Dallas-Forth & Austin, Texas – Direct mail can be an effective way to generate new leads and business. Whether you’re using direct mail to stay connected to your current customer base or promoting a product or service, a smart approach to pre-planning is pivotal to the success of the mailer. Here are 10 tips that use to improve your direct mail response:

1.      Research your audience.
We a research-based advertising agency, so we believe research plays the most vital role. Before developing your direct mail, learn all you can about your target audience. Connect with the right audience. How they act, think and behave. Learn their buy buttons. What are their challenges and concerns? How will your product or service help them?  The first two feats a mailer must achieve are to earn the reader’s trust and identify with their needs. Research will help you to walk in their shoes for a while. Our MatchPoint research can help determine these things.

2.      Get personal, Get Conversational.
Personalize the direct mail by variable marketing or PURLs. (Personal URLs) Take the time to address your readers by name, and make the message more about helping them than just about your product or service. Use “you” more than “I” or “we”.  Use conversational style of writing because it’s easier to follow. Your content should be as easy to follow as a conversation with a friend.

3.      Write Headlines and Sub-headlines That Are Concise And Connect.
Immediately address people’s needs or desires, and they’ll continue reading. And when that happens, your conversion rates will go up. Also, be concise! Eight words is typically the maximum length that most people can digest at a glance. 90% of your readers will decide from the headline alone whether to read your promotion, so take steps to ensure the headline gets read. The headline can be followed by a supporting and credible sub-headline. A succinct headline will draw in the reader’s attention and pave the way for a longer sub-headline. If your headline implies a claim – perhaps your company was the first in your industry– the sub-headline will support the authenticity of the headline. Readers are very discerning these days, and most promotional copy is assumed to be hype unless your brand identity is firmly established and highly credible.

4.      Use their language.
Professionals, groups and industries all have their own lingo and buzz words. By taking the time to understand and use terminology your intended audience uses, you’re showing readers that you’re in the same boat with them. If your product or service clearly makes for smoother sailing in their industry, reader interest will be strong. It’s a competitive disadvantage to miss out on the latest and greatest industry tools and services, so become an industry insider and your promotions will get noticed.

5.      Think big picture.
Stop and consider what you’re truly offering at the level of aspiration. Does your product or service have an aspirational feature? If so, think of ways to get that across with copy, design or both. Ideally your mailing will dovetail with the dreams and aspirations of your target audience, through both copy and design, and even the promotion itself. Think Big, Go Big!

6.      Create an unbeatable, risk-free offer. And think Long-term.
Some ideas: a discount, a free trial, a free consultation, a contest, a free or discounted e-book, a coupon. Whatever you offer, send it to an interested audience, and make it hard to resist. Many direct marketers will set their opening price-point so low that they only break even on the promotion. The logic behind this is that most new customers will continue to buy from you once a relationship is established – and also tell their friends about you. If you consider all the time and energy it takes for a prospect to learn about your company and set up an account, many direct marketers consider it a fair trade off to simply break even on the initial promotion. Include a guarantee of satisfaction – the first sale is the hardest to get, so use everything in your sales toolbox to make it easy for the prospect to get started with your company.

7.      Be Clear On Your Call-To-Action.
Do you want the reader to call you, visit your website, fill out an enclosed response form, or send an email? Make it easy to do business with you by including a clear call to action. If the response is email based, set up a very succinct auto-responder so they know what the next steps are – and if possible, follow up personally as soon as you can.

8.      Create A Sense of Urgency – Provide a Deadline
A time limit on your offer can turn a procrastinator into a customer. Also, if your offer is truly valuable and compelling, you may not want to leave it open-ended.

9.      Don’t underestimate a good Postscript.
A good percentage of people are going to read the postscript before the rest of your letter. Use that important space to summarize the most compelling part of the offer. If you don’t craft a compelling P.S. it can actually work against the promotion. It’s better to leave the P.S. off the letter if you feel it detracts from a strong headline.

10.  Spell check and proofread.
Your mailer is probably a prospect’s first impression of you. Take the time to make it shine.There are other ways to make your direct mail successful long-term, including obtaining a hyper targeted mailing list and precision follow up analytics, but follow these 10 basic guidelines, and you’ll be on the road to a more successful direct mail campaign. If you would like to discuss or need help with your direct mail efforts, please contact me. Visit our contact page.