Lead-Generation Strategies: Making Direct Mail Work for You

The key to effective direct mail is approaching it in the right way and integrating it with other outbound and inbound lead-generation strategies to make it part of a full campaign. In fact, direct mail can be highly personal and creative, depending on your mode of attack and how you target your list. If you're skeptical, take a look at some of these convincing stats:

  • Seventy-three percent of U.S. consumers said they prefer direct mail for brand communication because they can read information at their convenience. Source: Epsilon's 2012 Channel Preference Study.

  • Forty-eight percent of the U.K. population surveyed responded to a direct mail piece they received in the past year. Source: Central Mailing Services 2013 Direct Mail Statistics.

  • Eighty percent of marketers forecasted investment in direct mail and 28 percent reported increases in their budget. Source: Target Marketing Magazine's Media Usage Forecast 2013.

  • U.S. advertisers spend $167 per person on direct mail to earn $2,095 worth of goods sold, which is a 1,300-percent return on investment. Source: Print Drives Commerce 2013.

Hopefully these stats convince you or at least open your mind to learning more about direct mail for lead generation. The key is to make sure your campaigns are targeted, creative, and integrated with the rest of your lead-generation strategies.

Setting your objectives

As with everything lead-generation related, what are your goals and objectives for your program? Maybe it's moving a selection of hot prospects down your funnel, or maybe it is an exclusive event invitation. Direct mail is expensive, so make sure you know exactly what you want to get out of it. Here are some sample objectives that you might have for direct mail:

  • Closing key target accounts

  • Moving key target accounts down your sales funnel

  • Accelerating lead movement towards the end of the month

  • Demo requests

  • Introducing new leads to your company

  • Sending personalized invites to an event

  • Cementing relationships with key influencers in a company

Sending general blanket mailers with no clear call-to-action (CTA) or goal leads to lackluster reception and conversions. The more specific you can be with your goals, the more you can target and segment your audience and creative approach.

Defining your audience

The most important element of a direct mail campaign is ensuring your mail is highly targeted to the correct audience. Your direct mail piece should be personal and speak directly to your audience. For instance, if you are targeting a handful of important accounts to move them closer to being customers, you should personalize each direct mail piece to your list of decision-makers.

Even if you are sending a more generalized mailer to either a purchased list or your database, you should still be segmenting your list based on demographic or behavioral data.

Take a look at the figure below for an example of effective targeting. This is a direct mail piece sent out by a company called Hop and Peck in the U.K.. They make handcrafted wooden toys. They created a direct mail campaign to target moms. They used a highly personalized approach, down to the name of the recipient and their child's birthday.

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What did they do right? So many things. They understood their audience, personalized each response, and created copy that spoke directly to the lead on an emotional level.

They could have sent out a general mailer that just contained information about the company. But that wouldn't have garnered an emotional reaction from their audience in quite the same way.

Choosing your offer

You need a strong CTA in order for direct mail to work for you. What do you want a person to do upon receiving your mailer? Call for a demo? Go to a landing page to download a content asset or sign up for a webinar?

Direct mail CTAs are trickier than web CTAs because you have to entice a lead to stop what he is doing to call a number or go online. Here are some tips to make your CTA stand out with direct mail:

  • Use strong language: You need to get your lead excited! Use strong, expressive language to incite an immediate response.

  • Use a PURL (Personal URL) CTA: Include a PURL in your direct mail piece. People are often more incentivized to take an action if they see a personalized URL. Your PURL should then lead to a personalized landing page that speaks directly to your recipient.

  • Don't have too many CTAs: It is tempting to use as much real estate as possible to overload your mailer with CTAs. Too many CTAs are the kiss of death and a sure invitation to pitch your mailer into the garbage. If you have more than one CTA, create a hierarchy so your lead knows exactly what the most important element is.

  • Speak directly to your lead: Use a recipient's name in the CTA. If you are speaking to the lead directly, she is way more likely to act.

  • Offer an incentive: Want the lead to sign up for a demo? Include an offer for a $50 Visa gift card. Your lead is way more likely to take action if there is a WIIFM (What's In It For Me).

  • Consider using a QR (Quick Response) code: Including a QR code is another quick and easy way for your lead to get to a landing page with an additional offer or CTA. All he does is snap a picture of the code and he can go to a dedicated landing page.

  • Always have a landing page: No matter what your CTA is, always have a landing page created exclusively for your direct mail piece. The user experience should be seamless and consistent.

The following figure shows an example of a Pitney Bowes direct mailer that has many of these suggested CTA elements. The copy is personalized, uses strong language, has a PURL CTA that asks the recipient to visit a landing page, and offers an appealing incentive.

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