While email and social media marketing are increasing in popularity, many small businesses haven't abandoned their direct mail campaigns. To help small businesses, the U.S. Postal Service offers its Every Door Direct Mail program, which provides businesses a way to reach every address in a neighborhood without the need for names or addresses. The program helps small businesses find demographic data for specific delivery routes, review and inspect the size of mailings to ensure they meet standards, and view larger ZIP code area maps.
"Direct mail creates a one-on-one connection that's hard for other media channels to match," said Tom Foti, executive director of product management for the USPS. "It lets you incorporate coupons, reply cards, mobile barcodes, such as QR codes, URLs and other response mechanisms."
Direct mail gives businesses the opportunity to target advertising dollars on those consumers most likely to respond, Foti said, adding that they can be used for a range of purposes, including promoting a product or learning more about the customer.
"Direct mail is a workhorse for generating leads, traffic and sales," he said. Here are four tips for businesses looking to succeed with direct mail.
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Identify your target market.
Direct mail can be, well, direct. You wouldn't send a postcard to just anyone, would you? The same logic applies to your marketing efforts.
"Don't blindly send direct mail to a geography," said Shawn Breyer, owner of Breyer Home Buyers. "If you are sending out postcards to promote your assisted living facility, for example, you don't want to send out mailers to people in their 30s. You'd want to filter your list more toward your avatar."
This will show that you've done your research and are a credible, professional company, which resonates with consumers.
Avoid sending junk mail.
You want to catch consumers' attention right away, but don't try to fool them. Customers will feel misled and will likely ignore future messages if the piece is marked "urgent" when it's not, said Foti.
To boost readership and response, Foti recommended choosing the format, list and offer for the highest return on investment rather than the lowest cost. Then, you can track your response rates to measure its effectiveness.
"When we send out direct mail, we use handwritten fonts and personalize the postcards as much as we possibly can," added Breyer. "When your prospects are getting 11 other postcards that look really spammy and yours is personalized and handwritten to them, they will definitely be reading yours." [Interested in direct mailing services? Check out our best picks on our sister site, Business.com]
Give people what they want.
Foti encouraged small businesses to include mobile barcodes, certificates and product visuals to appeal to customers. You can also ask customers what they want or need so you know what else to add in the future.
However, don't overwhelm them with too much copy or graphics. Keep it simple, yet offer them enough so that your content adds value to their lives.
Direct mail is not a one-and-done deal. Even if your efforts did not pay off the first time around, don't give up on your consumers. Perhaps they misplaced the envelope or were interested in the last few mailers you sent out – in fact, that's likely to happen.
"Not everyone is going to buy from you just because you send them a postcard," said Breyer. "Most people won't be ready to buy your product or services, or they will just be too busy to check it out. Have a monthly marketing plan for at least six months and have a great follow-up plan to maximize your marketing dollars."
Also, follow up after someone makes a purchase. This shows that you appreciate and care about your consumers and their satisfaction.
Additional reporting by Chad Brooks. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.