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3 secrets to direct mailing success

Direct mail produces a relatively fast and measurable return
By Entrepreneur Staff |

Direct mail is a great way to produce fast and measurable return on your marketing efforts, and it’s a great prospecting tool. Here’s a look at the best ways to use direct mail to win new customers.

Plan for large mailings. There’s a big difference between a sales letter and direct mail, which is generally sent to lists of at least 5,000 at a time. Your lists must be large, since even good response rates may fall between 2 percent and 4 percent. There’s another difference, too. Direct-mail campaigns are built around a single goal—an action your prospects must take in order to move farther along in the sales cycle. Not surprisingly, mailings that are designed to produce leads yield higher response rates than those designed to close sales.

Choose the best format. In addition to catalogs, there are three basic types of direct mail: postcards, letters and packages (called dimensional mail). When creating your annual campaign, you can choose one type or all three. Postcards, preferably oversized to grab attention, can be an inexpensive way to alert prospects to a coming event. Successful direct-mail letters, on the other hand, are complex packages: They generally consist of a teaser envelope—which promises something appealing inside—a one- or two-page cover letter, various inserts expanding on the offer, and often a business reply card with a return envelope. And if you want to virtually guarantee your mail gets opened, you can put it in a box. Last year, dimensional mail averaged the highest overall response rate—5.49 percent—of any direct-response medium, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

Assemble your campaign. Direct-mail marketing is rarely a do-it-yourself job. The steps include designing and printing the creative pieces, choosing the lists, and delivering them both to a mailing house for labeling and distribution.


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