10 Costly Direct Mail Mistakes You’ll Never Repeat Again

Are you paying for dead leads?

Let’s face it, direct mail isn’t easy. A lot of things can go wrong. From not having a freshly up-to-date mailing list, and paying for dead leads. To the most expensive one, not meeting the USPS regulations and therefore paying the full price for postage.

Have you tried direct mail and decided that is not for you? Before claiming that direct mail doesn’t work for you, make sure you are not making these costly direct mail mistakes:

List of Direct Mail Mistake:

1. Attempting to sell with postcards

The first direct mail mistake is the attempt to close the deal with your promotional materials. Direct mail is great for reaching a new market, building brand awareness or generating new leads. It’s not ideal for a sales pitch, because there isn’t enough space for all the information your prospects need for making a decision.

Attempting to sell at the first mailing might not seem like a big problem until you understand that only 2% of sales are made on the first contact, 3% on the second contact, 5% on the third, and 10% on the fourth.

How to avoid it:

Aim to provide with your mail pieces a point touch for your prospects to discover first your brand. Then generate a lead pipeline and build name recognition through a consistent design and mailing schedule.

Choose the right direct mail format accordingly:

  • Letters and envelope formats for their personal, intimate feel, as an effective way to introduce your business.
  • Postcards for making an announcement or driving customers to a store, website or event.
  • Self-mailers for its multi-panel format that provide enough space to engage the recipients and tell a full story.
  • Catalogs for branding purposes and showcasing multiple products lines as a way to drive traffic to your website.
  • Dimensional mailers and pop-ups for their capacity to generate excitement and engagement.

2. Addressing to a wrong audience

Before buying a mailing list, first, identify people who are interested in your product. Then make them an attractive offer to take advantage of. Identifying your targets is your first step in building a successful business. Addressing it to the wrong people is a complete waste of time.

For example, the target market for the female fashion brand Forever 21 would be millennial females who love fashion and want budget-friendly purchases. That’s pretty obvious that a retirement community would not be the ideal recipients for Forever 21’s direct mail!

How to avoid it:

Segment your audience based on its demographics and psychographics. If you are spending a significant budget on your campaign, you need to be sure that your recipients will be interested in buying. Purchase a direct mailing list that is closer to your ideal buyers.


3. Bad mailing list

When you are dealing with a bad mailing you can have a list that is:

  • Not updated recently
  • Don’t fit your selected audience
  • Include many wrong addresses and
  • Keeps producing returns constantly

How to avoid it:

increase your list deliverability up to 90% by checking it with NCOA service for an additional small fee ($5 per thousands). Remove contacts that have moved or gone out of business recently.

Pass your list through CASS Certification software that standardizes addresses and adds the zip codes for additional postage discounts.

Remove also all the duplicates and eliminate records that are hindering your list. Cleaning up your list will save you from paying for printing and postage for dead leads.

Choose to rent your mailing lists, it’s cheaper and you’ll have with every mailing a higher chance of converting. Or you can buy your list and use it as many times as you want. But you have to keep it accurate and fresh.

4. No meeting USPS regulations

Too many times a design element happens to cause mailers to pay significant additional postage. The fee can be 35 cents or more per piece depending on the issue (Source: Forbes). In these cases, reprinting can be actually cheaper than paying postage for mail pieces that don’t meet postal regulations.

How to avoid it:

Knowing the USPS regulations or working with a designer with experience in designing mail pieces can save a lot of money.

5. Overly creative design

One of the beginners’ mistake is to crowd your mail piece with too much copy or graphics. As a printer, we have worked with many clients that had wanted to jam pack their pieces with a lot of things they consider appealing, plus tons of images. The result was quite the opposite of what they wanted, the more you throw in, the less appealing it becomes.

How to avoid it:

Less is more when it comes to mass mailing design. A clean design with eye-catching graphics and easy-to-read text are all you need to grab your recipients’ attention. Work with a professional designer with experience in designing mail pieces to nail down the perfect balance between simplicity and creativity. Ask a sample of printing to ensure there’s no smudging or other print errors.

6. Not measuring and tracking

If you are not tracking your success, how you’ll know that it’s not working? Every response to your campaign, whether is a phone call or a redeemed coupon, should be gauge accordingly, in order to measure ROI and other metrics of success.

However, tracking doesn’t mean just counting. Tracking is about understanding every element of the mailing you just sent out. This way you can improve everything you do for future mailings. That’s the only way to get consistently better results as you build a business.

How to avoid it:

A tracking system should be built into your mailing plan. You can use mail monitoring service that tracks mail drops, Informed Delivery service that sends email notifications about the expected delivery or tracking the IMb Barcodes on random mail pieces.

Secondly, your collaterals should dictate the response method. Any point of contact listed on your direct mail piece – phone number, URL, coupon code – should be unique and trackable.

Depending on the CTA of your mail piece, here are the items to count:

  • Printed Coupons: counting the number of redeemed coupons is an excellent way to track the action rate.
  • Discount Codes: track and count each sale for which were used discount codes.
  • The number of incoming calls on the dedicated phone line or unique toll-free 800-numbers that automatically forwards to your business line.
  • Unique page views on your Google Analytics for personalized landing pages and QR codes.
  • The number of subscribers collected by submission forms.

7. No testing

Without testing, you’ll never know what exactly is working best. In a rapidly changing environment, testing is essential. What’s working today, may not impress anyone tomorrow. To keep growing your business you have to try new things: new formats, new offers, new segments of the market. Without consistent testing, you won’t know what to change for improving continuously your performance.

How to avoid it:

Testing can answer all your questions about every aspect of your marketing. It can help you decide which offers, ad copies or incentives bring in a higher response rate. Through testing different promotions, you ’ll understand better your audience, therefore improving your response.

Include in your campaigns an A/B Split Test which is the most common type of testing. Or try a Multi-variable Test, that involves testing multiple elements at one time: for example, 3 lists and 2 offers or different formats all within the same mail campaign.

8. Not having a convincing offer

No special offer, no reason for your prospects to respond. A common mistake is to add the offer to the ad copy after everything else has been said.

How to avoid it:

offer a special price, a buy-one-get-two deal, a bonus gift or a freebie. Show the value of your offer or help your prospect to perceive the value of your offer, by improving the image and the package of your product, or by establishing your credibility with a reference or other social proof technique. And build all your creative elements around your offer, by putting it at the center of your mail piece.

Read more about 10 Ways to Make Your Direct Mail Offer Attractive

9. Lack of personalization

If your targets are multiple audience segments, a lack of personalization can sabotage your overall marketing efforts. To better tailor your offer and message to each segment, it’s critical to understand their needs and pain points and create multiple direct mail pieces that speak to each segment. So, avoid this direct mail mistake by personalizing the message to each segment.

For example, 1st home buyers can have unrealistic expectations about the condition of a home. And renters can struggle with getting pre-approved loans. Once you’ve understood the problem of your audience, you’ll be able to tailor specific offers and Call-to-Actions for the specific segment of your audience.

10. No follow-up

It’s unrealistic to expect the results from one single mailing. A follow-up sequence of integrated physical and digital marketing efforts are required. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending hundreds of dollars on a direct mail campaign obtaining just a few leads. Labeling your direct mail campaign as a failure because you haven’t established any deals is another common mistake.

How to avoid it:

First, send a specifically targeted direct mail campaign to help your prospects to discover your brand. Then, send an email to the recipients on the day the mail should arrive. Then direct your acquired leads to your landing page where you can give them all the information they need to make a decision. To qualify your leads, give them a call and retarget them on Facebook and Google. Build up a solid follow-up plan and deliver a consistent message across all your marketing platforms.

Come Check Us Out and Read more about How to Build a Successful Direct Mail Sales Funnel

The best way to avoid all these common mistakes is to work with a reliable and trustworthy mailing house with a lot of experience in dealing with all sorts of printing and mailing issues and challenges. Or simply give us a call to get the perfect solution for your needs today: (602) 433-9101

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