Research1.)    Research: The importance of research for a direct mail campaign cannot be stressed enough.  In a recent white paper put out by The Dingley Press Uncovered Beliefs about the Catalog Industry, we explore the engagement of young people with catalogs.  We talk about an article put out by click2mail that explains, “Statistics from the Direct Marketing Association show that young people will respond to direct mail marketing, but that messages are more likely to grab their attention if they’re personalized and relevant. To achieve success in this area, you’ll need to invest the time in figuring out who your prospects are, and then take the time to develop customized messages for them” (read more here).  What do the statistics of young people tell us about research? That it is imperative. That in order to continue to engage our audiences moving forward into the future, we must be sure that we know who they are.  We must know what they like, where they work, how much money they make, what their name is, how many pets they have.  And if we can’t do that, then we should at least have an idea of the demographics of their neighborhoods. It is important you don’t skimp here.  This could make all the difference in the world to your program.


2.)    Personalize: This leads us directly into the next tip: personalize.  As we stated in the last topic, research shows that campaigns who personalize have healthier mail response rates than those that do not.  After you have done your research and decided that you know who it is you are sending your catalog to, then it’s time to personalize it.  There are many ways to personalize a catalog. Technologies such as personal URLs, QR Codes, and Augmented Reality are all strategies that have made personalization within a catalog more effective.


3.)    List Hygiene: After all that research and all that work personalizing desirable messages to individuals, it should come as no surprise that the next tip to improve your direct mail response rates is to make sure your lists are accurate.  This is to say, why spend time, money, and resources, to send a catalog to someone who moved last year? Or to someone who was just married or divorced, or if you spelled their name wrong?  Or worse, that the same person gets the same catalog twice!  This frequently happens after marriages and divorces, followed by new purchases and when it does happen it kind of expunges the quintessence of personalization.  You might, in theory, consider scheduling the list hygiene before the research and personalization stages to save your company more time and money.


4.)    Clarity: Obviously we all know that the point of any kind of marketing campaign is to gain new customers and to gain sales.  But beyond that, as marketers we must understand that consumers are bombarded with advertisements every day. “Buy this, buy that, do this, do that.”  And with a mailbox full of postcards, letters, newspapers, catalogs and other mail offers, it is important that your message be heard amongst the noise.  In order to achieve at this, you must first know what your message is.  What is the purpose of your campaign? Any personalization or call to action you include in your piece must directly correspond with that theme.  Otherwise, your piece will get buried.


Call to action5.)    Call to Action: Once you are completely clear on what your message is, you can create a Call to Action.  This is when you ask your potential customer to do something for you.  Telling them about your products and services isn’t enough anymore.  Consumers need to be told what you want them to do.  A little incentive here doesn’t hurt either.  For example, “Call by November 1, 2014 and get $50 off your new fall wardrobe.”


6.)    Make Responding Easy: It may seem obvious, however you would be surprised how easy of a blunder this can be in a direct mail campaign.  There is nothing worse than getting all psyched up about a product and then having no number to call, or no answer at the call center.  How about a non-working website?  How about a website with a credit system off line? Heck, even a website that loads slowly can be difficult to respond to.  These are all considerations. Honestly, mailing out catalogs is expensive. Make it worth your while and have all your ducks in a row. Don’t invite me over for coffee if you don’t have coffee mugs in which to serve it.


 7.)    Track Your Investment Last, working together with other platforms, such as Google Analytics to track your investment is very worth your time.  track

This is especially helpful if you are using personalized landing pages. This will allow you to market directly to an individual (as stated in tip #1) while allowing you to track how many individuals went to your website through the direct mail portal. Another idea to track campaigns: Unique URLS work great to track web traffic brought in from a catalog campaign.  A slight variation of your website address to be published in your catalog should do the trick.  QR codes, augmented reality, surveys, and product offer codes are all more ways to track a successful campaign.


Like anything else, a catalog program will give back to you what you put in to it.  By following these seven tips your direct mail response rates will improve.  For more information about The Dingley Press and how we work with our customers to achieve the best response rates visit the List Services section of our webpage.