7 More Direct Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

It's easy to make mistakes while planning and executing a direct mail campaign. These mistakes can lead to thousands of dollars lost on postage, poor response, and lost sales. Learning from the mistakes of others can help you avoid these costly errors. We recently shared nine direct marketing mistakes to avoid. Here are seven more.

1) Not Testing

Testing is an essential part of direct marketing. If you're not testing, you're doing it wrong. In fact, the ability to test and measure results is a major advantage that separates direct marketing from other forms of communication. This applies not just to direct mail, but all forms of direct marketing, such as email marketing.

“There are no answers in direct mail except test answers.”
— Eugene Schwartz, author of "Breakthrough Advertising"

You can test the data, the offer, the format, the headline, and more when you're testing your direct mail piece. You can conduct similar tests in email marketing by A/B testing subject lines, messages, images, etc. 

It can be very frustrating to execute a direct mail campaign that gets poor results and not know where you went wrong. Testing allows you to figure out what works and scale it. In turn, you'll be able to maximize the ROI of your direct marketing campaign.

As the author of Breakthrough Advertising, Eugene Schwartz, said, "There are no answers in direct mail except test answers."

2) Not tracking

In order to test your mailings properly, you need a way to track responses. Ideally, you want to track responses down to the recipient-level. Building a tracking mechanism into your program will enable you to track and measure performance. You'll be able to evaluate which test variants performed best, the type of people who are interested in your offer, and even which zip codes had the best response rate.

You can use a code that you place somewhere prominent on the mail piece. You can also integrate technologies like PURLs or QR Codes to help track responses while simultaneously enhancing the recipient's experience by engaging them with online content.

3) Not putting your audience first

Here's a truth that's unpopular among some marketers: most people don't care to hear about your product or service. They don't love receiving marketing messages about it. What they love is how your product or service will benefit them.

The customer must come first.

They know you're trying to sell your product or service. That's no secret. They also know you'll describe yourself as the greatest, fastest, newest, or some other superlative. That's not a secret either. What they don't know is how you can help them. Surprise them with something they don't know. Put them first.

4) Not carefully considering the format

You have a number of formats to choose from for your mailing. Your choice should not be based on price alone. You must consider which format will elicit the greatest response from your particular target market. You should also think about whether the format makes sense for your offer. For example, a local store may find it effective to send out a postcard announcing their grand opening or another event. However, if you're trying to make a direct sale for your product or service, a letter may be better.

“...dimensional mailers pulled the highest response rate for prospect lists at 5.3%.”
— 2016 DMA Response Rate Report

Of course, letters and postcards aren't the only formats. Other formats include oversized envelopes, oversized postcards, dimensional mailers, and catalogs.

You can use dimensional mailers to intrigue your prospects, get them to open your mail piece, and respond. According to the 2016 DMA Response Rate Report, dimensional mailers pulled the highest response rate for prospect lists at 5.3%.

Put yourself into the shoes of one of your prospects and think through which format would work best. What would make your brand stand out most? What would create a desire to open up your mail piece?

5) Not incorporating multichannel marketing

Speaking of standing out, you'll also want to stand out by getting your message in front of your audience multiple times through multiple channels. Exposing your audience to your message through multiple channels will build your brand's credibility. It will also increase the number of interactions you have with them; thereby, increasing the opportunities you have to sell.

Multichannel marketing can also help you acquire more valuable customers. Multichannel customers tend to spend more. According to one study, "...multichannel customers are more profitable to companies than single channel customers."

Higher profitability is always a good thing.

So, if you do direct mail marketing, consider incorporating email marketing. If you only do display ads or email marketing, start including direct mail into your marketing campaigns.

6) Not considering predictive modeling

Predictive modeling is an extremely powerful way to optimize the effectiveness of your direct marketing program. You can target consumers who look most like your customers. Once people start responding to your mailing, you can take it a step further and target those consumers with the highest propensity to respond to your particular offer or make a purchase. You can also target current customers most likely to defect to the competition with a special retention offer. 

Beyond simply testing a list, predictive modeling enables you to extract greater insight from your data and evaluate recipients down to the household or individual level. You can determine which combination of characteristics will predict someone will become a customer.

There are many reasons to use predictive modeling. In some cases, it doesn't make sense, though. For example, a local pizza shop has too small of a target market to be able to use predictive modeling effectively. They are better off mailing postcards to New Movers or all households within their Target Market. However, if a business is doing large mail campaigns, predictive modeling can be a game changer.

7) Assume short copy is the best copy. 

Sometimes people new to direct marketing assume short copy is the best copy. While a short and pithy message is great for email and postcards, it's not necessarily good for all direct marketing. In fact, experts have advocated for long copy for years when sending out sales letters. 

It's similar to considering mail format. You must determine what's right for your offer. How much copy will it take to communicate your message effectively? If you're sending out a postcard inviting people to an event, a short message is all you'll need. If you're sending a sales letter in to sell a complex or expensive product, you're going to have to tell a compelling story. You may need to provide supporting evidence, testimonials, and features in addition to the benefits the reader will receive. You're going to need room to persuade your reader and build a desire for your product. It could take you several pages.

Don't be shy about writing long copy. If you keep it interesting and helpful, your prospects will stay engaged and be more likely to convert.

We hope you seek to avoid these mistakes as you move forward in your direct marketing efforts. You'll get better results and be a better direct marketer for it.

If you need any help with your direct marketing efforts, especially in regards to data or related services such as predictive modeling or email marketing, contact us.

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