Designing a new direct mail campaign? Let the creativity flow! Before setting your designer loose on a new campaign, take a step back and make sure you’ve covered the fundamentals.

1. Mailing list

Is your mailing list current? Are you mailing to the right people? Are the names up to date? Are you mailing to prospects that match your ideal customer?

2. Segmentation

Whether or not you are doing full personalization, your mailing should still use basic segmentation. If you’re selling homeowners insurance, for example, you’ll speak differently to families with children than you will to retirees. The same applies if you are speaking to a company. If you are talking to someone in the auto industry, you’ll speak differently to them than someone in the health industry because they have different needs.

3. Data accuracy

Especially if you will be personalizing, it’s a good idea to cross-reference your data. You can assume that customers purchasing infant formula have young children, but maybe they are grandparents picking up necessities for their grandchildren, too. If customers subscribe to “New Baby” magazine, however, you can have confidence that they have young children at home.

4. Call to action and offer

Too many mailings suffer from not having a call to action or strong offer. CTAs and strong offers are critical to moving people to action, so make the CTA visible. Make it bold, or use brightly colored lettering. Readers can’t respond to a CTA they don’t see. Likewise, make the offer strong enough to make them take action. A weak offer won’t entice them to act right after they receive your mail piece.

5. Multiple response mechanisms

Consumers’ lives are cluttered and over-scheduled. The more ways you can give them to respond, the more likely they are to do so. Give people a general URL, but also a tear-out card and a phone number. Pre-fill as much information as you can. The easier you can make it for people to respond to you or ask for more information, the more likely you are to get a response.

6. Bullets and white space.

Busy people don’t have time to read. When designing for direct mail, think “infographic.” Use bullet points, numbered lists, and graphic elements—anything that makes the information accessible with a quick visual scan.

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