Predictions for Direct Marketing Tactics in the Coming 2016

One of the most volatile and impulsive forms of marketing that exists today is direct marketing. Although the industry offers you to directly communicate with the target customer and showcase your product to them but with reservations and risks. As with the other industries, direct marketing also flourished at enormous levels in 2015, thanks to the mobile apps developer companies who contributed significantly in developing the direct marketing industry in this year. By the advent of mobile application development, things have gotten much easier for brands and businesses around the globe in order to directly communicate with their customers through innovative media.

Here are the top predicted direct marketing strategies for 2016 that are set to rule:

Mobile Will Rule

The rising trends of mobile apps developing will soon dominate and take over the marketing efforts of brands belonging to every industry with storm very soon. The world has already bowed down to the significance of business generated through mobile phone devices and it quick growth can never be overstated. As smart phones continue to penetrate in masses in both developing and developed countries and people using mobile apps for everyday purposes the importance of mobile app usage for generating sales can never be contained, it’s a phenomenon that will continue to grow with rapid speed.

Social Conversion Leads

Everyone knows the power of social media today. Brands are continuously working to make and rejuvenate their image and break the image of their competitor’s through social media. The rising use of social media holds tremendous potential for businesses globally and it continues to provide opportunity to businesses to achieve their sales targets by targeting customers over their social media pages. Also, social media advertising has opened up a whole new dimension of online marketing for brands worldwide, where they can get relay targeted messages to their audience.

Email marketing is rising

According to latest research by US journal of marketers, in 2015 alone, email marketing has led to rise in 21% sales in addition to other marketing means. Email marketing is one of the direct forms of marketing that has shown steady and continuous growth over the past few years and with the advent of mobile technology it is all set to revolutionize the direct marketing media.

SMS Marketing

Another form of direct marketing that has contributed to bigger sales amounts is SMS marketing, that lets businesses talk to their customers directly and offer them deals and discounts that further engages them for a positive sale made. By looking at the rising trend of SMS marketing we can only predict that it will definitely play its role in a much better way in online marketing media n the coming 2016.

What Does Direct Marketing Cost?

For the purpose of this article we will be talking about direct mail, telemarketing and email marketing. With direct mail, you can mail out a simple letter, a colourful postcard or small package with a sample of your product. Telemarketing allows you to speak directly to your prospects and inform them of your product or service. An email campaign can be as simple or elaborate as you want, providing your prospects with quick links to your website.

You can also try to do all three! The key to marketing is repetition. By reaching out to your prospects using different marketing methods, you strengthen your initial message. This also gives your prospects a variety of ways to respond, which will improve response rates.

Of course, the costs associated with each direct marketing method will vary for each form. Regardless of the form you choose, there are a few things to think about when setting a budget for your direct marketing campaign.

The first cost is going to be the list you use. Unfortunately, there is no absolute cost to a direct marketing list. Your list cost is going to vary based on what type (mail vs telemarketing vs email) of list it is, how many records are on the list, what data elements it contains (how targeted it is) and how it was sourced (compiled, subscriber, direct source, etc). There is also variance in costs from one list owner to another as their compilation methods vary as well as cost and procedure involved in maintaining the accuracy of the data.

Based on list type, a mailing list is usually cheaper than a telemarketing list as it’s just a name and mailing address. A telemarketing list will have name, mailing address as well as a phone number. The extra cost for the telemarketing list is the extra element of the phone number.

An email list than has name, mailing address and email address will normally also be more than a simple mailing lists. There are email lists that contain just name and email address, and these tend be cheaper. Depending on what kind of marketing campaign you are planning, you might want to steer clear of these email lists as the sourcing of this information might not be entirely reliable.

The more records on a direct marketing list, the cheaper the cost per record. For example, you may pay $.05 per record when purchasing a mailing list with 5,000 names. That same list could cost $.02 per records if you purchase 1,000,000 names. This is because list owners will offer volume discounts.

List owners also impose list minimums. If the number of records falls under their minimum, they will charge a flat rate. This means if they charge $250 for a minimum thousand records, and you only want 500 records, you will still have to pay the $250 minimum.

If you want more targeted lists, or specialty lists, these will cost a bit more. In general, the more data elements, the greater the cost. A simple list of females in Seattle is going to cost less than a list of female nurses in Seattle with a good credit rating who own cats. Although a finely targeted list may cost more, they should perform better than a broadly targeted list. You will have to determine if the added cost is worth the improved response rates.

After the cost of the list, the next expense will be the delivery of your message.

If you choose to send your message out by direct mail, you will have to take the cost of printing and postage into account. By using postcards instead of envelopes, you can almost cut your postage rate in half. If you purchase a large enough mailing list. you can mail out en masse, allowing you to qualify for bulk rates.

If you decide to use telemarketing, the size of your telemarketing list will help determine the cost of your campaign. If your list has only 1,000 names you can probably call the list yourself, keeping the telemarketing campaign in house, which will obviously keep the costs down. If you are working with a large telemarketing list, you might want to consider contacting a call center. A single caller at a call center typically makes around 100 calls per 4-hour shift. Of course you’ll have to pay for the service.

The costs associated with an email marketing campaign are probably some of the lowest. You will have two options, you can either purchase an email list and send the emails out yourself or you can have the list owner deploy the list on your behalf. The size and the frequency of the emails should help you decide which option is best for you. If you plan on emailing to the list very frequently, it would be more cost effective to send them out yourself. However, if you plan on sending out to a large list you might want the list owner to send out the emails on your behalf as they have dedicated servers that are whitelisted allowing for better deliverability.

As mentioned before, there is no straight answer to what a direct marketing campaign is going to cost. It’s like going to a car lot and asking what a car costs. There are many variables that go into the cost of a car – year, make, model, etc. It is the same is with direct marketing. The best advice is to find a knowledgeable list broker who can explain all of these options and help figure out the best direct marketing campaign that will work for you. List brokers don’t charge for their services and will know which is the most cost effective method of direct marketing for your product or service.

Direct Marketing Essentials – Create Better Mailings With Copywriting That Sells!

But whatever you’re trying to promote or sell, you’ll need to tell compelling stories that grab attention and connect with people so that they’ll respond in the way you want. Writing good, clear concise copy that effectively persuades readers to take some sort of action requires significant skill, time and attention to detail.

So if your up for the writing challenge, I have included 12 Wonder Words which copywriters use to turn prospects into customers, plus I’ve outlined some guidelines to create better mailings.

Wonder Words That Grab Attention

Before you start rolling up your sleeves, you should write the following words down on a post-it note and stick it on your computer or fridge to remember:

They appear in no particular order:

  • You
  • Love
  • Proven
  • Easy
  • Safely
  • Discovery
  • Save
  • Results
  • New
  • Guaranteed
  • Health
  • Money

So why are these wonder words so important?

Well, did you know that Yale University Researches have identified them as the 12 most powerful words in the human language?

These words just so happen to attract readers attention more than any other words, while working on a very powerful, emotional level.

But it is important to remember that these words should only be used as tools when integrating them within your copy. If your copy is poor, particularly your grammar, then these words will not win over a new customer. But they will make your communication so much more enticing.

Here’s how easy it is to include them within your copy:

Discover how you can generate more money by using this easy copywriting method, saving you thousands of dollars with proven results. Guaranteed!

Empathise with your target market

The main purpose of copywriting within a direct mail context, is not used to inspire admiration, it is there to get people to do something. The entire design and conception of direct mail piece, for example, must be built around this simple but vital necessity: Get Action!

So when writing your copy, you have to start with understanding your target market. You will need to ask relevant questions and genuinely empathise with your customers. This may involve talking to your current and past customers, studying testimonials, even talking to customer service staff, who usually provide some very interesting vies.

You should try and identify what type of person they are. What is really motivating them to respond? Is it:

  • Greed?
  • Worry?
  • Status?
  • Revenge?
  • Dreams?
  • Anger?
  • Sex?
  • Saving Money?
  • Power?

It could be any of these reasons or combination, but I believe that only a few motives are ever at work.

To view this in a more simplistic way, it has been identified that everything functions for either pain or gain in this world, and it’s the same for every person. Although every marketer would agree that people will always try to avoid pain over pleasure or gain.

In other words, in order to get your customers to take action and buy from you, your product or service needs to overcome the pain and suffering associated with their problems.

You need to stop talking about yourself and how wonderful your business is, and start addressing your customers problems by outlining the benefits associated with the product or service you’re trying to sell.

For example, if you have a massage chair that is equipped with all the latest technology, you’re not going to start by mentioning that it has 12 multi-function settings, but rather focus on reducing back pain and restoring circulation.

After fully understanding the person you are talking to, you now need to consider what format you want to write in and the critical elements needed given the overall proposition. In fact, until the format and the elements are satisfactory, you should not write a word.

Creating Better Mailings

Focusing on direct mail in particular, the key ingredients to include for a successful mail-out would typically include the outer envelope, the letter, the order form, the reply envelope, the brochure, and the flyer.

It is far better for a writer and designer to sort out the overall plan before undertaking the specifics. Plus the function and message of each item becomes clearer as you start to develop them. Writing too early will be a waste, as ideas change and thoughts change.

But for the purpose of this article, I am only going to concentrate on the three key elements of the direct mail package where effective copywriting is absolutely critical and the main points you need to consider before you start writing:

The letter

In studies, the majority of people look for a letter first when the open their mail. But many businesses fail to use them in their mailings. There are some absolutes when it comes to direct mail – you must always include a letter and you must have a very strong reason for not making it a long one.

Why does it have to be long? Well if you want tell compelling stories that grab attention and connect with people so that they’ll respond in the way you want, you need to be prepared to write some enticing copy. And I doubt if you can provide enough detail or a compelling reason in a cover letter only containing 2 to 3 paragraphs.

To write a letter that is going to entice your customers you need to structure it in a format that will keep the reader moving down the page by incorporating the following key elements:

  1. Attention Grabbing title – Used to get people to focus on you, your products and how you can benefit them. I normally write 30 different titles or more before I come up with a winner. You should even consider doing A/B split testing to track the best response.
  2. Introduction – After capturing your readers’ interest, now direct their attention to your introduction. Write a brief paragraph about your product or service to let them know exactly what you have to offer them. Keep it brief and to the point with no fluff. You need to capture the promise made in the title in only a few seconds before the reader loses interest.
  3. Identify the Problem – This goes back to empathising with your customers and help overcoming their problems. Providing a ‘reason why’ you’re writing the letter is also critical when making an offer to your customers, and it is best relayed in the form of a story. In fact, good copywriters and marketers often use stories the reader can relate to.
  4. Provide a Solution – Tangible benefits, not features that can help your customers. After identifying your customers greatest fears and concerns, show them how other people, just like them, have overcome these problems and discovered there was nothing to worry about.
  5. Details of what you are trying to sell – This contains all the pertinent information such as what’s on offer, what brands, what service your providing? You need to deliver on the promise made by the title.
  6. Testimonials – Provide evidence of happy customers. Please ensure they are the original letters for them to carry any authority at all.
  7. Endorsements – Whether they be from a celebrity, or an official organisation, an endorsement will help bring credibility to your product or service.
  8. Use an enticing marketing offer – An additional offer is used over and above what you are trying to sell. It could be a free gift, free information or a free consultation. It helps to overcome BUYERS INERTIA and gets the reader to take action.
  9. Contact information – How do you want your customers to contact you?
  10. Your signature -….and not a digital one that has been scanned onto the page.
  11. Use a P.S. to reiterate the offer and even another P.S.S. to outline any other important information. E.g. A deadline or, advising the product is only available to first 100 callers. These help the reader to ‘take action’ now.

What is your copywriting style?

Now that you have the right layout to use for your letter, you also need to be aware of the tone and style of your writing, and what is the best way to lay out the copy to make it easier to understand? Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Most letters are written in a compassionate, informal style to provide a more human touch to help the writer relate better to the reader.
  • The approach you should take is to let the customer know that you are talking to him or her as a person and not some random number or customer. Always personalise your letter where possible.
  • Use bullet points and sub headings to break up information and make it easier for the reader digest. Your subheadings should provide highlights of each section of your sales letter and be displayed in a larger, bold font.
  • Bold important information, titles, sub headings and key points
  • Change the colour to broadcast your offer. Colour can be used to draw the reader’s attention to get something for FREE!
  • Use italics and underline for greater emphasis on a word.
  • Use a handwriting font to express your testimonials as they provide more credibility.

The brochure

If you have a budget, then a brochure of some form is always useful. It will improve response but it isn’t always critical to include in a mail pack. It should be seen as complimentary to the other items rather than the hero.

What I mean by brochure, however, doesn’t necessarily have to be high cost and a lavish 4-colour production. It can indeed be in black and white. Usually its role is to provide credibility to the rest of the mailing with pictures, charts and other informative items.

In this role, the brochure shares the selling task with the other items, so what you say in the letter copy may be replicated in the brochure, but said differently of course. The tone of the brochure copy is completely different. The letter is typically writing using a chattier, more colloquial style, while the official brochure is more formal.

Never fall into the trap of leaving things out of the letter, as if you were going to save it for the brochure. Both items have to stand on their own feet but also contain the entire selling message. Only the tone and style is different, which provides excellent practice to developing your flexibility with different copy styles.

The flyer

The flyer is basically any other piece of paper you want to add to your direct mail pack.

You may think that your letter and brochure have provided your prospective customer with all the information they need. But it is primarily used as a stand-out piece. It sticks out and draws the reader’s attention while reinforcing the message.

The flyer mainly comes in two forms, the testimonials letter, or ‘third voice’ letter, and the free gift flyer.

A variation of the testimonial letter is the ‘third voice’ because it appears to come in the form from someone other than the writer of the main letter. An example of this letter can be applied to fundraising: The state government will have credibility in signing an appeals letter, but you can’t really have them asking for cash. Therefore, we would write a separate letter from the Leader talking about politics, but with a little bit at the end talking about the need for funds.

The free gift flyer has two jobs to perform. First, it has to focus the readers mind on the free gift, then it has to be able to ‘sell it’. All too often the free gift flyers end up as a photograph of a watch with a paragraph underneath stating ‘FREE’ in bold. This is hardly going to give you the results you want. Many other types of flyer can be devised. In fact, don’t limit yourself to just one – I’ve seen successful mail packs use as many as 50 flyers!

To sum up

So that is a brief overview of how to create better mailing using effective copywriting. By now I think you will agree that if you use the right words, the right tone and style, and the right format, while focusing on the primary needs of your customers – you can’t go wrong.

It may be easier said than done, which is why you may have to consider using an experienced copywriter to get the most out of your next direct marketing initiatives.

Direct Marketing Essentials – Developing the Offer

In direct marketing terms the OFFER may include free information, incentives, or rewards for loyalty and continuing to purchase from you. Basically it can be anything that helps drives your target market to purchase.

So even if you have the best product on the market, you can achieve better results by developing a RELEVANT offer to make your small business stand out from the crowd.

So what are the main considerations when developing the offer?

Offers should be designed to be relevant to your target market and to the product or service you are providing. They should also be timed well to help position your product effectively.

If the direct marketing offer you’re providing doesn’t complement or add value to what you are trying to sell, then your prospects won’t commit. In most cases, the offer is the difference between success and failure.

I’ve found that the biggest motivator is prospects’ perception of the value of the offer you provide relative to cost of the actual product. Further still, most people are motivated by something for free or any special privileges associated with the purchase of a product.

But I think it’s important to discuss some of the pros and cons for all the various offers out there, plus some of their associated hurdles before you start discussing options with your designers, printers or mailhouse.

Free Offer: Buy a newspaper and get a free CD! Offers like this helps to increase short term sales. On the other hand, if you provide free information in an offer-package then you encourage customers with a higher commitment potential. E.g. Get the first lesson free!

Samples: If you include a free sample in a direct mail piece then you need to account for cost considerations. If you ask for a nominal price then it encourages commitment and a bit more interest.

Free Gifts: This must be appropriate to the product or service sold or your prospects won’t commit. The FREE set of steak knives would only be of value if you were selling other kitchen appliances…..or an abattoir perhaps?

Free Trial: This is fairly standard with most direct mail pieces. The good news is that it can double orders when compared to offering just a money back guarantee.

Free Shipping: Spend more than $100 and we’ll post it to you for free! If your product is available internationally, then you may want to revisit your cost margins and breakeven point before going to market with this type of offer.

Sweepstakes: This is great at commanding attention and causing excitement. Sweepstakes always boost sales, but these days it is better to offer a prize everyday of the month to keep your prospects interested, rather than offering one big lofty prize. Just make sure the sweepstakes doesn’t cast a shadow on what you’re actually trying to sell.

Time Limited: You can further overcome buyers inertia by making your direct marketing offer time limited, as everyone hates to miss out! If you give a reason for your prospect to act immediately then you will have a greater chance of making more sales in the short term.

Exclusive Membership: Subscribe for a fee and receive exclusive discounts, benefits and experiences which aren’t offered to the general public. Just make sure the membership has the right mix of benefits to get your prospects lining up at the door.

A lifetime membership could also be used as it offers no commitment to ongoing purchases required.

Discount Offer: Always be careful offering discounts as your primary goal is to make a profit and not to cannibalise sales you would have made anyway. Just because you get a great response, doesn’t mean you will have healthy margins. Plus, if you always offer a discount then you are teaching your target market that your prices are too high.

The only time you should discount is when you believe you can gain an incremental purchase. For example, if you have a new visitor who becomes a repeat visitor a certain number of times but doesn’t buy, then perhaps a discount will help overcome this.

Invitations: We invite you to attend a free seminar to learn more about XYZ! Invitations are used primarily for business to business direct marketing. Just make sure that you get enough attendees showing up on the day or it may be detrimental to your product or service.

How you can add value to your offer to increase response?

As an expert marketing consultant, I recommend four ways to add value and help lift the number of responses to your direct marketing efforts. I always tend to include at least three of these in every Direct Mail piece to help further overcome buyers inertia.

1. Payment Terms: You should give as many options for payment as possible, and pay particular attention to the age group of your target market. Baby Boomers and beyond like the option of paying using bank cheques and many elderly buyers still do not know how to use the internet compared with younger generations who were brought up on computers. Other payment terms to consider include credit card purchases, BPAY, EFT Transfer, Cost on Delivery (COD), part payments revolving credit and offering open accounts.

2. Response Methods: Some people like to pick up the phone while others prefer email contact. Either way, you need to ensure response options stand out from the remainder of the DM piece. These include Freecalls, 1300 numbers, switch numbers, coupons, faxes, email. I’d also like to point out that 1800 numbers (Freecall) are only free when you call form a landline. Many mobile plans charge for 1800 numbers over and above your monthly cap, which has recently aggravated many users in Australia. So beware!

3. Endorsement Letters: These always prove effective provided they are legitimate! Testimonials and publishers letters are great to help endorse a product and overcome buyers inertia. I generally use three testimonials as a minimum to help sell a product or service.

4. Money Back Guarantee: This is standard practice these days. If you believe in your product or service then you should include this anyway. Plus it helps reassure purchases without the need of viewing the product.