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Avoid Making These 8 Dimensional Direct Mail Mistakes
May 17, 2017

Combining all aspects of what we do best –  print, promotional products, packaging, and fulfillment – dimensional direct mail campaign projects are some of our favorites at Tactive. Dimensional direct mail differs from traditional mail pieces like postcards and letters in a couple of ways. First, the packaging has some sort of “3D” aspect that stands out from the other mail on a recipient’s desk. For example, a box, tube, or large/puffy envelope. Second, it often includes some sort of promotional product or giveaway that accompanies the marketing messaging within and outside of the package.

We’ve helped our customers create dimensional direct mail campaigns with everything from magic 8 balls, to live bamboo plants, custom cookies and more in an effort to ramp up the effectiveness of their lead generation efforts. Companies that employ direct mail strategies can expect an 80-90% open rate, versus 20-30% for email.  Direct mail also outperforms all digital direct media campaigns for response rates, second only to the telephone campaigns.

While many of our customers have seen great success with their campaigns, we’ve sent out enough mailers to know when a client is committing a key mistake that could derail the entire campaign. We put this handy list together so you can avoid committing these dimensional direct mail crimes.


1. A Big, Bad, Mailing List

We won’t show you a picture of the shelf full of returned packages sitting in our warehouse, but we can tell you – it’s a lot! The last thing you want to do is put time, energy, and money into planning the perfect campaign, only to have it returned and never seen by the prospect. List building can seem tedious, but ensuring that your list is 1) going to the right person, 2) at the right address, and 3) at the right time (i.e. not on a Saturday when their office is closed!) is the most important first step in any direct mail campaign strategy. Be willing to send to a smaller, more refined list and maximize your ROI.


2. Forgetting that one vital piece of the budget

It can be exciting to sit in a marketing meeting brainstorming dimensional mailer ideas that will be irresistible to your prospects and result in a high conversion rate. However, the most expensive part of any dimensional direct mail campaign is often the cost to ship it to your prospect. (Boring!) At a minimum, your package will likely cost $6 or more to get from the supplier to your prospect’s door. Though we’ve seen it done for less, a typical dimensional direct mail cost is between $15-40 per package/prospect. (This includes at least one promotional product, printed collateral piece(s), packaging, and shipping.) Be sure to budget accordingly.


3. Putting the promo product cart before the messaging horse

We sometimes joke that we get to shop for a living. With over 80,000+ advertising specialty items ready for your logo, it can be tempting to want to send trendy or “cool” items to your prospects without putting much thought into what that product says about your brand. The campaigns with the most impact are those where the promo product amplifies your marketing message. What pain are you solving for your clients? How will you help your prospect solve their challenges? Start with what you want to say, and then brainstorm what you want to send.


4. Leaving the sales team outside of the brainstorming room

Okay, sales team – put on your earmuffs for a second. Got them on? Okay great. Marketing is so much more fun than sales, right? They come up with cool ideas and solves problems at the top of the funnel. Marketing is often the first impression for a potential customer. It’s sexy, fun, and exciting. But here’s the thing – you know better than anyone the journey your customer takes. Eventually, they will roll down the funnel.

If you’re leaving the sales team out when you’re developing your direct mail campaign ideas, you might be missing a key piece of messaging, feedback, or strategy. Make sure to have someone in the room who has real conversations with prospects every day.


5. Forgetting the follow-up

Speaking of sales – the second worst sin after a bad list (in our opinion) is not including a follow-up strategy for your campaign. Do a quick online search for response rates on direct mail (they’re crazy good) and you’d think you’ve struck marketing gold. All too often we’ve seen clients who claimed their mailer “didn’t work” because they mailed the packages and expected the phone to ring off the hook. Your prospects are busy. While your awesome product, spot-on messaging, and bold packaging likely stood out, it doesn’t mean it immediately became the prospects’ priority. Make sure your sales team has a plan for following up, including messaging points, call cadences, and script outlines.

6. Ditching digital

It’s not just your direct mail campaign that should be dimensional. Your strategy should also cover all touch points with your customers, including email, web, and social. In fact, the most successful direct mail marketing campaigns include a digital element. Branded emails, landing pages and social campaigns can amp up your messaging and result in a higher conversion rate. And don’t forget to include a call-to-action to give your prospect a place to go if (…er…when) your package wows them! Include a link to a landing page, a dedicated area on your website, or a sales rep’s contact info in the package collateral.

7. Waiting until the last minute

Rome wasn’t built overnight, and your direct mail marketing is no different. Promotional products and packaging are sourced from suppliers throughout the country – or even internationally. It can take an average of two weeks for production. This does not include the time to deliver it to your fulfillment warehouse, assemble the packages, label, and ship them. From there – it can take 2-5 days for delivery depending on the end location. Because we can handle much of the printing and packaging in-house we can sometimes rush production, however, each unique package is assembled by hand. If you’ve ever tried to rush through a project you know how often it can lead to mistakes, low quality, and human error. For smaller, low-quantity campaigns (100 or less), give yourself a 4-6 week window for your campaign to go from conception to delivery. Larger campaigns or packages that include specialty items sourced internationally should allow for longer turn times.


8. Pulling a tracking FAIL

Let’s be honest… after all the work you put into the conception, design, sourcing, delivery, and follow-up of your dimensional direct mail campaign the last thing on your mind is keeping track of the ROI. But staying on top of the data is vital to an ongoing direct mail strategy. (And a great way to win points with your boss!) CRM software programs such as Salesforce, Pipedrive, Base, or Oracle can ensure that your team tracks everything from delivery, call results, and conversion rates.

If you’re on a budget, a simple spreadsheet can do the trick. Note if packages are not delivered, how many calls it took to get a prospect on the phone, and if (when!) your prospect becomes a customer. This data will be vital to helping you shift strategies, messaging, contents and packaging as you plan your next campaign.

Dimensional direct mail campaigns often have many moving parts. It’s easy to see how one of these mistakes can happen. With a little extra effort – and some guidance from the experts at Tactive – you can make sure your next campaign goes off without a hitch.