Making a success of direct mail

The key to building a winning direct mail campaign is having a clear idea of your target market and selecting a list that matches this market.

A key factor in building a winning direct mail campaign is having a clear idea of your target market and selecting a list that matches this market.

A key factor in building a winning direct mail campaign is having a clear idea of your target market and selecting a list that matches this market. Other areas that are just as important are the type of message you are sending and the offer you are making, right down to the type of paper you are using.

Remember – it doesn’t matter how many mailings you send out – if you don’t get it right, you won’t get any responses. With figures from the Direct Marketing Association showing that companies wasted an estimated £95 million last year on direct mail campaigns, getting it wrong can prove to be very costly – both in terms of money and time.

Keep it simple

“Don’t expect people to buy straight away, and don’t try and make them buy straight away. You need more than one communication to make it work. Just expect them to be interested, and redirection to a website can be an effective way of capitalising on this awareness and interest,’ advises Ben Harris, founder of, which provides marketing services for start-ups and small businesses.

He suggests that you design your campaign with simplicity in mind – have one clear message.

“Don’t tell your customers how good you are – tell them how you can solve their problem. Don’t use cheap or coloured paper or envelopes – or anything that looks like it’s been homemade. If you send a voucher worth something, make sure it looks like it is worth something,” he adds.

How much will it cost?

As Harris explains, it’s not about how much you spend, but how much you should expect to see as a return.

“If I was forced to give a number, I’d say you should allow for at least £2,000 if you want to do it properly,” he suggests.

Protect yourself

According to data specialist Thomson Directories, an increasing number of companies are registering not to receive unsolicited approaches via the phone, fax or e-mail. Jane Byrne, product manager at Thomson Directories, says that many smaller businesses are unaware of the dangers of not screening companies registered for the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) or Fax Preference Service (FPS).

“They are wasting time and money by contacting businesses who will not be interested, and can potentially incur a fine. It’s important to note that the responsibility for final checking of preference registrations lies with the user and not the data provider,” adds Byrne.

Be careful if you use mediums such as email for direct marketing purposes – forthcoming changes in the law mean you must obtain prior consent from recipients. If you don’t, you could be liable for fines of up to £5,000. As email marketing becomes increasingly popular as part of an integrated marketing campaign, it is essential that only opt-in data is used.

“Email marketing has many benefits, ranging from cost to speed of response, but when doing a B2B campaign, it is vital to use only reputable data providers,” advises Byrne.

Top direct mail marketing tips

Thomson Directories suggests the following to help you make a success of your direct mail campaigns:

  • Analyse your best customers – Find out who your best customers are and their common criteria, such as business type, geographical location and number of employees and use these to identify the prospects that have the greatest potential.
  • Get your prospect list right – The most important part of your campaign is the list. Once you’ve identified your most likely prospects, find out where you can acquire the list that best meets your selection criteria, and which provides the spread and depth of information you require.
  • Get the data in a format most suited to your needs – Prospect data can come in a wide range of formats, such as downloads or websites. In addition, consider whether a job function, business sector or topic-specific list would suit your needs more than a general business list.
  • Don’’t leave yourself open to Data Protection Act fines – Make sure that the list you buy complies with relevant regulations and has been verified, otherwise you could be liable to a £5,000 fine for each individual breach.
  • Measure the results – Ensure that wherever possible you code individual campaign elements so that you can identify what is working and what isn’t, so that you can apply what you have learned to future direct mail activities.

For further information, read our story on Direct mail marketing tips.

Related Topics

Direct mail

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