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How clever design can improve direct mail response rates

Direct mail isn’t dead. One of the oldest channels of marketing, direct mail campaigns have lost favour over recent years, replaced by a combination of email marketing, social media campaigns, and other forms of digital marketing. Many companies, however, do still use direct mail as a component of a wider marketing campaign. Given the decline in use of direct mail, your catalogue, leaflet or letter now stands a better chance of being read rather than thrown straight into the recycling bin along with other marketing materials. All you need to do is get the print design right – and then you’ll see your direct mail response rates increase.


Why response rates?

Measuring the success of any marketing campaign can be done in numerous ways. Often marketing teams simply choose the metric that shows the greatest levels of success! Direct mail campaigns are usually tracked in terms of their response rate. How many people engaged with the marketing material? Who made a purchase or subscribed to us as a result of the campaign? Other metrics include return on investment, social media followers and engagement numbers, and website visits. Return on investment is perhaps the other most commonly used metric, as it captures the direct increase in trade generated by your marketing campaign, whilst taking into account the costs of printing and postage. Response rates are used more frequently, however, as they are easy to understand and calculate, and allow for the fact that the long-term benefits of the campaign (that ROI does not account for) are also important.



One of the easiest ways to improve your response rate is to better target your direct mail campaigns. On the surface of it, this doesn’t have much to do with design – it’s simply being more careful about picking out variables in your client or prospect list. Once you’ve narrowed down the new recipient list for your next direct mail campaign, however, you can then target the design of your direct mail campaign to this new list. If you’re targeting people who live within a certain area, check their demographics. If there are a higher percentage of young people on your list in that specific area, alter the print design of your campaign accordingly.



Clever print management should help to cut the costs associated with the production of your campaign, hopefully leaving enough in the marketing budget to allow you to further personalise your direct mail content. Perhaps you could create several versions of the same catalogue, sending them out to customers based on their recent orders. Personalisation might just be printing their name on the letter – or in the leaflet or catalogue itself. While some recipients might object to a company addressing them by name, others will respond much more positively to a personal approach.


Encouraging a response

Including a printed, personalised response form in with your campaign might seem like a waste of money, given that you’ve undoubtedly included your website, phone number and email address, but many customers will be more likely to respond (or indeed, remember to respond) if a response form is included. Make the design simple, clear and easy for the customer to fill in – with as many boxes as possible already filled with the customer’s details, saving them time.


Paper size

When you’re creating a print marketing campaign, you should speak to a print management company before you’ve finalised the design. A clever print management company will be able to suggest where savings could be made. A small tweak to paper size could save you thousands of pounds. Ensure that your design can be changed easily to account for different paper sizes.


Clever design and print management go hand in hand, particularly when you’re carrying out a direct mail marketing campaign. The size and weight of your mail is integral to gaining a great return on your direct mail campaign. For more print design tips, or if you’d like to benefit from our print management services, contact us now.

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