Beginners Guide to Direct Mail

Of course, you’re considering direct mail! Not only is it delivered by the most trusted brand among U.S. consumers, but Epsilon reports 3 out of 4 people prefer it to other forms of advertising. It’s also a justified personal, memorable and profitable channel — achieving response rates two times higher than its digital counterpart. If only you had a beginners guide to direct mail to get started.

Before you launch your first program, or relaunch with a new strategy, consider these three campaign fundamentals that will have a critical impact on your campaign’s success.

Data is king

The good ole direct marketing rule of 40-40-20 has expired. In today’s data-driven economy, upwards of 70% of your direct mail success (or failure!) depends on the quality of your list/targeting (who you are mailing to). Of course, failing to have a compelling offer (the value you’re providing to your audience) or effective creative (the package, copy, etc.) can kill a program. But strong data is table stakes – making it paramount to have a dependable profiling/modeling process and a robust test and learn strategy to quickly build and vet winning lists.

There are a slew of list sources available for rent; including affinity lists (donors, subscribers, purchasers), hotline/trigger files (new movers, new parents, etc.), massive compiled databases (w/ consumer geo/demo-graphic and lifestyle/interest info), and even niche cooperative databases fueled by consumer spending behavior. In other words, there are a variety of ways to build a strong performing mailing list depending on your campaign goals and budget.

In all cases, a great place to start any prospecting effort is to build a profile of your customer base (or a select subset of it). This will help you better understand a consumer’s “make-up” compared to non-customers and is often the preliminary step to any prospect modeling exercise. TIP: this foundational understanding not only helps direct list strategy, but creative strategy as well.

As a best practice, we highly recommend the use of multiple data partners, numerous data sets, and several models to determine the final makeup of your list plan. SeQuel Response’s unique approach to predictive modeling leverages customer insights and data science to identify your highest potential prospects. It’s also important to continue to test your models throughout the campaign lifecycle against new, high-performing lists to ensure you’re running an optimized program.

Testing is crucial

In direct mail, multivariate testing (when done well) can be an incredibly powerful and profitable strategy. Testing reveals key success information such as which audience will produce the highest sales rates and what creative and offer combination is most likely to convert. If you are new to testing it can seem overwhelming — and may even have an avert reputation in your organization — but without it you could be spending millions of dollars and years of wasted effort on an unoptimized control.

If you just entered the mail channel and are already testing, hats off to you! Two of the most common direct mail testing methods are A/B (or split) and multivariate. Although both can help marketer’s identify performing programs over time, a third option, SeQuel’s proprietary FaQtor Test, combines the best of both methods to quickly identify winning combinations and propel brand growth.

Integrated campaigns thrive

Studies show that coordinating your online and offline marketing efforts increases customer acquisition by double digits, making this a best practice for brands looking to grow in 2020. A direct mail piece can introduce consumers to your product or service and drive traffic to your digital conversion point, or swoop in following a digital interaction to recover an abandoned cart. By leveraging the comprehensive data set from your direct mail campaign to fuel your digital efforts, you are surrounding your customers and prospects with a cohesive and personalized brand experience, proven to lift sales rates and reduce customer acquisition costs. Yet due to the complexities of managing the intricacies of the channel, only 16% of those surveyed have completely integrated direct mail into their multichannel strategy. SeQuel can help you identify the best sequence of messages to prompt your ideal customers to act.

There’s no denying direct mail works. Reading our beginners guide to direct mail is a great starting place. The next step is finding an agency partner to help you design a profitable and scalable direct mail program. SeQuel has helped over 100 brands like yours effectively and efficiently target their ideal prospects, quickly realize an ROI, and crush their growth