Direct Mail Marketing Mistakes

Direct mail marketing is no longer a fad from the past. In fact, according to the Data & Marketing Association, the direct mail response rate increased by 190% between 2015 and 2016. While direct mail is a decades-old tactic, it’s made a powerful comeback. And there are plenty of reasons why. 

For starters, direct mail offers a nostalgic element; you’d be surprised by how many consumers long for the good old days of snail mail. But even more, direct mail is hard to ignore. At the very least, recipients will at least scan it. On the flipside, the majority of your business’s marketing emails will remain unopened. However, even though your mail efforts can do wonders for your leads, there are some key mistakes that you should avoid: 

Bad Mailing List

Your direct mail campaign is only as good as your mailing list and far too often, businesses fail to do their due diligence when it comes to creating a mailing list that matters. If you have years worth of data on your customer base, including addresses, that doesn’t mean you have a solid list. Studies have shown that after two years, at least 20% of your addresses are no longer any good, with 10% of people moving to a new residence each year. To avoid this, work with a reputable list broker to get up-to-date mailing lists that fit your criteria.  

Stale Offers

Every piece of direct mail should present an offer to the recipient. This gives people a real reason to respond. Whether it’s a gift, a discount, or a BOGO deal, your mailer has to present something enticing. The benefit of your offer should also be clear. Don’t just tell them what to do; tell them why they should do it. What’s in it for them? How will their life be made better, easier, or more enjoyable with your product or service? Be specific and direct and focus on the value. For example, as a pool cleaner, you might tout the importance of an efficient cleaning job and the benefits of not having to do manual labor yourself. 

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Impersonal Messaging

It’s important for you to identify with your audience as best as possible. As previously mentioned, you should be targeting specific individuals who are most likely to purchase your product or service. A popular tactic is to target past customers. This allows you to get a little more personal with your audience by addressing them by name or suggesting products that are similar or complementary to their previous purchases. However, it’s still possible to avoid impersonal messaging by paying close attention to language. Avoid cold or corporate language and have a little fun with your copywriting. 

There’s No Call to Action

The call-to-action is extremely important. Your call to action guides the recipient and gives them direction about what to do next. Whether it’s signing up for a virtual event or making a purchase, the goal is to make it easy for them to take the next step. Even in cases where your direct mail strategy is just a gentle “we’re still here” reminder or holiday card, there should always be a type of action they can take next. 

Your call to action should be active and explicit. To help you come up with relevant calls to actions, start making a list of relevant verbs like “call,” “talk,” “sign up,” or “join.” The primary response mechanism should be prominently displayed. For example, “Join & Save 20%” should be highlighted while instructions for joining should be smaller. 

Bad Design 

Your mailer has one opportunity to create a great first impression. No matter what you’re offering, your design can make or break your campaign. Just like web design, consumers make haste decisions about the quality of a product or service based on the design. Your direct mail is an important piece of sales collateral and it should be eye-catching and interesting. Otherwise, they’ll toss it out without learning more about what you’ve got to say. And it’s not just about what’s inside the envelope—it’s also about the exterior, too. Use custom envelope printing to make your mail stand out before they’ve even opened it. Holistically, the design should be based on your target market and you should continue to test your design to see what works best.