Direct Mail Marketing Process Steps
Do you know what the biggest fear of a marketer is? Well, It is when they go the whole nine yards to create the perfect email campaign only to find out that it wasn’t even opened. Nothing is more disheartening than spending all your time and effort on something and yielding no significant results.
It is so easy for the customer to ignore your emails along with a dozen other emails they receive every day. Catching the target audience’s attention using mainstream communication channels like email is tough. This is why they are shifting their focus towards the direct mail process.
The direct mail process is no longer slow and manual like it used to be a few years ago. Instead, it now incorporates new and advanced digital capabilities that enable full automation of the direct mail process. Direct mail automation tools like PostGrid allow you to easily automate the A to Z of your direct mail process.
Solutions like PostGrid have optimized the direct marketing process flow. The optimization is so well that organizations now employ direct mail as a major mode of communication. However, merely having the right tools can only get you so far. By the end of the day, you still need to master the direct marketing campaign process.
Developing a direct mail process that aligns with your business goals and can drive successful conversions is not easy. By providing you with a simple step-by-step guide to preparing an effective direct marketing process, this article will help you create optimized direct mail campaigns.
8 Steps For An Effective Direct Mail Marketing Process
Carry on reading to find out the direct marketing process steps you can take to optimize your direct mail campaigns. The step-by-step guideline highlights several aspects of the direct mail process that needs your special attention. It further explains how you can improve your direct mail process and get the best possible results.
The direct marketing process steps that you need to follow for ensuring the best result for your campaign are as follows.
Step 1: Set Your Business Goals
The first and perhaps most important of the direct mail marketing process steps is setting your business goals. Unfortunately, many businesses make the mistake of not paying much attention to this first step. But, this mistake could turn around the outcome of your campaign.
You need to first establish what the goal of your direct mail campaign is. Take your sweet time when figuring out your business goal because every step that follows is based on the goal you set. Remember, the goal you set for the direct marketing process can potentially decide the fate of your whole campaign.
Questions to Ask Yourself
However, this first step can be particularly hard for people who have never run a direct mail campaign before. The easiest way to find the goal for your campaign is to ask yourself questions, and this will reveal what you wish to accomplish. Some of the questions that you can ask yourself can include the following:
- What do you wish to accomplish through the campaign?
- Do you want to generate more sales through the campaign?
- Do you want to use the campaign to build brand awareness?
- Do you need the direct mail campaign to complement a digital marketing campaign?
- Do you intend to use the direct mail campaign for achieving long-term goals?
- What is the result you wish to achieve through the campaign in a specified time frame?
Given above are some of the common questions that can get the ball rolling for your direct mail process. You can also consider other aspects depending upon your campaign and niche for establishing the campaign-specific goals. It is also not uncommon for a campaign to have a different long-term goal from the goal set for its first direct mail.
Salvage Skills/Assets From Your Digital Marketing Campaigns
You can get your direct marketing campaign process started by collecting all the skills/assets from your digital marketing campaigns. The basic principles of your direct mail campaign are not too different from your digital marketing campaigns.
You can use any skills or assets like design, copy, and even the audience from your successful digital campaigns. By doing so, you won’t need to start from scratch, as you could just repurpose the assets and test them on the direct mail channel.
Again you can question yourself on the transferable skills and assets to find what works for your direct mail campaign. The answer to these questions will help you figure out what exactly you wish to accomplish through the campaign.
Step 2: Understand Your Target Audience
Once you have set the goal of your direct marketing process, you can move on to define your target audience. The audience you wish to target for a specific campaign should be one that has a higher chance of conversion.
In other words, the audience you choose to target must be relevant to your campaign goals, at least at a basic level. Therefore, the more details you can use to define your customers, the more effective your campaign is.
Identify Problem And Offer a Solution
What is the best way to entice your audience into taking the desired action? The ideal approach would be to identify the problems faced by the target audience and offer a solution for them. This means that you should start by assessing the problems faced by the target audience.
Providing a relevant and enticing offer to the audience is easier to target existing customers or leads. Here, it is likely that you already have a detailed profile and even segment classification of the audience. On the other hand, it is relatively harder when dealing with fresh prospects as you have less data on them.
Conducting a thorough research of the audience, especially new prospects, can help you know more about and serve them better. The audience research enables you to come up with the ideal offer and messaging for the target audience. Such a carefully drafted offer has more chance of generating a response from the audience.
Categorizing Audience Data
The audience data is generally categorized into three groups, and they are as follows:
The demographic data can include the general information of the audience, such as gender, age, income, and so on. Depending on the quality of your database, you may also have other details such as job title, company name, industry, and so on.
Furthermore, you can ensure the accuracy of the address data of your audience by using PostGrid’s address verification API. Integrating smart solutions like PostGrid enable you to ensure the accuracy of your data. You can even implement additional features like Address Autocomplete to ensure data accuracy right from its point of collection.
The behavioral data of the audience refers to the “behavior” of the audience observed in your previous interactions. It can include everything from the audience’s purchase history to website activity. You can also factor in the previous email engagements or sales interactions in behavioral data.
The Psychographic data is slightly more complex than the other two data we mentioned above. This data dives a little deeper into the prospect’s day-to-day life. Psychographic data analyze aspects like hobbies, values, opinions, and even their attitude towards the product/service you offer.
Create a Buyer Persona
The buyer persona is an imaginary fictional character created to describe a business’s ideal customer. This is possible by carefully identifying the common traits and pain points of your customer base. Creating a buyer persona can simplify all your marketing efforts, including the direct mail process.
Some more ways through which you can get a better understanding of your target audience include:
- Conducting surveys on your customers.
- Examining the customer reviews of your competitors.
- Analyzing the social media accounts of your customers/prospects.
Step 3: Create a Mailing List For Your Campaign
After creating a buyer persona, you will have gained a deeper understanding of what the prospects need. Now, you can proceed to put together a mailing list keeping the buyer persona in mind. Generally, the mailing list for a direct mail campaign falls under one of the two types, and they are:
- House lists
- Purchased lists
The house lists consist of the names and addresses of audience members who have already interacted with your business. This can include your existing customers as well as prospects. Every business with a customer base, big or small, collects this data from their customers and saves it to their CRM.
You can also use a marketing automation tool for data collection. This data is then used for all your marketing and sales operations. The house list is a more reliable source for all your marketing efforts because they are already familiar with your company.
Apart from this, the house list also includes previous customers who have already used your product or service, so it is easier to convince them. You don’t need to put in extra effort to nurture the leads or create brand awareness as you do for a new prospect.
Purchase lists are not the preferred choice for the direct mail process because they are slightly more complicated. Getting access to a high-quality purchased direct mail list can help you reach out to a very specific audience.
The deliverability of the mail is also high, provided that the purchased list is of high quality. However, the quality of the purchase list is not always predictable as it can vary from time to time. Therefore, proper evaluation of the mailing list provider can help you minimize the variation in data quality.
So as long as you can get the purchased lists from a reliable source, you minimize the percentage of bad addresses in it. Furthermore, you can make use of PostGrid’s address verification API to check the validity of addresses in a purchased or house list. Finally, you can even conduct bulk address verification using nothing but a CSV file.
Step 4: Create a Captivating Offer And Call to Action
The two most important parts of the direct mailer you send to your prospects are the offer and the CTA (call to action). Your entire direct mail process depends on these two factors because they can make or break your campaign.
Professional copywriters that can present offers along with highly actionable CTAs can craft successful direct mail campaigns. Furthermore, good copywriting can impact the direct mail recipient so much that they could end up randomly thinking about the offer.
Writing a captivative copy for your direct mail campaign is not as easy as it sounds. In order to make an impression on the customer and stay on their mind, your mailer needs to be clear about the following details:
- The product or service you are selling
- How the product/service can help the target audience
- How they can get the product/service
How to Make a Compelling Offer to the Customer
When pitching your offer and CTA in the direct mail, try to use clear and concise language. The CTA must be easily recognizable to the target audience. Of course, no amount of writing skills can make the recipient take the desired action unless the offer is compelling enough.
The offer you pitch to your customers or prospects should make them instantly go “YES!”. Now, coming up with an idea for such a great offer is not easy without compromising your profit margin. In addition, there is no way of telling whether a specific offer will resonate with your target audience.
However, there are ways through which you can ensure that your offer has a higher chance of generating a response. Some guidelines you can follow for enhancing the response rate of an offer are discussed below.
Ensure The Offer is Beneficial to The Audience
The first thing you need to do is ensure that the offer in your direct mail is beneficial to the customer. There is no point in offering a massive discount on a product or service that the prospect has zero interest in.
So, if the recipient has no idea about the offer’s benefits (or product), then you are pretty much talking to a wall. Hence the major benefits of the offer must be clearly conveyed to the prospect. Furthermore, direct mails are unlike emails as they have space restrictions which makes conveying benefits harder.
Suppose you are using a postcard mailer and you have limited space, then you must be clear and concise when stating the benefits. But, in the case of a letter, you have more room and can elaborate on the benefits or add more benefits to it.
Take an Emotion-First Approach
When it comes to convincing someone to make a decision or take action, it is best to appeal to them emotionally. While we use logic to help us make decisions, what really drives us to a decisive action is our emotions.
Just think about all the times you have made a purchase online or offline. It is more likely that most purchases you made were not out of necessity but because you wanted to buy something. Therefore, it is not hard to understand why your customer is more willing to act for something they want.
So, the trick here is to make your customers feel they want what you are offering. The copy you create should focus on how your customers can benefit from the product/service you offer. This way, the customer looks at your product/service as something they want, which triggers an emotional desire to obtain it.
Create a Sense of Urgency
The average customer of today leads a busy life, and procrastination has become the new norm. Many customers tend to see a product they like and immediately proceed to save them to their wishlist. Sometimes they even “add to cart” the product, but they never actually complete the purchase.
A considerable number of customers would save the product for later rather than buy it on the spot. Hence, you need to motivate them to make the purchase then and there. The customer is likely to act upon your offer if they feel like they might miss out on it if they do not act.
Creating a sense of urgency in the customer or conveying a scarcity of the product is an effective solution here. For example, you could add a timer or display when an item on sale is low in stock. Seeing the timer or number of pieces left will motivate your customers to make the purchase then and there.
Step 5: Pick a Format For Your Mailer
Once you have decided on the offer and CTA for your mailer, you can pick a format for it. The format you use for each unique direct marketing process may vary depending on its goals. Standard postcards are the most commonly used mail format for direct mail marketing.
However, postcards have limited space, and if your campaign requires something a little more elaborate, you have other options. Some of the most commonly used mailers in the direct marketing process include the following:
Most postcards used in direct mail campaigns are usually First Class mail postcards with a size of 4×6 inches. What makes this type of postcard the most popular choice among businesses is that they are affordable. Furthermore, it is easier to hold on to postcards as they are relatively small and easy to store.
Another attractive aspect of regular-sized postcards is that they convey the message shortly and concisely. The recipient does not have to open an envelope to see its content, and they quickly catch their attention. Additionally, you can also make use of attractive pictures in your postcards.
Large or Oversized Postcards
Nowadays, larger or oversized postcards are also gaining popularity because it enables you to showcase larger and bolder images. With a size that can range between 6×9 and 6×11 inches, you get all the advantages of a postcard along with extra space.
The real estate business is one of the businesses that can fully utilize oversized postcards. This is because real estate businesses can print bold and clear pictures of properties in their postcards. Additionally, the oversized postcards are bound to stand out from the rest of the mailers.
Letters are generally used in a direct mail process when the sender wants to provide a professional experience to the recipients. It is also ideal for sending personal or sensitive letters as the envelope protects the privacy of the content.
Direct mail letters tend to produce the best results when it is used on a highly targeted customer base. Furthermore, you also get access to more space to present your offer as compared to postcards. It enables you to personalize the mailers in a meaningful way and drive more emotion-based decisions.
Step 6: Design Your Mailer
It is only after completing steps 1 through 5 you can finally proceed to design your mailer. However, many marketers are eager to start on the design part and end up doing it at a much earlier stage. Some marketers even make the mistake of designing the direct mail even before its content is finalized.
Designing the mailer is arguably the most fun process in the direct marketing process steps. However, doing it too soon could end up counterproductive. There are several reasons why designing your mailpiece is step 6, and some of the major ones are listed below.
Getting started on your direct mail design without having a good understanding of your offer or CTA can easily backfire. The offer and CTA of your mailers are two vital components that should not be changed. Designing the mailpiece before fixing on an offer/CTA could lead to numerous changes or edits in the design.
Easier Design Process
Designing your mailer towards the end of your direct marketing process steps enables you to establish your goals. As a result, you can design a mailpiece after you get a thorough understanding of the audience. This makes the direct mail design process a whole lot easier and faster.
Step 7: Combine Your Direct Mail And Digital Marketing Campaigns
Although it is not mandatory, combining your online and offline marketing campaigns is preferred because of its numerous advantages. In addition, a multi-channel approach to marketing is vital for a modern-day marketing campaign.
In the old days, online and offline marketing efforts were isolated from each other. However, with digital channels being the primary means of communication, it is necessary to bridge the gap between the two. This is possible through advanced direct mail automation tools like PostGrid.
The best direct mail campaigns are the ones that use the mailpiece to lead the audience to the website or landing page. This way, your audience becomes easily trackable, and you get access to many valuable insights.
All you have to do is lead them to your website or landing page and then use your pre-existing tools for running analytics. There are several ways you can lead your customers to your website or landing page through the mailer. Two of the major methods you can combine online and offline marketing efforts are listed below.
The most convenient way to access an online channel from your direct mail is a QR code because it is fast and effortless. In addition, QR codes are the easiest and convenient way for the customer to access your website/landing page.
You can use advanced direct mail automation tools like PostGrid to print personalized QR codes on your direct mail. Upon receiving the mail, the recipient can scan the QR code and immediately access an online sale or contact forum.
Personalized URLs or PURLs
Much like QR codes, the PURLs are also an easy and convenient way for your audience to access your website/landing page. However, what makes PURLs unique is that you can use the recipient’s name in a URL.
Upon reading their name mentioned in a URL, the direct mail recipient gets naturally intrigued. Therefore, the chances that the recipient visits the PURL out of curiosity are high. So, PURLs are an effective way to lead your target audience to digital channels using direct mail.
Step 8: Automated Printing and Mailing
Automated solutions like PostGrid save you valuable time and effort for direct mail printing and mailing. The traditional way of sending direct mail is painstakingly slow, and it has no place in the modern-day direct mail process.
In addition to this, manual processes in direct mail are prone to error, particularly in the case of bulk mails. This is because the storing, copying, and printing of addresses are complicated using a manual process. Therefore, an error in the address data could potentially lower your deliverability rate.
On the other hand, using an address verification API like PostGrid enables you to ensure a maximum deliverability rate. Organizations that send out a large number of direct mails can avail discounted rates provided that they meet certain requirements. The requirements include the following:
- A specified minimum number of mailpieces
- A CASS-certified mailing list (validity of 180 days)
- Properly standardized addresses
- An Intelligent Mail Barcode
- A specified size, weight, and shape of the mailpiece
Apart from these requirements, printed mail often requires other compliances such as HIPAA. However, using a certified direct mail service provider like PostGrid enables you to bypass any such requirements or compliances. It is because PostGrid already comes equipped with every compliance on the book.
The direct mail marketing campaign process has changed drastically over the years. However, you can create a successful direct marketing campaign through well-planned direct marketing process steps. By smartly incorporating automated solutions, you are now able to streamline your direct marketing process flow.
PostGrid empowers you to reach your marketing goals through a direct marketing process flow. It is made possible by combining your online and offline marketing efforts. In addition, the automated direct mail printing and mailing process saves you valuable time and optimizes your direct mail process.
PostGrid also gives you access to features like bulk address verification, ensuring maximum reach for your campaigns. The optimized direct mail print process and features like address verification make PostGrid your go-to tool for creating successful direct mail campaigns.
Streamline your direct mail process with the help of the PostGrid direct mail automation tool and address validation API for verifying your address database for maximum deliverability!