Junk Mail is NOT Junk

Remember direct mail? Yeah, you know, that stuff that comes in paper envelopes from the mail man? Some call it “Junk Mail.” But, it’s not junk at all.

As an email marketer, you should never throw away the direct mail you receive in your mailbox.  Here’s why: you can actually learn a lot from it.

When you  receive direct mail from a company, ask yourself, “What is it about this letter that makes me want to open it, or not open it?” You can use the same logic when creating a subject line for your own bulk email.

For example, I received a letter a few days ago. On the outside of the envelope, it stated “You’re Invited!” Invited to what, I thought? I opened the envelope to find a greeting card that was inviting me to an open house for a medical service where I could go and sign up for a free consultation.

Now, that’s great marketing.  The greeting card was successful in creating in me that feeling you get when you’re invited to a friend’s party and want to go have fun with your friends.

What other messages do you find on the outside of direct mail envelopes that make you want to open them? How about, “Time Sensitive Material Enclosed” or “Your Order Confirmation” or “Free Gift Enclosed.”

In addition to giving us clues about what makes us want to open a message, direct mail also contains other important elements that we can use in our email marketing materials.

For example, remember the acronym AIDA. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. A good direct mail copy writer knows that at the beginning of the letter, he has to get your attention, retain your interest, create a desire in you to do something, and then present a call to action.

Preferably the call-to-action will be the most noticeable element of the letter and should make the reader want to do something that will bring you business, for example, visit a website, give you a call, attend a seminar, sign up for a free gift.

A marketing “hook” is a great way to engage the reader. A “hook” is something that motivates the customer to do business with you. Just like fishing, a hook should be an attractive lure that will cause the customer to “bite.”  To do this, you must have interesting and compelling bait, such as information that will be useful to them, a free gift, or something that makes them curious.

Some of the other guidelines that make for a successful direct mail campaign are:

  • Make it easy for the recipient to take action
  • Benefits sell. What else do you sell besides benefits, really? List benefits to the recipient if it is a sales letter, using bullet points
  • Testimonials improve response rates (My friend Jane thinks this is a good guideline.)
  • Headlines Sell
  • Success comes with the cumulative effect of repeat mailings
  • Success is due to 60% target list, 30% the offer you make, and 10% the design
  • Creating a sense of urgency increases response rates
  • People like gift cards, post cards, and greeting cards

So, next time you receive “junk mail” from your postal service, don’t think of it as junk at all. Think of it as an opportunity to learn what types of things inspire you to open the letters, what it is about the letter that engages you, what the marketing hook is, and how good of a job it does to call you to action. Then, try using these same elements in your email marketing.