direct mail servicesDirect mail is a tough means of marketing to master, and many fulfillment companies have burned the midnight oil trying to get their direct mail copy, graphic content, and mail packaging structure right so they appeal to audiences.

But more importantly, there are some mistakes to avoid, and doing so can save you time and money while making your business more successful.

Below are six of the most common mistakes that you need to avoid in your direct mail marketing activities, especially if you’re a rookie to the field:

1. The List

Many professionals have noted that as good as your designs and mail copy are, the key factor in determining your direct mail’s success is the mailing list. Your lists, particularly your house lists, will fail to generate a response if they aren’t regularly updated with the correct customer information. You have to keep your lists up-to-date and ensure their information is correct.

2. No Testing

You can’t just create a nice-looking piece of direct mail and throw it into the mailbox, hoping it will appeal to the public. Rather, you have to have two or three pieces tested together and measure the results to see which ones will be the most successful; this will make future campaigns and concepts stronger.

3. Rushing through Work

You can’t rush through your work, including the creation of your direct mail. Poorly composed mail pieces show their flaws easily, usually in the form of bad grammar and poor designs. Take your time creating your mail pieces, get a second set of eyes to examine them, and make sure they are 100% complete before they go out.

4. Not Knowing Your Audience

This one requires doing some homework. That’s because you have to create your mail pieces based on your audience’s demographics, including age, location, and interests. What products do they like? What services are they interested in? You have to offer them something they can’t get anywhere else via the best services possible.

5. Saving the Best for Last

Composition of your mail pieces is like a good book or film: it should build up to an effective climax. But that building process contains a narrative in which you want to have points of interest leading to the end. Consider this when writing your mail pieces based on the high points of the products. As you promote them, include, for example, offers and headings that will generate interest, followed by a final special promotion at the end. It’s said that you only have a few seconds to capture a reader’s attention before they toss a direct mail piece in the garbage, so you have to make every bit of copy count.

6. Poor Follow-Up

A great package can hook people, but you have to bring them in first. Make sure your direct mail includes phone numbers, e-mails, and other means of contacting your business so people can respond. Also don’t forget clear instructions about how they can get a hold of you or purchase your products. Someone who responds is a lead and their interest will wane pretty quickly if you don’t get back to them quickly. Ultimately, poor follow-ups will result in poor sales.

7.You Have No Call to Action

An easy rookie mistake to make is to consider the advertisement itself as your end goal without considering what you actually want your audience to do. It is tricky enough to keep your mailing from getting tossed out as junk mail, so it is important to take full advantage of your audience’s attention while you have it. Think carefully about what you actually want the mailing to achieve. Are you drumming up new clients? Attracting attendees for an event, sale, seminar, etc.? Building web site traffic? Once you have a specific call to action in mind, you can more effectively shape your mailings to drive and direct audience intent.

8.No Personalization

Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Different demographics respond more effectively to certain language or images than others. Think about what you are trying to pitch and who is going to be most interested in it, and then consider what types of messages will resonate best with that specific audience. Also, keep in mind that customers are savvy and will tune you out if your mailing includes a lot of buzzwords or business jargon. If you wouldn’t say something out loud to convince a customer in a store, don’t write it down either. Lastly, if your mailings are going out to existing customers, you should take their history with you into account and use it to personalize the message. A restaurant, for example, could include coupons for dishes they know the customer has previously ordered.

9.Embarrassing Typos or Errors

Your copy should never pass through just one set of eyes before going to print. Even the best writers make typos, and it tends to hurt credibility when you are offering “the top services in town!” It is also important to make sure all the information in your mailing is up to date. This includes elements about your business like pricing or hours of operation, but also basic elements like grammatical flow. Reading your copy out loud and in reverse, getting a second (and ideally third) pair of eyes to review, and other basic editing techniques can help cut down on potential errors.

10.Failing to Track Outcomes

You shouldn’t create a direct mail marketing campaign without some method of tracking whether it is actually working. Without a tracking mechanism, you could be throwing money away on approaches that don’t work or—possibly worse—end up abandoning a campaign that has been succeeding. Since direct mail doesn’t have the benefit of a click-through rate to measure engagement, you will need to consider alternate options. Some possibilities include special offer or discount codes unique to the campaign, whose use you can record, 1-800 numbers people can call, or personalized URLs. The point is to use something that leaves a record you can clearly identify as coming from the mailing campaign.

11.You Neglect Past Data

If this is not your first mailing campaign, and if you used proper tracking mechanisms, then you should have information on hand about how previous direct mail efforts have fared. Look at past data and see what campaigns have done better or worse and what their distinguishing features may have been. Did you do better when you were running a contest? Hosting a workshop? Did sales get more responses in this season or that season? What happened when you changed fonts? Looking for trends can help you build steadily improving campaigns and also let you know when it might be time to try something bold and new in your approach.

Direct mail services still have an influence over consumers, but it’s up to you to take advantage of that fact and not make the same mistakes others have. But once you do, you will see your direct mail campaigns improve.

APS Fulfillment, Inc. is a Miami-based specialist in direct mail marketing and warehouse fulfillment. We’ve stored, sorted, and delivered products of all shapes and sizes for all kinds of companies. Contact us by phone at 954-582-7450 or by email at info@apsfulfillment.com to learn about more ways direct mail marketing can support and grow your business.