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The Top Three Ways to Improve the Effectiveness of Direct Mail

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Direct mail has always been an effective marketing tool. Before the days of email and the Internet, it was the easiest way to touch a prospective customer. Now that spam overwhelms our email inboxes, direct mail is seen as a way to break through the clutter. In fact, a recent study by InfoTrends shows that in 2005, 114 billion pieces of direct mail were sent in North America. It also showed that 61% of consumers prefer direct-mail ads to email.

However, the same InfoTrends study also shows that while consumers prefer direct mail, only 31% of them say the direct mail they receive contains useful content.

So how can you develop direct-mail content that consumers will find valuable? And how do you know which direct mail gets the best business results? Here we’ll take a look at three steps you should take to get more mileage from your direct-mail marketing efforts.

1. Goodbye Direct-Mail Campaign, Hello Overall-Marketing Campaign

One of the first mistakes companies make is keeping distinct silos for their marketing efforts-a “direct-mail campaign,” an “email campaign,” a “web campaign,” etc., with little or no tie-in between them. This needs to change.

First, you need to create clear and consistent messaging across all campaigns so that prospective customers receive the same message from your company’s direct-mail campaign, your website, your brochures, and your emails.

Take this further by executing campaigns that span several mediums. For example, if you send out a direct-mail piece, include a web link where prospects can learn more about their different options. Or the web link could drive prospects to an online registration page where they can enter a contest by filling out your form.

The key here is not to think in terms of individual marketing buckets but to create an overall marketing plan across multiple marketing channels or media and have each tactic support that plan and reinforce the other tactics you’re using.

2. Get Personal

So you’ve purchased a mailing list, very focused to your targeting specifications, to reach out to new prospects. In personalizing your direct-mail piece, you probably print each recipient’s name or use some other personalization technique. But does this really give each prospect the content that he or she wants?

Chances are, once the prospect gets past his or her name, the rest of the content is the same as what other thousands of recipients are receiving. A prospect who is already buying one product from you and knows your company well may find your general piece on another product too introductory. True, it’s impossible to tailor each and every direct-mail piece to exactly what the recipient wants, but today, you can create a deeper personalized experience.

Since we’re thinking beyond the direct-mail piece and are now onto the overall marketing campaign, let’s use that direct-mail piece to drive prospects to their own personal websites or “hypersites.” On direct-mail pieces, prospects see personalized hypersite links, where they can then be personally greeted. Your marketing system provides them with the right content based on whether they are first-time visitors, multi-time visitors, current customers, their geographies, and more.

3. Track ’Em

Now you’re thinking about overall marketing and creating more-personalized experiences for each of your target prospects. But all of this is pretty useless if you can’t effectively track the results of these marketing efforts. Now is the time to think about implementing technology that tracks your prospects and lets you tailor your outreach to them based on their behaviors and histories with your company.

Marketing automation and demand-generation technology tracks all of your leads from the first direct-mail piece they receive all the way to a closed sale-and beyond. The first thing this means is that you can truly create an individualized marketing experience for each prospect.

Let’s say a prospect receives a new direct-mail piece and goes online to his or her personalized hypersite. Your system recognizes that he or she has visited your site several times in the past. Now you have a name to associate with that visitor and can build a prospect profile. You know which products he or she has been researching and can provide him or her with content that is catered toward his or her preferences. When he or she shows a high level of website activity, one of your sales reps can follow up with a phone call. And all this started from a well-designed-and tracked-direct-mail piece.

What tracking also shows you is which marketing efforts have turned into actual sales and which haven’t. Simply repeat the effective ones and refine or kill the bad campaigns.

Bottom Line

Direct mail shouldn’t just be an item to check off in your agency’s marketing checklist. It should be a carefully thought-out piece of a complete campaign to provide each prospect with an individualized experience with your company.

About the Author

Mr. Johnson joined Eloqua in 2004 to lead marketing. With more than 20 years of marketing and managerial experience, Thor brings consistency and focus to Eloqua’s public face and marketing programs. Prior to joining Eloqua, Thor headed the Boston and New York business units of AGENCY.COM and held positions at Juno Online Services and Schlumberger. Thor holds a degree from Brown University and an MBA from Harvard University.

About Eloqua Corporation

Eloqua provides the leading integrated demand-generation application and expertise for executing, automating, and measuring highly effective B2B marketing programs. Eloqua drives the entire marketing process from contact to close, while making prospect interest and intent visible at every step. With the leading technology backed by expert professional services, Eloqua automates the best practices in demand generation for marketers who need to produce a continuous flow of qualified leads for a professional sales force. Eloqua’s customers include Sybase, Seagate, Nokia, MySQL, Administaff, Nuance, and many other leading B2B marketers. Eloqua Corporation is headquartered in Toronto, with offices throughout North America and in London. For more information, please visit or call (866) 327-8764.
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