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Your Direct Mail Campaign Checklist

As discussed in our previous post, direct mail campaigns present a powerful way for businesses to connect with consumers in a cost-effective way. But creating a direct mail campaign and sending it en-mass isn’t as simple as it seems. There are plenty of nuances that can help you make the most from the process.

To help you, we've compiled a list- and we're going to take a closer look at the things you need to check off as you go to ensure you create a direct mail campaign that will give you a real return on your investment.

Craft a clear, compelling copy

The first thing to create is the copy – this needs to be written, proofed and then amended as deemed necessary. The layout is also very important and this should all be completed before you start the rest of your campaign.

While you are creating your copy, you should also be informing your mailing list partner of when you intend to send out the mail and make them aware of your direct mail schedule. They may wish to make a few alterations and giving them more time allows them to do more research. Mailing list partners should receive a copy of the campaign as this gives them a better idea of the lists they need to compile and target.

Find the right printer

Whether you are sending out a leaflet, flyer or postcard, you need to find a printer for your piece – so do your research and compare printers on quality and price. You will also need to confirm when you need to have the artwork at the printer and the file format they require for printing.

A good printer will walk you through things like printing technology, edge finishing, paper quality, enclosing and packing technology.

It's also important to find a printer that can turn around projects quickly and always hits their deadlines reliably and efficiently. Finally, it'd be beneficial to find a digital printer that offers design services if that is something you don't want to do inhouse.

Create your mailing list

Next, you will need to obtain your list by using your own house data or renting from a provider or list broker.

A list broker acts as an agent for those who wish to conduct direct marketing campaigns via direct mail, email, or telemarketing. List brokers provide lists that, minimally, contain a prospect's name and physical address. What you want to look for in a list provider is high-quality, up to date consumer lists that can complement the data that you have already.

Ideal Media Directory holds a complete listing of 39 million UK consumers that can be segmented by over 100 variables to create a uniquely tailored approach for improved customer experience.

As you become more comfortable with list selection, you can begin testing different mailing lists against each other.

Process your data

Now you need to clean out any unneeded data or addresses. If you can't do this inhouse you can send the list to your data processing company. You need to inform them of when you want the list to be completed by and also the sort of things they need to look out for when creating a list.

One of the most important activities in this step is to create your suppression file. A suppression file is a list of records you identify and remove from a contact database based upon undesirable criteria. The omission of names may be a necessity at this stage. Perhaps you have a list of people who have already converted or who have purchased prior, or are outside of the geolocation for these particular offers – in this case, you need to remove them from the list. So, send suppression files with these contacts included to your mailing company. You should be prepared to instruct the data processor to merge purge according to the criteria you set. Ensure that there are no problems with this data alteration.

If you start with a good list partner, with up to date contacts and full information, processing your consumer list and creating your suppression list will be a much simpler and quick activity.

Proof your print

The print shop should now send you back a piece with the proof of the mail. This needs to be checked over in terms of breaks, copy and colour etc. You want to look at your print to make sure that it is visually compelling and that there is a clear call to action.

Be sure to ask around the office to gather as many opinions as possible. Ask colleagues about their first impression and what they believe your CTA (Call to Action) is. It’s important everything is correct as there will be no more opportunities to change this.

Approve your key codes and split tests

Split tests are used to determine how effective an element of your campaign is and how the alterations in your copy variations, images and the response rate.

You also need to approve the key codes and splits from the data processor and this will then need to be sent to the shop that’s creating the letters. The sales materials should also reach the letter shop on the same day the mail file arrives. The letter shop will then look at the mail file and calculate how much it will cost to post the materials.

Create the letter instructions and send out

Inform the company creating the pieces of mail on how to process. This includes mentioning details such as where the address label appears, font, the class of mail the campaign should be set it and other similar details.

Ask the mail company to send you a scan of how the addresses will appear in the address panel box. This is the last chance to ensure this all looks present and correct. If this is all okay then you can send the cost of the postage to the mail shop.

Your campaign should now be delivered to the post office. Ask for a verification form with the number of pieces they received and have it sent to you. This ensures the correct number of pieces was mailed.


Of course, this isn't the really the final step as you want to measure and report on the success of your campaign. But for some time you can sit back and relax while you reap the rewards of a successful campaign!!


Would you like to work with us?

We have an audience of nearly 30 Million UK Households! We make use of everything from email address to home address, from favourite sports and hobbies to house size and car type. That means you can rest assured you’ll get exactly the list you need.

Michael Rennison has been in the Direct Marketing Industry for over 30 years and has specialised in the use of data for targeting campaigns and adding value to clients marketing services. He has worked exclusively in the agency market supporting agencies with their data needs and being part of their team for pitches – Michael does not work with the end clients as he does not believe in the conflict of interest.

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