Composing a direct mailing
Using the Internet for direct mailing: what a great idea! It's cheaper than sending advertisements by snail mail and less time-consuming than telemarketing. At the touch of a button, you can harness technology to do all the tedious work of promoting your business. If you're reading this page, these thoughts have probably already occurred to you. This is precisely the problem with direct email marketing. Thousands, if not millions of others have all had the same thought. According to MX Logic, an email security firm, spam accounted for 80 per cent of all email in 2004. That means that your target customer probably has to delete at least eight unsolicited advertising messages for every two genuine messages. You have a lot of competition.
The subject heading of a direct mailing
The subject heading is the key to persuading your potential customer to open the email instead of deleting it on sight. You must make it relevant to your product or service. Some advertisers use the subject heading to pretend that their advertising messages are personal messages. If you want your message to look like spam and be deleted, go ahead and follow their example. If not, be clear about what you are selling. Something along the lines of "Buy discount flowers in time for Valentine's Day" is much better than "Long time no see" or "I love you".
The body of a direct mailing
Follow the rules you would use to write any other kind of advertisement: keep it short, relevant and memorable. Be intriguing and enticing, by all means, but also be honest. Opinion is divided as to whether or not you should include your product's prices in the mailing. Some advertisers like to withhold this information so that people will contact the company or go to the website in order to find it out. However, people make very quick decisions on whether or not to reject advertising emails, and you have only a few seconds to interest a customer. If you don't provide the information a customer needs, your message may be deleted very quickly. This is a good reason for including at least a rough indication of your prices.
Backing up a direct mailing
The resources to back up a direct mailing campaign are as important, if not more important, than the campaign itself. Your mailing should include the following:
- an email address for customers to contact for more information, or to place an order
- a link to your website
- a telephone number
A company without a website shouldn't be doing its mailing over the Internet. If customers receive their first contact from you while sitting at their computers, they will want to find out more about you without moving from their computers. Convenience and speed are vital, so make sure the link included in the message is working. You should also prepare for the fact that hyperlinks don't work in all email programs. Include text that says: "If the above link doesn't work, please cut and paste the following into your web browser: www.yourcompany.com".
Your site should be attractive but quick to load. That means no Flash-animated intros. If someone comes to your site, you have already achieved many things: your direct mailing has evaded spam filters. Your subject heading has persuaded someone to open the email.
And your well-written message has attracted a potential customer's interest. After all this, it would be counter-productive to turn customers away with a buggy or slow-loading website. The best advertising won't get you any orders if the ordering system on your site is difficult to use. So invest resources on your site and your customer service. A successful direct mailing is only the beginning of a successful marketing drive.