Direct Mail Tips: Test, Track and Succeed

Direct Mail Tips: Test, Track and SucceedDirect mail suffers from longstanding myths about its effectiveness. Most novice marketers get the wrong idea about direct mail — often in the area of what to spend and how much to mail.

You should determine what you are able to spend for your direct mail budget, spend it, and figure out the maximum number of leads you can create. For instance, I hear this statement quite often: “We aren’t a big company. How could we send out 2,000 postcards all at once?” I understand “What if they all call?” seems like a valid concern, but in reality, it isn’t.

The unfortunate truth is they won’t all call. Honestly, there is no sure way to tell how many people will call if you haven’t done this type of marketing before. Think of it this way: What would happen if they did all call? You may not be able to handle all of them, but you would handle as many as you possibly could, right?

In this scenario, direct mail would maximize your income for that time period providing you close all those callers! You can also explore the idea of expanding your operation to handle the number of leads you create.

What if you didn’t send as much direct mail as you could in the beginning? Say you can afford to send 4,000 direct mail pieces every two weeks, but you think you will get too many calls to handle them all. So instead, you send 2,000 and the response is decent. However, you still have some down time and have to “manufacture” sales.

You saved $400 in marketing money, but had enough down time where you could have closed quite a few more sales than you did. The question now is “Which gives me more money in my pocket, saving $400 on marketing or closing more sales?” More than likely the answer is to send more direct mail and close more sales.

Okay, Time to Track Results.

Hopefully you have more than one way to recruit new customers. So how do you know which ones are working and which aren’t? Set up a system to track the results.

For example, say you start a direct mail campaign for your business. The first week you send out 3000 postcards and get 30 calls. Did all of these leads come from the postcards? Probably not, because the week before you got 8 calls and hadn’t sent any postcards yet. So how do you know who responded to the direct mail?

The answer: ask them. “How did you hear about our company?” The hard part is making sure all employees who answer the phone remember to ask the question every time. The fewer prospects who answer this question, the less accurate your information will be when making future marketing decisions.

Now let’s assume that you have been direct mailing for a while and you have a good number of calls coming in. If you ask the question “So how did you hear about our company?” they may respond, “I got your postcard in the mail.” But, by now you have sent direct mail to four different lists, three times each. How do you tell which list and mailing this customer was from?

The answer: Put a marketing code on your direct mail that tells you which postcard they received and when it mailed.

Give each list a name and work the date into your marketing code as well. And the only thing your employees have to ask is, “Would you mind reading me the marketing code above your address?” This code gives you all the info you need and helps keep your direct mail results tracking as accurate as possible.

Try not to operate off of assumptions about “how to market” if you haven’t educated yourself about direct mail. And make sure you collect all the data and make your future marketing decisions based on facts.

How to get the facts:

There are many ways to get information on which of your marketing actions work. Embrace new technology and use a service like Yodle, which supplies you a tracking phone number, or InfusionSoft, who helps you keep all of your tracking and follow-up straight no matter how many marketing channels you use.

Those are great services, but by no means do you have to get that technological. Many times, especially for smaller campaigns, keep it low tech. Start by putting a promotional code on every direct mail piece you create. Then get your receptionist a note pad and, when a new person calls, have them make a note of which code they received. This way you can start collecting the data you need to make informed decisions about where to cut or increase your direct mail budget, no new staff or expenses necessary!

Joy Gendusa

Joy Gendusa founded PostcardMania in 1998 with a phone, computer and no capital investment. Since then, she has grown the company into one of the nation's most effective direct mail marketing firms, specializing in postcard marketing for small to large-sized businesses. Over the years, she expanded to offer mailing list acquisition, website development, email marketing–all while continuing to educate clients with free marketing advice.

She has been named Tampa Bay CEO of the Year, Business Woman of the Year in Tampa Bay and has been featured on MSNBC's "Your Business." PostcardMania is an Inc. 500 and 5000 company and has won awards for creativity, best business practices and leadership. Find Joy on Google+

If you would like to interview Joy or book her as a speaker, please email joyspeak@postcardmania.com or call 1-800-628-1804 ext. 281.

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