Decide what your objectives are:
- To generate new leads?
- To generate immediate sales from new customers?
- To sell more products and services to existing customers?
- To circulate new information to existing customers?
2. Identify your target market
If you’re mailing existing customers then this is quite straightforward. However, if your objective is to generate either new leads or immediate sales from new customers then you need a mailing list. You can create your own mailing lists, or rent one – expect to pay around £100 per 1000 names.
Other things you need to know:
- You will need to check with the Mailing Preference Service that your contacts have not opted out of receiving direct mail. A rented list should have already been cleared with the Mailing Preference Service, however it’s best to check.
- You should also check with the Information Commissioner’s Office that your use and storage of personal data complies with the Data Protection Act.
3. Establish your budget
Although direct mail is a relatively cheap marketing vehicle, you do need to consider the following costs:
- Time spent compiling a mailing list, or money spent renting one.
- The mail shot itself. How many sheets of paper will you be using?
- Postage costs.
- Labour costs. Time spent planning, sending and following up on your mail shots.
4. Response rate
Consider how much each response will be worth to you. How many responses will you need to make the mail shot cost effective and worthwhile? Bear in mind that the typical response rate is about 1–2 %. However well targeted direct mail can have a much higher response rate.
Plan the timing of the mail shot. Consider the following:
- Most businesses respond better to mail shots received midweek.
- Avoid holidays.
- Is your product or service seasonal? For example, a BBQ is unlikely to be bought in December.
6. Learn from other people’s mistakes.
Which envelopes do you open? Which letters do you read? Which do you reply to? And most importantly, why? Copy the ones that work and avoid designing it like those that don’t.
Use an attention-grabbing headline highlighting the key benefits to the customer, or at least arousing their curiosity. The headline must make the customer want to find out more.
Use the body to emphasise the key benefit mentioned in the headline and also to highlight any additional benefits. If possible support this with facts.
9. Get people to respond
Don’t just provide your contact details and hope for the best. Tell your customers exactly what to do next. For example “Call today and ask for your FREE no-obligation copy of 101 marketing tips for business.”
10. Avoid looking like ‘junk mail’.
Personalise the mail shot. More often than not a “dear occupier” letter will go straight in the bin unopened. Personalise the envelope to get past the potential customers junk mail filter.
Use test mailings to establish likely response rates, and to compare the effectiveness of different mail shots and mailing lists.
12. Response management
How will you handle the response? Will you need to train employees how to deal with the enquiries? Will you need to hire temporary staff to answer the phones? And most importantly of all make sure you have adequate stocks to avoid disappointing your new customers.
13. Use a specialist
Consider using a specialist-mailing house if you are planning a particularly large mailing. It’ll save you time and money in the long run.
14. Analyse the response
This is one of the most important tips of all. If you don’t analyse the response how do you know if that particular mail shot or mailing list is working for you? Always record which contacts have been mailed, their response and update your mailing list for any mail ‘returned to sender’.
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