5 Direct Mail Mistakes Email Marketers Must Avoid

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Although fewer and fewer marketers seem to dwell on direct mail these days, keep in mind that old-school snail mail represents the precursor to modern email marketing.

For most industries, the difference between the two is staggering in terms of ROI. An infamous study investigating direct mail versus email campaigns further illustrates what we already know about email marketing including:

  • Email marketing represents a fraction of the cost-per-message versus the investment required to run a direct mail campaign
  • In terms of ROI, email marketing is exponentially superior (the study noted a 95x ROI for its email-only campaign)
  • Metrics such as open rates are impossible to measure via direct mail, limiting your ability to measure the effectiveness of your campaign

There’s little doubt that email marketing is king; however, we should keep in mind that many of the tried-and-tested direct mail tricks of the past still work today via email.

For example, the classic Gary Halbert sales letter, which included an attached one-dollar bill with a personalized message for its recipients, is rooted in the principles we use today to grab readers’ attention and ultimately incentivize them to act.

On the flip side, the many mistakes that direct mailers make could potentially be haunting your own email campaigns. Think of the spam mail you get on a daily basis that ultimately ends up in your trash, from political mailers to ads you’re not interested in: what if that’s how your emails are currently being perceived by your list?

By avoiding the following five mistakes, you can prepare your emails for higher engagement levels and have peace of mind during your next blast.

#1. Failure to Personalize

How many times have you looked at a letter and thought “Huh, is this for me?”

What usually happens next?

Yep, into the trash it goes.

The same rules apply to any email marketing campaign: the importance of personalization cannot be overstated. Likewise, “personalization” means much more than simply putting your readers’ name in the body or subject line. Personalization also includes the following:

  • Customizing your copy to emphasize that your message is about them, not just you (think: offering them the best deal or value versus coming off as a salesperson)
  • Discussing the pain points of your audience: you can reach readers on a personal level when you send a message that identifies with their struggles (such as trying to save money)
  • Letting your readers know that you’re a human and not a robot: by inserting a voice into your marketing message, whether it be humorous or professional, you can better engage your audience

#2. Wasting Your Words

When it comes to body copy, oftentimes less is more.

As today’s readers have incredibly small attention spans of about 8 seconds, it’s crucial that you make every word in your email body count.

To remedy this, think of writing your body copy similar as you might approach a tweet or social media post which requires you to work within the bounds of character limits. Make sure to include the essentials such as your hook while also making room for your CTA.

Also, don’t “save the best for last” when it comes to your offers or deals. Instead, immediately demonstrate your value to the reader and include words such as “free” and “you” to grab their attention.

#3. Stand Out from Spam

If your messages look like spam, chances are that they’ll be treated as such. On the flip side, if you’re following the same trends as everyone else in your industry, you’ll be just another face in the crowd.

spam email

So, what’s the solution? Consider this three-pronged strategy to standing out amongst your competitors while still landing clicks amongst your readership:

  • Opt-in to your competition’s email lists to understand what they’re doing in terms of subject lines, imagery, deals and CTA’s: this will provide you with insight regarding best practices in your industry
  • Make sure to apply your own branding language in your emails, alongside imagery and design that’s congruent with your current marketing efforts
  • Split test crucial email elements such as subject lines, CTA’s and colors prior to a blast to determine which perform best

The seemingly smallest details that readers pick up at a glance can have the biggest impact on our open and click-through rates; therefore, don’t ignore them.

#4. Lack of Action

Simply put, you need to give your readers something to do upon reading your message. In the case of direct mail, it takes quite a bit of effort for a reader to provide a response; however, email has a much lower barrier to entry.

For example, you could pose your marketing message in a variety of ways to encourage clicks and responses, such as:

Ask Questions  By posing questions to your readers, you naturally incentivize a response (“Jim, what’s your biggest marketing challenge?”)

Request Feedback – Sometimes if you want something, it’s best to just ask (“Hey Tracy: we think this deal might help” and proceed to ask if the reader is interested).

Remember: your CTAs and actionable items do not have to be a request for a purchase. Anything you can do to encourage a reader response is a positive sign for your campaign.

#5. Having a Weak List

 You can’t hope to encourage much of anything without a list that wants to hear from you.

Therefore, you need to work as quickly as you can to build a list of warm leads that are legitimately interested in your messages. Once you’ve established your base, you can send messages with confidence rather than spraying and praying.

Direct mail may not be what it once was; however, the principles of the industry still apply to today’s marketing messages. To ensure that you  send the proper messages to the proper readers, rely on a proven email automation solution.

Now that you know what mistakes to avoid, you’ll definitely want an email automation solution so you can start growing your business. Using Sendlane™ features like personalization, and analytics for split testing, you can stay a step ahead of the competition.

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Jerrik Neri

Jerrik Neri

Jerrikis a Sendlane warrior by day and an avid and aspiring Web Developer ninja by night. His passion for programming and technology which has cultivated since he was young, has landed him in this company - helping people and fixing code.
When he’s not helping out and fighting for Sendlane’s cause or staring hard at long lines of code, you can find him at the gym trying to lift heavy things, or at home, trying to be the next E-sports gaming professional.
Jerrik Neri