It’s getting more expensive and has a low rate of return but if done correctly it can be a very useful tool.
It has been said that a 2% return on direct mail is considered a success. I do not hold this as being a benchmark for today’s business environment. Too many aspects of business have changed dramatically for old standby standards to be applicable to today’s marketing strategies.
The first huge adjustment to be made is the influence of the internet which is rapidly replacing direct mail for many marketing programs.
Secondarily the cost is no longer low as it costs us approximately $1.50 to print and mail a typical direct mail piece in an envelope first class mail.
A one sheet mailer without an envelope sent first class will cost approximately $1.00. Thus a basic cost per 1000 is $1000-$1500.
However please keep in mind that the only way to capture the full potential of the mailing list is with multiple mailings. Thus a successful targeted mailing strategy must include a series of mailings to extract the full benefit from the list.
We start with a two page first class mailing in an envelope, followed by calls and faxes or emails if appropriate, then a one sheet mailer, then a postcard reminder. This seems to get the most return for us.
Others use additional mailings, some use all postcards or all on sheets without envelopes, we use all three. The post card ends up costing us about .50 per.
The strategy is heavily influenced by the size of your normal average invoice, and the profitability of the sale. In addition the rest of the marketing plan must also be considered as it’s the whole plan that must work together and be considered together when discussing a single aspect of the plan.
For example, are you trying to educate? If so, are you driving them to your web site where more information can be disseminated cheaply? Are you setting the stage for a visit or a phone call or an appointment, all to be considered when determining how many mailings, and what they consist of and what your budget may be?
Are you throwing darts at a board randomly or are you pinpointing your market and going right after a specific potential client?
All those factors will help you decide what mailing piece to use and how many to send over what period of time, and when to make the call.
The one thing we have learned, that no matter how good your mailing piece is, it takes many hits to create an impact. The return is always far less than you think it ought to be. Thus you may be wasting good money if you shoot your budget on one mailing and then wait and see what happens. Be prepared to mail again and possibly another time or two sharpening the message and developing the story and of course a call following the mailing is extremely important in most cases.
Humor works, a good story works, testimonials work…, information is usually second in importance. See what works for you. Mailings have a definite place in a marketing strategy. You should evaluate and determine the role a mailing piece has in your overall strategy. It works, even if its purpose is to simply drive you potential customer to your web site!
However it can be expensive and thus you need to track, monitor and control the effort and be very careful about how you do it and what return it brings you. If it isn’t working stop it as soon as possible, but remember the need for multiple hits before you see a meaningful response, and the need for a total marketing strategy that is integrated and includes a number of communication tools, so quitting too soon does not work either.
Frequently it is hard to determine what worked other than the customer purchased, so was it the mailing piece, the call, the web site, or the visit. However a close analysis will reveal the roll each component played.
In the right place and with the right strategy a direct mailing strategy can be very successful and an important part of an overall marketing campaign.
I have a client who spends a small fortune on direct mail, with each piece being lavishly made, printed and produced, usually including a gift of some sort and always sent special handling or even overnight delivery. Very very expensive, yet its a very targeted and sent to a pre-qualified list and it yields a tremendous return. His product carries a high invoice and a large profit. It works very well for him.
Your mailing program requires a complete strategy based on all the different parameters discussed. Figure it out. It can be a very valuable program or a huge waste.