Measuring the Return on Your Direct Mail Investment

In direct mail lore, there’s a rule stating that you can measure the success of your efforts by a minimum response rate of 1-2%.

In other words, if you send out 10,000 pieces, you’ll have a successful mailing if at least 100 recipients respond to your offer. (One percent of 10,000 is 100.)

That’s one view of direct mailing success.

Permit me to offer a different perspective: one from the small business world. Specifically, I’m referring to those small business people who work by and for themselves. Call them “One-Man Bands,” “Working Soloists,” “Free Agents,” or whatever you’d like.

To help you remember these two perspectives, let’s give them a couple of catchy names:

1. The “Playing the Percentages” Perspective. This is the “industry standard 1-2% response rate on your mailings” perspective you’ve heard so much about. This is the yardstick favored by businesses that are sending large quantities of direct mail to sell mass market products.

For example, if I own a pizza parlor, and I’m doing a “use this card for 10% off on your next order” mailing to all residences within a three-mile radius of my business, I might have a mailing list of 10,000 names.

You’d better believe that I’m going to watch the overall response rate like a hawk, and I’m going to be looking at precisely where those hungry customers are coming from. If most of them are coming from a handful of apartment complexes next to a college campus, I’ll know to send my future mailings to those complexes.

2. The “You Only Need A Few” Perspective. This is the one for those One-Man (or One-Woman) Bands who are selling services that take a fair amount of time to provide. Like marketing consulting, public relations services, graphic design, or customized computer software applications.

For these folks, a handful of new or repeat clients from a promotional mailing is quite enough. After all, as the owner of a one-woman graphic design studio told me once, “I don’t want to be a victim of my own [direct mail] success.”

Popular Uses for Brochures in Marketing

Brochures are one of the most valued forms of marketing. It’s the work horse of any company’s marketing collateral. They give an introduction to your business and give enough room for you to provide specific information on what you can provide.

However, that is only half of the benefit that brochures provide. Brochures can also allow you to tailor your message. You can create a specific brochure for every product, product line, demographic or event. With declining printing prices, many business are opting for this customization that allow them to speak directly to each prospect.

Below is a small roundup of specific uses brochures can use:

Trade shows – Brochures specifically created for trade shows are a great idea. Many times, trade shows provide detailed demographic information to their exhibitors. What a perfect opportunity to speak directly to that audience. Tailor your tone, design and size to speak directly to the attendees of that specific show.

Direct Mail Pieces – Direct mail is something that provides an excellent way to connect with your prospect at home. Whether it is a brochure to existing customers, or a piece that is specifically meant for gaining new clients, direct mail is great for either. For a quick tip, try to go for a tri-fold brochure which will ensure easy assembly for mailing.

Products – Brochures are a great way to provide information about your product line. You can create a “catalog” type of brochure where you showcase all of your products. Additionally, for products that have more information or carry high value to your business, you can create product specific brochures which describe the product in detail and provide more pictures.

Services – Your service offering can be perfectly marketed in a brochure by including an overview of your services, who they’re for, details of each service, and customer testimonials. In the same way as you can create product specific brochures, you can also create service specific brochures. This is a great opportunity to feature client case studies and go into details of how your services helped improve your client’s business.

FAQ – Brochures can also answer common questions for new prospects. This purpose is especially useful for unique businesses that might not be as popular. Consider designing your brochure as an FAQ set with each panel being a certain question. This will allow the prospect to clearly view any lingering questions and answer

Whatever the purpose maybe, brochures provide a perfect opportunity to sell your products and services.

Direct Mail Vs Email Part 2: How Email Is a Formidable Marketing Tool As Well

While direct mail is an extremely effective tool for marketers, it also has its drawbacks. The obvious disadvantage it has is the cost and amount of time and energy you spend going through the process. It is also prone to the pitfalls of the postal system. Not all mail goes exactly to their intended destination.

Direct mail also forces you to dedicate yourself only on very specific geographic spots and market segments thus limiting. Though this can be seen as both a disadvantage and a benefit. It really depends on your marketing perspective.

Given direct mail’s shortcomings, we thankfully have email to make up for it.

Its most apparent advantage over email is that it is cheaper, faster and a whole lot more convenient to send and receive your mail. Email is an almost hassle-free medium to keep in touch with your customers you can send them any number of emails in any time of the day. Through email, you can effortlessly send weekly online newsletters or quick thank you notes. It can also be easily act as a bridge to your online sales page or website.

Another advantage is that direct mail allows you to send to a wider audience and geographic area (you must beware though of being too scattershot and less targeted in your approach).

Since every part of the process is automated, you also have the extraordinary benefit of receiving reliable analytics and results in your efforts. You can effortlessly track down the actions and online behavior of your target with his or her every click.

However you must also be very prudent and shrewd about the emails you send out as you may run the risk of being filtered as spam, and internet users do not like getting spam. It is advised that you send an e-mail only to those who have given you consent to do so. This considered, e-mail is a great medium for follow-ups or introducing a new offering to your current and loyal customers.

Bearing in mind the varying benefits and costs of direct mail and email, we must thus regard both not as two options of the same kind but two completely different promotional methods with their own unique uses.

Perhaps the best way to employ direct mail and email is by integrating both of them and banking on their specific advantages. One way to do this is by sending a direct mail piece then following it up or having them respond through email or other online means.

That way, you get the best of both worlds.