Direct Mail 101

22 Direct Mail Mistakes

/ Blog / By mountainmediaadmin /


1. You Forgot a Call to Action

Once you’ve succeeded in getting a customer or prospect reading your direct mail piece, you need to point them in the direction of their next step. Put these calls to action in logical places within your promotion. For example, at the top or bottom of a letter.

2. You Didn’t Test Your Direct Mail

The art of direct mail marketing is based on continual improvement. Try different approaches in design, copy, packaging, and offers. Eventually you’ll find the right combination that works. This version is your control piece. You can then test future promotions and designs against it to measure your continued success. Testing or trying to beat your control is known as a split-run mailing.

3. You Overhyped Your Product

Be realistic with what you’re offering your target audience. Consumers are becoming smarter and smarter, and that means you can’t offer them more than what you’re actually selling.

4. Bad Grammar

Yes, the whole world is free styling with memes and people screaming “don’t @ me.” But don’t allow your direct mail marketing to succumb to lazy writing. Remember, you’re a business. Buyers are looking for attention to detail in the products and services they choose.

5. Boring Headlines

Looking for a one-way trip to the trash can? If the headline on your direct mail piece isn’t eye-catching, there’s little reason for the recipient to open it or read further.

6. Ignoring Proven Strategies That Actually Work

Study what works. Study what doesn’t work. Direct mail has been around forever, and there’s a reason people continue to use it as a top marketing strategy.

7. No Follow-up Plan

Congratulations! You’ve just finished your direct mail campaign. Now what? Most experts suggest four more touches in the form of an email, a phone call, or both in the following weeks and months to stay top of mind. Many B2B marketers choose all three.

8. Messy Design

If you feel like you’re short on space to say what you want to say, you probably are. Consider a larger mail format or simplifying your message. If you say too much, your message will get lost entirely. That’s because people will be too busy looking at your cluttered design.

9. You Didn’t Get Your Point Across

Your goal is to have direct mail recipients understand your message or offer and make a decision. Be specific because if you take too long to get to your call to action, you will lose them every time.

10. Bad Copywriting

Writing typos, errors, and mistakes reflect poorly on your company. Professional copy and design are expenses that pay for themselves in the form of increased response. Don’t take shortcuts here.

11. You Targeted the Wrong Audience

This mistake is easier to make than you realize. Audience segmentation is extremely important to ensure your list gets to the right audience. Consider using InfoUSA’s services to create a perfectly targeted list, or update your current customer list with missing or updated information. One little mishap can break any direct mail campaign.

12. Cheap Postage Doesn’t Pay Off

Sometimes it makes more sense to pay a little more. If it doesn’t get there at the right time, the whole effort could go to waste, or at least valuable days of revenue could be lost.

13. Lacking Creativity

The direct mail world is saturated. Creativity is how you get noticed. Hire or build an accomplished creative team if you have the budget or brainstorm ideas yourself. Just remember a strategically creative idea—delivered to a relevant audience—can take your product or service to the next level.

14. Not Exploring Other Marketing Solutions

Many small businesses and entrepreneurs have missed opportunities to tie direct marketing in with other campaigns. For example, large retailers have become successful at integrating direct mail with email campaigns, boosting response dramatically.

15. Lost Opportunities to Drive Web Traffic

Your web presence is critical to your business, so why not use direct mail marketing to drive traffic there? It’s a perfect opportunity to capitalize on your mailing, even if many prospects don’t buy directly from you the same day they receive your offer.

16. Botched Contests

Contests are a great way to get interaction with your customers. But if the contest isn’t executed smoothly, it can hurt your company’s reputation. Don’t rush into it. Contests are best with several months of planning.

17. Poor Quality Design

Remember your name is on it, and people will gather a first impression of your company from it. Make it a standout all-star.

18. Insufficient Branding

Establish and build your brand identity so that you don’t have to introduce yourself with every new marketing initiative. Branding creates recognition, and recognition is a form of trust.

19. One-hit Wonder Mentality

If you’re going to send just one direct mail piece and expect huge results, you’d better hire the best marketing team you can find, because that’s a major challenge. Direct mail marketing is an ongoing effort. If you’re learning something each time, that means it’s valuable.

20. Not Having a Plan

Have a plan in place so that your direct mail marketing becomes strategic. It can be as simple as writing key mailing dates on a calendar and trying to meet those dates. But document and record the results of each mailing.

21. Wrong Size

A mailing that is too big will waste money or get damaged in mailboxes; too small will look cramped. The best approach is giving your offer or message the space it needs to be effective. This means flexible copywriters and designers with the foresight to create a winning mail piece.

22. You’re Not Having Fun

The purpose of the split run is not just to test different mailer sizes. The core purpose is to give you the freedom to test ideas against one another. If you have an exciting new idea for a mailer, nurture that enthusiasm and go for it on a small test sample.

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