Direct Mail Marketing Still Plays a Role in Small Business Marketing

According to most popular conceptualizations, print media is all but dead. Once the internet took control of almost every sphere of information delivery, print media seemed to be on a downward swing toward obsolescence. But, is that true in every case? Direct mail marketing — the practice of sending standard “snail mail” directly to potential clients—still has some benefits for small business despite its outmoded medium. In fact, direct mail still maintained its status as the king of direct marketing strategies with a total of $41.2 billion spent in 2012 and 2013.1

Clearly, businesses still rely on direct mail to get their message across, but how should you be using a direct mail marketing strategy to improve your sales?

How to Use Direct Mail Marketing

There are numerous details you may want to extend to your current and future customers in a direct mail marketing campaign. This can range from the announcement of a new location to a special deal. Anything is on-limits as long as it can produce a potential return on your investment (ROI).

In most cases, direct mail marketing is almost exclusively going to involve sales promotions or new product announcements of some kind. For instance, your pizzeria might have a new two-for-one deal or your hardware store could be introducing a new type of power tool. Direct mail marketing has been proven effective for getting the word out on these promotions. This is partially because a full 77% of consumers sort through their mail and 98% check their mail on a daily basis.2 There’s almost always a greater likelihood of being noticed in direct mail campaigns than even email campaigns.

Grabbing Attention

All that being said, someone sorting through their mail doesn’t always mean they’re engaging with their mail. 44% of all direct mail remains unopened. Of course, this is certainly better than the fact that 91% of consumers have unsubscribed from email lists that they previously signed up for. On top of that, response rates for direct mail campaigns are listed at between 1.1% and 1.4% compared to 0.03% for email marketing.3

Direct Mail Marketing Still Works
Your direct mail marketing efforts need to stand out from all the other pieces of mail in someone’s mailbox. To do this, you need a direct statement of value.

Still, you want your direct mail to stand out among all the other pieces of mail in someone’s mailbox. To do this, you need a direct statement of value. Consumer attention spans are often limited, and they’re not going to read sales copy that uses an air of secrecy or anticipation. They want to see value immediately. This may be easier with a direct mail flier because your content is readily available to the reader without them having to open an envelope.

Even so, some agencies have experienced nearly 100% opening rates on envelopes that are “lumpy.”4 Consumers are naturally curious when an envelope feels like it has a lot of information packed inside. Regardless of the type of direct mail delivery system you use, it’s important to include quality (and often personalized) content, value-driven offers, and a clear call to action for maximum results.

Who to Market To

Sending direct mail to a swath of people who won’t care about what you’re offering is probably not a good idea. In fact, the Direct Marketing Association estimates that around 22 million pieces of direct mail are sent to prisoners or the deceased each year.5

Clearly, obtaining the right lists of people is paramount to a successful direct mail marketing campaign. You will likely want to work with a list broker who can help you specify your search based on criteria like:

• Age
• Income bracket
• Interests
• Hobbies
• Marital status

This gives you a better idea of who might be interested in your direct mail campaign, and it also ensures that you get a high-quality, targeted list.

In some cases, you may simply want to market to existing customers. Providing a lifetime of value is important no matter what business you’re in. Perhaps you have an upgraded product or service that you can now offer to existing customers. It’s always a good idea to add in a few personal touches. For instance, you can research which customers have purchased which items and offer an upgraded item in the direct mailer.

In any event, direct mailing is clearly not dead. It can be one of the most effective strategies for reaching your clients. It really depends on your content, your list broker, and, of course, the products and services you have to offer.

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