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Getting started with direct mail, let´s go deeper

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Handy hints to get it written

Getting started with direct mail

So, in summary here’s what to bear in mind:
A strong heading
Sum up the offer in as few hard-hitting words as possible

Sub heading
Provide backup to the heading with additional key data

Text
The first paragraph should be a quick précis of the subject. If a person reads no further they should understand what you are marketing from this text
Keep sentences short and to the point
Don’t waffle
Demonstrate your organisation is a trustworthy and reputable one
Consider incentives – money off, timeframes, free gifts, reports, etc
Provide contact details
Use credentials and testimonials where appropriate
Break up text with headers, bullets, diagrams, etc
And don’t forget the…

Call to Action
Always, always include a call to action telling people what to do or expect. Make it specific, eg.
call us now on this number, download this document (via hyperlink), I will call you on this day, etc. Make it as easy as possible for someone to get in touch with you.

Have something to say
There’s no point in sending out a DM piece just because there’s a diary date in your calendar. Unless you have something to announce, an offer to make or a reason for people to respond – your communication will emulate spam.

If you don’t have something specific to say, but have a commitment to deliver a DM on a specific date, be creative. For example think about seasonal sales, free downloads, provision of survey results or access to a report. Something that will provide recipients with value-add and demonstrate your worth to them.

International DM/eDM
If you send out DMs/eDMs to multiple countries with different languages, make sure you get them translated by native speakers. 99 times out of a hundred, it’s immediately obvious when something is written by someone who isn’t a local. And don’t, whatever you do, simply push your text through translation software and think ‘that’ll do’. It won’t!

Other important factors to take into consideration when having mails translated are:
Ensure you provide enough background detail for the translator to write good copy rather than literally translate what is on paper
Make sure the copy is neutral and non-offensive to all cultures
Take account of local customs and styles – Spanish language is, for example, generally lengthier and more descriptive than English
If you’re using a translator for the first time, get your translation read through by another native speaker for QA (quality assurance) purposes

How often to contact
You get much better DM response statistics by carrying out a sustained campaign over weeks or months. A one off is unlikely to generate much demand, but a consistent message over time will bring in results.

For example:
Send out an eDM offer in week 1
Extract out the respondents and send the same email again 1 week later to gain a further response rate
Extract out the additional respondents and send out a follow-up mail 2 weeks later to gain another response rate
Follow the same timetable a month later with a new message, and so on

What is a good response rate?
Response rates to DM are, usually, in the single digits percent-wise. It is extremely difficult to put an average rate of return with such an enormous amount of differing offers out there, but a response rate to a new target list of between 2-5% is generally considered good. As always, it’s down to accurate targeting. If you have the right offer aimed at the right market – you can get excellent returns.

Big mailing lists aren’t necessarily the answer to providing good response rates. Say you have a consultancy offer and need 5 respondents of a certain value. By spending time and effort researching a list of 50 people who have been identified as ready to purchase, it will be much easier to reach your target figure by sending them each a personalised campaign.

Tell your colleagues!
Make sure people in your company know the dates the DM/eDMs are going out and what they contain. Train up those who will be handling the calls and tell the receptionist/telephone operator how to route calls. There’s nothing worse than a recipient ringing for more details and the person who answers the phone not knowing what to do with them!

Abigail Shone

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