Direct mail campaigns have long been a tried and true method of marketing for small businesses. But with the rise of the internet, you may have heard of some companies turning away from direct mail and other types of traditional marketing. That probably hasn’t stopped the number of ads that come through your mailbox, though. And there’s a simple reason for that: direct mail campaigns work.
Benefits of Direct Mail Campaigns
Despite the rise of email and digital marketing, direct mail has still proven to be an effective way for small businesses to reach their customers.
- Large Reach: Direct mail campaigns give you the opportunity to reach almost everyone in your zip code – and beyond! And, some direct mail companies have perfected their targeting consumer mailing lists so that you can reach exactly the type of customers you’re looking for. By using these specialty mailing lists and focusing on specific demographics of people, you can use your marketing dollars more wisely.
- High Response Rates: There’s a growing perception that traditional marketing is outdated more expensive than it’s worth. Mailer ads, however, still prove to be successful. In 2015, the Digital Marketing Association found that direct mail had about an average response rate of 3.7%, while email had an average rate of 0.1%.
- Plenty of Space: Because you control the size and design of your ad, you have as much space as you want to provide customers information about your shop and services and details about current promotions. Don’t go overboard, though: If you put too much information, your ad may be confusing and unclear to customers.
Costs of Direct Mail Campaigns
Direct mail campaigns aren’t without their faults, however. Though mailer ads are often effective, some small businesses determine they’re not worth the trouble.
- Time-Consuming: There’s no question that if you put the effort into your direct mail campaign, you’ll see positive results. But is it worth the time? There are a lot of steps that go into executing a direct mail campaign: you first have to design the ad, print and post it, and finally, decide who to mail it to. And these ads usually aren’t one and done: to see the best results, you need to mail out ads consistently. You simply may not have enough time in the day to get it all done.
- Junk Mail: Mailer ads have the unfortunate reputation of being seen as junk mail, and you run the risk of a lot of your ads ending up in the trash.
- Costs Add Up: All those design, print and postage costs can quickly add up, and if you’re not careful you may end up paying more than you initially planned. You also have to be wise about who you mail to: if you follow every door direct mail, you could be reaching a lot of people who are less likely to buy what you’re selling. There are risks with specialty mailing lists, too: These lists are more expensive and have higher postage rates than if you send to everyone, and so if you target the wrong niche market, you may be wasting hard-earned money.
How to Make Your Direct Mail Campaign As Effective As Possible
If you’ve decided to spend the time and money on mailer ads, you need to make sure you’ll see returns on investment. Think about the direct mail ads that you’ve received in the mail. How many ads do you stop to read? How many do you throw in the trash after barely a glance?
I receive a ton of unasked-for mail each week. Ads for credit cards, gyms, local restaurants… the list goes on. But I always stop to look at the mail from one company: Petco.
I get it. You own an auto shop, not a pet shop. And I won’t lie that the cats and dogs on each ad increase my interest in it. But the takeaway lessons of what works in direct mail campaigns cross over.
- Provide a Clear Offer: Like just about everyone, I’m interested in saving a buck or two when I can. Offer me a clear, concise discount and you’ve got my attention.
- Make It Relevant: Though I’d love to own a whole house full of animals, the reality is that I just have one cat. A promotion for anything other than cat food or products isn’t going to help me. Similarly, if you’re offering a promotion, make sure it actually applies to the people you’re sending it to. If people can’t use your discount, it’s headed straight for the garbage can.
- Get Personal: Like many companies, Petco tracks its customers’ purchases. But Petco takes it one step further by then sending direct mail ads offering discounts based on what I’ve bought. Whenever I buy a lot of cat food, I start getting promotions for – you guessed it – cat food. Because of these personalized promotions, I’m more likely to return to Petco to keep buying cat food instead of turning somewhere else.
The average household receives 19.1 direct mail pieces each week. Of those, the majority are thrown away. But if you can follow the three guidelines above, your direct mail campaign has a better chance of being successful and encouraging customers to come back to your shop.
Other Types of Direct Mail
Clear, relevant, personalized offers will likely have the highest response rates for direct mail. There are other ways, though, that you can use mail to connect with your customers. Try sending:
- Service Reminders: If it’s been a few months since your customers’ last oil change, send them a reminder for their next one! They’ll appreciate the heads up, and they may go ahead and immediately call to schedule an appointment. To increase their chances of scheduling an appointment, include a discount on the oil change.
- Thank You Cards: Nothing beats a good old thank you card. It shows your customers that you. You don’t need to send one for every customer after every visit – but it’s a smart idea after new customers’ first appointment. It gives the impression that you care about them for more than just their business, and encourages an ongoing relationship. Loyal customers deserve your love, too: Consider sending them an annual note thanking them for their business.
- Newsletters: You only need to send newsletters occasionally. These can include updates on your shop, services, and employees. This is your chance to get a little personal. It might help your customers remember you the next time they need a service done on their car.
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