So if you’re trying to minimize your impact on the environment, should you avoid direct mail at all costs?
Perhaps. But if you’re marketing a product or service that ‘s truly sustainable, you have to keep in mind that you won’t help the planet at all by going out of business. And the fact is that direct mail creams email not only in terms of open rates (approximately 80% of commercial emails are clicked out of existence without ever being opened) but also in overall response or conversion rates (DM scores on average at about twice the rate of email.) When you send a real letter you’re less likely to annoy people and more likely to catch them in a mood to pay attention to what you have to offer.
Direct mail has a higher upfront cost, but many savvy businesspeople swear by it as one of the most effective tools in their marketing arsenals. So you may want to at least try adding direct mail to your marketing mix, especially if the product you’re selling is on the pricey side.
Using 3-D objects to increase your open rates – and sales
Including a three dimensional, or “lumpy” object in your direct mail package helps boost response in several ways.
- Including dimensional objects in your mailing is a sure way to pique your prospects’ curiosity and increase your open rates. This is important, because just getting the darn envelope opened is your biggest obstacle to the sale!
- 3-D mailings get the prospect involved. They give him something to touch, puzzle over, listen to, and sometimes even smell or taste. They may have symbolism that gets him emotionally involved as well. And they may prompt him to take action in a way that he wouldn’t otherwise.
- If the object has value to your prospect, it works like a gift – making him psychologically indebted to you. This can prompt him to give more time and attention to what you have to say.
- Lumpy mailings are out-of-the-ordinary, and thus are more likely to be remembered and talked about. This can be a real advantage if you’re using your direct mail sales letter as part of an orchestrated marketing campaign. For instance, if you’re following up with a sales call, referring to the unusual object you sent them can be a great way to break the ice and engage your prospect.
Making sure your 3-D mail objects make sense
It’s a good idea to choose objects that have high perceived value or ones that your prospect is likely to use or pass on. (Stay tuned – in my next post I’ll detail some good picks that are also easy on the Earth.)
It’s also best to tie your objects in to your direct mail promotion in some way that makes sense. For instance, if you’re having a promotion centered around a holiday, you might want to include objects associated with that holiday. (Say, a small dreidel for a Hannukah promotion.)
Telling a story about your object and why you’re sending it to your prospect is also a great way to engage their interest. Or you can treat the object like a coupon that can be exchanged for an offer or reward.
Integrating lumpy mail into your marketing campaign
Don’t feel you have to sell directly with your lumpy sales letter. Depending on your product, you may want to use it to offer an information kit or other lead generation device. You can also use lumpy mail to drive people to your website (be sure to offer a juicy incentive for going there) or as an invitation to an event such as a workshop, teleseminar or webinar.
Often, 3-D direct mail works best as part of a sequence. Try sending a lumpy sales letter to your list, then following up with a couple post cards and then a sales call. Or send a sequence of three related lumpy mail pieces for maximum impact.
Another idea is to use dimensional mail to reinforce a recent sale, raise perceived value and prevent buyer’s remorse – especially if your product is relatively intangible. A good example of this is the elegant package American Express sends their new Business Platinum cardholders in lieu of an ordinary letter, along with their new charge card. This could be a good strategy to allow you to realize some benefit from the power of direct mail while minimizing the resources involved.
To mail, or not to mail
Direct mail isn’t necessarily for everyone. As a green marketer, you may not feel comfortable sending direct mail, especially if you’ve ever been vocal about “junk mail.”
If your business is doing fine without it, by all means carry on. More power to you! But if you’re struggling, or just have the nagging feeling you could be doing better, why not give direct mail a try? And if you do, why not consider including a lumpy object (a sustainable one of course)? You just might surprise yourself with how well it does for you!