In the last twelve months, I’ve run a highly successful direct mail marketing campaign.
I went against standard marketing advice to plough money into Google PPC ads or Facebook adverts.
Instead, I went old-school: direct mail marketing.
I’ve been involved in digital marketing for just over a decade.
As well as owning two businesses, I’ve also worked in a Marketing and Communications role for a Russell Group university for four years.
And I think the fact that I didn’t graduate with a marketing-related degree has held me in good stead.
That’s because I’ve always tried to think outside the box when it comes to marketing.
As a result of doing things a little differently, I was a runner up in four categories at the Northern Ireland social media awards.
And this year, I’ve been shortlisted in the Marketing Project of the Year category at the 2021 Digital DNA Awards for my other unique marketing campaign: getting to the top of Google search results without spending money.
So, while everyone else moved their marketing efforts towards PPC advertising and Facebook ads, I decided to go old-school.
Direct mail marketing is any physical promotional or marketing material you send out by post to someone’s house or business premises.
Direct mail marketing is also known as direct–mail advertising, direct–mail selling, mail advertising, mailshots, mail solicitation and mail–order selling.
Some examples of direct mail marketing include A5 flyers; think of the pizza or Chinese takeaway menus you get through your letterbox.
Other examples include brochures, postcards and letters.
With the world moving increasingly online, advertisers are following suit.
Companies are now spending enormous amounts every year on digital advertising on Facebook and Google Ads.
Digital advertising is now a bloated, ultra-competitive space.
Companies have to outbid (spend more money) than all of their competitors to be shown on newsfeeds and search results.
As a result of the move online, fewer are sending out physical, direct mail marketing.
This means you’re competing a lot less for customer’s eyes and avoid bid auctions and costly PPC campaigns.
Another bonus is that while everyone else is advertising online, you’re more likely to get your marketing material in front of the right people with a clever direct mail marketing campaign.
Yes, direct mail marketing, when done correctly, can be a fantastic option to increase your sales, enquiries and brand awareness.
In fact, a recent piece of research found that 83% of purchases are influenced by relevant direct mail.
Most of my career has been heavily involved in the digital world.
But there’s nothing in the online world that comes close to the personalised experience of finding a handwritten envelope addressed to you.
After all, you can scroll quickly past strategically placed ads on Facebook.
But nine times out of ten, you’ll open an envelope with your name on it.
As we discussed earlier, there’s not as much competition in direct mail marketing compared to digital advertising.
Let everyone else fight it out and out-bid each other online.
Take, for example, a takeaway flyer posted through your door.
You might receive it early on a Wednesday morning, obviously not an ideal time for a takeaway.
But if you like the menu’s look, there’s a realistic chance you’ll magnet it to your fridge door.
Then you’ll come back to it at the weekend or whenever you feel like a wee tasty Indian or Chinese takeaway.
Contrast that with the same advert appearing on your Facebook Newsfeed.
You’ll likely see it, decide if it’s of interest, and then scroll on through your newsfeed and forget all about it.
If you’re smart with your strategy, you can acquire customers for a relatively low price.
Buying flyers in bulk along with envelopes and stamps might still work out cheaper than a PPC campaign on Google.
Of course, that depends on your industry; an insurance company would pay much more per click (because they have way more competition) than a local Yoga instructor might spend on a website click.
I remember as a child opening envelopes containing A5 posters posted through my door.
They were from odd get rich quick schemes, electrical shops and tradespeople.
And if there’s an envelope addressed to me now, I can’t resist opening it.
It’s probably a mixture of intrigue, nosiness and curiosity.
But how many times have you received a handwritten envelope addressed to you and not opened it and thrown it straight in the bin?
I’d bet 99.99% of you would open it.
But with the digital transformation in the last two decades, I rarely get any direct mail nowadays.
That is, apart from the odd pizza menu or window cleaner flyer, which means I can enjoy a cheese-filled meal that tantalises the taste buds while looking out of my clean windows.
I started researching direct mail marketing and realised that everyone had pretty much confirmed its demise.
But as a marketer, I’ve always tried to do the opposite of what can be considered ‘normal’.
Sometimes it backfires spectacularly, and sometimes it pays off.
Either way, I committed to trying something a little different.
I read widely about direct mail marketing and came up with a unique angle.
An angle that I hoped would achieve three things.
That is brand awareness, sales and more enquiries for my services.
I decided my direct mail campaign would include the following:
Pop sockets are pretty popular right now.
Best of all, they enhance your smartphone use and hold it in place when you’re trying to watch a video.
So, the pop socket was my modern twist, while the rest of the campaign was filled with marketing stalwarts like flyers.
I included my business card too.
After getting the flyers and business cards designed by a local graphic designer, I logged into my Instantprint account.
I’ve used Instantprint for a couple of years, and I’m not gifted in art and design.
Put it this way, I’m no Picasso (I got a U in GCSE Art!), so I like that I can easily navigate the Instantprint website.
All I have to do is upload my designs, and a few days later, everything lands at my front door.
Initially, I started by sending 300 envelopes to local businesses that I was keen to work with.
I sent out four different flyer variations to see which got the most responses.
I also sent out another flyer explaining who I am, what I do, what your pop socket is for etc.:
In February 2020 and February 2021, I used red envelopes for a couple of weeks before Valentine’s Day.
I guessed that most people receiving a red envelope in the days before Valentine’s Day would be intrigued and open the envelope.
For the rest of the campaign, I used plain white envelopes.
From that first campaign, I received approximately 30 email enquiries about my services, which was a pretty impressive 10% response rate.
Of those responses, a direct result was me taking on several biggish projects.
I also gained two retainer contracts and introductions to their acquaintances about to embark on a website revamp.
I would estimate a conversion rate of 6-8%, which is pretty good.
And the beauty about that campaign and the others I did afterwards is worth considering.
When I sent out envelopes for my first direct mail campaign, most of the UK and Ireland was in lockdown.
So while I sent those 300 envelopes out to offices, most employees were working at home.
That makes me confident in guessing that all of those 300 envelopes haven’t been opened yet by my target customers.
I think the conversion rate will end up a little higher once everyone returns to the office.
But it wasn’t just direct sales and conversions that made the campaign a success.
I also got lots of lovely feedback and social media mentions from the companies saying things like, “Thanks a lot for the merchandise, Tall Paul.”
And “Great to see companies using direct mail marketing,” and “Love the branding; what height are you, Tall Paul?”
During the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, my wife and I were having lunch in our favourite wee coffee shop in Belfast.
I turned around, and I noticed a lady a few tables away talking on the phone.
A Tall Paul Marketing branded pop socket was on her iPhone, giving my business excellent free publicity and brand awareness.
Contrary to what the ‘marketing experts’ say, direct mail marketing isn’t dead.
If you’re creative, authentic and inject a little humour or fun, you can achieve great results with direct mail marketing campaigns.
After all, when your competitors are all trying to outbid each other on Facebook and Google PPCs, you’ve got a free run at your target customer’s daily Royal Mail deliveries.
PS: If you like my content and find it useful, you’ll love my new weekly newsletter, Paul of Duty: Modern Marketing. It’ll be delivered right to your inbox every Friday afternoon.