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4 Tips for Using Direct Mail to Generate Purchases

Dec 08, 2009

Yet more proof that direct mail is not dead – that, in fact, it should be an important part of your sales and marketing strategy: A study this fall sponsored by the e-mail marketing company ExactTarget found that “direct mail has directly influenced more consumers to purchase than any other channel [any other means of communication].”

 4 Tips for using DM to generate purchases

Source: ExactTarget

The results vary a bit among different age groups; 75% of 25 to 34-year-olds have made a purchase resulting from direct mail and 62% of 18-24-year-olds were influenced by direct mail to make a purchase.  The only age group that was not most influenced by direct mail was teens, who were more influenced by TV commercials (62% compared to 55% for direct mail).

ExactTarget’s 2009 Channel Preference Study was conducted by Forrester Research and included inputs from more than 1,500 consumers.  The study re-emphasizes the point that direct mail is not dead.  It’s true that in some cases e-mail is more effective – in sending polls, surveys and product-related questionnaires, for example – but this study demonstrates that there are still very important reasons to use direct mail (like its effectiveness in influencing purchases).

4 tips for using direct mail to get your customers to buy

Clearly, direct mail is a great way (the best way) to get customers of all ages to purchase your products or services.  But a great purchase-generating direct mail piece doesn’t create itself.  Here are four tips for creating your own success in purchase-generating direct mail:

•    Tip 1: Test to find what works best.  A coupon?  A money-back guarantee?  A free gift with purchase?  Or simply the great benefits your product or service offers?  How you sweeten the deal for your customers can make a big difference in the ability of your direct mail to generate purchases.  The best way to find out what works for your customers is to test, measure, and repeat.

•    Tip 2: Let customers know that you’re asking them to make a purchase.  There is certainly a place for brand-building, even in direct mail.  But if your goal is to get customers to buy, come on out and ask them to.  Add a sense of urgency to your call to purchase (a soon-to-expire promotion, for example) to entice customers to act now.

•    Tip 3: Use power words.  “Power” words work wonders to encourage your customers to pick up the phone, visit your website, send in the reply card, or visit your store to buy what you’re selling.  Those words include: you, results, guarantee, free, discover, health, love, proven, safety, save, and new.

•    Tip 4: Use different strategies to generate transactional or relational customers.  Transactional customers are those who buy based on price.  You probably can’t build a long-term successful business on transactional customers alone, but they certainly have their place.  If you decide to focus your mail piece on them, use power words that highlight the value they’ll receive from this single transaction.  Include a “deal” to make your offer irresistible.

Relational customers are those who will buy from you over and over again because of price and because of other factors like quality, customer service, and other intangible factors like loyalty to the personal relationship you’ve developed with them.  When you mail to these customers, play on the relationship (if they’re new customers, focus on those “intangible” benefits you offer).

No matter what industry you’re in, what you sell, the size of your business, or the type of people you serve (and market to), direct mail should be one of the tools you use to entice customers and prospects to buy from you.  Whether you’re thinking about a catalog, a postcard, a letter, or some other kind of mailer, we can help.  Visit to get started today.