The Internet is where almost everybody lives in this new millennium. It is where we hang out with our friends (social media), do our research (educational sites, online schools, review sites), buy our goods and find people to perform the services we need. We use it to order food, find transportation and express ourselves. It is also where the vast majority of entrepreneurs do business.
It is a mistake, however, to believe that the Internet is where all of your business dealings and marketing opportunities lie. The fact is that e-tailers and Web-based entrepreneurs still have to deal with problems like dysfunctional websites, servers going down, security threats, etc. And, in spite of what many gurus may tell you, the offline world is still a very active place. Direct mail, for example, is still an important part of reaching your customers and creating buzz for your business.
Here are a few tips that you can use to both integrate direct mail into your marketing campaign and make sure that the recipient actually reads it instead of simply tossing it into the recycling bin.
Integrate the Web
Wait, what? Didn't we just tell you that the offline market is still important? Yes we did. Unlike a few years ago, however, the offline and online communities are more integrated than they have ever been. Your direct mail recipients are going to be more likely to explore your company's online presence if you add incentives for them to do so in your direct mail. For example, including a scannable QR code that reveals a discount on a customer's next order is a great way to get a new buyer to check out your product. Even better, direct mail featuring mobile shopping as part of its promotion is eligible for one of the many 2016 USPS promotions.
Did you ever write fan mail when you were a kid? In those days, if you wanted an author, actor, politician or whoever to write back, you dramatically increased your chances of success if you included a self-addressed stamped envelope. This idea holds true when you are sending direct mail to your customers and clients hoping to get (snail) mail in return.
For example, some businesses are required to send notarized invoices for services and prefer to be paid via check, money order or cashier's check. To increase the chances of that payment being mailed back instead of being sent via PayPal or bank transfer, include a postage paid envelope with the invoice.
In addition to putting the recipient's name on the envelope, use it as the salutation for your mail as well. A direct mailed letter with Dear [NAME], is going to go a lot farther than a letter with a simple "Hello!" or, worse, "Dear Valued Customer."
You will also guarantee more attention if you are able to personalize the mail even more. For example, if you are trying to get more women in their 30s to buy your products, don't send out a blanket mailing. Instead use demographic information and census data to target people who fit that demographic. You can increase your chances of success here if you collect some basic demographic information about your buyers during your market research.
Hand Write It
Obviously you won't want to write every piece of direct mail by hand. Brochures, flyers, mass mailed letters, etc should be designed and printed professionally. For smaller mail, though, like sending out birthday or holiday cards to loyal clients and buyers, it is better that those cards and envelopes be handwritten and hand addressed. Even if you decide to print the letter out, if the recipient base is small enough (or your workforce–with readable handwriting–is large enough), handwrite the envelopes. Envelopes that are addressed by hand are more likely to be opened than anything featuring a label sticker or a printed address displayed through a clear window.
These are just a few of the ways that you can set your direct mail pieces apart from your competitors and increase your open rates. What are the methods that have worked best for your business?