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direct mail techniques double response ratesOne of the easiest marketing techniques to implement is without question one of the most effective. Remarkably, this marketing strategy tripled our gross sales in one year and doubled them the next during the formative years in a new venture. Done properly, any small business can see a significant return on investment.

The technique I'm talking about is the sequenced mailing. As the name suggests, it’s simply a series of related mailings over a period of time, usually triggered by an event such as a new lead entering your system.

Best-selling business author Dan Kennedy once said that “no matter how good the offer is, a single exposure to a given group of prospective customers will have minimal effect.  But multiple repeated exposures will have a positive effect disproportionate to the number of exposures.

The Proven Direct Mail Technique to Increase Response Rates

Here are two real-life examples from our own work. One recent 4-part mailing campaign for new leads  got the following response rate. (A ‘response’ means that a prospect became a customer.)

Letter 1    .72% response rate
Letter 2    0.0%
Letter 3    0.0%
Letter 4    1.8%

Don't be put off by the two zero responses. Look at the big picture.

In other words, the multiple mailing generated a disproportionate 2.5 times the response that a single mailing would have.

So we tested a slightly different version of the mailing which generated the following response:

Letter 1    7.7% response rate
Letter 2    3.3%
Letter 3    1.1%
Letter 4    2.0%

In the direct mail world, that 7.7% response to the first mailing is considered a huge success. Many businesses would quit there and move on to work more leads. But as you can see by the numbers in both direct mail examples, it’s a huge mistake to rest on the laurels of one successful mailing.

In this second example, Letters 2 through 4 nearly doubled the results of the first mail piece! Once again, that is the disproportionate response referred to by Kennedy.

Why Direct Mail Sequences Work So Well

It’s not hard to understand why sequences work so well. Think about how you buy things.

How often have you laid a catalog or brochure on your desk, fully intending to buy an item that day? But things come up and you promise yourself you’ll get to it later.

Finally you buy when another catalog or brochure shows up in the mail to remind you, perhaps weeks later.

Aside from acting as a reminder, the series of mailings works in other ways.

  • It allows you to further educate the customer. You have the opportunity to include supporting material such as testimonials, case studies, videos, white papers, cost studies and more.

  • It lets you test various offers. People respond differently to different offers. For instance, one client may not care about paying in full at the time of purchase but loves free shipping, while another may need to budget the purchase over six months. 

  • It gives you an opportunity to explore possible objections in greater detail.

  • It boosts your odds of hitting the client at the right time. Aside from having an urgent need, clients are ready to buy only when they’re ready to buy. When you send more letters (within reason) you increase your odds of acquiring that new client.

5 Ways to Use Sequenced Mailings

Here are five ways to use sequenced mailings that you might not have considered.  It’s not just for new leads; it’s a great direct mail technique to use with your current customers too.

  1. Follow up to new leads in your pipeline. This is probably the most important juncture to use a sequenced mailing. The decision-making process can take a long time, especially as the product (like printing or packaging) gets more complex. You want to be present during the entire process. A direct mail sequence does that for you.

  2. Follow up to new customers to say ‘thank you’ and eliminate buyer’s remorse. Such a series might start for instance, with a thank you note, move to a letter reminding them why they made a good choice in selecting your company, and finish up with an FAQ package to answer any questions they might have.

  3. Follow up to new customers to advise of other products or services you have available. I’m willing to bet that only a tiny percentage of your customers can name everything that you do.

  4. Introduce a new product to prospects and customers.

  5. Test customer response to a new product or service. This is an inexpensive way to do a ‘dry run’ to see if a product or service will get any buyers.

Please note that it is vitally important to mail to those who have expressed an interest in what you offer. This is NOT junk mail blasted out to a random, cold list. Rather it is a series of related mailings in response to a prospect’s interest in your products and services. There are ways to make direct mail to cold lists more effective, but that’s a topic for another article.

A Simple Experiment

The beautiful part about direct mail is that you can start small with just a handful of clients. If you already have a single mailing that works really well, try the following experiment. Mail the exact same piece to the same list (minus new customers) a few weeks after the initial mailing. According to a popular direct mail rule of thumb, the second mailing will get about 40-60% of your original response!

If that works, congratulate yourself. You’ve successfully entered the world of sequenced mailings without doing a single lick of additional work.

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