4 Direct Mail Tactics that Are Working Right Now
Washington, D.C.-based publisher The Kiplinger Washington Editors conducts some rigorous testing for its large direct mail program, giving it quite an expansive perspective on what’s working in the mail at any given point. Denise Elliott, the firm’s vice president of sales and marketing, shared some of these valuable insights at list, data and interactive marketing services firm MeritDirect’s Co-op, held last month in Westchester, N.Y.
1. Test into larger format sizes, if possible.
Instead of a conventional #10 envelope format, Elliott advises marketers to consider #14 or 6" x 9" envelope formats. They still mail at the preferred letter rate, while offering your message more impact in the mailbox or inbox. And, she adds, you might even consider a 9" x 12" format. When The Kiplinger Letter tested this size, it needed a 24 percent lift to pay for the bump in postal costs—it’s been getting a 27 percent increase in response.
2. Add personal touches for a less institutionalized feel.
You want your mail to feel like a special message between your company’s voice and your prospect, not one in several million pieces mailed to nearly everyone else in the country. A few design tactics for that personal touch include live stamp; fake meter marks; “Do Not Bend” faux stamped text (combined with editorial-based freemiums); printed-on labels that suggest the package has been mailed with special handling requirements; and closed-face outers with fancy addressing labels. In fact, combine a few of these judiciously for maximum effect.
3. Stress your main message incessantly.
Don’t be afraid to “beat a theme to death,” as Elliott puts it. If your effort features your best price, most popular premium or other top sales message, emphasize it in every way possible: in the teaser, Johnson box, postscript, letter subheads, order form title, guarantee, call-to-action copy, order summary copy, etc. Your goal is to convince the recipient to take immediate action before he can get distracted.
4. Know your direct response colors.
It’s a time-tested rule, with few exceptions: Certain colors work better than others for direct response. For example, Elliott notes, blue works well for male or professional audiences. Red equals urgent, so it’s often employed to emphasize price discounts and deadlines. Yellow draws the eye, which makes it suited for calling out key product/service benefits. In general, purple, pink and gray don’t pull well. And, she adds, the BRE is an easy place to inject color without adding extra production cost.