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How to Make Direct Mail More Actionable

Written By Shannon Bailey

September 29, 2021

Effective marketing is accomplished both online and offline. While the World Wide Web offers access to, ya know, the world, it is also easy for your message to get lost as you compete for attention online. In addition to your digital and social media channels, direct mail is a powerful marketing tool.

While direct mail has been around for decades (even centuries), we’re constantly finding new ways to make it more relevant and effective. Here are a few ways to make your direct mail more actionable.

Have a clear message.

What is the number one thing you want the recipient to do? What is the call-to-action (CTA)? Don’t make them wonder what to do next. Keep your message simple and straightforward.

Make it relevant.

Consider all the interactions the individual is having with your brand to create a timely, personalized and relevant mailer. Think about how the direct mail works with email or other content you’re promoting online. The mailer should complement and support other experiences the recipient has had with your brand. A few examples:

  • Send a postcard with a special offer to someone who has abandoned their shopping cart.
  • Use the recipient’s address to calculate distance and include a map to your nearest location.
  • Don’t introduce your organization to a current donor; thank them for their support instead and reference their past donations.

Make it easy.

Eliminate any barriers that might slow someone down from responding. QR codes have seen a resurgence during the pandemic and are a great mechanism to prompt immediate action. If you’re using QR codes to direct recipients to a landing page, use a UTM tracking URL (snippets of code attached to the end of a URL that allow you to track the source of website traffic to a specific campaign). If you want the recipient to respond by sending something back in the mail, populate as much information as you can on the reply device to save them time. And if your budget allows, apply a stamp to the reply envelope, making it that much easier for them to complete the call-to-action.  

Increase the shelf life.

If you’re like most people, you have a stack of mail you need to act on: nonprofits you intend to donate to or that bill you will ultimately go online to pay. Direct mail has a much longer shelf life than digital channels, and paper is a tangible reminder. Increase the staying power of direct mail even further by including valuable content worth hanging onto or a keepsake like a bookmark or magnet.

Keep it fresh.

Use stories, recent successes and context to larger cultural narratives to carve out your position in the market and keep your direct mail fresh and engaging. This can include design as well—make your mailers eye-catching. Predictability and consistency is good, but every once in a while, change up the format and size of your direct mail pieces. Thoughtful messaging and design reminds people of your value and keeps them on their toes. 

In short,

  • Include a direct, clear call-to-action so your reader doesn’t have to guess what you want.
  • Use data to keep your direct mail timely, personalized and relevant.
  • Prompt quick action with QR codes and pre-populated reply devices.
  • Prolong the shelf life of your mailer with valuable content or keepsakes.
  • Invest time in design and messaging to keep your direct mail fresh and engaging.

Looking for content ideas? Our post on How to Use Direct Mail Throughout the Customer Journey provides some guidance on what to consider during each phase of the customer experience.