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Direct Mail Marketing: How To Do It Successfully

Especially in the midst of a global pandemic, when Zoom calls have replaced coffee dates and happy hours, people appreciate a physical reminder that someone is thinking of them.

Even before the country was locked down and people became desperate for connection to the real world, Americans look forward to checking their mailbox each day. According to a Gallup poll, 83 percent of people respond “positively” or “very positively” when they receive a package.

Considering that statistic alone, why don’t more marketers take advantage of direct mail marketing? Well, sending an email or publishing a post to Facebook is a lot easier (and cheaper) than dropping a package in the mail. 

Although direct mail may require a higher upfront budget, the return on investment can easily justify the cost.

Additionally, automated sending platforms like Bluebird can make sending a package even easier than setting up an automated email campaign.

Adding direct mail marketing to your existing toolbox can be an effective way to grab the attention of your prospects, increase engagement and close more deals.

So, where do you start? Let’s begin with the basics.

What Is Direct Mail Marketing?

Direct mail marketing is a strategy that uses physical objects mailed to the recipients’ home or office address in order to create a more meaningful connection.

Direct mail campaigns can vary widely in objective, targeting and cost. The physical items sent through direct mail can range from a standard printed postcard mailed to everyone within a few miles of the new pizza joint to a full meal delivery of live lobster and champagne. 

Why Direct Mail Marketing Works

It makes a great impression

In a 2015 study, a Canadian neuromarketing firm used eye-tracking and brain wave measurements to compare how people responded to direct mail pieces versus digital media like email and display ads. 

When the participants of the study were asked to name the brand associated with the advertisement they just saw, they were 70 percent more likely to recall the company when exposed to a direct mail piece than a digital ad.

Not only is direct mail more memorable, it is also easier to process. The same study found that direct mail requires 21 percent less cognitive effort to process than digital media.

It has a 10-30x higher response rate

According to the DMA’s latest Response Rate Report, households respond to 9 percent of direct mail pieces compared to less than 1 percent of emails or other digital marketing pieces.

Through that report, the DMA has noted an interesting trend: The response rate for direct mail has steadily increased year-over-year. Back in 2012, the same report found that households responded to only 3.4 percent of direct mail pieces.

So, what has changed in the past decade? Marketers have learned how to harness the power of direct mail. They have learned to use technology to learn more about their audience and find prospects who will actually want to hear from them, and then they’re pairing that with a personalized piece of direct mail.

It activates your audience

Not only are people more likely to respond to a direct mail campaign, but they are more motivated to take meaningful action as a response (like signing that contract you’ve been chasing).

Admit it, you’ve at least considered going to the car dealership to see if that key you received in the mail really can unlock that brand new Jeep. on the dealer’s lot. Yet, you (hopefully) wouldn’t think twice about that business deal offered by the Nigerian prince.

According to a different neurological study from researchers at Millward Brown and Bangor University, the motivation response rate is 20 percent higher for physical mail than any digital counterpart. Direct mail is more likely to persuade your audience to take action. 

You can be more creative

While your email marketing campaigns are limited by the capabilities of your email marketing software and HTML, direct mail possibilities are virtually limitless. With direct mail campaigns, your only true restrictions come from U.S. and USPS guidelines. Unless you are trying to send a live guinea pig or hazardous waste as part of your direct mail marketing campaign, you probably won’t run into any obstacles when it comes to shipping.

Creativity is encouraged at Bluebird, where the in-house fulfillment team has already sent more than 10,000 packages to more than 35 countries.

Bluebird has partnered with promotional marketing distributors, fulfillment centers, suppliers and local businesses across the country to execute direct mail marketing campaigns across the country. The team at Bluebird is always willing to create new partnerships to bring your creative direct mail marketing campaigns to life.

When combined with account-based marketing, which focuses first on identifying ideal accounts and then creating a marketing and sales campaigns specific to those accounts, direct mail marketing becomes even more powerful. When you are targeting a small and specific audience, you can deliver a large and memorable experience through direct mail.

You have less competition

Because it costs more to send a letter via USPS than via email, your direct mail marketing campaign will see far less competition than your digital marketing efforts. 

How To Run A Successful Direct Mail Marketing Campaign

A successful direct mail campaign requires strategy. Before you even think about dropping anything in the mail, you will want to think about the goals of your campaign and the logistics surrounding each step in the process.

Be SMART about it

Sending a direct mail campaign requires an investment of time and money, so it is important to set goals at the beginning to provide focus and determine whether the campaign paid off.

Setting SMART goals are essential for measuring the success of your direct mail marketing effort. SMART goals are ones that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

Start by asking yourself what action you want recipients to take when they receive your gift in the mail. Do you want them to pick up the phone and call you (in which case, you would want to set a goal to increase calls from leads), or do you want to increase customer retention and loyalty?

Whatever goal you set, it is important to revisit it often to gauge how your campaign is performing and what adjustments are necessary.

Bluebird’s automated sending platform makes setting and measuring SMART goals easy. Since Bluebird integrates with popular CRMs like HubSpot and Salesforce so you can easily tell how individual direct mail pieces are helping you reach your company goals.

Build out your mailing list

Even though you can buy or rent mailing lists for your direct mail campaign, you probably shouldn’t. Direct mail is effective because it is personalized, but a mailing list full of strangers with no connection to your business does not feel very personal.

There are several methods to building a mailing list (we’ll save that for another day), but taking shortcuts is rarely a good one.

If you’re hoping to send a direct mail campaign to leads that aren’t already in your database, start with public external sources like chamber of commerce directories, association directories and specific customer websites. The process will also help you more clearly define your target customer.

Building a direct mail list doesn’t always require pulling out the Yellow Pages, however. Bluebird offers an address finder tool that is both accurate and non-invasive. That feature has been especially helpful as companies started working remotely during the pandemic and direct mail pieces needed to be sent to the home instead of the office.

Review customer information

Building a mailing list is not a one-and-done process. Mailing lists should regularly be audited to check for duplicate contacts or outdated information. With the cost per send significantly higher for a physical send, there is more at stake when a mailing address is outdated than if an email happens to bounce.

The health of your mailing list has a direct impact on your campaign’s return on investment, so be sure to use a tool like Bluebird’s address finder to verify the information in your database.

Segment your audience

Effective direct mail campaigns are not one-size-fits-all. You would be hard pressed to find a single gift that would appeal to every prospect in your system, and we would not recommend trying in the first place.

Just like in digital advertising, segmenting your audience will help you deliver a message that is targeted to the right people at the right time. 

While you were mapping out your SMART goals, hopefully you spent some time thinking about your ideal customer profile and have pared down your list to only those that would be a good fit for your product or service.

Next, you will want to segment your audience to help you personalize their experience.

Maybe your company is looking to expand to a new geographic area. In this case, you could quickly create a list of contacts near that region and select a gift that is either produced locally or resonates with people there. This level of personalization will tell prospects that you have a strong grasp on their market and are not just parachuting in for the sale.

The ways in which you segment your mailing list are limited only by how many details you include in your CRM. If you have extensive data built based on years of relationships and careful research, you could potentially send a direct mail campaign to a list of customers with three children and two cats who enjoy gardening and work in the financial sector (although that might be a little too specific).

Segmenting on different demographics — location, age, title, income bracket, industry profiles, behavioral characteristics, to name a few — will yield different results and will require some adjusting to meet your goals.

It is easy to execute a segmented direct mail campaign with Bluebird, since the platform integrates with your existing systems. Simply use your favorite CRM to tag customers based on the various segments you’ve identified and Bluebird will take care of the rest.

Utilize a sending platform

Sending a single gift through the mail can take a big chunk amount of time from your day. And then when you look at direct mail campaigns on a larger scale, it can seem like an impossible task to add to your already heavy workload.

Luckily, automated sending platforms like Bluebird exist to handle the entire process for you. Consider Bluebird an extension of your sales and marketing team. Bluebird is like a super-efficient team member who can always recommend the best gift for clients, is great about documenting everything in the CRM and loves the grunt work of calculating shipping costs, digging for addresses, packing the box and writing a handwritten note. 

Bluebird has already delivered more than 10,000 gifts to 35 countries, which has saved marketing and fulfillment representatives more than 2,500 hours of work.

Track your inventory

If you plan on running an ongoing direct mail campaign, it’s a good idea to build an inventory. Keeping items on-hand will save time and money when you don’t need to pay retail price for each individual order.

But if we are being honest, who has time for that while trying to juggle sales responsibilities? Bluebird, with an international network of suppliers and distributors, handles all aspects of direct mail distribution for you. When you log in to send an item, you’ll see a live view of current inventory.

Set up integrations

Software integrations exist to improve productivity, so why not take advantage of them? It is highly satisfying to press a few buttons and then watch as your digital tools complete tasks automatically that you once dreaded completing manually.

Bluebird’s automated sending platform integrates with some of the top business applications on the market, including:

By leveraging the tech stack your team is already using, Bluebird makes it easy to automate direct mail campaigns and ensure that everything is documented for transparency and reporting.

With an additional integration with Zapier, an online tool that lets you create custom workflows and integrations between more than 3,000 different apps, Bluebird users can set up literally millions of workflows and triggers.

A few examples of automations possible with Bluebird and Zapier:

Tips to Make Your Direct Mail Marketing Campaign Pay Off

Between the cost of the physical items you are sending, the packaging and the shipping costs, direct mail marketing requires an upfront investment. It’s not like digital PPC campaigns that only charge you when someone clicks on your campaign.

Although seeing the dollar signs attached to a direct mail campaign can turn some marketers and sales representatives away, it is clear that a direct mail campaign that is both strategic and personalized can have a large ROI.

Send throughout the customer journey

Timing can be just as important as the message in the case of direct mail campaigns. If you send a gift to a prospect too early, they might not engage and you are only running up your budget. On the other hand, if you send an expensive gift to a client right as you present a contract, they may see it as a bribe and walk away.

But you do not have to pick and choose the “perfect” time to send out a piece of direct mail. In fact, keeping in touch with prospects through the entire customer journey will help your reputation and your bottom line.

Through the Bluebird platform, different automations can be set up for different steps in your direct mail campaign, from delivering a package of snacks to enjoy during the first meeting to a full kit of branded gear to celebrate the beginning of a long-lasting partnership.

Make it personal

While direct mail campaigns have regularly been used for bulk mailings or Every Door Direct Mail, which delivers to every resident on a certain postal route, direct mail can be even stronger with one-to-one marketing efforts.

If you are absolutely set on using a bulk mail postcard, you can at least personalize with variable data or lead recipients to a personalized landing page — and that’s the bare minimum.

In a one-to-one marketing effort, you can use information gathered during prospect research and your own relationship with the recipients on your list to send the perfect gift, whether it’s a basket of gourmet snacks for the foodie or a terrarium for the nature enthusiast.

Every physical gift you send through Bluebird’s automated platform is also accompanied by a handwritten notecard that incorporates any information you provide while setting up the campaign. The small details that make your prospects feel unique and understood will make all the difference in the success of your campaign.

Track and adjust

Tracking is important in any marketing campaign, but it seems a lot easier to open up your Facebook ad account or Google Analytics dashboard to see how a campaign is performing than to track a direct mail campaign.

A one-to-one direct mail campaign could typically require significant manual follow-ups. Was your package shipped on time? You’ll probably need to dig out the order confirmation from your inbox and check with the vendor. Was it delivered to the right address? You’ll need to check with FedEx to make sure. Did someone on the sales team follow up with a note to reinforce the relationship? That is unclear, as there are no notes on the contact’s record in HubSpot.

Bluebird’s intelligent integrations automatically log tasks in the CRM you already use so that you know exactly where each account stands at any given time. The information can be pulled when examining the ROI on your campaign and be used to adjust the targeting or budget of the campaign as necessary.

Learn more about how Bluebird can help your team execute an automated and personalized direct mail marketing campaign that pays off.