $20 billion dollar budget gap.

Yesterday the Postal Service announced a price increase above the rate of inflation.  We did not want to take this step, but we had little choice due to our current financial condition.  Resolving our healthcare issues will mitigate the pressure to raise prices and to take other unpalatable steps in the future – but – we must fully address our health care costs to do so.

I would like to thank the Committee for taking up postal reform legislation this year, and for holding this important hearing today. I look forward to answering your questions and supporting your work in any way that I can.  This concludes my remarks.

Benefits of Direct Mail Marketing

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Even in a digital world, many people look forward to receiving their daily mail, and sort through it immediately the day it’s delivered. It’s a powerful medium that can reach people nationwide.
Read direct mail research ›

In addition to that kind of exposure, direct mail offers these benefits:

It’s targeted.
Mass advertising (TV, print, radio, etc.) can be expensive and isn’t always an option for small businesses. But direct mail can focus on a smaller group of prospects who are more likely to respond to your offer, giving you more bang for your buck.
Learn how to find your audience ›

It’s personal.
With direct mail, you can address your customers by name, speak to them individually, and appeal to their interests. And when customers feel that you understand their needs, they’re more likely to respond.

It’s flexible.
From letters to postcards to brochures, a wide variety of inexpensve and easy formats are available for your direct mail campaign. You can add impact by including a special offer or free sample in the envelope.
Learn more about selecting a format ›

It’s tangible. 
Direct mail allows you to physically place your message in your customers’ hands and encourage interaction. Along with an engaging message, you can make an unforgettable impression by incorporating elements that actively involve the customer, like stickers, samples, and coupons.

It’s measurable.
Direct mail is one of the few media channels that give you the ability to track the success of your campaign. It’s as simple as counting the inquiries you received or counting the number of coupons redeemed. By tracking and analyzing your results, you’ll see what’s working and can make adjustments to future mailings if needed.

It’s easy and cost-effective.
You don’t have to be a direct mail expert with a big budget to advertise with the mail. With a computer, some desktop publishing software, and a little know-how, you can create your own professional-looking mailpiece.
Learn more about creating a budget ›
See how to design and print direct mail ›

With some direct mail web sites, you even design your piece, import your mailing list, and have the campaign printed and sent—all online.

Direct mail tactics to employ in 2013

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Direct marketing tactics are going to be widely utilized as businesses look to connect with consumers on a deeper level in 2013. When planning to capitalize on business leads and nurture potential clients, companies may want to improve their direct mail campaigns as the new year comes around. A fresh start to the year may mean a fresh approach to content.

With the new year also comes changes to mailings lists, meaning businesses should maintain proper list hygiene. If lists aren’t cleaned or updated, marketing budgets can experience wasted funds. In order to focus on quality content and a strong multichannel strategy, marketers need to make sure their list is first and foremost effective.

In addition to employing heavy mail list management tactics to ensure the highest deliverability rate possible, companies can take time to strategize stronger direct mail initiatives with these three things in mind:

1. Personalized
Consumers are interested in products or services that directly benefit their lifestyle. They are more willing to invest in a product if they know exactly how it is going to provide a solution for them, therefore direct mail campaigns should provide content that is personal for each customer on the mailing lists. Print Runner blog points out that the most important mailing campaign interaction a company can have with a consumer is when a person feels a brand has deeply impacted him or her on a personal level.

2. Integrated
Direct mail is an incredibly useful marketing medium because it can be used in conjunction with so many other tactics. Pushing the envelope with promotional content that is relevant and engaging is marketing genius, especially while incorporating web and mobile tactics, according to Eye/Comm marketing solutions company. While direct mail can anchor any quality marketing campaign, it allows for a multidimensional strategy and subsequently compelling experience for consumers.

3. Accurate
Precision may be an obvious tactic for any marketing professional, but it will become increasingly important in 2013 as the economy improves and businesses and families look to move. List cleansing should start at the very beginning of the year and continue at consistent intervals throughout the year. A good cleansing schedule can begin now and become a good practice for future campaigns.

What will five-day delivery look like?

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What Five-Day Delivery Means for Mailers

You’ve likely heard that USPS® is planning to move to five-day mail delivery, starting August 5. This announcement caused a big stir in the media, and also on Capitol Hill. More details about this move are starting to come out, so it’s time for mailers to start planning.

What will five-day delivery look like?

Basically, USPS will no longer be delivering and picking up mail from residences and businesses on Saturdays. All mail will continue to be delivered Monday through Friday. On Saturdays, packages including Express and Priority Mail, First-Class packages, Standard Post and Parcel Select (including Parcel Select Lightweight) will be delivered. Market-dominant packages like Media Mail and Bound Printed Matter, as well as most letters and flats, will not be delivered on Saturdays. Also, USPS will not be picking up mail from delivery locations or blue boxes.

On the bright side, retail facilities and bulk mail facilities that are already open on Saturdays will remain open. Mail delivery to PO Boxes will not change. Internal transportation may be modified slightly, but that hasn’t yet been defined.

Will this really happen?

Six-day mail delivery has been written into our legislation for decades now. However, a bill is set to expire at the end of March that USPS believes will remove the six-day requirement. USPS is battling with a $20 billion gap right now. They project that a move to five-day delivery will save them $2 billion, or ten percent of their revenue gap. Congress has complained quite a bit about the brashness and questioned the legality of five-day delivery. Until they can propose and pass legislation, USPS plans to move forward. Given the mostly unchanged makeup of both Congress and the White House, chances for any postal reform are slim at best.

What are QR codes and how they are changing the world

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They come to us from Japan where they are very common. QR is short for Quick Response (they can be read quickly by a cell phone). They are used to take a piece of information from a transitory media and put it in to your cell phone. You may soon see QR Codes in a magazine advert, on a billboard, a web page or even on someone’s t-shirt. Once it is in your cell phone, it may give you details about that business (allowing users to search for nearby locations), or details about the person wearing the t-shirt, show you a URL which you can click to see a trailer for a movie, or it may give you a coupon which you can use in a local outlet….

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