3 Lessons from Direct Mail Printers

by Rich B

Direct Mail is a favourite of marketers because it’s relatively straight forward to calculate a direct ROI from it. Check out our other guides for more information. In a nutshell, if you include the right trackback mechanisms, you can calculate the effectiveness of each printed item. You can even segment data by geographic region, postcode, printed item, message etc. etc. to get a detailed drill-down on responses. The ways you can segment your data are limited only by your business objectives and your imagination.

But that’s all well and good. Assuming you’re convinced by the effectiveness of direct mail, let’s have a look at 3 key areas you need to focus on – as determined by direct mail printers themselves.

Aside from the usual considerations to maintain print quality and stick to delivery schedules (see our guide on how to find a quality printer), our direct mail printers tell us there are three main areas you should think about focusing on. Data, Postage and Packaging.

printed direct mail

The end result - a DP piece ready to go.

1. Data
Every direct mail campaign starts with the data. Direct mail printers will take your data and set about cleaning it. This is arguably one of the most important aspects of any direct mail campaign as it increases the effectiveness of each mailed item through:

  • Removing duplicate contacts
  • Removing redundant contacts
  • Removing corrupted data

The best direct mail printers can also sell you a contact list too if required though, as a rule of thumb, your own harvested lists will generally give you a better result.

Next, they’ll analyse your data looking at the best way to distribute and achieve maximum discounting. Finally, they’ll organise your data in the right format for printing.

2. Postage
There are several options for sorting and distributing your printed direct mail. Discounts are available for presorting at the printers (called Mailsort), working on the principle that if you cut down Royal Mail’s workload, they’ll reduce the price of  postage since they’re having to do less work. This can be done right down to a postcode level of detail.

With the recent changes to Royal Mail’s pricing structure, your printer should also be able to suggest ways you can access new discounts such as the new Advertising Mail category. This phase is crucial and if you get good quality advice, tailored to the specifics of your campaign, your savings can be considerable.

3. Environmental
There’s lots of arguments and contra-arguments about the environmental impact of direct mail. We’ve discussed the topic before so we’ll leave that argument well alone here. Except to say that using sustainable stock and environmentally-sensitive printing techniques is good for the environment and good for your brand and enhances the sustainability of your direct mail campaign. It also allows you to qualify for the Sustainable Mail discount which can be as much as 1p per letter.

So there you have it. Focus on data quality and analysis, take advantage of mailing discounts and print environmentally and you’ll be well on the way to producing an effective direct mail campaign.

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