When Direct Mail Goes Bad

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When direct mail goes bad, it can cost you a lot of money. Before you send your next campaign, be sure to take into consideration the following issues. There so are many things that can go wrong with a direct mail campaign. Believe it or not bad direct mail is very common. You may have even sent some and not realize it because your response rate was OK. Imagine what it could be if you fixed the problems!

How direct mail goes wrong:

  • List: Your list is extremely important. There are many things that can go wrong with your data. You can have old outdated information. You can select the wrong people to get the wrong offer, for example an offer for men only, but some women are entered with the wrong gender code. These can cause problems with personalization and have you sending to people that are no longer interested, never been interested or no longer at that address.
  • Call to action: Remember, your CTA gets people to respond. The worst case scenario is no call to action at all, followed closely by a poorly worded CTA. In order to drive response you need a CTA that resonates with your audience. Choose it carefully.
  • Wordy: Too many words or the wrong words can get your mail piece tossed in the trash. Be concise and to the point. Let them know what’s in it for them and how they can get it. Details on products are a turn off, use benefits to them to draw them in.
  • Images: The wrong images can turn people off or confuse them. Make sure you choose images that support not only your message but also your brand.
  • Grammar: Misspellings and poor word choices are very common. You need to make sure that your copy is free of errors to get your point across correctly. Mistakes like these give you a bad reputation that can take a long time to recover from.
  • Format: There are many USPS regulations that can cost you a lot of money if you do not follow them. When you are creating your campaign it is best to consult with your mail service provider to find out specific details about your design idea. This can save you from paying extra postage or not being able to mail your piece at all.
  • Timing: Granted, there are differences in delivery times across the country, but there is enough information out there for you to plan on a schedule that will most likely occur. If you have a short response window, you need to make sure that the mail piece does not arrive after the window has closed. There is nothing worse than a mail piece that is trying to drive traffic to a store sale, but the mailer arrives after the sale is over. Make sure to allow yourself enough time for concept, design, print and mail.

This is by far not a complete list of direct mail gone bad, but it does give you a comprehensive look at several key areas where things commonly go wrong.  Sometimes knowing what not to do is the best place to start planning from. Many times the best way to stop mistakes is to allow enough time for the creative and production processes. Keep in mind that with the current paper shortages your production time is going to be longer than in previous years.

It is also a good idea to have someone from outside your organization look over your final concept to make sure they understand your offer and that it is appealing. Are you ready to get started on better direct mail?