How to make the most of the Christmas season with direct mail

Discover how a well planned, well targeted and creative direct mail campaign aimed at consumers can help your business have a very Merry Christmas this year.

Direct mail is the ideal tool to use as part of a Christmas marketing campaign. It gives you complete control over your message, timings and audience at a time when consumers are being bombarded by rival marketing messages.

Consumer direct mails have an established track record. According to data from the Royal Mail, direct mail campaigns promoting mail order to consumers can achieve response rates of 7-8%, well above the norm. Specialist niche shopping sectors can achieve even higher response rates such as 8-9% for luxury goods and 11-12% for gardening and DIY. All these sectors see a massive increase in the use of direct mail over the Christmas period.

Charities can also perform well using direct mail over Christmas, a season when the public’s collective conscience is more likely to result in increased charitable giving. Again, Royal Mail claim high response rates of 10-14% for charitable direct mail campaigns.

If you are planning a Christmas mailing, you need to start your preparations as soon as possible. Firstly, ensure you plan your mailing as part of a properly integrated marketing campaign.

Decide what part direct mail needs to play in achieving your goals. For example are you seeking to generate mail order or telephone sales off the mailer, in which case you need to have your inbound call centre and fulfilment operation on standby.

Perhaps you are looking to use a mailing to drive visitors to your website to convert into e-commerce sales, or to drive physical traffic to your retail outlets where your campaign theme may need to be supported with co-ordinating point of sale or sales promotion,.

You also need to identify the key time to send your campaign so that it will generate the best possible response. Remember that your mailing will be competing with a mass of marketing and brand messages being forced upon the consumer through above the line TV and press advertising, in store merchandising and so on.

If you are looking to generate mail order sales or stimulate e-commerce, you need to plan your mailing early enough for consumers to be reassured of delivery times, yet not too early that they aren’t in a festive frame of mind. If you are aiming to drive retail footfall, you need to work around the peak shopping weekends pre-Christmas.

Plan the targeting and segmentation of your Christmas campaign carefully. Now is the not the time to become highly experimental; test marketing is best left to the rest of the year. At Christmas you need to stick to getting proven sellers in front of potential buyers and presented in an appealing way: make sure your mailing gives your audience what it wants.

For example, if you are promoting mail order through your mailing, then make sure you feature the services that will be of most importance to buyers, such as gift wrapping, bespoke personalised messages, delivery times, stock availability and so on.

If you need to buy in a larger audience for your big Christmas mailing, then look into renting a list which matches the profile of your target market. There are many ways to select a consumer list based on a plethora of criteria. For example the Prospect Download Consumer database from Selectabase allows you to select by income, age, gender, lifestage, social group, location, property status and so on. A little research and analysis of your current customers can help you identify what they have in common.

If you are dusting off your own mailing list, make sure it’s given a good clean before use: especially if it hasn’t been used since last Christmas. Consumer data is constantly changing so make sure you get your list checked against the latest suppression files, such as the gone away register, telephone preference service and bereavement register. Selectabase offer a range of tools to easily check your data such as Clean My List or Desktop Checker. (Find out more here)

Once you have decided on your mailing aims, campaign theme, offering and timings, then don’t delay in getting the practical side of your campaign underway. Many suppliers in the design and print industries come under pressure to get work completed prior to Christmas, so you don’t want your project to be delayed because of limited resources. Decide on your design and print specification in advance, issue a clear creative brief, and then stick to it. Don’t be tempted to add new ideas or change direction, when you are up against an immovable deadline. Create and Post is a hybrid mail service that will set up your mailing for you, then print and send a professional looking letter to your target audience at low cost.

As long as your products or audience dictate it, then make sure you achieve high production values for your mailing. Christmas is a special time of year for consumers, so they’ll expect you to have gone to town with your mailing. That doesn’t mean you have to blow the budget on a bespoke mailer and envelope format, but it does mean that your mailing has to look and feel right for the season.

After all, Christmas comes but once a year. So make the most of the opportunities presented by the festive season with direct mail.