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Avoid These Common Direct Mail Marketing Pitfalls

Posted by Brian Jones on March 25, 2024

Direct mail marketing is an effective strategy -- but only — repeat ONLY — if executed properly.

Unfortunately, many companies treat it as an expense to be minimized rather than an investment to be optimized. This tendency leads to some easily preventable mistakes.

Mistake 1: Your Targeting

Figure around 40% of your campaign's success depends on targeting the right audience. Too often companies don't segment deeply enough and as a result, often miss key attributes that can define their ideal customers. Analyzing your existing customer data can reveal unexpected but critical characteristics that can improve your targeting model.

"Companies treat direct mail as an expense to be minimized rather than an investment to be optimized"

Next time, try this: Take a long hard look at your customer profile. Not who you think your customer is, but what statistical insights do you need to unearth and understand the most important attributes of your customer base? When you understand that, you’ll have a much better idea of who your prospect really is and what they need. And remember a full 40% of your campaign’s success is based on this.

Mistake 2: Your Messaging

Companies frequently make the mistake of focusing their messaging on themselves, their products and their solutions rather than addressing customers' pain points and how their product/service improves that customer's life.egocentric You need to highlight benefits over features, speak to your audience's core challenges, and support claims with social proof, reviews and testimonials.

Next time, try this: Stop spending time trying to convince your customer your solution is better. You can’t. Why? Because... no one cares about your solutions. Simply talking more about YOU and your solution IS NOT going to help. Your only hope of connecting with a prospect and getting them to listen is to talk more about their problem.

"No one cares about your solutions"

Your messaging should quickly and clearly identify the pain your customer is having. Doing so will position you more as an authoritative figure who understands them, their needs and challenges. Be sure you talk about benefits and -- not attributes. And be sure to focus on how your product is going to vastly improve your customer’s current condition.

Mistake 3: Your Approach

Many marketers allocate their budget to a single mailing, and in doing so, fail to stay top-of-mind through consistent, repeated touch points. Breaking the budget into multiple mail drops to the same audience and integrating other channels like email and digital ads can significantly boost your response rates within your same original budget.


Next time, try this: Leverage an omnichannel campaign. This approach combines physical mail with digital media to the same audience. So rather than getting just a single mailer, the audience is retargeted through channels like email and/or display media. Omnichannel is effective because it delivers the same message, across different channels, all explicitly directed to the same target audience with the same message and same offer. This approach usually fits within most budgets because adding digital channels is a fraction of what it would cost to send out a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, mailer. But the net effect is you deliver a more consistent and seemingly more ubiquitous message to your target audience.

Mistake 4: Your Testing (that is...  you’re not testing)

Even the best-planned campaigns can miss the mark here. A/B testing your message, number of components, visuals, offers etc. is crucial but is often underutilized due to the perception that it adds too much effort and/or complexity. But it iStock-1439491442doesn’t have to be. It can be simple. And when done right, testing takes minimal resources and can reveal opportunities that can drastically improve performance.

Next time, try this: Go back to basics. Start A/B testing. And it doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. All it takes is a little upfront planning and some basic data review after the campaign.

Remember, just about every element of your direct mail can be tested. Whether it’s the list, copy, images, CTAs, offers, colors, etc. Just know that you only want to test one variable at a time. If you test more variables, you won’t know which one is helping or hurting performance.

"Testing is crucial but often underutilized"

Mistake 5: Your Conversion Strategy

Some companies invest heavily in the direct mail piece but neglect connecting the subsequent touch points — like websites, landing pages and sales teams. A seamless, consistent experience from the initial mailer to the final conversion piece is key to maximizing your direct mail's effectiveness.


Next time, try this: Limit your CTAs to one specific, concrete request. You can still include a phone number on your piece along with a URL, just make sure they are grouped together in the same distinct CTA area. And be sure the next touch point in your customer’s journey is a logical progression and delivers the information prospects are seeking — and that it’s written in a voice and personality that’s consistent with the initial communication.

Main Takeaway

A little time and attention is all it takes. To truly leverage your direct mail's potential, you should view it as an investment, dig deep into your client data to help with targeting, craft audience-centric messaging, employ a consistent multi-channel approach, continually test and optimize, and map a cohesive end-to-end user journey. If you’re lacking the bandwidth or expertise to do this yourself, consider help from a from professional direct marketing partner.

Need Help Maximizing Your Direct Marketing Program ?

Are you looking to get your direct mail campaign to turn a positive ROMI? Let us know. J&C has over 40 years of experience creating emotionally charged campaigns that connect with prospects on a deep and meaningful level. A level that speaks their language and drives response. We would be happy to learn more about your company and your goals. Contact J&C today. That way, we can give you an honest assessment of how we can work with you to achieve better results. 

Topics: Direct Marketing, Relationship Marketing, Senior Marketing

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