Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Get the Best Bang for your Stamp

With the recent announcement of yet another postage increase coming in 2011, many marketers may be re-evaluating their direct mail campaigns and how they fit in their budget.  In just 10 years, the postage rate has increased from 34 cents in 2001 to a probable 46 cents in 2011, costing us 35% more to send out mail then a decade ago. This increase will hit those who mail periodicals and catalogs even harder.

For many companies, direct mail is still a viable marketing medium for gathering a direct response from customers and prospects. Sure, email newsletters or social networking are less expensive, but they do not hit all the same people that direct mail does.  Direct mail can reach a different audience and have more space to share the message. It can be a great way to target new customers to sign-up for email correspondence or engage in social networking, complementing your web marketing efforts.

Photo Credit: Steve 2.0


To get the most bang from your stamp, ask yourself:
  • Do I have a good relationship with my printer?  Is my printer competitively priced?  Keep your printer in check by requesting quotes and comparing them to others time to time.  But on the flip side, know that they can help you succeed once they know what you expect and get more volume from you. 
  • Is my direct mail list clean? Unless you are printing a fancy mailer or have a high-end promotional item, postage is probably your biggest expense. Reduce undeliverable mailers by cleaning up your list.  Mailing the pieces “address service requested” is one way to help ensure deliverability for future mailings.
  • Is my list targeted to match my goals and message? Drill down to the most targeted list. Often your best list will be your own database if you have spent some time polishing it and keeping your customer and prospects lists up to date.
  • Am I mailing at the right time? This is common sense, but it happens all the time.  Each of us has gotten the mailer for the event that was yesterday.  Don’t let it be you.
  • Am I offering an incentive to create direct response? This can be as simple as requesting information on a new product, if the product is exciting enough.  Other incentives could be an educational resource (online or print), a giveaway that has a high (perceived) value, or a “chance to win”.
  • Am if giving the customer the right outlets to respond with? Determine if a toll-free phone number, reply card, or a landing page will be most effective for your audience. Don’t forget to include social networking hubs.  To the customer, this may feel like a nice minimal-commitment connection with your company.
  • Do I have a system in place to maximize lead follow-up? The follow-up is crucial to converting the lead into a customer.  Have the technology (CRM software) and lead follow-up process ready prior to mailing. 
Have your direct mail campaigns changed over the years? How have you successfully increased your response and/or decreased your cost per lead? What other tips can you share regarding an effective direct mail campaign?

Jackie Kaufenberg is the Marketing Manager for Altimate Medical Inc. in Morton, Minnesota. They manufacture standing frames for people who use wheelchairs and also have a blog for people with disabilities, and medical professionals. You can reach her via Twitter @jkaufenberg.

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Ken Boyd said...

How about "is this how the customer wants to receive communications?" That's probably the most important question. I just did a survey of consumers in the Minneapolis area and they said that direct mail was one of their top 2 forms of receiving communications. I think direct mail is still a powerful media as long as it's done in a relevant way.

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Chuck.Ronnei@impact-ps.com said...

Talk with a Mailpiece Design Analyst at the post office while you are in the planning stage of your campaign. Then visit again with them with your art work before printing. Here’s a link for an MDA in your region:

Consider a professional mailing service. We know ways to reduce postage costs and speed-up delivery time. We also keep up to date on postal regulations and changes.
Details such as size, thickness, flexibility, paper, and list hygiene are critical elements that can be overlooked and costly in the end.

Jackie said...

Very good point Ken. Some may prefer email to direct mail. Or simply not to get direct mail. In our industry, we sometimes mail to multiple contacts at a hospital or business, which we also have to be careful with...because the gatekeeper/secretary/mail room may instantly see multiple mail pieces as junk. Thanks for the comment!

Jackie said...

Good ideas Chuck. We also use a professional mailing service and would not have it any other way. It is also helpful to have a printer who is familiar with postal regulations.

Ellen Dickie said...

Integrating your direct mail campaign with other forms of media enhances the campaign. Dropping your mailing when you are running print or web ads, sales calls and using promotional items will give you more "touch points" with your targeted market.

I also agree with your recommendation of working with a design firm that knows the ins and outs of direct mail as it can save on costs just by changing the size, the weight of the paper stock and the weight of the mailing piece itself.

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