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What are the advantages and disadvantages of Direct Mailing?

Let’s start by coming clean – we’re a direct mailing company. So you’re probably alert to the fact that if we’re blogging about the advantages and disadvantages of using our business, we may try and twist the disadvantages of direct mailing to make it sound like an advantage.

You know the kind of thing – when a job candidate is asked about their weaknesses at an interview and they say: ‘Well, I’m such a perfectionist and I always refuse to go home until I know that the job is done.’

But we’re not going to do that. We know that most business people are smart enough to see through it.

We also know that to get the benefits of direct mail marketing working for you, you need to be clear about how to use it. You need to know the disadvantages so that you avoid them. You need to know the advantages so that you can make the most of them.

So, starting with the advantages, let’s take a look at how you can make direct mailing work for you.

The Advantages of Direct Mailing

Direct mailing gets your message on target

Direct mailing is probably the best method for getting a message direct to a specific target audience – or even to a specific customer. The reason for this is data. Good data is the key to any successful direct mailing campaign. Incorrect, sloppy data can waste a lot of money, while good data that’s up-to-date, accurate and comprehensive can really ensure that your direct mail marketing reaches the people who are going to act on it.

Here at The Mailing People we put a lot of work into data cleansing and data management for our clients. Our experience shows that when new clients have previously had poor results from direct mailing, it’s almost always because of poor data. By poor data we mean things like:

Incorrect addresses

Incorrect personal details

Lack of information when selecting the data such as criteria like age, location, previous purchases etc.

Get your data right and you’ll see the results in your return on investment. The more personalised you make it, the higher your response rate – fact!

You can steer clear of some GDPR restrictions

GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation. Four letters that have sent tremors through many marketing departments.

GDPR will apply from 25 May 2018, and it expands the rights of individuals to control how their personal information is collected and processed. It applies to all organisations – whether business, charity or public sector. It’s designed to protect people in an age of digital communication where personal data is regularly given, bought, sold and shared, leading to a range of misuses, from the annoying to the criminal.

One of the advantages of direct mailing is that there are fewer GDPR hoops to jump through than for its digital counterpart. By using direct marketing strategies, you can reconnect with existing customers using legitimate interest and open up markets with new clients.

If GDPR is making email and digital contact trickier than it was for your business, it could well be time to give direct mail marketing a go.

Direct Mail is something you can keep

A huge advantage of direct mail marketing is that it’s something solid. That means that your target customer can hang on to it. And if they keep a piece of direct mail, that means that they’re going to keep seeing your message, again and again. Your message will be reinforced over and over: a constant reminder to take action, whether that’s making a purchase, signing up or something else.

This is a big contrast with digital marketing. Let’s face it, we’re all pretty rapid on the delete button when we have a huge stack of emails, cluttering up our inbox. Each email looks pretty much the same and even if the message has some impact, it’s often forgotten by lunchtime. To create direct mail that is kept, looked at and acted on by customers, you need to be creative and strategic:

  • Be creative with your artwork and design – use strong imagery that inspires action.
  • Make it personal – use variable images and text. It costs no more so why wouldn’t you?
  • You can print your message using unusual formats, designed to be kept and displayed: fridge magnets or origami animals, for example.
  • Be clear and simple with your copy: make your message straightforward and compelling.
  • Include a simple, clear Call To Action that’s too good to resist.
  • Be creative with distribution options: there are many ways of packaging direct mail from the quirky to the useful.

If it’s good enough to stick on a fridge, pin to a noticeboard or prop up on a shelf, then it will be looked at again and again. And not just by the original recipient. Other people will see it too.

Are there Any Disadvantages of Direct Mail?

We’re talking about direct mail ending up in the bin…

This is where we come onto the disadvantages. The most common reason for businesses steering clear of direct mail is:

  • The fear that the direct mailing will go straight in the recycling bin. That’s like throwing money away!

Businesses are right to be concerned about this. It happens all too often. We’ve all chucked out boring, generic direct mail without bothering to read it.

Here at The Mailing People we’re keener than most on all things direct mail, and we often chuck direct mail we receive in the bin. Guilty as charged.

But we do look at it first. Why? So that we can learn from other people’s mistakes. We enjoy the process of analysing poorly created direct mail and then working out what we would have done differently. We find that almost every poor campaign that’s destined for the recycling bin could have been massively improved by:

  • Good, clean data.
  • Clear messaging.
  • Creative design.

And what about the costs of direct mailing?

Of course, there are costs involved in creating a direct mail campaign. But like any business spend, using your budget isn’t really about cost. It’s all about Return on Investment (ROI). To get good ROI, you need to be clear in your aims. Before you decide to invest in direct mail, ask yourself:

  • Who are you targeting?
  • How are you going to reach them?
  • What do you want them to do?
  • What do you want your business to gain from their action?

Once you’re clear on this, you can approach your direct mail marketing much more strategically. It may be that you’ll get a better ROI from creating a sophisticated package to a highly select mailing list.

Or, for a different type of campaign you might choose to create direct mail that’s simple, whilst still being on target and creative, for as little as 30p per item.

The advantages and disadvantages of direct mailing will vary from business to business, depending on what each wants to achieve. But the ideas we’ve outlined above are essential to any direct mail campaign. It’s how you use that information that makes the difference.

The best way to start on successful direct mailing is by having a chat with a creative and experienced direct mail company. Be clear about what you want to achieve and use their experience to make those goals a reality.

Follow the big three of CLARITY, CREATIVITY and DATA. Take that route and you’ll find that the advantages of direct mail can really benefit your business.

Why not get in touch with The Mailing People today?

The best way to start on successful direct mailing is by having a chat with a creative and experienced direct mail company. We like to think we adopt a simple and accessible approach to direct mailing, cutting out the jargon and jumping straight to what you want to achieve. We’re here to make your goals a reality.

For an informal chat about what we can offer you, why not call us today? Or, drop us a quick email here.


Written by Kristian Harrison, General Manager at The Mailing People. Kristian is an industry professional with over 20 years experience in Direct Mail and Fulfilment.

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