Direct Mail: 10 simple steps to a successful campaign

28 June, 2017

Are you looking to connect with your customers more effectively through direct mail? Candy Geoffroy-Dauphin, Product & Services Mail Manager at Asendia, gives her top 10 tips on how to get a better return on your investment.

1. Don’t underestimate the power of direct mail

You might assume direct mail solutions are losing their relevance in this digital age. In fact, the opposite is true. A recent study showed that, depending on nationality, between 80% and 93% of European recipients regularly keep direct marketing mail such as catalogues because they intend to make a purchase at a later point. These are very high figures. In terms of cost, sending an email might be cheaper, but digital media cannot offer the same returns as direct mailing. But don’t underestimate the work it takes to make a direct mail campaign successful – you have to do your homework.

2. Make it multichannel

Direct mail should be part of a multichannel strategy, which could involve digital, television, outdoor advertising and so on. In this digital age, direct mail services can boost the performance even of pure play customers who exist solely online. We have had customers from the digital world who have quickly understood the power of this medium and who now send catalogues and direct mail marketing.

3. Perfect your message

When a company prepares a TV advertisement to go on television they would do so very carefully; often direct mail doesn’t get the same level of consideration. You need to have exactly the same mindset going into direct mail as any other media. Your message must be adapted depending on the target. The quicker your message attracts attention, the more likely it is that it will be read and the recipient will make a purchase. It’s that simple.

4. Pay attention to design

You need to put yourself in your recipient’s shoes. Ask yourself: if I were to receive this would it catch my attention? Would I open it? Would I read it? Would I buy from the sender? Our research suggests that the most successful direct mail campaigns use illustrated envelopes bearing a company’s logo, making mail easily recognisable to recipients. Material with a single visual and a catchy sentence is also more likely to strike a chord, as is the inclusion of a free gift or samples.

5. Don’t scrimp on paper

This is a tactile medium. This isn’t email. When you receive mail in the post, of course, you touch it. If you feel that the envelope is quality you are much more likely to want to open it. You could have a brilliant, catchy phrase and great design and messaging, but if the paper and the envelope is not the same quality then interest won’t be as high. If you sell high-quality products and the quality of the paper (inside and out) is not equally high then the recipient could be disappointed and it could damage your company’s reputation.

6. Know your target customer

This is crucial. You need to have a strategy for both keeping previous customers loyal and targeting new customers. You need to gather as much information about them as possible. It’s important to know what their behaviour is and what they like. Ask yourself questions about who they are, what their preferences are, their affluence, where they live, and so on. It can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful campaign.

7. Look after your databases

It’s much more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to keep one you already have. So you need to keep your databases clean. For example, approximately 12% of the French population moves addresses in a typical year, that means 12% of your database could need updating annually. By looking after your databases, you’re potentially keeping a relationship that you would have otherwise lost. Sometimes you can have one person with two addresses in the database and you can end up sending to two addresses. It’s not complicated to make sure the database is clean and identify problems. The alternative is higher campaign costs and lower return on investment.

8. Be sensitive to cultural differences

This is important when conducting cross-border campaigns internationally. For example, if you are in France and you want to target other French-speaking countries such as Belgium and Canada, you have to consider this: these countries share the same language, but not the same culture. Your message might be right in one culture, but wrong in another. Words can have different meanings or uses, or the way you greet recipients may be different, especially address formats can be different. Recipients won’t open mail that doesn’t look right. Many recipients will doubt direct mail that looks like it’s come from abroad; they want mail that has a local look.

9. Remember: timing is key

Of course, if you’re opening a new showroom in town and you want to invite people to the grand opening, it’s crucial that your mail arrives in good time before the event. But the timing of a campaign needs to be considered by everyone, not just those who are looking to promote an event. Again, you have to put yourself in your recipient’s shoes. For example, people are less likely to open direct mail on a working day because they come home late and are tired. They will have more time and therefore be more likely to open on a Saturday. Summer holidays are not a good period for direct mail because people are away and have too much mail to open when they return.

10. Analyse the results of your campaign

Larger companies have internal departments dedicated to this process – it’s that important. But for smaller companies, it is possible to outsource the analysis of your campaign’s impact and identify its successes. We can provide you with such a service, allowing you to hone your approach for your next campaign.

Find out more about Asendia’s Direct Mail services here


Candy Geoffroy-Dauphin

Product and Services Mail Manager, Asendia Management