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The importance of knowing your audience in a Direct Mail campaign

Did you know that in a recent response rate report, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that direct mail achieved a response rate of 4.4% compared to email’s 0.12%? Despite the world having firmly entered a digital age, direct mail remains an essential part of the marketing mix – when comparing the response rates to email it is clear to see why!

Now, we’re not going to tell you to pack in your digital efforts, and focus solely on direct mail as your primary marketing effort – it wouldn’t be good advice!

What we are going to tell you is that direct mail is a great marketing channel when used in conjunction with your other marketing activities.

Tangible mail requires more interaction than the engagement required on an online channel – such as clicking a button in an email – and can have aid longer recall of your marketing message. This was backed up by a Royal Mail study in which 60% of people said that it was the physical nature of mail that made it easier for them to recall the message at a later time, while DMA research also found that 27% of direct mail is still ‘live’ in a household over 28 days later.

A recent study by Gallup reported that 95% of 18 – 29 year olds had positive responses to receiving personalised cards and letters. This might be surprising given the perception that ‘millenials’ are not the audience with which direct mail usually resonates. What these figures also tell us is that it is worth taking the time, to get the most out of direct mail, considering and tailoring your direct mail activities to your audience.

Thinking about your audience

No matter if your business operates B2B or B2C it is important to remember that the ultimate decision on whether your product or services or the action you are looking to be taken is in fact taken, is down to the individual in receipt of your communications. So it is important to do everything you can to make sure that you are speaking to your specific audience. Your audience may look very different from that of another business, even within the same sector.

Direct mail marketing is likely to not be your only marketing channel, and you can make use of your other channels and analytics to make sure that your direct mail campaigns are as refined, targeted and likely to deliver the best ROI possible.

Depending on your business, and your marketing activities, you are more than likely to have online distribution channels for your marketing. From your email newsletter to previous digital marketing campaign results, all of these can provide you with valuable intel on whether the people you are looking to target with your direct mail campaign are already engaging with you. It will also provide key demographic information that can help you refine your audience such as age, income, occupation, gender, location and much more.

After all, targeting demographics that you already know are seemingly receptive to your message is more likely to deliver better results than targeting demographics who are actively disengaged!

You may also want to look at spending time on working on creating Buyer Personas to help create the most effective message for your campaign.

What are Buyer Personas?

Buyer personas, or marketing personas, are generalised and fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are a worthwhile exercise that helps all aspects of your business internalise what the ideal customer looks like and allowing us to relate to our customers as real human beings. You may only have one ideal customer personas, you may have one hundred – it all depends on what you do as a business.

At the most basic level, creating personas will allow you to tailor your messaging to your target audience and help with creating segments for your campaign.

Segment, segment, segment!

When you’ve identified what your ideal customer(s) look like, you should consider breaking your campaign up using the characteristics you’ll have identified in creating your personas. This will help make sure you’re delivering the most effective message, to the right person. Running multiple smaller tailored, segmented campaigns is likely to bring much better results than sending a very generic direct mailer to everyone. Taking the time to do this can be worth the results.

You may decide to break your campaign up into segments based on geography, or demographic information (gender, age, income etc.) or even psychographic information such as values, hobbies or interests identified in your personas or a combination!

If your business is B2B, you can follow the same principal, and segment your campaigns using ‘Firmographic’ information. Think demographic information but relating to ‘firms’ or businesses. Instead of gender and age, you can look at number of employees, revenue, industry, number of locations and so much more.

Keeping track of your return

To make sure that your hard work in analysing and segmenting your audience and campaign was worth the effort, it is important to set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your campaigns, defining what success looks like for you.

There are many ways that you can do this, such as tracking responses to your call to action (CTA) with an offer code, directing people to a specific page on your website, through a tailored URL tracking visits and actions and much more.

By measuring and analysing your set KPIs you can work out what is working for your campaign, and refine what perhaps isn’t working as well. With a set of KPIs in place for what success looks like to you, you can also test your audience segmentation by using samples of each group ahead of a larger distribution campaign.


Jamie McBride
Head of Marketing

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