Wednesday, March 14, 2007

4 Lessons Learned from Direct Mail Campaign

Direct mail -- Yawn, right? I mean, DM has been done every which-way, that it seems impossible to make a campaign driven by mailers work anymore. However, based on the audience (association execs) and budget, I decided that this would be the best way to hit our audience during a pre-show campaign for an upcoming conference that we were attending.

I changed it up a bit, however. Instead of doing one mailer with the typical info on it ("come visit our booth!"), I decided to follow send four mailers out and slowly reveal more information as we got closer to the conference. Here's what I sent out:

10 days prior to conference:

7 days prior to conference:

4 days prior to conference:

1 day prior to conference:

What you are unable to see in these pics is the writing on the back. Each mailer revealed a little more information as we got closer to the event. I didn't even put my company's address, name, or logo until the last postcard. This led to a recipient getting excited everytime a new mailer would arrive. I no longer had to fight to hold his/her interest -- they were looking for my mailer.

This direct mail campaign ended up having about a 10% conversion rate (we counted a conversion as a visit to our booth). Not bad considering that MarketingSherpa benchmarks the average response rate to a DM campaign at 6%. But what was even better was that the 10% of recipients who showed up to the booth were emotionally tied to this mailer. They had put in so much time trying to figure out who was sending them these cards that by the time came for them to come to the conference, my booth was at the top of their list to visit. They also were very interested in the item that I was promoting: our take on a IT maturity model.

4 Lessons Learned:

1) An emotional connection can drive conversions in a DM campaign just like they do in any other medium. I found that the messaging from this campaign even spread virally -- recipients brought asked for their coworkers' help in figuring out who was sending these mailers.

2) 3D mailers will almost always prove to be more effective than flats. The thing that I would've changed if I were doing this campaign again would be to use a mailer that stuck out more in a stack of mail. A couple of recipients remarked that they didn't receive all four mailers, later to realize that they accidentally threw one out.

3) When running a campaign like this, each mailer should have enough information to stand on its own. Each of these mailers built on the previous ones, so if someone missed the first mailer, they didn't understand the rest of them.

4) DM can work -- if you do it in a unique and creative way. Who knew, right?

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