Direct mail is still an integral part of many businesses’ effective marketing strategies, despite its being declared all but dead at the beginning of the digital revolution.
But a successful direct mail campaign is completely dependent on one key ingredient: your mailing list. Send your mail piece to the wrong prospects, and you’re just throwing money away. Send it to a highly targeted list, and it could be a runaway success.
Here are some tips for avoiding the first scenario and ensuring the second:
Gather the Right Data
Thinking you can just purchase a list and send a mass mailing to every address on it? Think again. Consumer attention is drawn in a hundred directions these days, and a piece of direct mail that doesn’t immediately seem relevant to them is likely to hit the trash unread.
A better way to start building your list is to mine the information you already have. Look at your lists of existing and past customers. Look at your market research reports, communication you’ve received from customers (and inquiries from prospective customers), and other internal data that can help you build your list.
Data from outside your company can be helpful, too – but this doesn’t mean a purchased mailing list. Instead, look for information databases that provide information about your targeted consumer base (whether that’s geographic, a particular demographic, or something else). If you’re doing B2B direct mail, look at trade/industry directories, associations’ member lists, etc.
Make sure the information you’ve gathered is complete and accurate. This means double checking your internal lists to make sure customer information is up-to-date, and that all information you need (name, mailing address, phone number, email, etc) is included for each contact on the list.
Segment Your List
Your next step is to divide your list up into categories of prospects. These categories/segments can then be used to send highly targeted and personalized direct mail campaigns.
There are many ways to segment your list. For a list of prospects you pulled from your internal information, these segments could include customers who spend $X and above with you every year, customers who’ve purchased something from you within the past X months, and ex-customers or those who haven’t purchased in more than a year.
You can also create segments using geographic locations (great if you have local branches – you can send a mailer personalized with geographic details to drive traffic to those local stores). You should also consider segmenting by demographics, such as age, income, home ownership, spending habits, and more. These specialized segments allow you to create highly personalized mailers that grab a prospect’s attention – because it seems like you’re speaking directly to them.
Creating your own direct mail mailing list is more work than buying a pre-built list. But the increased personalization you can achieve will result in fewer mail pieces tossed in the trash unread – and a much higher ROI than purchased lists.