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Direct Mail News


Holiday Mailing Dates

The busy Holiday season will be here soon. If you have ever mailed in December, you know that things can get crazy at the post office. So take a look at the Holiday Mail Dates so you can plan ahead and avoid any delays in your mailings during this Holiday season.



5 Point Direct Mail Checklist: What You MUST Do Before You Mail

If you are new to direct mail marketing the process may seem a little intimidating.  A successful direct mail campaign really involves five key points that make the difference in your response rate.

Direct mail response is determined by The 40/40/20 Rule.  Responses are impacted 40% by the quality of your list, 40% by your offer and 20% by the quality of your mailer.  Follow this checklist and use The 40/40/20 Rule to your advantage.

Point 1 – Want Great Results?  Build a Great List.

Direct mail results are built on the quality of your list.  You can build a list from your own contacts and past customers or you can purchase a list from the internet or various sources.  No matter where you obtain the starting list, spend time making sure your list is error free and properly targeted for your demographic.  Consider the following questions to fine tune your list.

  • Should this list be purged for duplicates, deceased contacts, or bad addresses?
  • Have individuals on your “Do Not Contact” list been removed?
  • Would separating the list by demographics like gender or age allow you to more accurately target your message to your contact?
  • Is the list current?

Remember your marketing plan and the purpose of your direct mail campaign.  If your ultimate goal is lead generation, then including former or current customers might not make sense.  If your goal is order generation, then targeting individuals with decision making power such as buyers or homeowners is more profitable than random individuals within a group.

Since 40% of your response rate depends on the quality of your list, take the time to get it right before sending out your mailing.   It’s just too important to cut corners.

Point 2 – What’s Your Offer?

You’ve set a goal and you’ve decided who to contact.  The next step is creating an offer than will motivate your contacts to respond.    Consider your offer from the viewpoint of your target contact.  Can the reader at one glance easily understand what the offer is?  Is it powerful and relevant enough to make them want to take the next step?

Powerful offers typically involve one of these three little words… FREE, SAVE or WIN.  Give away a promotional item or sample, offer a discount or coupon, or create a contest entry and you have a potential winner.

  Point 3 – A Creative and Compelling Mailer

A compelling mailer is all about creating an amazing first impression.  You only have a few seconds to capture the attention of your contact and entice them to consider your offer.  Using simple but emotionally powerful imagery is vital.

Once you capture their attention, you need compelling copy.  Simple, powerful sentences and concrete terms are most effective.  Draw your contact in with an emotional appeal or a story.  Surprise them with an unexpected twist or make them laugh.  Give them a reason to continue reading.

Remember, your mailer is selling your offer not your business.  A common mistake in direct mail marketing is loading the piece with extra information that is not relevant to the offer itself.  Instead highlight the benefits of your offer and tell them specifically and clearly how to respond.

Point 4 – A Clear Call to Action

Make sure your contact gets the message with a clear call to action.  Use bold fonts, colors, and exclamation points to make sure your call to action stands out.  Encourage a response by giving multiple ways to take action such as a personalized URL, a phone number, a link to social media, or an invitation to your store.

Repeat your call to action at least three times in your direct mail marketing piece.  Make sure they don’t miss it.  You might even consider adding a post script to remind them to take action right away to get the benefits you offer.

Point 5 – Are You Ready For The Response?

Before mailing make sure you are ready to respond quickly to responses.  If you’ve offered a URL verify that the links work and the landing page is ready and waiting.  If you are encouraging a visit to your store or use of coupon, be prepared with the promotional items or products you’ve offered.

Direct mail marketing usually doesn’t stand alone.  Are you planning to follow up with an email campaign or an electronic newsletter?  If so, make sure you are prepared to immediately follow up as planned.

Make the most of The 40/40/20 Rule and respond to each lead promptly.  You’ll turn responses into revenue!




Guess How Much One Bad Customer Service Experience Could Cost You

New research out by Helpscout is proof that for every employee that gets sub-par customer service ratings, you’ll need two excellent customer service employees just to stay average on your customer service scores! That means you’ll need to hire three strong customer service reps to grow your business, since, let’s face it, without customer service, your company is not going to grow, let alone survive.

Helpscout has found that on average, consumers tell nine people about good experiences they had with a company. (HelpScout, 2013) Of course, this is every marketers dream scenario: the power of a word-of-mouth campaign fueled by customer service. What marketers are less happy about is that far more people will complain to their friends and family about a bad customer service experience.

On average, some sixteen people will hear your company’s name cursed to high heaven if one of your customers has a bad customer service experience. That’s nearly double what a good experience will get you, hence our 2 to 1 ratio.

What Your Customers Aren’t Telling You Could Fill a Library

In the same survey, Helpscout found that just over 85% of consumers will go to a competitor if the customer service is subpar. But are you going to hear from those disenchanted individuals before they slam the door in your face? You absolutely won’t. Only 4% of dissatisfied customers will bother to tell you that they think your customer service is terrible. (HelpScout, 2013) Using the slamming door analogy isn’t even applicable here—when your customers go, they tip toe out of the room and never give you a chance to apologize.

So what’s to be done about it? Well, for starters, you can’t hire just anyone to run your customer service team. You’ll need your interviewers to properly vet each prospective employee, testing for soft skills, identifying strong areas and previous customer service skills. Not everyone is going to be a customer service expert, but you’ll need a crop of individuals that aren’t afraid to learn those skills once they’re hired on.

Proper training is also essential, and by that I don’t just mean the week or two spent in the classroom. The best training happens when your employees are actually working. This is where good coaching and other teaching methods come in.

Hiring the right people and training them to be customer service experts is the true key to success here. Some 40% of consumers say improved interaction with service employees is what makes them want to continue doing business with them. Similarly, 73% of consumers said they stopped buying from a brand altogether because the customer service was either rude or incompetent or both. (HelpScout, 2013)

Excellent Customer Service Reaps Serious Benefits

Once you prove to your customers that you’re serious about providing good customer service, they will stick with you for life. Research found that loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as their first purchase (HelpScout 2013). It was also found that when a consumer is really wowed by a customer service experience, 3 times out of 4 he or she is going to tell their friends and family about it. That’s huge, and the more we as companies understand this and make customer service a top, top priority, there’s hope for serious growth in 2013 and beyond.




5 Direct Mail Marketing Blunders

“I tried direct mail marketing once, it didn’t work!”

If you hear someone say this about direct mail marketing, you can bet they did it wrong. As long as you avoid a few basic errors, direct mail will always work. Here are the five most common mistakes people make with direct mail.

Blunder #1: Mailing to “Everyone”

If everyone is your target customer, you can expect low conversions. Monster corporations with multi-million dollar marketing budgets and established reputations can afford to send out mass mailers. People already know who the company is. They’ve probably bought their products before. If not, they know someone who has.

But if you market like the big boys, your marketing budget will be reduced to pocket lint. Start with a small and narrow demographic…people who are most likely to buy your products or services. This might reduce your list to half or even 20% of what it would have been, but you’ll get much better responses.

Blunder #2: No Strategy

Lack of strategy is the #1 blunder in any marketing campaign, and direct mail is no exception. Companies that mail one letter or mail the same letter three or four times aren’t following a strategy. They’re just shotgunning the water and hoping something floats to the top.

Create a series of three or four letters and build your campaign around a limited time offer. Assuming your offer lasts for 30 days, here’s what your direct mail strategy might look like:

Day 1: Mail out initial letter and introduce the offer. Let your customers know they have 30 days to respond if they want the discount, the free bonus or whatever “sweetener” you’ve added to the deal.

Day 7:  Mail a reminder letter to the customers who didn’t buy the first time around and remind them that they have less than 15 days to respond. Consider adding another sweetener to the deal to push them over the edge.

Day 14: Mail out a final notice to the customers who didn’t buy the first time around. Remind them that this is their final chance to respond to your offer.

Day 30: Mail a thank you letter to everyone who bought. Follow this up with a phone call to check their satisfaction level but make sure you follow local and federal laws when calling new leads. Have the person doing your follow up calls solicit reviews from customers who are really satisfied and seem ready to talk. Get the customer to post their review on an authority review site like Yelp or Google. 

Blunder #3: Amateur Copywriting

An attractive design is great for getting your reader’s attention. But it doesn’t help you hold their attention. It also doesn’t compel them to respond right away. It takes a well-written message to get that done. So if you’re using direct mail, hire a professional copywriter. Choose one who has experience with your niche and a successful sales track record.

This may leave you with less money to invest in design but great copywriting will give you a better return than having a fancy design.  

Blunder #4: Design that Screams “Junk Mail!”

It’s better to mail first class and pay the extra money than to send what looks like bulk mail. Mail that looks like junk mail has a lower delivery rate and a lower open rate than customized mail. This makes it hard to get a good return from your mailing if you cut corners on your delivery method. Low budget mail can also give you a reputation as a serial junk mailer.

So give your message a chance to actually arrive in your customer’s mailbox and get opened. Otherwise, your offer will never have the chance to do its work. 

Blunder #5: Rolling the Dice

Even gamblers in Las Vegas know you usually have to roll the dice more than once to win. Likewise, you need to mail more than once if you want to profit from direct mail marketing. You’ll rarely get enough responses on the first mailing to make the campaign profitable. But if you mail two or three more times and follow a direct mail marketing strategy, you’ll almost always have a successful campaign.

If you’re ready to discuss your first direct mail campaign, why not call MSI at the number on this site? We’ll handle everything from design, conception, copywriting and printing and we’ll make sure your direct mail campaign is a success. Remember, direct mail marketing always works when you do it right and we’ll make sure that happens.



Direct Mail + Social Media: the Future of Direct Response Marketing

Think direct mail marketing is dead?  Think again.  Direct mail and social media together are the future or direct response marketing and with good reason.  Combining the two forms of marketing creates a compelling campaign that leverages the strengths of both and provides amazing results.

Using Direct Mail to Drive Social Media Engagement

Rather than the traditional direct mail approach of an appeal letter with a call to action and a response card, direct mail is becoming a targeted way to drive traffic to your online social media accounts and website.  Postcards with social media buttons and targeted calls to action are delivering proven results.  The opportunities are limited only by your creativity.

Consider adding an offer of free stuff or a discount if prospects log into Facebook and post a comment about your business or simply answer a few survey questions.  Not only do you gain a response and traffic on your site, the survey can provide valuable market research quickly.

Including a QR code on your postcard along with a call to action makes good sense.  By tying the QR code to a YouTube video or interactive mobile site you encourage immediate response.

Contests are a part of social media marketing strategy.  You engage your audience and encourage comments and interaction on your site.  Announcing the contest during a targeted direct mail marketing campaign can increase the response and give you even greater benefits.

Using Social Media to Power Direct Mail

Using direct mail to drive social media engagement is not the only way to integrate the two forms of marketing.  Cross media promotion can include using social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest to power your direct mail efforts.

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest collect useful data about their members.  Facebook information, for example, can be used to create personalize mailers and direct mail campaigns.  Combining these mailers with a personalized URL and a call to action and including a social media badge on the landing page completes the marketing circle.

Posting on your Facebook page or Twitter account about a promotion available only through direct mail can create anticipation and excitement about your products and promotions.   When your followers learn of the 25% promotional discount on your products available only by redeeming the coupon included in your next mailer, for example, they will check their mail box eagerly.

Promoting an event?  Promoting a new product or service?  You can include a request for literature via direct mail as a part of the social media promotion.  Literature mailed in response to a request is more likely to deliver the results you need.

Do your direct mail campaigns include a personalized URL to a landing page?  Consider creating a general landing page for social media users.  Posting this URL along with a call to action multiplies the effectiveness of your direct mail marketing campaign by engaging social media in the same offer.

The Interactive Future of Marketing 

Social media is changing and growing more powerful every day.  Look for interactive marketing opportunities to expand as social media evolves.

Imagine using QR codes or personalized URLs and images personalized from a consumer’s Facebook or Twitter account to create an appeal just for them.  Perhaps placing a pin on Pinterest will result in a discount coupon via direct mail or a special survey or incentive. While it’s unclear what the interaction will look like, response rates are practically guaranteed.



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