When striving towards any goal, there is usually a single most important thing that leads to success. With real estate, it is location; with finance, it’s spending less than you make; with bungee jumping, it is a good knot; and with marketing, it is repetition. No doubt there are several factors that are important to ensure success within the various marketing channels, but with all marketing efforts, from radio to TV to direct mail, the frequency in which a consumer is presented with a branded message is key.
If Target were to run one 30-second TV commercial during the holiday season and think, “yep, I think we’re good for December,” their sales would certainly disappoint. If St. Jude only sent one piece of mail or ran one TV commercial, they wouldn’t have the funds to do what they do. And I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a 20% off Bed Bath & Beyond coupon, but I don’t go there without one. The principle of frequent presentation is crucial for any company’s marketing, whether it is for brand recognition, sales promotions, or financial support. It takes multiple touches, often across multiple channels, to gain the awareness needed and to ultimately move someone to take action.
Focusing particularly on direct mail, there are certain benefits of this channel that others do not have. For instance, direct mail is tangible and can be retained and recalled. This is difficult with TV or radio so repetition becomes even more important with those channels. Nevertheless, it is still a critical part of a successful direct mail campaign. There are four primary factors that influence the success of a direct mail marketing campaign–the message, the design, the recipient, and repetition.
A meaningful message–this is one of the most important factors. A successful effort must include a meaningful message or relevant offer for the consumer. The consumer will take no action if they do not connect with the message or if the offer is not good enough. Taking action takes time, energy and money. It must be worth it for the consumer to take that action, no matter how little it may be. It is helpful to try and step outside your knowledge of your business and think of what the message will mean to the consumer-what does it do for them.
Great design–although an important factor, design often gets a little too much focus. The design of a piece is typically only at play in the initial awareness. The design is what may get the piece noticed, but after that, it is up to the message being relevant to that recipient that will move them to take action. However, design also plays a role in effectively presenting the message. Proper formatting and organized layout can help the recipient take in the message efficiently.
The right recipient–a meaningful message presented with great design means nothing if it lands in the wrong person’s hands. Targeting the right recipients by utilizing demographics such as age, location, income, etc., is crucial for the success of direct mail. In some regards, a perfect recipient is already looking for your service and that can outweigh any shortcomings in the other factors.
Repetition–with all things above in line, a single direct mail piece can be incredibly effective, but in comparison to a multi-piece campaign or when you consider your entire marketing infrastructure, it becomes clear that success is rarely the result of a single effort. When developing a multi-piece direct mail campaign, the first two factors, which have to do with the pieces themselves, must work in conjunction within a single mailer as well as across the entire campaign. Since the multiple that increases the chance of success is repetition, the consistency of the message and design not only helps the effectiveness of each individual presentation but also increases recall by allowing all pieces to work as a whole. On average, it takes twelve touches to move a recipient from a prospect to a client. This includes all forms of marketing from emails to phone calls to direct mail. Each channel has its strengths and all work together to establish brand recognition and trust.
Didn’t you just say that?
The practice of repetitive marketing has been used in branding for hundreds of years. “Good to the last drop” has been the Maxwell House slogan for 103 years, “Breakfast of Champions” has been around 89 years, and “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands” 51 years. Statistically, if one considers that the average human brain only remembers 20% of what it sees or hears, then it would take at least three separate presentations to retain only 60% of a message; and that assumes the brain takes in all new information each time. There are other factors besides the four mentioned above that can help increase the effectiveness of a direct mail piece such as interactive elements, tactile and sensory elements, and unique design or physical attributes. Anything that engages the person and causes them to hold on to the piece longer can increase retention. This can be as simple as the orientation of graphics so the person must rotate the piece, or more complex features like aromatics (scented glue) or augmented reality (AR).
There are many important factors to take into account when creating an effective marketing campaign. By evaluating how well each of the four factors above are utilized in your existing marketing efforts, you may discover some opportunities for improvement. There is no right answer for how many times one should mail or a magic formula for design, copywriting, demographics, or timing. Each marketing effort should be tailored to best fit a business’s brand and its customers. But, at some level, all successful marketing efforts have a certain balance of message, design, and repetition to a targeted audience.