How to Keep Your Mail Pieces Out of the Recycling Bin

When you open your mailbox each day, what is your reaction to what’s inside? If you are like most people, you probably grab the pile of envelopes, flyers, and catalogs knowing that you will probably end up throwing most of it away.

Why is that? Why is it that you perceive so much of your mail as “junk,” to just be tossed into the recycling bin? You aren’t alone; the average response rate to direct mail is about four percent, meaning that about 96 percent of direct mail is ignored. (Still, that’s better than email — almost 99 percent of marketing emails don’t receive a response.)

The reason that so many direct mail pieces are thrown out is that marketers continue to make the same mistakes when developing their campaigns and the accompanying collateral. If you are considering direct mail as part of your marketing campaign, avoid these common errors. You’ll increase the chances of your piece not only staying out of the recycling bin, but actually getting a response.

1. Make It Relevant

The number one reason that people throw away direct mail marketing pieces is that they aren’t interested in what you have to offer. Sometimes, it’s that the piece was completely off base in terms of target market; in one classic example, a real estate agency sent a postcard highlighting a loan program for doctors to everyone in town — and 99 percent of the residents weren’t doctors. In other cases, the piece doesn’t meet the audience’s needs, such as the piece advertising 100,000-mile tune-ups to people who just purchased new vehicle. When developing your offer and deciding who to send the piece to, know your audience. Do customer surveys, develop customer profiles, and understand your target demographic and their needs, and you’ll more effectively target your audience and give them what they want.

2. Don’t Overdo It

It’s a good idea to follow up with the people who didn’t respond to an initial mailing a few months

after sending the first piece. It’s also smart to stay in touch with existing customers with periodic offers and updates. But inundating prospects with mailings that seem like they arrive almost every day? That’s a good way to irritate prospects and receive a slew of opt-outs. Sending a mailing every few weeks or months should be sufficient.

3. Offer Value

Give people a reason to respond by including an irresistible offer in your mailing. Studies show that consumers prefer a coupon for a set dollar amount to a percentage off, but even if you aren’t offering a discount, you still need to create a compelling offer that isn’t available anywhere else. Otherwise, your piece is just one more item for the trashcan.

4. Make It Easy

Some marketers try to increase engagement by turning their direct mail pieces into activities — who can forget the sweepstakes mailings that arrived with stamps you adhered to the return card to order magazines? Scratch off tickets, keys, secret codes — direct mailers have tried it all to get recipients invested in the offer and ready to respond. However, thanks to the Internet, consumers are less likely to respond to a complex mailing and prefer simplicity. They don’t want to search for the offer or jump through hoops. Keep it clean, simple, and easy-to-understand and you will see better results — and above all, make it easy to respond. Postage paid response cards, a direct link to your website, or a dedicated toll-free number all entice customers to respond.

5. Focus on Quality

If the mailing simply doesn’t look good — the design isn’t great, the printing is shoddy, the paper is poor quality — it reflects poorly on your company. For some recipients, this could be the first time they encounter your company. What impression do you want them to have? Invest in the best pieces you can afford to protect your brand.

6. Don’t Be Deceptive

We’ve all received marketing pieces designed to resemble a bill or some type of official communication — and were probably annoyed to find that it was just another marketing offer. Consider the recipient when you design your mailers. Will they be annoyed when they open this? Are

you starting the relationship off on the wrong foot with a deceptive mailer? You want to stand out, but be sure you do it in a good way, not in a way that irritates or misleads your customers.

Direct mail is still an effective way to market your business, and you can achieve great results from a targeted, well-produced mailer. Keep these mistakes in mind, and you’ll stay out of the garbage pile — and in your customers’ good graces.