Direct Marketing

60-30-10. The success of a direct mail is 60 percent based on using the right list, 30 percent on making the right offer, and 10 percent on having the right look. So, consider the following key aspects of direct marketing when creating a direct mail campaign.

Your List

First, and most important, is the list. Determining who receives your offer is the single most important determinant of direct marketing success. When preparing a target list, use the characteristics of existing clients as a profile guide. According to Bob Stone, one of the founders of direct mail, the right list can account for 60 percent, or more, of direct marketing success. Companies have better luck when sending to their own database, or at least to companies that are familiar with them. Direct mail aims at ultimately making a sale. To accomplish this, you need to assess:

  • Where you are in the selling process. Is this your first interaction? Are you moving them closer to the sale? Are you asking them for repeat purchases?
  • Who is your audience? You can base this on product line, geographic location, special interests, and more.
  • What are you trying to tell this audience?
  • Why is a mailing the best way to reach this audience?
  • How to limit your audience – ZIP codes, area codes, cities, and other location qualifiers to 10 per mailing.

Many trade organizations, magazines, and shows offer lists for a price, and may provide a better target audience for your offer. The easiest way to get a targeted list of names and addresses is from a data record company that specializes in providing the right target list for your direct mail campaign. There are significant benefits with purchasing a mailing list, particularly if you can source a defined number of leads according to industry and location.

Your Offer

Second, what offer are you going to make? Can you package the offer as a compelling call to action that will incite the recipient of the direct marketing piece to take action? We often suggest that the call to action be something that customers can easily get their hands on, such as an example program, a tutorial, or other actionable offer. In your direct mail campaign:

  • Make a definite offer, which means having at least one response mechanism – we prefer as many response mechanisms as possible (including Web, telephone, fax, mail, and e-mail).
  • Provide all the necessary information for your reader to make a decision.
  • Eliminate the fear of risk. Ask yourself:
    • What are you giving the audience?
    • What is that worth?
    • Why is the offer special or unique?

Your Delivery

Third, how will you deliver this offer? E-mail is popular because of its inexpensive price tag, its ability to target, its almost instantaneous results, and its pass-along appeal and ease. However, a plethora of offers are delivered to the average business person every day, so be careful not to send spam. Often, mail may be a better option, and research shows that a regular-sized, plain business envelope is what recipients prefer to receive. To ensure an effective appearance:

  • Keep your budget in mind when designing your piece.
  • Explain to the audience why they are getting this piece and why it is beneficial to them.
  • Design based on the goal of the piece. Ask yourself:
    • Has the audience heard of you? If not, you may need a “flashy” piece.
    • Do you have a lot of information to convey? If so, you may need a cover letter and a data sheet. Or send a cover letter that drives the reader to a Web site.
    • Are you reminding readers about your services? A simple postcard may do the trick. You may want to include a pass-along card because word-of-mouth is the best way to gain new customers.

Finally, when executing a direct mail campaign, recognize that the average return rate on direct mail is about 3 to 5 percent and about 1 to 3 percent on e-mail. It is important not to set expectations too high, have reasonable goals, and establish the right objectives to reach them.


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