Does Direct Mail Still Work As A Marketing Tool?

Short answer: yes.

Direct mail seems like it belongs to a somewhere a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but it really doesn’t. It’s still being used. In fact, many businesses, big and small, are finding that direct mail benefits them and boosts their bottom line.

The news is good on open rates for direct mail too. Just check out the stats here and it will soon become clear that direct mail is well worth considering for lead generation.

But where do you start? Well, in my experience, direct mail is best when it is uncomplicated. If you can bring a systematic and simple approach, you should find that it soon starts delivering results. Direct mail does still work as a marketing tool, but it will be a lot easier if you take the following into consideration.

Direct mail tip number one: what type of mail?

Mail comes in all shapes and sizes, and if you took a look at your post today, you’d probably find a ton of stuff, from postcards to envelopes, maybe even a bulky package or two. That means variety, and some real options for you.

Keeping it simple, do you want to send postcards or actual letters? Both have their merits in direct mail marketing, but historically, postcards are generally less expensive to send. So if cost is an issue, that may well guide your thinking.

Direct mail tip number two: what about a list?

The best thing you can do here is segment your email list a little, pick out some people on your list who are highly targeted. Then, send out a test mailing to see what kind of response you get. While direct mail can be reasonably inexpensive (especially those postcards), you still want to maintain the same discipline that you do with an email list. Keep it targeted and smallish in size to start with. Once it starts paying off, you can widen and make it bigger.

Another great source for list members is the group of people who are filling out forms on your website. Sending some of them targeted direct mail is definitely disruptive, and may well be the kind of approach that makes them warmer prospects.

Direct mail tip number three: what to send?

I kind of hinted at this in the previous tip. While direct mail may seem a little old-fashioned, right now it’s highly focused, and not like it used to be. The days of sending out a thousand letters to people in the phone book are over. You have to get specific now.

This is just good marketing practice, but focus on prospects that you know inside out. Deliver very specific and focused messages to a very specific segment via direct mail, and you’re all but guaranteed some good opens and engagement. The combination of disruptive media and a personal message will work wonders. And when it comes to direct mail costs, laser-focused campaigns cost a lot less.

Direct mail tip number four: follow up

Always follow up. Good practice in this area is to wait a couple of weeks and then follow up your mailshot. Direct mail in marketing is great fun if done well (free gifts really get attention), and if prospects aren’t calling you after receiving it, chances are many of them will be open to a phone call, a quick discussion to keep your business front of mind.

You could work it even more carefully and send a couple of direct mail marketing messages as part of a campaign, and treat it like an email drip campaign, contacting the prospects after a few messages have gone out.

Like most of marketing, direct mail won’t bring results overnight, and it does depend on a great product or service, as well as targeted messaging. But direct mail does bring results, and if you carry it out in a disciplined way I think you may well be pleasantly surprised with the results you get. Pretty soon you’ll be a direct mail pro with the ROI to back it up.

Oh, and one other thing. Take a look at your competitors. You may even find that they aren’t even ‘doing direct mail’ anymore. It’s so old school, right?

More fool them.