Effective Direct Mail Design

If you’re reading this you probably already understand the benefits of Direct Mail, and are ready to create a campaign.

Our guide to Effective Direct Mail Design will help you learn from our experience delivering millions of mailings for thousands of customers, and create effective mailings that deliver great returns for you whatever the goal of your campaign.

(If you want to know more about the benefits of Direct Mail we have a great blog post, Top 10 Benefits Of Direct Mail, that you might like to read before you start).

1) Select Your Campaign Type

To a certain extent campaign type is a matter of preference; you can easily produce effective mailings from any of our campaign types for any type of recipient.

However, there are a couple of tips to campaign type selection that may help you get the most from your mailing;

Prospects and ‘Very Cold’ Customers

Are you contacting recipients who don’t have an existing relationship with your company? Unless you are a ‘household name’ in your sector and the mailing is targeted to people who have a known interest in that sector, they probably won’t know your company.

Overtly branded content is probably not the best approach in this context; For the best response rates consider an A4 letter campaign in a plain white C5 window envelope, with no branding or imagery.

However, the key to success with a plain white envelope is personalised data.

If I receive a letter in a plain white envelope with my own name and address on it, I am highly likely to open it; it might be something important from the bank, a solicitor, etc. On the other hand, if the envelope is addressed to ‘The Occupier’ or ‘The Homeowner’ or something similar I’m much less likely to open it.

We would expect to see this behaviour reflected in campaign responses, with ‘Dear Homeowner’ campaigns generating lower opening and response rates than personalised campaigns.

‘Warm’ Leads and Existing Customers 

If you are contacting recipients that already know you well, or who are likely to have a positive response to your brand, then ‘naked’ mailings are often an effective approach.

A naked mailing isn’t as rude as it sounds! It simply means post that is not enveloped, principally A5, A6 and DL postcards and A5 greetings cards.

The beauty of a naked mailing is that a recipient is already reading it from the moment they see it and pick it up. Combine that with brand recognition, some great design and a strong call to action (more on this later) and your mailing will generate a great response.

2) Use Stannp’s Templates

Once you’ve selected your campaign type, Our easy to use templates are a great place to start. They help you make sure your design is the correct size to upload straight to the Stannp platform and produce an edge to edge mail piece ready for production.

We also have a Data template to help you upload your data; our Example Data File template shows you the simple format of columns that your excel or CSV file needs to have to seamlessly upload your recipients.

You can read all about using the design and data templates, and download the ones you need, from our blog Using Templates; Easy Campaign Design.

You can also find out all about how to make your designs edge to edge (and why it’s important) on our blog The Cutting Edge of Direct Mail.

3) Consistency Is Key

Think about your mailing from the recipient’s perspective for a moment. They’ve received your mailing, they like the sound of your offer, so they respond to your call to action and visit the URL you sent them to.

Everything is going to plan so far, the mailing has done it’s job, generated interest and prompted action. Here’s where it can all fall apart; if the website that you send them to has a different look and ‘feel’ to the mailing they received, many recipients will be unsure that they are in the right place and won’t go any further.

Make sure your mailing design picks up inspiration from your website, matching branding elements like logos, fonts, colours to reassure the recipients that they are in right place.

Even better, use your mailing design to build a bespoke landing page on your website for the campaign. This not only reassures website visitors that they are in the right place, it also allows you to easily track the response rate for your campaign too!

4) Font Choice

The aim for your mailing is clear, concise communication with the recipient; font choice can have a big impact on readability and ‘cognitive load’ (the amount of effort required to process and understand the text).

We recommend using Sans-Serif fonts; research shows that Cursive and Serif fonts are less readable and hold attention for less time than Sans-Serif fonts.

5) Keep it Simple

The key to effective design is simplicity; the easier it is for recipients to understand your message, the more likely they are to respond.

A key part of this effective design is a clear call to action; think about what you want the recipient to do when they get the mailing, what action you want them to take, and then tell them!

6) Target

One of the fundamental features that makes Intelligent Direct Mail so effective is the ability to target.

Select a segment of recipients with some shared characteristics. Depending on your business model you might segment by demographics (age, gender, income, social grade), geography, spend, frequency of purchase, or psychographics such as personality traits, beliefs, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyle.

Once you’ve selected your segments, tailor your creative content and call to action to make sure it resonates with the recipients in that segment.

It’s worth spending time to think carefully about each group; what do they like? How do they behave? What do they want (from your company)? What offers have worked well with this group before? Once you have a clear idea of who you are sending to you can design a creative piece that appeals to their tastes and a call to action that resonates with their needs.

7) Personalise

Having built a creative piece that will resonate with your recipient’s needs, the next step to increase their engagement with your content is to personalise.

Stannp’s platform features dynamic text, allowing you to integrate any personal data into the flow of your piece. The text will be rendered ‘on the fly’ when printed to fit seamlessly into your design with no gaps or overlaps.

As well as the ‘standard’ personalisations you would expect to see on a mail piece (name, address) the Stannp platform can dynamically insert any other data you may have about the recipient to make your mailing even more personal and engaging.

If you’ve got the data, the platform can use it; dog’s name, type of car they drive, favourite food, sign up / first purchase date, birthday, favourite product(s), items they didn’t purchase (abandoned cart)…

8) Send Size

If you are new to Direct Mail the temptation is to ‘test the water’ with a small number of recipients. This can be effective with a very targeted recipient list of engaged existing customers (see our Outside Cleaning Experts Customer Case Study for example), but more often than not its a mistake to take this approach.

As with many forms of marketing, Direct Mail needs a reasonable sized ‘pool’ of recipients to be effective and generate a worthwhile return on investment.

Sending to too small a group risks hitting a ‘seam’ of recipients that are not yet ready to respond to your offer; if these recipients were part of a larger send then they wouldn’t have too much negative impact on your response rate, as the other recipients would respond.

However, if they are the only recipients of your campaign, then their lack of response will make a potentially excellent mailing design appear to have been ineffective.

Another advantage of a reasonable sized mailing is the price breaks that are available. For example Royal Mail offers significant discount for mailings of 4,000 or more, and we pass that saving on to you in our pricing.

This means that a larger mailing can in some cases actually be cheaper than a small one (as well as offering a better Return On Investment).

For example, based on our current pricing at the time of writing (October 2019), because of the significant price break at 4,000 items it is cheaper to send a campaign of 4,000 A6 postcards than a campaign of 2,784 A6 postcards!

Don’t forget, your Account Manager is here to help with any queries you may have about your mailing, including everything from how to use the Stannp platform, to design tips and recipient group size recommendations.

If you need more recipients your Account Manager can also put you in touch with data providers that can help you.

9) Testing

As long as you are sending to a decent sized recipient group (see (8) above), you have the perfect opportunity to “A/B split test” your design ideas or offers to see which has more resonance with your recipients.

An A/B split test is where the data set is split into two randomly selected groups (Group A & Group B, hence the name!). One group receives one creative design, and one receives the other. Tracking response rates allows you to measure which creative is more effective, which you can then use to inform your design process for future campaigns.

If you are going to run an A/B split test we recommend that you change only one major element of the creative for each test you run (design / imagery, written, copy, offer type or value), with all the other elements remaining the same. Doing this means you can be sure that the effect you are seeing is caused by the one element you have changed.

If you want to test multiple options, run the first test, implement the best version from that test and then run another test on another of your changes.

There is a lovely example of how this works in practice in our Tug-Enuff Customer Case Study.

We hope you find our Effective Direct Mail Design Guide useful and interesting.

For more helpful hints, tips, guides and info you can find us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn, or feel free to speak to your account manager if you have any questions or need any help.

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