Direct Mail targetting for more sales and bigger profits

Discover how Direct Marketing techniques help you find valuable customers and how to measure your return on marketing investment

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  • For many businesses on-line marketing is failing to hit targets.
  • While on-line marketing grew direct marketing, particularly direct mail, suffered.
  • Emails are cheap to produce and easy to respond to.
  • But they are also easy to zap and unopen.
  • With tablets, smartphones and social media consumers feel overwhelmed.
  • Improve your marketing budget effectiveness, build DM into your marketing mix.

  • The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as "the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably".
  • Put very simply marketing finds profitable customers. The overall marketing process starts with marketing research and goes through market segmentation, business planning and execution, ending with pre- and post-sales promotional activities.
  • Adding direct marketing activities to your marketing mix will enable you to target customers more tightly and to measure the return on marketing spend.

  • Direct marketing, sometimes called database marketing, direct response marketing or one-to-one marketing, is different from media advertising. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) "aims to promote one-to-one marketing as a true exchange of value between your business, looking to prosper, and your customer, looking to benefit. In other words seeking to increase sales and profits."
  • The 3 vital components of any direct marketing technique are an offer, information and a response. The number of responses determine the succes of the promotion. Media advertising builds brand awareness. Most SMEs would find media advertising a complete waste of money. Unless of course the advertising includes a direct response mechanic such as a reply form, free phone number, link to unique on-line landing pages or 'clip out' coupon.

DM encompasses several distinct marketing techniques including:

  • Direct Mail. There is a huge distinction between quality direct mail and 'junk mail'. Most people like receiving 'personally addressed' mail. The Mailing Preference Service limits the nmail people wish to receive. Any bought-in lists must comply with Data Protection Act regulations and 'opt in' requirements. The best list you have is your own. Creating and maintaining customer databases requires database skills such as de-duplication, file management and using queries. If you store customer data on your computers you must be registered with the Information Commissioners Office. Visit The Royal Mail for help getting the most out of direct mail. Where it was believed email will kill off direct mail the reverse is true. Indeed many campaigns these days combine the two techniques.
  • Email Now email is the most frequently used method for one-to-one contact with customers and prospects. The versatility and flexibility of email means that marketers' use of the channel are only limited by their imagination. Compared to traditional post emails are delivered rapidly. They can be sent and received from any computer or mobile device anywhere in the world. Nevertheless, we receive too many emails from people we do not know. They are easy to zap or unopen and their effectiveness and cost per response is a lot lower than a few years ago. Creating an engaging headline to make people open emails is key. The most effective emails should be very short, easy to read, probably without images with 'more information' links into landing pages on a web site. In general, emails work better if the recipient knows you. The DMA reckon that direct mail is 30 times more effective than email. But, of course, emails are cheaper to run and it is the cost per response that wins through.
  • Telemarketing This is the most powerful and most direct way of contacting a customer or prospect. It is seen as the most intrusive form of direct marketing. We are all aware of the PPI scams and automatic telephone calling systems which can be very upsetting particularly for older people. It is also the most costly one-to-one DM technique so cost per reponse becomes more critical and it is unlikely to be used where you want to increase sales and profits on low value goods. Telemarketing can be an extremely effective B2B business development technique.
  • Inserts Used properly, inserts can be a very cost effective way of increasing sales and profits. They bring together the creativity of advertising mail and the reach of targeted press. Loose inserts can be very tightly targeted by publication owners, charities, book clubs and trade magazines. For example, with a 100,000 run magazine it is possible to choose 10,000 for your insert and test creativity and responses before rolling out nationally. Generally, inserts are chosen because they reflect readers profiles and response rates can be high with very low cost per response. Unlike emails they offer more opportunities for creativity and branding - a 4 page A5 leafelt falling out of your favourite magazine can be quite effective. Of course, unlike the first three DM techniques in this list inserts are not usually personalised which will affect response rates.
  • Social Media Smartphones and tablets are now the most personal devices for contacting people. However, social media works very differently from traditional direct marketing techniques. Organisations must not forget that they are used principally to be socialble with friends, families and similar people and not for buying goods and services. the chances using them to generate income and profits and getting it wrong are high maybe losing a customer for ever. There are many marketing success stories around using Facebook, Twitter and other social media suppliers. Combining email with social media will allow you to build a relationship on the mobile devices and then links into selling sites.
  • Leaflet Drops Door to door leafletting has been around for years. It is very cheap and you can choose a 'solo' drop which will cost more. These days you using National Audit data you can choose areas or even particular streets where there are concentrations of your prospects. The Royal Mail unaddressed mail service starts from a minimum of around 8,000 leaflets. Costs depend on the weight of the piece which can be a weighty catalogue. There are other door drop services supplied by free newspapers and local specialists.

  • Clean, accurate and up-to-date marketing databases are crucial to succesful DM campaigns. They store data on individual customers or prospects in order to make selections for targeted promotional activities.
  • Customer databases supply a significant analytical tool especially if they are populated with profiling and purchase information. They need to be managed under strict security conditions with 'need to know' password controls.
  • They can become a major business asset e.g. a liquidator of a failed travel company was paid nothing for its brands and products but received a large sum from a rival firm for its 55,000 customer database.
  • The database needs to be 'cleaned' by adding correct postcodes and other address details. It needs to be checked for mortalities and duplicates. If you are buying-in a mailing list you should de-duplicate against your own files.
  • If you store data, The Information Commissioners Office say you have a legal duty to protect personal information and comply with the Data Protection Act regulations.
  • A good quality marketing database will increase sales by targetting customers more tightly and create more efficient cost effective campaigns

There is much good advice on developing DM campaigns. Like many marketing techniques putting the advice into practice needs skills and experience. We can help you devise a DM strategy linking it to your other business development activities. We can help you spend tehe marketing budget more effectively. To chat about a project or for more information or just to stay on our list submit the form.

About Deve

The team at Deve supply be-spoke business development services. We combine the disciplines of marketing and financial management to help our clients increase sales and improve margins. For over three decades we have sold our services to multinationals, SMEs and start-ups. We have a background in client side marketing, management accountancy and West End agency practices. We have experience of many B2C and B2B markets. We offer a full service. Or you can access individual skills in business planning, effective marketing, advertising, PR, market research, copywriting, design and print.


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Deve Limited
St Albans