Direct Mail Marketing is Back!

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By Bob Martel

Direct mail marketing never went away. Smart marketers continue to target mailboxes to create new business. Think about it, for the cost of a stamp you get your sales message delivered consistently to your entire list. Yes, the letter carriers are your secret sales force!

Pretend for a moment that the Internet was unplugged or simply not yet invented. Or, instead, imagine adding a "new" yet proven and perhaps long forgotten marketing channel to your repertoire. Direct mail marketing works better than ever, when the marketer avoids shortcuts and studies what works for their business. Here are a few tips to help boost response:

1. Make your direct mail piece lumpy! Surely, you have received a personalized pen in the mail. The fact is lumpy mail works. The primary goal of a direct mail piece is to get your envelope opened, and then to have your letter read. Lumpy mail is proven to yield very high open rates. The challenge is to captivate your reader by connecting the "lumpy piece" with your message and call to action. There are hundreds of light weight pieces that keep your mailing piece under one ounce. Remember to take a sample mailing piece to the post office to make sure you are within their regulations for your planned postage.

2. Be smart about selecting and buying the right mailing lists. A great mailing piece mailed to the wrong people is not going to win you kudos. Simply buying a compiled list for a good old fashioned mass marketing blitz will only produce mediocre results. Do you clone your list and target prospects like your best customers? Perhaps, depends on your campaign. There are several cutting edge marketing platforms that offer data analytics to help you zero in on your best prospects. Ask yourself, in your list building, whether you are taking advantage of today's data science to gain the valuable insights on customers and prospects that will lead to increased response. 

3. Create a smart looking mailing piece and a campaign strategy that gets your mail opened, read, and acted upon. Know your numbers. Response to break even? Lifetime value of a customer? Teaser copy? Handwritten address?

4. Remember the elements (and the "rules") of proven direct response copywriting, of which there are too many to list here. Your direct mail piece, whether a postcard or a sales letter, will end up in the circular file if the copy does not resonate with the reader. If you are going to be smart about choosing the list, decide that your copywriting is a top priority, too!

5. Plan on a drip marketing campaign. A prospect worth mailing to once is worth a second or third mailing. When you calculate campaign response, average initial order, and the lifetime value of a customer you can better evaluate your planned investment in a prospect campaign. Your goal may be to nurture the prospect to an on-line step and thus start a relationship that you can automate and follow, bringing phone calls and other steps into your stay in touch process.

6. Use a stamp. Test a live prepaid stamp if you must, but no indicia please. If you really want to get sneaky, angle the stamp so it does not appear to me affixed by machine. 

With all of the above in place and fine tuned, remember to choose the proper envelope for your campaign!

Bob Martel is a marketing consultant and direct response copywriter in Sterling, MA. Contact him at or by calling 508.481.8383. To request a sample lumpy letter, write to Bob Martel at PO Box 1114, Sterling, MA 01564.

Get more information on Melissa Data's direct mail solutions.

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