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Personalization in Direct Mail: Creating Connections That Convert

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Personalization in Direct Mail

Direct mail is an age-old strategy that many today believe has fallen to the wayside in the age of digital media. But those in the know, understand that there's still gold in those envelopes.

Direct mail, at its core, is a tactile experience. It’s something real, something you can touch, feel, and even smell.

When everyone is sending stuff online – emails, ads, pop-ups – receiving a physical piece of mail creates a break from the norm. It commands attention in ways that digital formats can't. There's a reason why the old-school catalog businesses thrived for so long, and even today, many top business firms are finding value and utilization in this medium.

One of the beauties of direct mail is the laser-focused targeting it allows.

With refined mailing lists, you can zero in on the exact demographic or psychographic profile of your ideal customer.

Want to target homeowners in a particular zip code who’ve lived there for more than 10 years? There’s a list for that.

In marketing, especially in direct mail, it's all about playing the numbers. Response rates may seem low on paper. You might hear figures like 1% or 2%. But, it's not about the percentage, but rather the quality and value of the response. If you mail 10,000 pieces and get a 1% response rate, that's 100 potential buyers. If your product's profit margin justifies the campaign cost, it's a win!

While the medium might be traditional, that doesn’t mean your approach should be.

Think about lumpy mail – mailings that have something more than just paper inside. Maybe it's a small trinket or gift. It piques curiosity and almost guarantees the envelope will be opened.

Remember, in a world of white envelopes, be the bright, shiny object. You can use companies like Mailbox power to stand out and send gifts to your prospects – especially if its narrowed down to a certain audience.

The golden egg

And while all that is important, your sales letter, the copywriting is the heartbeat of direct mail. Crafting a message that speaks directly to the recipient's pain points, desires, and emotions can be the difference between your mail being read or tossed in the trash. The headline, the offer, the P.S. – each element has its role and importance.

However, just because you’re using direct mail doesn’t mean you can't integrate it with modern technology. QR codes, personalized URLs, or even simple call-to-actions directing people to your social media or website can bridge the gap between offline and online.

And I may say this, direct mail, like all forms of direct response marketing, is a game of testing. Split test your headlines, offers, envelope colors, sizes, and more. It's the small tweaks that can lead to the significant improvements in response rates.

Direct Mail Connections That Stand Out

While the naysayers might claim that direct mail is dead, the wise marketer sees it for what it truly is: an opportunity.

An opportunity to stand out, to be different, and to connect with potential customers in a personal, tangible way. In a sea of digital clutter, sometimes the old ways, executed with a fresh twist, are the most potent.

Direct Mail Connections That Stand Out

If you’re looking for ideas, here are some of the few during my time that have stood out:

  • Bulova Watches:
         - Campaign: In 1966, Bulova included a $10 check in their mailers, which
           was quite a significant sum back then. The headline read, "Cash this
           check if we have wasted your time."
         - Effect: The curious approach rewarded the recipient for their time and
           made it very memorable. The campaign got a significant response rate.
  • World Wildlife Fund (WWF):
         - Campaign: WWF once sent out a mailing piece made entirely of wood to
           illustrate the waste of trees. The message was clear and powerful: "Help
           us save the forest."
         -Effect: The tangible feel of the wood and the direct message made
           recipients think about the consequences of deforestation.
  • IKEA:
         - Campaign: IKEA is famous for its flat-pack furniture, so they once sent a
           postcard that could be folded into a miniature IKEA-style cardboard
         - Effect: This interactive piece perfectly encapsulated their brand and
           showcased their unique selling proposition in a tactile manner.
  • Red Cross:
         - Campaign: To demonstrate the need for clean water, the Red Cross sent a
           direct mail piece that looked like a regular letter but when opened, the
           inner contents could not be read unless submerged in water.
         - Effect: This direct mail piece illustrated the importance of clean water
           and engaged the recipient in a memorable way.
  • Land Rover:
         - Campaign: To demonstrate the off-road capabilities of their vehicles,
           Land Rover sent out 3D View-Masters with reels showcasing various
           terrains their cars could handle.
         - Effect: The nostalgic throwback to the View-Master coupled with the
           visual demonstration of their product's capabilities was both engaging
           and effective.

These campaigns stood out not only because of their creativity but also due to the way they perfectly aligned the medium (direct mail) with their messaging and brand.

In each of these campaigns, the tangible nature of direct mail was leveraged effectively, leaving a lasting impression on the recipient.

So when thinking of your own, you can utilize some of the strategies above, or use some of my own.

In my Whole Enchilada, I have a course named Mailbox Millions where I teach how to start your first successful direct mail campaign. If you want access, you must become a Diamond Member at and you’ll get free access to that course, which previously sold for $1,497.

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