7 Direct Mail Advertising Tips To Boost Brand Awareness

By Drew Galvin on August 22, 2022

Targeting your customers through unique and personal direct mail methods can help improve brand awareness, resulting in increased lead generation and customer retention. In this blog, we’ll cover the 7 direct mail advertising tips you need to know to get started and gain momentum in direct mail production.

A person stacking direct mail pieces in a commercial printing facility.

What Is Brand Awareness?

Before exploring our top direct mail advertising tips, it’s important to define what brand awareness is and why it matters.

Brand awareness is the extent to which consumers are familiar with — or recognize — the name, qualities, or images of a brand.

For instance, a famous celebrity — such as Michael Jordan — has high brand awareness, as he’s a household name even to those who aren’t interested in professional basketball.

Creating brand awareness is a necessary first step when promoting your business services. Ideally, awareness of a brand includes the qualities that distinguish it from its competition, and how it can help improve the lives of its target market.

5 Things To Know Before You Start With Direct Mail

The most effective direct mail campaigns don’t happen by chance. That’s why we’ve compiled 5 direct mail principles to prioritize before actually sending out direct mail campaigns.

1) Know Your Target Audience

The first important step in developing a direct mail campaign — and any marketing campaign, for that matter — is to define and know your target audience. This information affects everything from messaging to direct mail design.

For instance, if your business offers a high-end product or service marketed to people ages 55 and up, allocating your marketing budget to target a younger age demographic is not the best use of your time and money.

2) Develop A Strategy

After understanding your target audience, one of the first steps in developing a strategy is determining what (if any) incentives and offers you want to include in the campaign. From coupons, discounts and one-time offers to postcards and mailers with magnets attached, giving your recipient something that causes them to take action is more effective than a brochure that simply educates them on your company.

From there, you may want to consider creating a control group and a test group to gauge the return on investment (ROI) of your direct mail campaign. Your test group refers to the subset of your target audience that receives the incentives or offers, and your control group refers to the subset that doesn’t receive the incentives or offers.

Why create these groups? It’s possible your target audience already bought into what you do, in which case offering them a 20% off coupon on your services may not be necessary. However, you may notice your test group far outperforming your control group, in which case you know your target audience will need that extra boost to take action.

After you’ve gained data from group testing, it’s time to move into audience segmentation. This strategy is based on identifying subgroups within your target audience in order to deliver more tailored messaging for stronger connections. It helps you organize contacts into smaller groups — like age, sex, marital status, socioeconomic status, etc. — to help you craft more personalized mail pieces.

Through a process known as variable data printing, you can customize each piece of mail to meet the specific needs of your customers. This includes printing personalized offers that can help increase sales and brand loyalty. 

Of course, none of this is possible without accurate, up-to-date mailing lists. Your digital marketing team can append mailing lists, eliminate costly duplication, and keep up to date with National Change of Address (NCOA) processing to optimize the ROI of each campaign.

3) Create A Compelling Design

Good design elicits action. It can also build trust, make your brand more memorable, and get your message across in a way that’s authentic to your organization’s identity. Design encompasses more than colors and logos — it also includes the format of your direct mail piece.

The format of your direct mail pieces can range from a postcard to a self-mailer, flyer, or an envelope package complete with a letter and brochure.  The design element is crucial because it dictates not only the amount of copy and number of images that fit onto your pieces but also how many pieces will fit into your budget.

If your goal is to provide plenty of detail about your products or services, a larger piece like a brochure might be the best choice. On the other hand, if you just want to announce a sale or provide a few coupons, a postcard mailer may work better for you.

4) Write Engaging Copy

The marketing world has a saying that content is king, and this certainly holds true when creating a direct mail campaign. What you say — and don’t say — on your direct mail piece crafts the message of who you are and why your brand exists. 

Whether you’re focused on B2C or B2B direct mail ideas, the AIDA method is a go-to when creating any piece of content. AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action. 

Instead of writing copy aimlessly, AIDA helps you tailor your content specifically to your target audience. This strategy helps take the prospect on their next step in the customer journey, all the way down to goal completion — such as a website visit, phone call, or store visit.

5) Identify The Size Of Your Audience

Once the strategy has been identified — along with the audience — and you’ve crafted the perfect copy for your campaign and created the preliminary design, it’s now time to fine tune the marketing pieces. This step in the process is focused on maximizing interest generation and optimizing size of the items, all while managing costs.

At this stage, you may also consider integrating your direct mail campaign into an omni-channel strategy. At Safeguard by Innovative, we offer DirectMail2.0, a service designed to track the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns by merging it with the power of digital marketing. Identifying your audience and reaching them with relevant messaging on the platforms they’re on will help generate more ROI, making the most of your overall marketing budget and reaching a higher number of people within your target audience.

A man in a striped shirt getting mail from his mailbox and looking at the direct mail advertising pieces.

7 Direct Mail Advertising Tips

Now that we’ve laid some groundwork for creating a direct mail campaign, let’s dive into 7 of the top direct mail advertising tips to help you boost brand awareness.

1) Prioritize The Branding Experience

This should be part of direct mail best practices 101. Always be sure your direct mail efforts are a cohesive extension of your organization’s brand identity. The brand experience includes everything a customer from your target audience interacts with related to your business. 

The most successful brands in the world know about the importance of brand consistency, as it helps your audience connect with you and keep you top of mind. Capital One is a good example of this. A slogan as simple as “what’s in your wallet” has done an exceptional job boosting brand awareness.

This is a good lesson that you don’t have to be a long, well-established brand to be consistent. By finding an angle, sticking with it, and delivering it in a creative fashion, Capital One managed to do something a lot of financial corporations struggle with — market to a younger generation.

Remember, coming out of left field with something that doesn’t look or feel like your brand may be flashy, but it doesn’t mean it will be effective. Find your angle and stick with it.

2) Make Your Prospects Feel Valued

Building on the importance of engaging copy, you need to make it known to your prospects why your brand is important to them. Research shows that 57% of customers spend more money on brands they’re loyal to — and loyalty is best built when people feel valued by a person or organization they can trust.

The first thing your prospects should experience when seeing your direct mail piece for the first time is how you can help them — not why your organization is so great. Everything from the copy — which should be customer-focused, not company-focused — to the design and the offers should make your prospect feel like they’re missing out without your brand in their life.

3) Include Offers

Psychology has revealed how much we, as people, like a good deal. Of 19-35 year olds polled, nearly one in five (or 19%) report feeling just as excited about going on vacation as they do about a sale. Understanding the psychology of sales and promotions is key to crafting successful mailers.

For example, Bath and Body Works sends free product coupons to interested customers who have signed up for their mailing list —another reason gathering customer information at an event or on your website is useful for establishing brand equity and awareness. These coupons only come in the mail, and customers look forward to receiving these mailers. 

Offering special promotions via promo codes that drive the recipient to your company’s website is also a great way to establish brand awareness across multiple channels.

4) Send Your Mailers At The Right Frequency

Frequency is the number of times an individual consumer is likely to be exposed to an ad during a marketing campaign. Too little and they may forget about you. Too much and you run the risk of overexposure.

The frequency level will vary depending on the type and size of your company. While some sources will recommend a direct mail campaign frequency of about 21 days, this isn’t right for every business. As part of your direct mail strategy, your marketing solutions partner will help you craft a strategy that’s right for your brand.

5) Add Personalization

Customers love advertising that has a personal touch. Research shows that people are more likely to engage with advertising when they feel it has been specifically tailored to them. 

Adding elements like a customer’s name or a QR code that takes the recipient to a special landing page are simple ways you can elevate the experience with personalization.

6) Use Codes To Track Responses

It’s important to have a system in place to track responses. Without promotional codes or other means of tracking (like QR codes that lead to a custom landing page), it’s impossible to know how successful a campaign has been. Methods of tracking direct mail responses include:

  1. PURLs (personalized URLs)
  2. No-indexed landing pages
  3. QR codes
  4. Coupons and promotional codes
  5. Phone calls

We’ll cover tracking responses in more detail below.

7) Utilize Co-Marketing Campaigns

How should you follow up on direct mail advertising? The key is integration. Nowadays, it’s rare for businesses to rely solely on one type of marketing strategy. Pairing a direct mail campaign with digital marketing and email follow-ups is a highly effective hybrid marketing strategy. 

80% of sales are made between the 8th and 12th contact. Leveraging this power of repetition — by driving your audience to your website, reaching them on social media, and integrating email follow-up campaigns — will help you merge remarketing campaigns with your direct mail strategy.

At Safeguard by Innovative, we offer an integrative add-on service called Direct Mail 2.0 which joins direct mail with digital marketing. It also allows us to track when a recipient has received the direct mail piece and when they have completed an action (website visit or phone call).

A young female processional in a white shirt working on her laptop.

You’ve Sent Out Your Direct Mailers — Now What?

Partnering with a trusted marketing solutions partner, creating a campaign, and sending out direct mailers is the first step. But what about after your printed materials have started hitting the mailboxes? We’ll cover some need-to-knows for optimizing the ongoing strategy of a direct mail campaign below.

Adjust Your Strategy Based On Results

Never be afraid to adjust and optimize when running a marketing campaign. For instance, if you were A/B testing different elements on your direct mail campaigns (such as offer/no offer or offer A/offer B), be sure to pay attention to which groups received more responses.

Rethinking a part of your direct mail strategy — whether it be the frequency or the format of the direct mail piece — isn’t admitting defeat. Doing so is part of learning how to run a direct mail campaign.

Be Patient With Your Advertising Efforts

When testing direct mail, repetition is key. Market research has shown that direct mail efforts typically take hold with prospects, not after the first or second mailing, but after the third mailer has been sent to the same prospect list.

What Is A Good Response Rate For Direct Mail Marketing?

While it would be great if every prospect took action after receiving your direct mail piece, this just isn’t reality. According to JWM Business Services, a .5 to 2% response rate is about average for a direct mail marketing campaign. That means that you can expect around 1 or 2 purchases or responses per 100 mailers with a standard campaign.

Direct mail is far from outdated. In fact, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) found that email has about a 1% response rate, compared to direct mail‘s average 2 – 4.9% response rate.

Utilizing the effectiveness of direct mail (when executed properly) can be a highly-effective tool for generating brand awareness and establishing trust and loyalty between your brand and your target audience.

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Looking for more direct mail resources or help with an upcoming campaign? Contact us today to get started.