Increasing the Effectiveness of Your Direct Mail

by Jenny on November 27, 2012 Comments Off on Increasing the Effectiveness of Your Direct Mail

As I discussed in my recent post on “Is Direct Mail Dead?”, direct mail is in fact alive and well, and can be a successful part of your marketing mix. Today I’d like to talk about some of the things that you can do to increase the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns, and then give some examples to show how these ideas work in real life.

To increase the effectiveness of your direct mail, you should:

  • Take a close look at the creative. Is it relevant? Will it make sense for your target audience?
  • Personalize each piece. Now that everything from the messaging to the images can be personalized using today’s variable print options, there’s just no reason to send out “Dear Customer”-type messages.
  • Think about the timing and frequency. Ideally, your message should be received at the point in time at which the target is likely to be considering a purchase.
  • Segment your list. Depending on your industry and needs, this can mean breaking down your list by customer type, purchase behavior, geography, age, or any other factor that can affect the frequency, timing or messaging of your direct mail.
  • Have an irresistible offer. The most successful offers are unique, desirable, easy, risk-free, and have a high perceived value.

So how does all of this work in real life? Let me give you some examples…

  • Pet check up: I recently received a postcard from our veterinarian. Not only did it mention my dog by name (“Happy Birthday, Ralphie!), it also listed out the specific shots that Ralphie needed and invited me to make an appointment to bring Ralphie in for his shots and check-up. This highly personalized piece was extremely relevant and perfectly timed.
  • Baby food offers: Before my daughter was born a year ago, I signed up for some baby-related publications. This, of course, got me on the “baby” mailing lists. The company that used to send me offers for baby food is now sending coupons for toddler food. This is a great example of list segmentation, personalization, offer and excellent timing.
  • Oil change: The large national chain where I take my car in for oil changes has all of my contact information, knows what kind of car I drive, and knows that I’m usually there every three months. For a company like this to simply send a generic message out to their entire customer list at the same time would be a complete waste of effort. Ideally they should send me something 2-1/2 months after each oil change that addresses me by name, shows a photo of a car like mine, and reminds me that it’s almost time for my next oil change. A discount coupon certainly wouldn’t hurt, either!

Have you received any direct mail pieces lately that strike you as being particular effective or ineffective?  Please tell us about them in the comments section below.


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Jenny Dinnen is President of Sales and Marketing at MacKenzie Corporation. Driven to maximize customer's value and exceed expectations, Jenny carries a can-do attitude wherever she goes. She maintains open communication channels with both her clients and her staff to ensure all goals and objectives are being met in an expeditious manner. Jenny is a big-picture thinker who leads MacKenzie in developing strategies for growth while maintaining a focus on the core services that have made the company a success. Basically, when something needs to get done, go see Jenny. Before joining MacKenzie, Jenny worked at HD Supply as a Marketing Manager and Household Auto Finance in their marketing department. Jenny received her undergrad degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado (Boulder) and her MBA from the University of Redlands.

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