Direct mail has greatly progressed beyond its humble origins. Thankfully, we no longer have to rely on animal transportation or handwritten copies when it comes to delivering the latest news or deals on a product or service.
But what about generating leads? Ideally, you want to reach customers the sales department can clear, and who will become qualified leads that will close deals or buy your wares. If you want your business to grow, you need to obtain these customers. You must also do all you can, within reasonable and ethical parameters, to get them to buy.
That connection -- when potential customers learn about your products and services and want to purchase more -- is key. Mail has a personal, tactile sensation that email marketing cannot replicate. While using the two strategies in tandem can work well, it's important to have clear goals in mind.
You want to prove that you can generate leads using direct mail, a timeless marketing strategy. What’s more, you want to maximize your strategy’s efficiency in reaching a target audience. A basic direct mail campaign is relatively inexpensive to pull off if you start small and expand gradually once you know it works.
Here are just a few strategies to help you get started with lead generation:
1. Deliver value to your target market.
This is the first step of any campaign. What is the difference between your postcards and the junk mail people find in their postbox? Your mail piece serves a purpose. You have a crucial message to deliver.
If you don’t deliver an important message about sales, relevant facts, discounts or events, then your mail might be considered junk. This is an easy way for postcards and fliers to end up in the garbage or for customers to request to be on a “do not send” list.
Consumers are wired to tune out advertising. We don’t like having someone shove a product or service into our face. But we will listen to these messages if we believe the product or service will assist us.
2. Create a viable tracking system.
If you want to know if you're getting leads, you need to track who is responding to your messages. And with modern technology, it’s more affordable now than ever before to observe metrics for a mailing system. Below are a few potential strategies you could use:
• QR codes: QR codes are digitally generated codes that, when photographed on a smartphone or scanned, will link to a website, coupon or specific announcement. However, they're not used as often as they once were.
Printed mail is one possible channel for QR codes, provided the recipient has access to Wi-Fi and has a QR reading app on their phone. You can’t guarantee either, but you can make an estimated guess based on zip codes and the income bracket of the people you're targeting.
What else can you provide other than coupons? Valuable content that doesn’t fit on your mail piece is another great reason to use QR codes. Let’s say you own a retail store for vintage clothing. You can have QR codes that describe the bolts of particular fabrics, their histories and why collectors love them.
• Numbered coupons that a system can log: Everyone loves a good deal. And you can find out if a coupon is effective if you have them individually numbered or coded. When they are used on a website, scanned at a brick-and-mortar store or mailed in with a check and a catalog order form, you can measure the percentage of how many have been fulfilled.
• Customized landing pages: Landing pages aren’t necessarily the same as the pages on your websites. They can be designed specifically to track visitors and find out who is coming from which linking source. When you want to know if your campaign is generating leads, you can use landing pages to see if the URLs, codes and links on your mail pieces are getting people interested in your product. This is a measurable amount you can track over time.
3. Curate your mailing list.
Less is more when you are working on generating qualified leads. After all, you don’t want to start a campaign and send out messages blindly.
Who is your ideal buyer? Do you want someone in the middle- or the upper-income bracket? A soccer mom or an entrepreneur parent? Who do you want to take an interest in your product, and who should close the deal?
You cannot tackle all these demographics in a mailing list, but knowing the specific profile can help. This way, you won’t have to rely solely on zip codes or neighborhoods.
4. Design a reasonable budget for paper and graphic design.
You don’t want your content to appear cheap, but you also don’t want to break your business’s bank account. The cheapest paper would better serve to wrap meat in a butcher’s shop, and we have gone far beyond that. Consumers are smart, and they can perceive these intentions. Find out the various bond grades you can use and afford for postcards, fliers or letters.
When it comes to graphic design, how do you decide what message is right, and who can deliver it by combining text and images? The same principle holds: You must deliver value. Decide if you or someone in your company can design the mail, or if you need to outsource.
Direct mail can absolutely be used as part of a successful marketing campaign. What’s more, you can generate leads with focus and tracking. So, get out there. Show your target audience what you can do, and measure away.