5 Tips for Direct Mail Success

Learning how to successfully strengthen your customer base can be tough, especially if you're new to the small business world. You may know that direct mail marketing is a great way to reach out to both new and existing customers alike, but what exactly will make sure your marketing campaign produces results? Here are just a few pieces of advice from one business woman to the next that will put some power into your direct mail campaign.
1. RFM
Following the simple RFM formula will insure that you send your product catalogs or postcards to a highly targeted market, without any expensive research. RFM simply stands for recency, frequency, and monetary returns of each customer. The recency involves knowing how long ago a customer bought one of your products, the frequency stands for knowing how often the customer buys from your company, and monetary returns involves knowing how much the customer spends. Once you have gathered this information about your customers, you can get more out of your marketing dollar by sending your direct mail to those most likely to make a purchase.
2. Timed Incentives
Whether your direct mail piece is a catalog, postcard, or brochure, including an incentive that requires a timely response will move customers to action much faster than an open-ended incentive. For instance, instead of making a general offer such as "Receive a 20% discount," include a limited-time offer such as "This week only - 20% off all online merchandise!" A timed incentive will give customers the push they need to actually visit your office or website and make a purchase.
3. A Successful Format
Anything that you can do to make it easier for customers to contact you or make a purchase will make your direct mail campaign that much more successful. In brochure printing, include a perforated mail-in with your address and paid postage. You'll be surprised at how much including postage can encourage a customer to contact you or make a purchase - just be sure to reserve this for your "most likely to make a purchase" customers as it can get expensive. Or try folded postcards with a perforated discount. Tearing off that discount card can actually make a customer feel "committed" to following through with the offer.
4. Follow up Strategies
A direct mail campaign involves more than just a one-time mailing. Marketing researchers have found that three seems to be the magic number in a mailing campaign, so plan to send a postcard, brochure, and personalized letter within a month, for instance. When a customer contacts you, be sure to continue following up, with a phone call or brochure, and don't give up too easily. Often, companies give up when their first effort didn't result in a purchase. Who knows what their second or even third attempt might have brought?
5. Testing for Effectiveness
Even if you follow all of the above advice to the "t," your campaign could still fail based on the design. Your mail order piece may have all of the right information but placed in the wrong order. Try sending out the same postcard but with different information as the heading each time and see which gets the most responses. Or maybe your print catalog cover has too much clutter. Try including only the most appealing and important information.   
The best advice I've heard lately? Just do it. There's a lot of information out there, so much so that it can immobilize you. Research as much as you need to get going and then give it a try, try again. You may not get it perfect the first time, but after a little practice, you can build a direct mail campaign that gets you an incredible investment return.