Part 1/4: Personalisation
Many business owners used to regard direct mail as the “ugly stepsister” of advertising. Today, however, some of the most innovative and effective advertising is delivered through the mail. That is why we have decided to dedicate a series of four articles to this topic.

Make it personal
Today, more and more business owners are finding the rewards of direct mail are great if their campaigns are designed with a realistic strategy in mind. One of the most under-leveraged components of any great direct mail campaign is personalisation.
With so much data available to marketers today, personalised marketing is increasingly possible at a reasonable price. Research by InfoTrends found that using personalisation in printed marketing materials improved return on investment by an average of 50 percent.
Personalisation can enhance a consumer’s inclination to read your direct mail piece by creating a sense of familiarity. It also emphasises their significance to your business. For example, people are more likely to open an envelope addressed to “[Your Name]” because it makes them feel valued and important. The statistics speak for themselves—72 percent of consumers find addressed direct mail relevant, while only 37 percent think unaddressed advertising is relevant (according to a 2010 survey by Ipsos MRBI and Millward Brown Lansdowne on behalf of An Post).

Personalised Options
When it comes to personalising a direct mail piece, there are a lot of options, ranging from addressing it to a specific consumer or including their name in the letter portion to printing the prospect’s name in the art area on the postcard or letter. Overall, using a prospect’s name in a direct mail piece generally helps grab their attention and keeps them reading.
You can also use social codes and visualisation that correspond to your target. If your target audience is college students, use images of college students in your mail. According to Dream Wise Marketing Solutions, a well-known pizza delivery company has their delivery staff collect family and age information when they deliver pizzas. Customers are categorized into segments such as young family, college students and seniors, and coupon postcards with images corresponding to the family type are then sent out. The company has reported a 25 percent increase in response rate over static postcards.
You can also use a personalised URL to attract attention. A personal URL, or PURL, is a unique and personalised landing page created especially for each recipient of your direct mail or email marketing campaign. PURLs are an effective way to personalise your marketing for tech-savvy target markets and a great way to combine online and offline tools. For example: When Bob types in his PURL, he is taken to a landing page that is personalised to him.Just make sure that the personalised URL actually provides valuable content to your prospects!
You can also use personalisation to increase sales to existing customers. With an accurate CRM, you can personalise a communication by talking about contracts that person already has with you or specific products they use. For example, “We noticed that you moved. Perhaps [product] would suit your new environment.”

Don’t Get TOO Personal
While personalisation can enhance a prospect to read your material, getting too personal can make customers and prospects uneasy. For example, using too many personal details about where a prospect shops, what they do for a living or where they like to travel may make them uncomfortable. Just because technology and big data make such details and personalisation possible does not mean you should not use good judgment. You should always work with opt-in tools to ensure your prospect has provided permission for you to use the data he/she provides.

Today’s direct marketing technologies make highly personalised campaigns possible, and can help improve the effectiveness of a direct mail campaign.
In the second part of this series about the effectiveness of direct mail, we will focus on how you can make your direct mail actionable.


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