How to use direct mail
- 1 Decide what your objectives are: for example, making direct sales, maintaining customer relationships or generating new enquiries.
- 2 Identify your target audience, typically similar to your existing customers.
- 3 Establish your budget; consider how much each response will be worth to you, and the likely response rate.
- 4 Plan the timing of the mailshot; avoid holidays, and ensure that mailings that are linked to a specific event arrive in good time.
- 5 Build your own mailing list and keep it up to date; keep records of enquiries and existing customers and ask existing contacts for new leads.
- 6 Consider renting a mailing list; clearly specify your target audience, how many names you want and whether you intend to re-use the list. Ensure that the list has been cleaned to remove any names that have 'opted-out' of receiving mailings.
- 7 Ensure that your use and storage of personal data complies with the Data Protection Act.
- 8 Prepare a letter with a clear, attention-grabbing message selling the benefits of your offer; prepare any enclosures (eg brochures).
- 9 Design the mailshot to be attractive; personalise the envelope and letter as far as possible, and avoid the appearance of 'junk mail'.
- 10 Encourage responses: make responding easy (eg with a pre-printed reply card) and consider offering an incentive to reply promptly.
- 11 Use test mailings to establish likely response rates, and to compare the effectiveness of different mailshots or mailing lists.
- 12 Decide how you will handle the response and make any necessary preparations: for example, train employees how to deal with enquiries and ensure you have adequate stocks.
- 13 Send out the mailing; consider using a specialist mailing house to handle large mailings.
- 14 Analyse the response; record which contacts have been mailed and their response, and update your mailing list for any mail 'returned to sender'.
- be clear what your objectives are and who you are targeting
- use an up-to-date and accurate mailing list
- prepare an attractive, personalised mailing
- encourage responses
- commit to a large mailshot without adequate testing
- overestimate likely response rates
- send a mailshot before ensuring that you can handle the response