16-Plus Design Tips to Make Your Direct Mail Shine
For some marketers, direct mail may be a strange topic to tackle in our increasingly digital age. A number of consumers have endured so many mailboxes full of bad marketing pieces that they'd be happy if direct mail died altogether. However, there is a way to redeem direct mail's reputation and use it to pique your recipients' interest: excellent design.
6 Design Tips That Let Content Shine
Consumers don't want you to aim straight for their money; they want to be told a good story that enriches their lives with useful information. With this as your goal, here are some specific tips to keep in mind:
• Build a mailing list only of customers who would already be interested in your product. Covering a neighborhood with pet care postcards will just annoy residents if none of them owns a pet.
• Include a call to action that is urgent, but not pushy. Give a deadline for the coupon you're offering, or use another friendly encouragement for the recipient to respond.
• Go for a larger size if you use postcards, as this gives you more room to include all the essential info and some fun visuals without cramming anything in.
• Also for postcards, always use both sides. The address side of the card is an often-wasted opportunity to hook viewers and make them want to know more.
• Keep words to a minimum — convey as much through your illustrations, white space, font choices and layout as you can. High-quality background photos are one of the easiest ways to make your piece engaging and communicate a message that a few well-chosen words can supplement.
• Don't forget to have fun!
4 Mistakes to Avoid
Some direct mail mistakes are so bad that everyone in the design community knows about them, yet they still get used! Before you fall into such a trap, check out the list of faux pas we've gathered for you.
• Don't send a design straight from the drawing board to the printer is a bad idea. Beta-test the promotion before you send it to print.
• If you send out bland pieces that look like they could have gone to anyone — even if the address line is personalized — consumers won't feel that you value their business. Take time to add tailored elements, such as handwritten content.
• Don't use unnecessary words to fill space; consumers can see through this. It's better to have lots of solid and relevant information prepared so you can weed it down to the essentials before you finalize the design.
• If you make it ridiculously hard to escape from your mailing list, consumers will grow to resent your brand image. Let them go if they want to, and make it clear how to do so.
If you've already made a mistake like these, it's especially important to keep quality control tight before you order another print run. Prospective customers should learn to expect only the best from you.
Color and Formats That Help You Meet Your Marketing Objectives
The visual appearance of a product accounts for 93% of the reason that customers buy it, according to an infographic by Kissmetrics, so the appearance of your mailer will determine the success of your response rate. For instance, your brand colors are important for triggering brand recall in viewers. But if those are all you're using, try branching out into other shades that evoke different emotions and create needed contrast:
• Powerful colors, such as red, are associated with impulse purchases and urgent action.
• Pastel shades appeal to conscientious shoppers.
• Dark, cool colors create a sense of long-term security.
Visual identity is fairly flexible, so if everything you produce looks too uniform, people will get the impression that you don't know how to adapt. Overusing the same few fonts has this effect as well. While your brand font should be present, it doesn't have to take center stage every time. Each individual typeface you adopt for a particular mailer should be readable and legible, as should your font combinations (no more than two or three typefaces maximum, unless you want a chaotic feel).
Also, check USPS's bulk rates for the size of the pieces you want to mail; some of the elements needed to sort your mailers appropriately, like indicia or barcodes, have specific placement requirements. You should plan from the start to include these things so they don't look strange when they're added. While you're at it, you could even make them part of the design. Little embellishments like shaped barcodes may not be the one thing that brings in a new buyer, but they're fun to spot.
Direct mail is alive and well, and your quality contributions to the field can help keep it that way while leading shoppers to your door. How have you used direct mail to help grow your business? Share your stories with us below!
Anna Wakeling is a content writer for e-commerce print companies Signazon.com.