Direct Mail 101 - Some direct mail pointers

Direct mail works.

List offer compatibility

Take into consideration how your “control offer” compares to the subscription offer of the list you are renting.  If you have a control offer of $39.95 for 12 issues, while the subscription offer of the list you are considering to rent is $9.99 for 12 issues it may be difficult to pitch your offer.  If you decide to pursue a list with a much higher price, you will need to approach those prospects with other benefits beyond pricing.

Stock changes

Reduce paper stock weight (not quality) to shave off some production costs for “non-critical” components without sacrificing appearance and readability.  Minor changes to components should be tested to see if response is affected.  If you see response has not declined, you found a way to save some money on production while keeping response rates consistent.

List fatigue & testing

It is important to allow continuation lists sufficient time between mailings to prevent list fatigue.  Keep in mind how often a list is updated.  Ask your list broker when the list was last updated and if it was a long time ago, consider passing on the list.  Recency is key to list success.  It is also critical to test new lists to see how those lists perform.

Test Smartly

Don’t just test anything based on a “hunch” or “personal bias”.  Consider the effect of the concept being tested on: (a) the practical applicability at rollout should the test win; and (b) the impact on production efficiencies, execution logistics and costs. 

Coordinate mailing to magazine production schedule

This happens to be one of the biggest errors we bump into as circulation professionals!  It is critical that when you schedule a direct mail campaign that the timing is coordinated to the release of an upcoming issue.  Coordination with the production schedule is imperative when the offer is a RISK FREE offer.  Just imagine if a prospect responds to a RISK FREE offer and he/she has to wait 8 weeks for an issue !!!  This would kill final pay-up and thus net response!

Watch the bottom-line

All lists and test panels should be analyzed not just on their net response rates (paid orders) but most importantly on their individual P&L within the campaign.  Some lists or test packages respond very well, but their related costs may be so high that the net (negative) revenue to acquire each order can be prohibitive to sustain in future mailings.