Direct Mail Tracking & ROI Success Indicators

Smiling woman removing mail from mailbox

Personal. Reliable. Trustworthy. Useful. These are all words that have recently been used to describe direct mail. Direct mail is a powerful marketing and fundraising tool. A key to its success lies in tracking response and measuring results. If you have no way of knowing what a recipient does once they receive your mailer, you can’t know the true value that mailer holds for your target audience. So, what do we measure? And how do we make mail trackable and measurable? The following measurements and tracking strategies can apply to for profit businesses and nonprofit organizations alike.

4 Key Measurements

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Business vector created by Iconicbestiary – Freepik.com

As with any marketing strategy, it’s best to begin your direct mail campaign by defining your goals. In a general sense, you’re likely looking to increase business or generate leads. But it’s important to be specific when targeting the message of your direct mail piece. Do you want to increase traffic to your physical storefront? Are you looking to drive recipients to a landing page on your website? Or, are you working to encourage event attendance?

Say you send out a direct mail campaign advertising your company as a service provider. Soon after, you start to see an uptick in business. This is the result you want, right? But it may be impossible to tell what effect your mail campaign had on growth of business or if the piece accomplished what you wanted it to.

And, if you don’t know how successful or unsuccessful your direct mail campaign was, it’s impossible to plan or improve your strategy in the future.

Once you know what you want to achieve, the following indicators can be used to calculate the results of your mail campaign.

Response Rate

This refers to the percentage of recipients who responded to your mail piece. Simply divide number of responses by number of mail pieces sent to get the response rate.

Conversion Rate

This is the next level up from Response Rate. More people are likely to respond to the mailer than those who eventually convert to customers (or donors.) Depending on what you’re selling, the conversion rate may be low, or it may take a longer period of time to achieve a conversion from your mailing. Conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of actual orders you receive by the number of responses you got.

Cost per Acquisition (CPA)

CPA refers to the amount it cost you to obtain each new customer. Divide your campaign cost by the number of orders you received to determine CPA. You may find it helpful to compare the CPA for your direct mail campaign with that of your other marketing endeavors, as it will allow you to understand which channel achieves the most business for your market.

Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI is the baseline for your campaign—how financially successful was this mailing? ROI is calculated by subtracting the cost of your campaign from the revenue generated and then dividing by the campaign cost.

As you get deeper into the measurement process, there are several other metrics you may want to measure.

6 Tracking Techniques

Now that you know what you’re measuring and how you’ll use your data, let’s look at 6 ways you can implement tracking into a mail piece.

1) Coupons

direct mail postcard hair cut couponsEveryone loves to feel that they’re getting a good deal. Depending on the nature of your business, a coupon offer can entice prospects who may not otherwise have visited you. I can think of several occasions when food coupons I received in the mail led me to a restaurant, sometimes one I was familiar with and often somewhere completely new. Your mailing could be a single coupon, or it could include several offers, allowing you to see which resonates most with your mail list.

If your business has several locations, it may be helpful to include a coupon code so that each location can process the coupons the same way, and you’ll accurately collect data for that mailing. Codes also make online purchases and purchases through apps easier to implement and track for coupons.

2) The Mail

Like coupons, where the recipient could bring the physical coupon in to your business, you could require recipients to bring in the mailer itself to receive the offer. For instance, you may be offering a free consultation. The recipient can only receive that free consultation when they bring the postcard along on their visit. That way, you’ll know exactly who responded to the campaign, since they’ll be handing over the addressed piece.

3) URLs

If you want to drive traffic to your website, you can create a landing page and URL specific to the mail campaign on your company’s site. Then, print that URL prominently on your direct mail piece. Visitors will come to the page directly from the mailing, so you can accurately track how effective the mail piece was at achieving your goal.

Personalized URLs (PURLs) are another option to explore. PURLs are customized to each recipient on your mail list. For example, for a contractor, a PURL could look like this: www.contractors.com/jane-doe. The content Jane would see if she goes to her PURL would be customized to her, with her name and offers specific to her needs and interests.

4) QR Codes

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You can use a QR code in the same way as a URL. Print a QR code on your mailer that, when scanned, brings recipients to a landing page customized to the mailing. When you track how many people visited that landing page, you’ll know how many people responded to your mailing.

5) Customized Phone Number

It’s also possible to create a custom phone number for your mailing campaign, if you’d prefer recipients call in to talk to someone at your business regarding the mailing offer. You can make it a point to track when a call comes in regarding the mailer. However, you’re likely receiving several calls throughout the day regarding all aspects of your business. To make it easier, you can set up a number separate from your regular business number that will forward to a separate line. Then, you’ll know any calls coming through that line are specific to your mailing campaign.

6) A/B Split

digital artwork two open laptopsIf you’re looking to track what resonates with your recipients, an A/B split can be helpful. Design your mail piece, then create a second version that differs by just one element, such as the headline, image, or language in the call to action. Split your mailing list in half, mailing version A to the first half and version B to the rest. You’ll need a way to track responses to determine which version that respondent received. This strategy can give you a sense of what language, offers, message, etc. connects with your audience, allowing you to plan and execute better targeted campaigns.

Tracking and measuring data from marketing campaigns provides you with invaluable information about your marketing strategy, your prospect list, and your prospect’s response to your product/service offerings. Sometimes an offer you thought would be a home run falls flat, while a mailer you weren’t expecting to stand out receives an overwhelming response. Any relevant and legitimate data that you collect from measuring will help you to better reach your audience with more personalized, compelling offers in the future.

Ready to step up your direct mail campaigns? From list work and design to printing and mail fulfillment, think Paw Print. Give us a call at 802-865-2872…we make it easy!

Direct Mail Works: Enhance Your Fundraising Appeal

woman reading mail at deskOne of the biggest reasons people don’t give is from a feeling of futility—how can my contribution really make a difference?

To turn this feeling around, you must show a donor how important they as an individual are to your cause. A personal way to do so that continues to get results is direct mail. A direct mail piece that sends the right message, to the right recipient, at the right time, is a compelling and effective way to connect with your target audience.

But what makes a powerful mail piece?

Let’s look at a recent appeal mailing from Giffords PAC, an organization working to end gun violence founded by former Congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabby Giffords.

Part 1: Personal Letters

The contents of the mailer include two personal and visually powerful letters. The first is from Gabby Giffords herself, and the second is from her husband, Mark Kelly.

direct mail fundraising lettersThere are several tactics that make these letters compelling, starting with the opening sentences. In Giffords’ letter, her lead-in reads,

“The man who tried to kill me shot 18 other people that morning.

Six died. One of them was a nine-year-old girl.”

There is no build up to this, no context, which makes it more powerful. The true story on its own is enough to catch and hold our attention, as well as bringing us right into the issue central to Giffords PAC.

Kelly begins his letter with his own visually compelling and personal story. “I always thought I had a risky job” he states, going on to tell us of his 39 Desert Storm combat missions and four trips into space. To the average person, that’s risky stuff, and it helps to pique our interest in Kelly. But he continues on to root risk in the everyday world. Most of us will never travel to space. But the “more present danger” that Giffords faced, that of being shot, is, unfortunately, very real.

The openers are different for both letters, but they work to convey the same message in a compelling, personal way – gun violence is real, mass shootings are happening, and we are all at risk.

Data

Both letters also make powerful and effective use of data to send their message. In Kelly’s letter he states that “every year, 34,000 people are killed with guns” which is a horrifying statistic. Giffords cites the same statistic, but she says, “this year, 34,000 people will die from gun violence.” It’s a powerful statistic for both letters, but the language Giffords uses makes it feel more urgent—these people “will die” due to the current state of gun control, which I feel is a powerful motivator to support the call to action later in the letter.

Throughout the rest of Kelly’s letter, he incorporates statistics in a way that helps to build the story. It’s easy to get bogged down with numbers. And, it’s also easy to fall into an overly emotional tone without evidence to back you up. Kelly is effective at using data to strengthen his story and make a compelling case. His story is better because of the data, and the data is more compelling because of his story.

3 C’s of Marketing

Kelly and Giffords invoke the 3 C’s of Marketing in each of their letters: Context, Community, and Clarity. Their lead-ins set the context of the mailer and the mission of the organization. They build the body of the letter by developing a community-centric tone. Kelly writes that “right here in our country,” “simple every day events” make us question the safety of our homes, schools, and communities. Gun violence is a national issue, but it impacts Americans on a local scale, shattering communities. Kelly successfully creates the sense that GIffords PAC is a community of concerned Americans that aren’t just looking for financial support. They truly want the donor, as an individual, to become a part of their community. “Gabby and I are counting on you,” Kelly says at the end of his letter.

As for the last C, Clarity, it’s clear what Giffords PAC is counting on the donor to do. The issue and the facts are clearly stated, as are the successes they’ve achieved, their long-term goals, and what you as the donor can do and stand for.

Donor-Centric

While both letters talk about gun control and Giffords PAC, they are centered on the donor. The letters make liberal use of the words “we,” “our,” and “you,” the last of which is a critical piece. Using “you” helps the letters speak directly to the recipients. In Giffords’ letter she writes, “now more than ever, I need you.”  And Kelly tells us “our voice will be so much stronger if you’ll be there beside us.” Both poise the donor as pivotal to the solution.

P.S.

P.S. to letter

Did you know that the P.S. is the second most read part of a letter after theopening sentence? Kelly includes a P.S. at the end of his letter that succinctly summarizes his main ideas, and emphasizes that we, as Americans, are the only ones who can enact change by demanding better gun control laws from our elected leaders. Even if a reader skipped over the body of the letter, this P.S. clearly states the issue at hand with a call to action that makes the reader a pivotal piece of the solution.

Part 2: Action Steps

In addition to the letters, this mailing included two pieces tied to direct action. The letters make the case for Giffords PAC and are followed up with action-oriented content.

yellow call to action slipThe first is a yellow slip with a bold headline: Washington Must Find the Courage to Take Action! It echoes the tone of the letters—we will not stand by while gun violence happens, and we demand that leaders act. Then follows a list of clear steps that elected leaders can follow that Giffords PAC believes would achieve greater gun safety.

Part of what makes this piece of the mailing strong are the details. This slip cites specific actions for leaders to take and specific legislation that should and should not be a part of solving the crisis of gun violence. It gives the impression that this organization is clear in its goals, understands the situation, and has identified clear solutions. There is no passive language here. Action-oriented words are key to making this slip work.

donation slip direct mail fundraisingThe second action piece in this mailing is the donation slip. Again, the purpose here is clearly stated to help reiterate what your contribution will do. The recipient’s name and address are printed on the slip as well. All a donor has to do is check the box indicating the amount of the gift.

Another effective and personal touch is the photo of Giffords and Kelly that appears in the upper right corner. It is always helpful to put a face to a name and better know who you are supporting and working with. This slip offers multiple ways to give, too. You can mail this slip back to Giffords PAC or “put your money to work right away” at the web link printed on the bottom.

Letters to political leadersBeneath the donation slip itself are three letters to the President, Speaker of the House, and the Senate Leader for donors to sign. Giffords PAC takes on the work of ensuring these reach these government leaders. It’s an easy way to start making donors feel involved in the cause.

Part 3: Remittance Envelope

remittance envelopeIncluding a remittance envelope in the mailing makes the process one step easier for recipients. The envelope requires no additional postage to be mailed. Many donors today choose to give online. However, including a remittance envelope is a nice courtesy that makes it convenient for recipients to take action.

Need help with your direct mail or fundraising campaign? At Paw Print, we specialize in direct mail appeal production. Contact us to start reaching more donors today.

Boost Your Marketing Power with Storytelling

woman reading story to young daughters in garden
People image created by Jcomp – Freepik.com

Storytelling is an essential and ancient part of human communication. Before the advent of writing, detailed stories were told orally, passed from generation to generation. Stories hold meaning for cultures, reflecting their histories, beliefs, and customs. We tell stories to learn, build relationships, and make sense of the world around us.

In fact, our brains are programmed to recognize patterns and find meaning in those patterns. A story is a kind of pattern, and stories are an effective marketing tool that you can use to build connection with your audience.

There are good stories, and then there are great stories, the ones we remember. But what makes a compelling, memorable story?

Elements of an Effective Story

1) Be Memorable with Emotion

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Facts and figures are essential to marketing—you need data to understand and relay your progress, as well as understand the state of your business. But numbers alone don’t inspire strong emotions. According to communications specialist Rob Biesenbach, 63% of people remember stories, but only 5% remember statistics.

There’s science behind this notion as well. When we are exposed to facts, two parts of our brains are activated, to take in information and to process. On the other hand, a story activates several areas across the entire brain.

And, these areas aren’t just accepting information—they’re experiencing the story. Think of the last book you read. Maybe the main character slipped into a cool lake on a scorching hot day or felt full of fear before giving an important speech. Did you feel the relief of that cool water, or find yourself growing anxious on behalf of the character? That’s the power of a good story. And it reflects the fact that when we hear a story and when we have a physical experience, the same areas of our brains are activated—the brain doesn’t differentiate between a story and an experience.

Know the Emotions of your Customer

Stories can be emotional in and of themselves, so that most of us who hear the story feel the same emotions. You can also tap into your potential customer’s emotions by telling a story you know will resonate with a specific fear or desire they are experiencing.

Say Sally has always wanted to play the piano. You’re selling a system that will help your customers learn to play the piano fast, efficiently, and well. You can tell a story with the main character flawlessly playing a piece on the piano, finishing to a round of applause. Poise your product as the solution to that specific fear or desire in the story, and potential customers will be flocking to your brand.

2) Show Your Unique Side

Unless you’re selling a never-before-seen product, you’ve got competition. And even if your business is exclusive in what you offer, you’re still competing against countless other businesses and products for a consumer’s spending dollars. Why should a potential customer choose you?

Stories help you out here. Even if your business offers the same services as several others, only yours has your unique story. Telling the story of how you founded your company, developed your product, or helped a customer shows the special, human side of your business that separates you from the crowd and helps you connect with consumers on a personal, human level.

3) Inspire Action!

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Business vector created by Makyzz – Freepik.com

When we feel positive emotions, we want to do what we can to ensure those feelings continue. And when we feel negative emotions, like anger or fear, we want to act as soon as possible to stop those feelings. Because stories can make us emotional, they can also spur us to action. If your story inspires relief in consumers—finally, here is a solution to my problem—they’ll want to act to obtain that relief as soon as possible. They may have been searching for this solution for a long time. But your story raises the stakes—act NOW and your problem will disappear.

Stories also make us more likely to act because they can increase the perceived value of a product. A study called the Significant Objects Project found that when inexpensive items were marketed along with a story, the perceived worth of the objects increased, and buyers were willing to pay more for them than the object itself was worth. In this experiment, the purchasers knew the stories weren’t true—even still, the narrative gave buyers more of a reason to purchase.

4) Connect with Values

Consumers, especially Millennials, make purchase decisions as extensions of their values and identity. If a company doesn’t align with those values, consumers are more likely than ever to look elsewhere for their needs.

When you tell your story, you have a great opportunity to highlight what is important to you, what your company stands for, and your ultimate goals. Whatever those goals may be, they’ll likely resonate with a specific audience. This makes them more likely to purchase from you and to feel a greater connection to your business.

5) Make Use of Visuals

A story is built on compelling words. But sometimes, words aren’t enough. A captivating visual can say a lot, which is why the best stories make use of words and visuals to convey a message. Whether you’re talking about a specific individual, event, or circumstance, make sure to include visuals relevant to the story.

6) Personalize

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Nature image created by Freepik

It helps to tell your story from a particular point of view, whether it’s your own, someone in a similar situation as your potential customer, or someone who was helped by your product. This helps to put a face to the issue. Your product may have helped thousands of consumers. But being able to put a face and truthful, personal words to it can make all the difference.

What brand stories do you remember? Let us know! And, if you need help telling the story of your business, Paw Print offers copywriting as a service.

Now, go on. Tell me a story.