TKs Korner Masthead

October 2016


Direct Mail — Raising Response, Lowering Costs


Many of you may be currently involved in a direct mail campaign or are considering one. In either case…



1. Is direct mail the right medium?

2. What are the benefits of direct mail? (9 Benefits of Direct Mail)

3. How can I ensure my mail stands out from the rest?

4. What can I do to make the best impression?

5. What are the critical elements that I should consider?

6. How can I obtain the best response rate?

7. How do I measure the effectiveness of the program?

8. How important is my mail list selection or database?

9. Should I personalize or customize my direct mail piece?

10. Paper selection, how critical is it?



• Testing is crucial

4 P’s of Direct Mail

19 Commandments of Direct Marketing

What is MGM? (Member-Gets-Member)

What is One-to-One Marketing?

11 uncreative (but tested) ways to make your layout work harder

Permission vs. Interruption Marketing


In this issue of TK’s Korner, I’ll provide helpful suggestions, important information, and resources.



What is Direct Mail All About?


Direct mail is about building and maintaining one-to-one relationships between your organization’s brand and your customers, with the purpose of establishing an image for the brand and selling products and services to those customers.


Direct mail leads the way in moving towards more targeted, personalized and tailored relationship building. We can do it better now then ever before with the technology that is available. Today’s technology provides direct mail professionals with a wealth of possibilities and propels the use of direct mail/direct marketing:


• Increased computer processing power

• Availability of customer addresses

• Software to help identify and select the right customers

• Ability to digitally print variable personalized data

• Expanding number of mass media options


Direct mail has become an extension of brand experience via advertising and packaging. The image expressed through direct mail is consistent and coherent with other means of communication. It adds up to overall brand feeling.







Why Direct Mail?


Interactivity — A two-way communication (push/pull strategy)


Consumers are willing to take on at least twice as much direct mail messages as any other medium. It might be that they find it obtrusive when contacted by telephone or email, while on the other hand, they can sit and review when it is convenient for them.


Acquisition — The ability to attract new customers


Retention — Direct Mail leaves a deeper footprint in the brain...


According to Direct Mail; Alive and Kicking of Market Share Advertising Marketing & Media, “media that consumers can touch and feel resonated more emotions than those of the digital variety.”


CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

ROC (Return on Customer)

LTV (Life Time Value)


Loyalty — Customer satisfaction!


Direct mail is important in building a relationship and engaging your ambassadors properly.


Sense of Ownership By adding the customers name and pertinent information to the piece, it gives them a sense of ownership in the brand.



The Power of Direct Mail


Address every customer one-on-one versus the mass media “one size fits all” . Customers appreciate direct mail when it’s relevant, respectful and rewarding to them.


WHO RESPONDS TO DIRECT MAIL? (in descending order)


1. Customers - 3 to 8 times more likely to respond or buy

2. Responders - have not yet made a purchase

3. Former Customers

4. Referrals

5. Other type of product or service purchased

6. Similar product or service purchased from competitors


Closing Rates by selling to people you know is easier:

• New Customer = 5-20% closing rate

• Repeat Sale to Lapsed Customer = 20-40% closing rate

• Repeat Sale to Existing Client = 60-70% closing rate



Multi-Channel, Integrated Marketing


Direct mail should definitely remain in your multi-channel mix. It’s the one advertising medium that you really can control; brand build, track, measure and data mine.


While the brand perception should be identical, the objectives per target group will be differentiated, and therefore also the investment level, media, messaging and offer. Consumers can expect offers and messaging to become more comprehensive, and, over a period of time, each receives a variety of direct mail communications about their particular objectives, offer and messaging


Using Integrated Marketing or Multiple Channels and touch points, you can also keep them interested. Synchronizing campaigns, utilizing ’if this, then that occurs’ etc.


Media should be viewed as complementary rather than replacing one another (i.e., printed direct mail drives web traffic).


Overcrowded email queues only adds to the appeal — even though direct mail seems old school, it’s very sexy for the marketer. The reason being — less cluttered and more effective impressions.


Advertisers and consumers prefer a tangible object, something that can be held or touched. People prefer paper to something that exists only electronically. How many of us read an entire document on the computer screen?


“Mail is essential to the multichannel mix. Many believe mail is uniquely positioned to play a major role in a National economical resurgence in 2012,” quotes Modern Mail.



Follow-Up is Key


Direct mail informs customers of your intentions and invites them to react.


If this, then that can follow:

If no response, then an e-mail or a follow-up mailing, either static or personalized, should folllow.


If a response, then:

Another mailing follows their reaction.

All of these steps are measured and can guide future action.

By tracking the results, you can easily calculate the cost per response, inquiry or sale.

This measurability is a major advantage for marketing compared to other communication tools.






Use of Measurability in Your Direct Mail Campaign


Utilizing General URLS (GURLS) or Personalized URLS (PURLS) in your direct mail will provide measurability of your campaign’s effectiveness. Dashboard technology provide real time alerts when your web site has been visited and what responses have been given by your customer. Data can be generated, gathered and formulated into trackable, measurable and informative formats in real time. Understand what products or services your target audience is interested in, as well as provide you with the ability to monitor your sales teams efforts, follow-up and sales. This is critical for marketing managers, sales reps and others to gather information quickly and accurately and respond as needed.


Integration of online tools is inclined to make your direct mail stronger than ever.



Obtain Higher Response Rates


Response rate of direct mail depend upon:


Integrity of database — Are you marketing to your target audience, and has the database been run through an address updating software?


Profiling — How to quickly and accurately profile clients that can dramatically improve response rates.


When client or prospects responds to surveys, PURLs, QR codes, offers, etc. through a direct link to a micro site or landing page, it provides you a demographic breakdown on who used the promotional item, which offer they used, plus the response spend rates and each individuals demographics.


Timing — What’s going on with world events, business cycles, marketing cycles, sales cycles, etc.?


Offer — Is it something of value or interest to your target audience?


Incentive — Is it worthwhile to them? Will it make them act?


Call to Action — Are you telling them what you want them to do, when you want them to do it by, and how you want them to do it?


Creative Execution — Design, copy, layout, vehicle, etc.


Odd shapes have been found to give higher customer satisfaction via non-traditional, die cut mailers. Some claim that shaped mail can increase response rates over regular direct mail by at least 2 to 3 times (i.e., basketballs, buses, beer mugs, movie tickets, guitars, etc.).


There are a variety of opinions on what makes up a successful direct mail program. Here is one of them:


50-20-20-10 Probability of Success:

50% – List accuracy

20% – Offer

20% – Creative

10% – Timing




Personalization or Customization — Mail specifically addressed to a consumer with an impactful message about a product or service that has a specific benefit to them is more likely to be picked up and read. It’s about “Smart Messaging, Personalization and Relevance!”


(Also read my issue, Digital Printing - Variable Data or Business Development)



It is predicted that .046% is the average response rate for a general broadcast black and white static piece.


NOTE: +600% (this equates up to 16% total). Full variable data, personalization, customization, database segmentation (i.e., specific targets, smaller quantity, more opportunities to respond).


Versioning — Specific target groups receive different versions based on criteria, i.e.,content and language changes. Typically black copy.


Hybrid — Offset printing plus variable copy.


Customization — Altering each direct mail piece to meet requirements of a certain target group. Guidance based on a certain criteria. One to four color images change, plus content is customized.


NOTE: It is not the quantity that is sent out, but the number of responses you get back that matters.



Variable Data Results




NOTE: When BRC is “pre-completed” with recipients name and address, the return rate increases 13%!


Projection on how to lower cost per response by using VDP personalization


Projection on cost per sale and ROI using VDP personalization



Database Can Make or Break a Direct Mail Campaign


The Database is the Most Important Lever:

• Must be clean

• Must be well defined

• Limited target group, data mined and clearly detailed

• Will outscore an ill defined, broad targeted group

Drayton Bird’s direct marketing expert estimates a good database might imply:

> 6x’s higher response rate with good database

> 2x’s higher response rate with good offer

> 2x’s higher response rate if the timing is right

> 1.25x’s higher response rate with good creative

> 1.2x’s higher response rate with response possibilities


NOTE: 18% of Americans relocate annually and 2% of your list moves monthly.


Mail List Hygiene:

• Merge/purge

• Zip code sort

• Address standardization

• Delivery sequence file

• Delivery points for bar coding, specific delivery point







Creating a Successful Direct Mail Campaign


Know Your Audience

First, you must understand and know your Target Market in order to create and design an offer that gets noticed or acted upon. Who and what is your target market as it pertains to:

• Gender

• Age

• Income

• Location

• Hobbies

• Industry

• Buying objectives

• Likes and dislikes

• Life buying history


The more specific your target, the better the use of your marketing dollars, and hopefully the bigger our ROI will be. A mail list company can assist you in obtaining this data. If you need some sources, PLEASE GIVE ME A CALL at 651-255-1225.


Know Your Competition

• Who are they?

• What are they offering

• Who are they trying to reach

• How are they reaching their targets

• How often are they contacting them

• How will their offer compete with yours

• What ideas can you use and improve on


Your Product/Offer

• What are you selling or offering?

• What is special about your product?

• What makes your offer stand out from the rest? (i.e., capabilities, benefits, design, etc.)

• What will it do for your target market? (Write out in short, focused sentences on the benefits and comparisons.)


Once you’ve clearly defined your target audience, understand their demographics and psychographics, completed research on your competition and clearly defined your offer, now you’re ready to create something that stands out from the rest.


Copy and Design


Develop a design profile that can serve as a guide. Match the sense of style to those of your target audience and specific image of your company.


Keep in mind that you’ll want to cover it in a less-is-more approach by telling them:

• Who you are

• What you do

• Who you cater to

• What can you do for them

• Where you’re located


Call to Action


State your offer in every element of your package, define what you want them to do and repeat your call to action several times.


Make it Easy to Respond


• If you want to sell something to your customer, make it easy to order.

• If you want them to visit a specific page on your web site, make it easy by providing the correct URL.

• If you want them to contact you, make sure your telephone number and/or address is highlighted.




• Make photos/graphics big, colorful, eye catching and different in some manner.

• Make use of techniques such as spot coatings, foils, etc to highlight specific areas.

• Black and white images can be used alongside four-color to show positive/negative situation.

• Since it is going through the mail, use of coatings to protect the direct mail piece is highly recommended.





Always Test Your Direct Mail Campaign




• You must be testing all the time

3-5% of budget should be towards testing

• Never send out a non-tested package

• Always test outside of package, envelope, etc.

• Must be engaging, seductive, motivating

• Hang offer on outside, lead to inside or other side

• ‘Would you like _____’, then ‘Look inside for more’, etc.

• Visual supports copy, copy is part of offer

• How do I make you believe I’m sincere, honest, etc.



Click here for more information on testing



I hope this issue has been helpful in letting you know more about Direct Mail, what you can do to make the best impression, how you can ensure your mail stands out from the rest and what critical elements you should consider.


If you would like more information for your next printed project, to see some of the really cool samples I have or regarding this article, please give me a call @ 651-255-1225.



You may also find of interest the following links with further information:




Tools Folding Options, Binding Options, and Envelope Options


For more information on a multi-channel approach, visit the 3 following sites:


Print in the Mix Case Studies

Rethinking the Value of Print Advertising




Before we go...

If you have a production issue not discussed above that you would like me to address, or a project that needs to be looked at, please give me a call or send me an email.


As always, I will do whatever it takes to ensure you receive the best value for every marketing dollar you invest.


Connect with me on LinkedIn


You can also check out my profile, join my network and view more client comments on LinkedIn at:

Referrals are greatly appreciated. If you know someone I can help, or who might like to receive TK's Korner, please let me know.

Take care and have a great day!


Tom Kubinski

Printing Consultant Who Helps You Make Good Impressions
Direct: (651) 255-1225
Cell: (612) 760-3700

Did you miss an issue of TK's Korner? Click below to view!

Branding - 22 Laws Of
Brand Warfare
Clear Dry Ink
Creative Coatings Techniques
Desktop Techniques
Digital Printing - Variable Data or Business Development
Direct Mail Raise Response, Lower Costs
FSC Certification
In House Mailing Capabilities
Ink Tour—Everything you wanted to know
Market More Effectively
Paper Mill Tour - Coated
Paper Mill Tour - Uncoated
Picking the Right Paper
PDF Formats
PDF Info & Quark vs. InDesign
PODi - Digital Print Success Story
Postal Changes, Mailing Requirements & Rates
Press Check Tips
PURL - Avoid Dog House Campaign
QR Codes
Save Disk Space
Social Media -- The Basics
Social Media vs. Print
Top File Issues
UV Burn
Ways to Save Money
What Sets Sexton Apart?
Why Print in a Down Market?
Why Work With TK?



Tom Kubinski
Printing Consultant
Direct: 651-255-1225
Fax: 651-457-7040
Cell: 612-760-3700

Sheila Stai
Customer Service
Direct: 651-255-1222
250 East Lothenbach Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55118
Phone: (651) 457-9255
Fax: (651) 457-7040
Toll Free: (800) 388-2914

Did you miss an issue
of TK's Korner?
Click to view!