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How to Plan an Effective Direct Mail Campaign in 3 Simple Steps

By , February 1, 2017 | Marketing


Direct mail is a powerful marketing tool, but your campaigns will always be most effective when they are properly planned. Here are three simple steps to help you plan the details of your next campaign.

1. Set the goal.

Before you determine any details about the campaign, you first must define the end-goal that you want to achieve through the campaign. Your goal needs to be SMART. For those unfamiliar with the concept of SMART goals, this acronym stands for:

Time Sensitive*

Your goal doesn’t necessarily need to be sales related. It could be to incite people to request quotes for products or services, to spread brand awareness, or to get customers to check out your website.

A few examples:

Get 100 new visitors to our website by date*.
Give 20 quotes for our party planning services by date*.
Obtain 3 new logo design clients by date*.

*While it’s not always necessary to give your campaign goals a deadline, putting a time limit on whatever you are offering in your mailing will give a sense of urgency, which could instigate a quicker response.

2. Select your list.

Now it’s time to choose your list. Having the right list is every bit as important as designing an effective mail piece. Sending a great piece to the wrong audience will still result in a failed campaign. Your goal is to send a relevant and effective mailer to a carefully selected list. Here are a few key questions to ask:

What industry would I like to reach? Narrowing this down can help you target your campaign more effectively than if you try to reach a broader audience.

What type of list will I be using? If you have collected data from your customers, you could send your mailing to your customer list (or to a specific segment of that list).

Your other option is to purchase a new mailing list. You can choose lists that meet the specific criteria of your desired audience. For example, you could request a list of retail businesses within ten miles of you. You could further divide the list by income level, years in business, and more.

What size list should I be using? To determine list size, refer back to the number you determined when you set your SMART goal. The average response for a direct mailing is 2%, but you may want to use a 1% response rate to create projections, especially if you are using a cold list.

Keep in mind that if you are selling or prospecting new clients, a response does not necessarily equate to a sale. If you know from experience that out of 10 leads, 2 of them will usually become new clients, you’ll want to take those statistics into consideration as well.

Obviously there’s no infallible way to predict response rates, but these numbers should help you estimate the size list you will need to achieve your goals.

3. Design the campaign.

Before you start designing, make sure you craft two things: 1) a powerful headline and 2) a clear call-to-action.

Headline. The most important part of your campaign is the headline. If the headline doesn’t grab their attention, then your piece will most likely end up in the trash. Don’t rush through this - many marketers spend hours creating the perfect headline.

When crafting the headline, consider your audience’s felt needs, and write something that will speak to those needs and offer a solution. Draft up a few sample headlines and have others review them to test their effectiveness.

Call-to-Action. What action do you want your customer to take in response to viewing this piece? Refer once again to your SMART goal - perhaps it was, “Give 20 quotes for our party planning services.” Your call-to-action could be, “Call ###-###-#### for a quote!”

Now that these two items are determined, you can draft up supporting content, select images, and design the piece. Check out our post The Anatomy of a Direct Mail Piece for some more specific tips on designing the layout of your mailer.

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