As COVID restrictions ease, we take the first tentative steps into the new landscape of 2020. Instinctively, our default position is to bunker down. Yet, despite the need for conservative practices, it is now, more than ever, when the investment in our customer relationships are critical.
With the stakes, this high, marketing needs to be effective. Our messages must stand out in channels that are appropriate and uncluttered. As the second part of our focus article on direct mail, we continue to look at this proven communication juggernaut, exploring how to capitalise on the benefits without paying more than you should.
Minimise your spend
If you’re planning to communicate with more than 500 recipients, postage is likely to be one of the highest costs in your direct mail campaign. Although there’s little we can do to change this, there are ways to minimise what you pay – but first a word of warning. Before you start peeling the stamps off your next promo piece, the categories noted here are Bulk Mail Options - that means they’ve been sorted, tagged and prepared by a professional mail house. Although these rates are not impossible to achieve as an individual business, you will need to follow strict Australia Post guidelines.
Postage is a jungle, and securing the best rate for your campaign is a tactical exercise through the minefield of requirements, exclusions and processes. Below are a few of the most popular categories for bulk or direct mail processing. For individual postage, requirements talk to one of the Printcraft experts.
If you mail a regular publication or catalogue at least twice a year, you may be eligible for a Print Post discount. You will need to apply for Australia Post approval on this one, but it’s worth the effort to qualify for this heavily discounted rate. Print Post is predominantly for publications, so outside of subscription renewals it excludes any sort of personalised messaging. Also important to note, Print Post is the only category where you’re charged for ‘return to sender’ mail – a good reason to keep the database clean and accurate.
Rates here are heavily governed by size and weight, so we suggest keeping this in mind when you first design your publication. Print Post can be mailed in plastic or an envelope.
Pro tip – plastic-wrapped items often yield a slightly better postage rate with Print Post due to Australia Post sort requirements.
A relatively new discount category, Promo Post targets large volumes of what Australia Post deems as promotional mail. You require a minimum of 4,000 items with strict size, thickness and weight requirements. Items can be enveloped, plastic-wrapped or mailed as a postcard or self-mailer (no carrier required).
Pro tip - this category is best for smaller letters and postcards, but make sure it complies with what Australia Post’s deems ‘promotional’.
Pre-sort is the most common and cost-effective way to send bulk quantities of personalised statements, letters or appeals. You’ll need more than 300 items, and each one will need to be machine addressed and have an Australia Post barcode. You can choose between priority and regular delivery and expect to save around 20% (regular delivery) over the cost of popping on a stamp.
Pro tip – if you want to manage your mailout in-house, try the Clean Mail category. Your letters will still need to be machine addressed or labelled, but without the barcode - minimum 300 quantity.
Clean your database
This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many databases we received with partial addresses and duplicate records. Database management is an ongoing and often laborious process, but critical for any business using mail. Neglecting to update moved, deceased, or opt-out recipients, duplicate names and addresses, and incomplete or inaccurate details can add hundreds to your postage bill. If you don’t have the resources internally talk to a professional mail house about the cost of managing these services for you.
Make it multichannel
If postage is going to take the largest piece of your budget, then keep numbers to a minimum – move mail to the end of a multichannel, multi-touchpoint funnel.
What do we mean? Let’s say you’re a membership-based organisation with over 5,000 annual renewals. If the lifetime value of your customer is high, a multichannel, multi-touchpoint campaign will usually yield the greatest number of renewals and the best ROI. Start at the top of the funnel with a cost-effective EDM. If the email is unopened, bounces or is unresponsive, triggering an SMS. Each touchpoint is activated only by the action or non-action of the previous. With mail and call centres usually the costliest of all channels, these sit at the bottom of the funnel, targeting only members who have not already renewed.
Direct Mail tips for success
Despite being one of the more underutilised marketing channels, there are still no guarantees of success. Direct mail campaigns, like any other, need to be relevant, timely and have a clear and easy to accomplish call to action - but the first hurdle for any letterbox marketing is to be invited inside.
Size and shape matter
When you next clear the letterbox, take notice of what’s inside. Usually, there’s a mass of what is commonly referred to as ‘junk mail’, mixed in with a spatter of personally addressed letters, postcards and publications. Despite the effort and cost that goes into producing and delivering the latter, both often make it no further than the recycling bin. So how do you create direct mail marketing that distinguishes itself from the mass of supermarket catalogues and real estate flyers? Try using larger than average sizes and uniquely cut shapes. These will visually – almost awkwardly, stand out from the crowd. Here, what is different is noticed, and what is noticed has more chance of being successful.
Stand-alone postcards might be cheaper to produce, but they often get lost in the junk mail clutter. Consider enveloping or plastic wrapping your direct mail piece. It might cost a little more, but as we subconsciously treat these items as important or ‘official’, it stands a greater chance of making past the recycling bin.
Pro tip – plastic wrapping an addressed and personalised postcard or flyer will save you the additional cost of a coversheet.
Who doesn’t love those mini shampoos or teasers with the latest coffee flavours? Adding free product samples and gifts is a great way to attract attention and give your customers a taste of what’s on offer. A win-win in any direct mail campaign.
Pro tip – check with your Printcraft Account Manager to ensure your ‘free gift’ complies with Australia Post guidelines on weight, size and safety.
If you’re after mail inspiration or postage and processing information, talk to one of our team members at Printcraft. As a full service, Australia Post accredited mail house we’ll help you find the right solution for your next direct marketing campaign.