Tips on a direct marketing campaign

Andrew Neitlich
Andrew Neitlich

In the last blog, a reader asked for comments on a direct mail campaign. I’ve done lots of research about what works and what doesn’t in direct mail, and here is what I’ve concluded:

1. Letters targeted to a specific industry pull much better than letters that are for small/medium business in general.

2. A series of 3 separate letters, each on a different topic, mailed about 3 weeks apart, pulls better than a single letter by a factor of 3-5 X. In fact, a single letter without follow up barely gets any response, no matter how well written.

3. The most effective letters are educational in nature, not simply a sales pitch. Prospects want to know specific data about the value you can create, as well as insights about their top problems and how to solve them.

4. Some letters get better response than others. For instance, there’s a famous Wall Street Journal letter (which I’ve modified in my manual for IT pros) that has generated millions in response and was so successful that it became a successful TV ad. Use what has worked before.

5. You will at least triple your response if you follow up your letters with phone calls and even in-person visits.

6. Drive people to your website for more information and reports. A P.S. at the end of the letter (one of the most read parts of any direct mail letter) is a good place to tell people about great things on your website. Have a way to capture their contact info on the website.

7. Lead your letter off with a compelling headline above the address, something like: Three Fatal Mistakes Wisconsin Law Firms are Making with Their Web Sites — And How to Fix Them

Want numbers? Numbers will show that execution is half the battle. But here are some stats:

– My clients get anywhere from 3-15% response sending a stream of letters and following up in person and with calls.

– A single letter only generated about .45% response. This rate was tripled to 1.5% when followed up with a phone call only.

– Adding a P.S. increased response for one letter by 25%, at least in terms of calls from people looking for a free report. But this increase captured prospect info for follow up over time.