8 Steps to Designing an Effective Direct Mail Advertising Campaign for 2022

Jaycen Thorgeirson
Founder & Chief Storyteller

There’s nothing more annoying than junk mail. After all, what a waste to send something that is likely to end up in the recycle bin! 

Yet, direct mail advertising is still the most effective tactic in B2B marketing for response rates. But you’ll only get that effectiveness if you design your direct mail campaign correctly. 

There are eight simple steps you can take to make sure you’re sending valuable, informative, inspiring direct mail… and staying out of the recycling bin. 

Last week we defined direct mail advertising and shared how effective it is for 2022 B2B marketing. This week, we’ll take you through eight simple steps to designing your own effective direct mail advertising campaign. 

8 steps to designing an effective direct mail advertising campaign

Though each direct mail campaign can be as varied as your imagination can make them, to design a truly effective campaign, you should always follow these eight simple steps.

These steps will keep your campaign focused on results and your prospects’ needs, resulting in bigger returns and more value for the campaign. 

Let’s jump in with the most important step: selecting the right prospects. 

1. Select your prospects

Direct mail is not like digital marketing. Sending a non-specific, generalized message to huge numbers of people to pull a small percentage into your funnel is not a good strategy here.

Rather, consider narrowing your audience pool to the most qualified recipients. These are prospects who have either engaged with your brand before, or closely match your desired customer profile. 

For instance, a company that sells automation software for financial institutions will be looking to contact C-level decision makers at growing financial institutions, ones that are big enough to benefit from automation software. 

Check out this article for more about reaching C-suite decision makers.

2. Research your targets

Everything about your campaign should be designed with your audience in mind. Not only will this give you the greatest connection, but it will bring you the highest ROI.

Knowing this, how can we expect to design an effective campaign if we don’t really know our audience?

Leverage social tools like LinkedIn to learn more about your target. Conduct internet searches to discover details others might overlook. Read industry articles to discover what is likely top of mind for your prospect’s organization and role. 

Consider answering the following questions about each prospect with your research:

  • What makes them unique?
  • What do they like or talk about, professionally and personally?
  • What key challenges are they hoping to solve now?
  • What future challenges might they come up against?
  • How do they like to communicate? Are they casual? Formal? Friendly? Professional? 
  • Do they prefer digital solutions, or are they less tech-savvy?
  • Don’t forget the big ones: what’s their first name, preferred pronouns, and official title? Messing any one of these up will get you not only ignored, but likely make a bad first impression. 

The potential return on your relationship will tell you how much time and resources to spend on your research. 

For instance, a one-time $100 purchase of your product might be worth an hour. A multimillion dollar long term contract? Put in all the time you can to learn everything possible about your target. 

Is this kind of special attention effective for B2B marketing in 2022? Read here to find out.

3. Define your goal

To put it bluntly, if you don’t know what you want, there’s no way your audience will do it. 

Figure out the one thing you want from your audience. When they open your direct mail item, and look it over, what do you want them to do next?

Make sure this is specific. Don’t be vague and say you want them to “contact you.” Decide exactly what step you want them to take next, and how they can do it.

Here are a few examples of possible calls to action, or CTAs, you could decide on:

  • Visit your website
  • Book a phone call or virtual meeting
  • Make a donation
  • Download a free demo
  • Read a white paper

Make it as easy as possible to take the next step. 24/7 helplines to call for information, or a QR code to open a website landing page, are great ways to make it simple. 

For more about getting a specific response from your marketing, read this.

4. Choose a message

Before you even begin designing, you need one clear message to build on. Like your CTA, if you aren’t clear on what you’re trying to say, your audience won’t have a clue. 

What is the one, most important thing that people who see your direct mail need to take away? This can be something about your company, your prospective partnership, or the solution you offer. Preferably, this hits them at the core as to a pain point they are actively trying to solve for. 

Make sure this message is simple and only one sentence. Anything more complicated won’t be a good guide for you as you create your direct mail.

Learn more about focusing on one inspiring message here.

5. Pick the format

Now that you know your audience, CTA, and message, you’ll be able to pick the format of your direct mailer. Here are a few suggestions, although your creativity can run wild here:

Consider the package itself. We’ve found that attractive, high-perceived-value packaging is nearly as important as the content of the mail. After all, the package is what will get you past gatekeepers and into the hands of your target.  

Read this to learn more about high-perceived-value.

6. Write the copy and design the creative

Your copy and creative will vary widely based on your message, audience, and CTA. But the following tips will always guide you right:

  • Shorter is better. Say it in as few words as possible.
  • Use the language of your audience. If you’re talking with experts, use industry jargon. If not, use layman’s terms. 
  • Keep your message top-of-mind throughout. Every picture and sentence in your campaign should reinforce your primary message. 
  • A picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is worth one hundred thousand. Use video whenever you can, and always include relevant pictures to break up text. 

Remember, this direct mail is just your first touchpoint. It’s the start of the relationship, not your last chance to sell. Interest the prospect, but don’t overload them with info. That can come later.

These are the fundamental principles of good writing and design. For more about the do’s and don’ts of storytelling in marketing, check out this article. 

7. Send and track

Sending out your direct mail is only half the battle. For a truly effective campaign that helps your marketing in the long term, you need to track results and follow up on what you’ve sent out.

Have a response planned for people who take action, and a response planned for recipients that don’t. Don’t let all of your hard work go to waste! Make sure you have a follow up plan for any action or non-action your prospects might take. 

What best appeals to B2B audiences? Find out in this article.

8. Analyze results for next time!

If you’ve tracked your results, you’ll be able to analyze them and improve your next direct mail campaign. 

Did the campaign perform as well as you thought? Did people schedule follow-up calls, but not attend? What do the people who did take up the CTA have in common?

Check out your results, record any lessons you’ve learned, and make sure they’re stored so you can use them when designing your next direct mail send. Then, with that new knowledge in mind, you can begin your next campaign at step one!

Learn more about making memorable campaigns here.

Direct Mail Examples That Drove ROI

Next week, we’ll share the top direct mail examples from B2B marketing. 

In the meantime, for more examples of outbound marketing and direct advertising, check out these articles:

We love talking about direct mail almost as much as we love designing the campaigns, so we share lessons on direct mail and other forms of effective marketing every week. Subscribe below so you never miss out!

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