Direct Mail Success Depends on Sending to the Right
The biggest mistake you can make with direct mail is sending to
the wrong list, according to Barry Feig in a recent article
titled “Top Ten Direct Mail Mistakes.”
You can have bad copy and still make money if you get the list
right, says David Sklorenko III, who has created a website,
designed to help business owners select the right list for
their direct mail campaigns.
If the list is critical to your direct mail success, how do you
make sure you get it right? Here are some of Sklorenko’s
Step 1: Determine who you want to target
Start by determining who it is you want to target with your
direct mail campaign. You can download a buying
checklist in PDF form here, to help you answer
Step 2: Partner with a list broker
Your list broker has a vested interest in your success,
Sklorenko says. They are experts in picking lists and can help
you avoid making mistakes. The more successful your campaign
is, the more likely you are to return to the
list broker for help with your next campaign.
Step 3: Set a budget for your direct mail
You can link to a direct mail ROI (return on investment)
calculator from Sklorenko’s website, to determine all of the
pieces needed for your campaign. The calculator will help you
determine how much your list, postage, printing and even
copywriting will cost. Focus first on the quality of the
If you think you can not afford to rent a direct mail list, you
should know that the cheapest part of a direct mail campaign is
actually the list.
“Direct mail marketing may cost money but it is more effective
than any other marketing out there,” Sklorenko says. “97
percent of the population has a mailbox and they can’t just
delete their mail the way they can email.”
A list can range from a cent per lead to 30
cents per lead. A good direct mail campaign will yield
about a 1.5 percent response rate. If you hit your target
audience 5 to 7 times, they will start to recognize you.
Even if they are not in their buying cycle, they will
remember you when they are ready to make a purchase.
Direct mail is especially good for restaurants, some retailers,
boutiques, churches and other local businesses who are
trying to raise their profile in the marketplace.
One of the strongest lists for such businesses to use is a new
homeowners list. A new homeowner will spend more in the first
six months than in the next five years. If you get in with
those new movers, you are more likely to develop customer
loyalty, he says.
The new homeowner is often more receptive of direct mail
because they often do not have family or friends in the area to
refer them to restaurants or places to shop.
Step 4: Determine what to expect from your
A list can range from a cent per lead to up to 30 cents per
lead. A good direct mail campaign will yield about a 1.5
percent response rate. If you hit your target audience 5 to 7
times, they will start to recognize you. Even if they are not
their buying cycle, they will remember you when they are ready
to make a purchase.
If you have a good offer and keep hitting your target audience,
you can expect about 30 percent of the people who respond to
buy from you.
Step 5: Plan Your Campaign
You may want to send a series of postcards to your target
market. Or you may want to use your direct mail campaign to
warm up a telemarketing campaign. Some business marketers use
direct mail to get the attention of their target market. Then
in their postcard mailer, they may drive people
to a website for more detailed information, special offers or
Once you’ve planned your campaign, get those postcards and
letters in the mail. But a word of caution; if you plan to use
the list more than once, select the option that lets you mail
to the list multiple times. Mailing lists are salted or seeded
with tracking records. List owners will know if you market the
list repeatedly. You could open yourself up to penalties
and big fines. Remember you are renting the use of these
The best thing about direct mail marketing is your ability to
measure its success. You’ll know pretty quickly how effective
your campaign was, allowing you to tweak it to improve
the results or to repeat it to keep the sales
October 3, 2008
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