Direct mail just works. Printed marketing occupies a unique place in the arsenal that marketing teams deploy, complementing and augmenting digital and experiential marketing. The statistics also reinforce the power of printed direct mail. Marketers sell $17 in goods for every $1 they spend on direct mail in the U.S. One study showed that 41% of people look forward to checking their mail every day. That’s a reach that would make email green with envy.

But getting delivered into the home is only part of the story. A direct mail piece has to work hard to be noticed over the deluge of other communications and distractions. In our decades in the industry, our SPC team has observed a number of best practices in designing direct mail. So, we’d like to share a few ways that marketers can increase ROI and efficacy for their direct mail campaigns.

Tell a compelling brand story

People engage when they care. The best direct mail enables a brand to tell compelling stories that matter to customers. In direct mail (as in most physical marketing), this is done with a unique combination of imagery and copy that meets the audience at their points of interest and need. Seasoned marketers and brand stewards understand this, but it takes skill to ensure that a brand’s essence is communicated in ways that resonate in direct mail.

Create a single, clear call to action

Design, copy, and print production can work together to drive users to action. It might be tempting for marketers to try cramming the kitchen sink into a direct mail piece: multiple offers, several messaging tiers, standard marketing copy, beautiful images, and a variety of production finishes—but often, less is more. Marketers can communicate more clearly—not by providing every option under the sun, but by making sure that the essentials get communicated. When there are fewer calls to action (based on relevant customer data!), they get greater attention and reaction.

Utilize the unique strengths of print

Permanence, sharability, dimensionality, and control of pacing are hallmarks of great direct mail. Printed pieces can be physically shared, borrowed, saved, and achieve a permanence (both in mind and in space) that allows a brand’s messages to stay nearer to top-of-mind. This physical interaction drives connection and cements a product or brand in a customer’s mind.

Personalization is key

Use data and customer intelligence to speak to audiences in meaningful, relevant ways. Personalized names and addresses on a mail piece just aren’t enough. Today, robust customer data can be used to cut through marketing noise to deliver a message, using lifestyle insights, purchase history, interests, and life trigger events. Demographics, geography, financial behavior, and hobbies also play a part in making sure that a campaign connects in the way a brand intends.

Use touch

The tactile dimension of printed mail can be potent. Unique folds, thoughtful unfurling, and special finishes engage an audience, hold attention, and create memorable impressions. Utilizing special print effects that engage the sense of touch (silky smooth coatings, pebbled textures, gloss or dull finishes, scented varnishes, thermochromic inks) can also elevate a design beyond an everyday piece of mail.

There are many more strategies and insights that our veteran team at SPC has on enhancing any direct mail marketing campaign. If you’d like discuss tapping into our expertise, please contact Ryan LeFebvre at ryanl@specialtyprintcomm.com.

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