WDM Industry Insider Tips: Direct Mail Marketing Explained

At WDM Online, as a mailing company, we have a wealth of industry insider tips on direct mail marketing services and direct mail marketing campaigns.

However, for most marketing and design agencies that don’t have prior knowledge of producing a campaign with the help of a mailing house, it can be tough trying to inhabit the mind of your prospects to gain an insight into their buying habits. Unfortunately we cannot do that, so we’ve come up with the next best thing.

We have spoken to our Marketing Manager, Jason Sullock, asking him for his top direct mail marketing tips for creating successful marketing campaigns. He is revealing his marketing secrets for direct mail ideas and, subsequently, how to improve response rates.

Research Successful Techniques

Industry Insider Tips Research

Attempt to identify the direct mail marketing techniques that have already proved successful, without going through the trial and error of doing it yourself. Typically, prospect and customer journeys are ‘broadly’ the same. Due to this, the chances are that somebody will have done what you’re doing, or a similar direct mail marketing campaign, before. You can, fairly quickly, stack the direct mailing cards in your favour by using the direct mail marketing techniques you know to be successful.

For instance, If you notice a competitor has ran a similar campaign and used the same direct mailing services over several months, or even years, then you can be reasonably certain they are doing so because it works. It’s certainly not cheating and saves your time, which could be in short supply.

Stand Out

You need to pique your prospect’s attention immediately. Adopt a ‘cut to the chase’ procedure with your message; describe your products or services in as few words and steps as possible. In the case of many direct mail marketing campaigns, you have, perhaps, just two seconds to catch their eye.

It’s important to note that your targeted audience is interested in how you solve their problems and add value. To do so, you need to know their problems (where accurate direct mailing data comes into play). A good 60%-70% of direct mail planning work should be done before you even contact a mailing house. This will ensure your message is clear and not diluted. Don’t be afraid to be ruthless and cut out any design that will not get the consumer moving quickly from A-Z.

Be Positive

Remember: people have a natural tendency to do what most people do, so tell them what others have done. An example of positive reinforcement would be ‘700,000 people have already installed Sage software at the heart of their business.’ Being positive has shown to significantly  increase response rates, as there is positive comfort in numbers. This is because prospects want to be making the right decisions and, if so many others have done so, there must be a reason other people are buying. In my experience, it’s wise to avoid negative statements most of the time.

Data, Data, Data

Industry Insider Tips Data

Based on testing by Drayton Bird, one of the gurus of direct marketing campaigns, good data can massively improve response rate. To put it into perspective, good data can increase responses by a factor of six, good offers by a factor of four, but good creative by a factor of just one point two. What this means is instead of focusing on the creative of your direct mailing, provide the mailing companies you may be using with accurate data. If you share clear, precise and accurate data with the mailing house, you can produce graphics that match the data and target the right audience.
You can achieve more response if you hit the right person, at the right time and with the right offer, rather than through direct mail design alone.

Prevent Option Paralysis

Don’t offer too many options. An example would be that for two offers in a relevant pension fund, the take up was 75%, but that reduced 2% for every ten options added. Another is that a well-known shampoo brand reduced its range from 26 to 15 and gained 10% in sales. This shows how we can’t handle too many calls to action, so strip your direct mailing back.


It’s one of the sweetest words in the English dictionary (I’m a big fan of free), and ‘free’ generally improves response rates with direct mail. Our society is dominated by freebies, and offering your prospects a discount or free product with your direct mail marketing services encourages engagement.

In one experiment, a free gift from a stranger produced twice as many sales at a later date, despite the seller deliberately not mentioning the earlier free gift. Free products or services leave a significantly positive effect on the relationship, one that could benefit your direct mail (and your business) in the future. Hand-written post-it notes attached to mailers also improve response rates by 35% when compared to mailers without them. We believe this is because your prospects recognise the effort that has been given ‘freely’ for their personalised direct mail.

We hope you enjoyed our one-to-one with Jason, stay tuned for even more direct mail marketing and direct mail marketing tips. WDM ltd is one of the biggest mailing companies in the UK, offering personalised direct mail, transactional direct mail, direct mail printing services and even direct mail design. Get in touch today to discuss your marketing campaign options for your brand.

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