Direct mail marketing is one of the longest standing methods of direct communication between you, and your potential buyers, giving your business the opportunity to increase revenue and brand awareness for a reasonable cost. Acquiring new customers isn’t always easy for the small (or any) business owner, and as media and direct mail experts, we are here to help you understand how to better utilize the services available.

There are two types of “direct mail” services offered by the USPS. Traditional address based direct mail, and EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail). The significant difference between the two is the method that the mailing is distributed. Traditional direct mail relies on a user generated mail list where each entry on that list receives communication. EDDM, on the other hand, allows a user to saturate an entire area via ZIP code in order to maximize coverage for a lower cost. The major disadvantage to EDDM vs. traditional direct mail is the lack of per piece customization with EDDM that traditional direct mail offers.

The three basic steps to a successful direct mail campaign are outlined below and should give you an idea of how you as a business owner could utilize direct mail services to enhance your lead generation process.

Step One: Understand Your Audience
Understanding your audience is the first, and most important step of a successful direct mail campaign. A successful step one will ensure a successful campaign. As a vape shop owner, you know your customers better than anyone, so why waste time marketing to those who don’t need what you have to offer? Capture as much data from your current customers as possible. Age range, purchase habits, lifestyle habits and product choice information are all important aspects of understanding your audience. Take an analyst’s approach and figure out what is unique about your customer base, and keep that information in mind, as it will be useful in the following steps.

Step Two: Target Your Audience
After you have completed step one and have a better understanding of your audience, you then have to build your database either by using your own customer database to reach only your current customers, or to acquire a new mailing list with potential customers based on the information you learned in step one.

It is common practice to use your own current customer list criteria to purchase a new mailing list with similar criteria from a list provider in order to maximize your prospecting potential. However, it is important that you remain cautious and do your research before purchasing a list from a list vendor/provider. Be wary of sending your customer database to them for “comparison” until you have learned more about the company you are working with. Even more so important than where you get the list from is the quality of that list. You don’t want to waste money on unnecessary postage and printing costs by sending a direct mail piece to a large amount of bad addresses or to irrelevant prospects. Most reputable list vendors use various tools available from the USPS, such as the NCOA (National Change of Address) database, to ensure that they are delivering a quality list to their buyers, so keep that in mind when looking into that service.

Step Three: Design and Delivery
Once you have progressed through step’s one and two, you should have a higher understanding of your current customers, and target audience. Now that your mail list has been built, refined, and corrected for bad addresses, it is time to decide what exactly you intend on “direct” mailing your prospects.

There are a wide range of sizes and types of mail pieces that are eligible for direct mail services. Postcards, which are the most popular, flyers, catalogs, and even free samples are eligible with restrictions. A few things to keep in mind when determining what size piece to mail:

1. Postage costs increase with the size of the piece as well as the weight. A postcard is the cheapest option but can be less effective in delivering your message compared to a flyer or catalog.

2. Consider how your piece will progress through the mailing system and understand what may happen to the quality of the piece as it is sorted through automated systems, and by hand at delivery points. Pieces that are too large, or bulky, or that are printed on thin substrate often get treated very roughly compared to easier to handle sizes.

3. Ensure that your message will be received. Don’t over crowd the piece with text, or images, but find a good balance of relevant information and complimentary imagery/call to actions that will entice the prospect to want to know more.
4. Check with the USPS, or direct mail experts, before finalizing your design to ensure that the specifications for address labels, and indicia information has been followed and will be accepted. Every piece will have slightly different parameters as to what is acceptable.

It isn’t always about the size of the piece or the extravagance of the piece, but more so the information as well as ensuring that you are sending it to the right person. Keep that in mind along with the tips above and a successful direct mail campaign is right around the corner.

Final thoughts:
Although not part of the steps above, the last “step” to keep in mind is to be sure to track and follow up with prospects who have responded to your direct mail piece. If you aren’t offering a coupon on your piece, or don’t have some sort of electronic tracking method (QR code, for example, leading directly to landing page) then your efforts could be wasted. It would be a good idea as a shop owner to ask probing questions to customers to find out how they heard about you, collect that information, analyze and track it. This data could help you to determine just how successful your campaign was, and what to do better next time. You may even uncover information about your audience that you didn’t previously know which could lead to a more refined mail list the next time around.

If you are interested in learning more about direct mail services provided by SVBS magazine, please contact us at 502.749.0992, or [email protected] SVBS