Starting an Email and Direct Marketing CampaignAfter you have completed your business plan and begin to take action on your marketing strategies, and preparing for your email or direct mail marketing campaign, you must decide what the message will be. What is it that you hope to achieve? Knowing your audience is crucial here. If you don’t understand what needs or wants your target market has, then your message will not be as effective and your return on your investment of time and money will not be as high.

You must make this direct marketing campaign grabs the reader’s attention and convince them to buy your product or service. And as mentioned before, the best way to do this is convey the benefits that the customer will get from making the purchase.

Choosing your images

A picture can tell a thousand words. If you chose to add an image in your direct marketing piece – be it of the product, yourself, or that of a happy customer with a testimonial – make sure that it supports your writing. If the collective message is in sync, then your chances of success will go up. If it is a product you are promoting, then show the reader how this product will make their life easier or better.

The selection of a picture is as important as the letter itself. Take the time to brainstorm with others what image will work best. Trust your instinct to start the process by testing your idea. With digital technology, you can take as many pictures as possible and not waste money. As long as you plan ahead, you will not put yourself under pressure to find that ‘perfect shot’.

Gathering the quotes

As you are writing your letter, contact the printers, design company and the mailing company to ask for quotes on the campaign. By doing this, you ensure that you have some prices to compare your invoices to when they arrive after the campaign has been delivered, and it lets these companies know about the job so that they can be prepared.

Design and Printing

If you plan on putting the letter together yourself without the input of a designer or printer, then skip this step. However, if you need or would like the input of these creative professionals, then get them involved in the process from the start. Ask for a quote, and when doing so, give them an idea of when they might expect to see the content, so that they can begin the design and print planning process.

A printer will need to know what type of paper you plan on printing on (90gsm (or similar) paper weight is standard letter paper weight); what level of colour will be used (full, partial or mono); whether it is double or single sided, and how many you need printed, etc. If you are unsure about what details to provide a printer, or any company, ask them.

Mailing Company

Understanding the quotes that you receive from a supplier of services can be confusing if you haven’t received one in the past. The main information you need to impart to a mailing company are the following:

  • List quantity
  • Details about the outer envelope and inner envelope (reply paid envelope) – how many to print, etc
  • Time frame to complete the campaign

Any other queries, ask for their feedback. If you have missed something, they will ask you either by phone or email before they submit a quote. After all, it is their business and they know what they need from you to prepare the quote properly.

Preparing the mailing list

Depending on the software you use in your business, this task may be as simple as saving a copy of the data and sending it to the mailing company. If you are renting the names from a List Broker, they will deliver the data in the correct format to the mailing company.

If you are using your own list, the simplest option is to save the data and send it as a CSV file. Make sure that you have deleted the duplicates and formatted the data correctly (i.e. all abbreviations of street types the same – not “St” and “Street”, but “St” as the standard, for example). This saves times and eventually money when preparing the mail to be sent.

Once this list is ready, simply send it to the mailing company. They can then put the data into their system in preparation for receiving the finished printed product.

Confirming design and layout

This process is a case of receiving, viewing and making any changes necessary on the proofs sent to you by the designer. They may be able to produce the first draft and almost have it perfect – the layout of the picture, the font use, and the colors used.

Other times they may need to have some direction provided to them by you. There are a few factors that, when followed, will help get the desired outcome:

  1. Have an idea in your mind of how the photo or image can be used before the designer produces a draft, and let them know.
  2. Make sure the font is able to be read easily.
  3. Make sure it matches to the specifications for space that the mailing company requires to print the recipient’s address at the top of the letter
  4. That it is appealing to more than just your eye. Check it with a couple of other people around you, and listen to their feedback.

Recording results

It is important for you to assess the success (or failure) of the campaign to know if you reached your goals. Keep a record of each sale or response (depending on the campaign’s goals), and monitor it.
Some possible goals that your campaign might have include:

  • Sales leads
  • Database generation
  • Product enquiries
  • Sales
  • Profitability

We have set up a simple excel calculator to help you quickly calculate the success of your direct mail campaign. You can access here or through our business resources page, along with other business calculators.

Your Call to Action

With all of your promotion strategies, you must have a Call to Action. This means that you are giving your potential customer a directive. It might be either to make a phone call; to visit your store or website; to fill in a form and send it in.

Be sure to include a response mechanism with your direct marketing piece. It might be an order form, a number to call to take advantage of the offer, or an email address to communicate with to take advantage of the offer. If you forget to include this, then the campaign will not be as effective. In fact, if the customer has no way to act on your message, you will make no sales.

For example, you have a letter inviting customers to attend a VIP evening for a new product launch. Include a number and a reference code that they must quote in order to reserve their spot, and then reward them with a free give away.

Your Call to Action must also have a sense of urgency with it if it is to be effective. Your customer must feel that if they don’t take action now, then the benefit that they will get from taking action will no longer be available. For example, when promoting a new product, it might be that the product will be unavailable in 1 week due to demand, so the customer will need to act today to secure their one for themselves.

Some important points to remember:

* Convey benefits – in every direct marketing campaign you do, you must convey the benefits to the customer. That is the only way that you can get them to respond favorably to your offer.

* Set your goals for the campaign – monitor the performance of the direct marketing campaign, and compare it to your goals. This will give you valuable feedback as to what worked, and what didn’t.

* Call to Action – decide what it will be, and the mechanism to facilitate the customer responding to you – response slip, email, form, phone number, etc.

Once you have completed one or two direct mail campaigns, this process will get easier. Start with the idea and the message. Move to developing the message through a letter or postcard, as well as requesting quotes from the necessary third parties. Assess the design draft against expectations, and look for a consensus of opinion and balance between images and text. Print and mail the letter, and track your results.

The strategies and ideas outlined here can be duplicated on the Internet. After you have set up your email campaign (newsletter, pop-up window, etc), use these strategies to make sure you are maximizing your efforts with your online customer.

This is a lot of information, but Direct Marketing is a strategy that can boost your business in a way that can out-perform the other strategies if done effectively.

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