Do you want to know why most businesses don’t send direct mail?

Because they’re still licking their wounds from the last time that they sent it.

The truth is, direct mail is a very easy way to burn a lot of cash very quickly if done incorrectly.

In this week’s post, I want to share the five biggest reasons why direct mail campaigns fail and share my best practices.

1. The Quality of Your Data

I see a lot of well written, carefully constructed direct mail campaigns that fail to perform, and the reason is nearly always the quality of the data.

It baffles me, people are happy to invest good money into sending direct mail but try to cling onto pennies when it comes to buying the data.

The quality of the data is the biggest leverage point between a successful campaign and one that “bombs”

It’s always worth investing in quality data – I recommend that my clients use Experian to source their data – it’s not cheap, but it’s by far the most up-to-date and high-value data we’ve found. 

2. Asking for Too Much

If you’re sending direct mail to cold data – then your entire aim is to persuade the recipient to make a baby-step.

A big mistake that I see is direct mail campaigns asking for too much, too soon.

They’re asking for the sale, a big commitment and they’re trying to dive into bed with the recipient.

It’s all about those micro-commitments at this stage.

What can the initial piece of mail do to highlight who’s interested and who’s not?

If mailing cold, I recommend a two-step approach.

The first mailing that you send is looking for the right people to raise their hand, and the second piece of mail does the selling/pushes for an action.

For example …

If we fitted luxury high-end kitchens, I’d send the original piece of mail asking them if they’d like to receive one of our big fancy brochures, if they do, I’d drive them to call or visit a web page to request the brochure.

Maybe 5% will respond, but these people are interested, they’re considering a new kitchen and they give you a list of leads to go after.

You can then spend a little more money to mail them a fancy brochure and if you ask for their phone number when they’re requesting the brochure, you can follow them up on a call to arrange a consultation.

The problem is, most businesses are looking for the cheapest way to send mail, which results in them trying to cram everything into one mailing.

3. Confusing Call-to-Action

I recently received a very nice piece of direct mail from a well-known wine company.

It was a piece of mail that contained a “£50.00 voucher off my first order” – and with Christmas coming up – I fancied a bit of that.

But then I tried to work out what the next step was, ermmm … it had their main website URL on it and a phone number.

Am I supposed to call them and say I received this? Is there a link that I’ll find on their website? Is there a voucher code that I’m supposed to use?

I wasn’t too sure.

So, I just did nothing – in fact, it’s still sat next to me as I’m writing this.

I’d take a guess that this wine company will be scratching their heads to why their direct mail campaign didn’t perform, and they’re probably sat there saying “direct mail doesn’t work anymore”

The reason that it likely failed was that they didn’t have a clear call-to-action, and they’re not the first company to do this.

In fact, I see a lot of mailings where the company just makes assumptions that the recipient will know what to do, or just think that including their company details will be enough.

You need to focus on making your mailing simple and easy to respond to – I don’t want to say that you should treat people like idiots, but you should treat people like idiots!

4. Lack of Follow Up

I’m guessing you’ve heard this a million times before but it’s because it’s absolutely vital.

A huge mistake that I see, is businesses sending a piece of direct mail, not getting a response and instantly claiming that it “didn’t work”

A large percentage of the results of your campaign live in the follow-up – if you fail to put any energy into sending additional mailings, sending emails or having an outbound sales team following-up with recipients, then you’re leaving a huge amount of cash on the table.

When you’re planning your direct mail campaign, you should be planning your follow-up with as much effort as your original mailing – most don’t do this, and it’s why many fail.

5. Wrong Method of Mailing

The final big mistake that I see is the method of sending the mailing.

What do I mean by this? Well, I see businesses get great data, write a great piece of mailing and have all the key fundamentals in place – but then they send their mail in a cheap envelope with a franking stamp.

Now, I don’t know about you – but when I receive an envelope that contains a franking stamp – unless it’s from HMRC or looks important – it doesn’t get opened.

In the rare times that they do get opened, I open them expecting some form of impersonalised sales pitch. To send your marketing campaign using this method is crazy – you’re instantly shaving off a percentage of your results.

My recommendation is obvious, send your direct mail in genuinely hand-addressed envelopes with a real first-class stamp.

It costs more – but if your envelope contains a mailing of true value, it’s a guaranteed way of ensuring it gets delivered and ensuring it gets ripped open.

When recipients receive a hand-addressed piece of mail with a real stamp, they see it as personal, they rip it open and they give it more attention.

The more eyeballs reading your mailing will result in better results.

There are services in the UK that can do this on your behalf – but if the numbers add up, then I highly recommend sending it like this.

On a More Positive Note

This has been a bit of a doom and gloom article about what you shouldn’t do – but if you can avoid these common pitfalls, then you’ll be a in good position to send a profitable direct mail campaign.

Direct mail is an incredible way of winning attention, cutting through the noise in your marketplace and delivering a powerful message that gets responded to.

If you want our expert help, then drop us a line here or give us a call on 01530 215071