I've read recent industry editorials that indicate direct mail is "breathing its last breath." Most of the buzz is focused on social media, on-line marketing and mobile marketing.
But direct mail is very much alive and well! The core formula has never changed. The success formula is 40 percent data, 40 percent offer/ask and 20 percent creative, timing, etc. The proper offer and/or ask mailed to the right person at the right time produces a very effective ROI.
Currently, a new trend in direct mail is an old-fashioned hand-addressed envelope and hand-written P.S.
When is the last time you received a genuine handwritten envelope with a live stamp? More than likely you immediately opened it. You see a personalized letter, and your eyes shift to the bottom and you see a hand-written P.S. You are hooked!
One of the fastest growing vendors in the direct mail production industry ONLY produces hand-written communication. Its growth is fueled by the ROI of its clients which include for profit and non-profit customers. The vendor's annual revenue exceeds $12 million!
Your first response may be that handwritten communication is expensive. Never forget that a mail package is expensive only if it doesn't work! Obviously, the handwritten package should be mailed to the proper audience with the appropriate offer.
Typically, the handwritten package is used in an offer where there is a high average order. In a nonprofit setting, it works best for mid-level to major donors or for renewing lapsed donors.
Allegiant Direct's client, Meharry Medical College, has a "Circle of Friends" which includes donors who have given at least $1,000.00. We have historically mailed an expensive invitational-size vellum envelope with a personalized letter and personalized reply form. The package did well with a cost per dollar raised of $0.36.
However, in our most recent mailing, we used a handwritten outer envelope and a handwritten P.S. inside the invitation card with a personalized reply device and BRE. Compared to the previous mailing, our client experienced an 18 percent lift in response, 11 percent increase in cost and 83 percent increase in net income. The cost per dollar raised was $0.26.
In closing, the best direct marketing plan is a multichannel approach that includes constant testing in all channels. However, in your direct mail channel, do not forget the "magical results" of handwritten communications It spans across generational preferences and is the ultimate "one to one" communication tool.
Mike Cowart is the director of marketing at Allegiant Direct, a full-service direct response agency providing integrated marketing services and specializing in the planning, creation and production of successful campaigns and programs for nonprofit organizations. Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-690-1115.