Social Media Marketing, Social Media Strategy & Social Media Services

June 22, 2017

Direct Mail Campaigns: How to get a Triple-Digit Response Rate



How many times have you gotten that Capital One or GEICO envelope and sent it right to the trash? Take it to the trash…yup that is how it usually goes, unless you target your direct mail very carefully.


I have worked with so many different clients that have spent a lot of dollars making beautiful, crafty collateral material and received no response from it. Then, they started to tell me “Hey Sweta, direct mail is out, it no longer works anymore.” Why? Well, this is like saying: we have tried every single diet for two days and diets just don’t work. Do you see where this is leading to? To almost everything, there is a right way and a wrong way. The same goes for direct mail. Today’s tips are going to help you reach that massive success on your next direct mail campaign.


Get the List Right!

Let’s say I own a jacket store and my jackets are designed to keep you warm during the coldest climates. Now, would I consider sending an offer out to people in San Diego? No way! This is the problem with most companies, they do not target properly so they waste a lot of money on collateral. This is why sending an offer to a random list of people is completely ineffective. Research is required to find the exact information of your target audience and then send them the offer. Let’s admit it privacy is pretty much dead and gone in America. If my target audience was a male between 18-25 years old who owns a snowboard, watches football, loves beer and the color blue—Guess what? The Internet is filled with information right on the tip of your fingers. To answer the question, yes I can get that list! Sure, the list might now have a million people on it, but it is targeted to the people who are likely to buy. Isn’t that what you want? 

Nowadays, there are even applications that collect this type of information right on Facebook. Check out this American Express App that hyper-personalizes their coupons based on the social graph of the person. “Link, Like, Love” gives the American Cardholders deals based on their likes, interests and friends. Now that is hyper-personalized wouldn’t you think? If they had generic coupons for everyone, a lot of people would never use their American express card to get deals. 

Say that you want to purchase a list. There are lists that are taken from directories, phone books, etc. These lists are geographic based. I don’t really recommend these alone because they are not really hyper-personalized.

The other kind of list is a demographic list based on age, sex, gender, etc. For example, if I wanted to target a rich mother who has an income of $150,000 or more, targeting by demographic would get me that information.  

Now what if we combined both of these to get our ideal prospect? For example, when I was marketing for a cosmetic surgeon, I went through his past client lists. Then I created a spreadsheet of traits, and tallied them off as I went through them. I observed that his past clients were mostly women between 35-55 years old from the Rancho Bernardo area.  This was the target market! On the other hand if you are doing B2B, then I would personally search through the SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) codes to find out where your business is coming from.  Remember, we are trying to clone your loyal customers. 

Have you ever heard of “direct response” lists? They are lists where people have opted-in and actually purchased from direct marketing. This is a great method to use, as you know that people purchase from direct marketing. For more information on direct response lists go to Another way to find these would be to go to the reference section in the library and ask for SRDS (Standard Rate and Data Services) Direct Mail Directory. This is basically a huge book of direct mailers you could be using! WOW! How cool is it to find a list of people who already have some interest in what you are selling? A much easier sell wouldn’t you say? It’s like if you’re a beautician selling products, you can rent a list of people who bought beauty products through direct mail.

SECRET SAUCE: Find a “thirsty crowd” who want to create something better for themselves. Remember, you want someone that has already purchased the item you’re selling.

I want to also mention a bonus list that we have not talked about yet. Take a guess…yes that is right it’s your OWN list. You must have a list of past customers in your database right? In the case that you don’t then create one! You want to reach out to the people that you know and that you have already done business with because you have already created that long-term relationship with them. 


Have You Received it Yet?

You may think this sounds a bit dumb, but I get this all the time with my restaurant clients. They use the bulk mail postage instead of the standard postage. Did you know that the post office already lets you know that 20 to 30 percent of all bulk mail gets thrown out based on many different factors? Imagine the mailman getting loaded with many letters to deliver on a daily basis. He doesn’t have time to get to all of them so which pieces is he going to leave out? The bulk duh! The moral of this is to use a “REAL” stamp on every letter and mail it first class. 

SECRET SAUCE: Make the envelope and letter look as PERSONABLE as POSSIBLE! People are getting overloaded with mail every day, so for them to even decide to open it or not it has to be presentable and personable.


No Response Rate? Let’s Observe!

Have you ever gotten a brochure in the mail? What did you do with it? Throw it away right? Well, imagine if you mailed a personal letter to each person. The letter would be conversational, have a call-to-action and be mood changing. For instance, one time I created one for a client that said “Congratulations you have just won a free spa trip to get your nails done just call _____ number.” Now, if you just came home from work and read that what would you think? Totally relaxes you right? Remember, the letter will make the prospect feel exclusive and included. Use words like “I personally,” “me” and “you.” These words create a connection with whomever you’re trying to target. Think about it, only one person at a time can read your letter. This is why it is important that you sound like a friend or someone close.

Now when it comes to headlines, EVERYTHING matters. If your headline doesn’t appeal to the eye, then the rest of the letter won’t either. Make sure you include benefits in your headline. Step in the shoes of your prospect. What kind of headline will want to make them read on? Look at headlines on the major publications in the industry, see which ones appeal to you and create one based on that. J

The most common thing I usually see is letters that have the company name on top. WOW! Take it to the trash…please remember people are IN it for themselves. If it isn’t something that is going to feed them in the moment then it is going to the trash. Leave the company name for proposals and invoices, not for direct mail marketing. The correct place to add your company name would be towards the bottom.


What are your thoughts on direct mail? Is it an old tactic? Tell us below! 


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