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Stop annoying your customers: Direct marketing that works

Joan Patrick, director of marketing for NewMoversMail, describes the most effective ways to tackle direct marketing

Direct marketing is still relevant in a digital world, but it needs to be deployed in smarter ways. What worked 20 years ago will not fly with today's more savvy prospects. Want to assure that your offerings persuade instead of annoy? Avoid these direct marketing don'ts:

1. Phoning in the headline

Think you can explain your offer later in your mailing and still nail the sale? It’s crucial to hook audiences as quickly as possible to keep them reading down to your call to action.

2. Failing to make your piece 'skimmable'

Most people prefer to glance at a direct mail sales letter or brochure first to determine whether they are interested. Make it easy for them to glean the most important points through bullets, charts and call outs.

3. Not segmenting your list

In the past, marketers used the shotgun approach, sending direct mail pieces to as many prospects as possible. With the rising costs of postage, it's important to choose exactly the right list to ensure your profitability. For instance, when you are announcing a sales event, you can get a great return by sending a special invitation to your most frequent buyers. Target mailings at new movers advertising services that they'll need in their new homes.

4. Failing to personalize offerings

At the very least, your direct mail piece should be addressed to a resident instead of "our neighbor" or, even worse, "current resident." Personalized direct mail pieces have a response rate that is as much as six times as high as generic direct mail. Carry your personalization inside with a salutation that uses the recipient's name and even references the city where he/she resides, and other demographic details.

5. Not putting enough in the envelope

When sending a sales email, it’s important to be careful about how much additional material is included. Attachments can send a piece straight to spam; or, if your recipient ever sees it, make him/her far more cautious about opening the message. With direct mail, you can include a number of additional elements including: coupons, small pages with charts and comparison sheets, a personal note, or a fridge magnet to keep contact information close at hand.

6. Not setting your mailing apart

Two hundred and 12 billion pieces of mail get sent each day. To stand out from the pack, you need to make your mailing eye-catching and appealing. Experiment with unusual envelope sizes, bright colors and window envelopes that allow your prospect to get a tantalizing peek inside.

7. Forgetting a clear CTA

Each mailing should include a single, clear, call to action that is easy for your recipient to complete. Do you want him/her to call you for a quote? Visit your website to buy a product? Make it easy to understand exactly what you want a recipient to do. Also, don't think that your call to action needs to be at the close of your pitch. Often, you can get even better results by putting your call to action above the fold on the first page of your mailing.

8. Not tracking results

If you just go off your gut reaction, you'll never have any idea what ideas are effective and which ones are not. Measure the results of every mailing. Divide your cost by your number of responses to find out how much each sale costs. By tracking how much is spent on each sale, you can determine which campaigns are most successful and what you need to do more of in the future.

While digital has become an indelible part of our lives, direct mail still has the power to bring in new business and strengthen your relationships with the customers you currently have. Approach your prospects right to win their trust and their business.

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