Direct mail is one of the most important pieces of your marketing plan. Developing and executing the campaign can many times be a thankless job. Today's mailing regulations can get complicated--postage rates are changing and the flood of mail makes it harder to stand out. The right message is very important and must get to the target prospect in the right way on a frequent basis. Capturing your reader has to happen fast and your reader must be motivated to take action.

Here are 99 direct mail marketing tips to ensure that you get the right message to the right target--in the right way.

  • Give a free gift to increase response
  • Highlight the free-gift offer prominently
  • Use short copy to tease the reader to read further or respond
  • Minimize the use of buzz words
  • Make your offer easy to respond to
  • Prove any claims with details to add credibility
  • Ask for the order right away
  • Use graphics and color to support the message and text
  • Offer a free trial to eliminate risk
  • Hire a professional copywriter for your content
  • Hire a professional graphic designer
  • Make your offer easy to understand at a glance
  • Promise many benefits
  • Give many reasons to buy
  • Use all the formatting available with taste
  • Have your direct mail reviewed by an objective third party
  • Use colored paper to make impact and save on printing costs
  • Consult with a direct-mail specialist
  • Use a reply card or other reply mechanism
  • Put a headline on the envelope
  • Survey customers about what they'll respond to
  • Include postage-paid return cards or envelopes
  • End a page with the middle of a sentence to encourage more reading
  • Personalize as much as you can
  • Use a Post-It note for greater impact and attention
  • Make the offer very prominent in the copy
  • Use a no-risk guarantee
  • Keep track of target recipients, replies and follow-up
  • Tell the whole story
  • Keep paragraphs short
  • Break up long copy with graphics or white space
  • Don't dwell on history or background
  • Offer a free-trial period
  • State your geographical service area even if its global, national, regional or local
  • Keep the sales pitch positive and highlight the benefits
  • Include a call to action; tell your readers exactly what you want them to do
  • Use a "P.S."--its one of the most frequently read parts of the copy
  • Make it easy to purchase: credit cards, terms, etc.
  • Offer a discount for a quick response and order
  • Make a simple order form for faxing
  • Always put a sense of urgency and deadline in your copy
  • Put a picture of a phone by your phone number
  • Put testimonials at the top of the content and by the call to action
  • Use typestyles that are easy to read, not a mix of them
  • Have a call to action at the beginning, middle and end of your copy
  • Use free information, free samples and a free demonstration as a marketing hook
  • Offer a free consultation in addition to the free information hook
  • Separate features and benefits (emphasize benefits)
  • Use bullet points and small segments of information
  • Use subheadings and subtitles
  • Include a toll-free number if you have one
  • Get your readers involved with a contest
  • Use a tear-out coupon or one with a printed perforation
  • Ask plain questions and offer a simple solution
  • Put in a photo of yourself or an associate's to personalize it
  • Make promises; keep promises
  • "Free" is still a motivating word--use it and highlight it
  • Use handwritten notes or comments on your direct-mail piece
  • Guarantee customer satisfaction
  • Offer proof of the benefits
  • Include case studies and success stories
  • Restate your offer often, especially at the end of the communication
  • Use captions, sayings or titles under all photos
  • Order your mailing list or compile it way in advance of your execution date
  • Test your list and use "Address Correction Requested" to clean your list
  • Mail to vendors as well as target prospects
  • Outsource things you don't do best: printing, mail prep, design, etc.
  • Put yourself on all mailing lists
  • Work with a list broker to tighten list specifications
  • Test different copy, headlines and offers
  • Use graphics on the outside of envelopes
  • Measure results and calculate ROM (Return on Mailing) dollars
  • Code your mailings to measure response
  • Mail frequently to a smaller subset of your list
  • Plan and prepare enough mailings for three months at a time
  • Use color
  • Do a co-op mailing with a fusion marketing partner or power partner
  • White space is good--a clean look is professional and easy to read
  • Print in large quantities to take advantage of cheaper printing prices
  • Use mailing pieces as handouts and for sales kits
  • Mail to PR contacts
  • Self-mailers are read more than stuffed envelopes
  • Postcards are very efficient; usually both sides are looked at
  • Print on the flap of the envelope to increase exposure
  • Create excitement: "Act Now!", "For a limited time!", "Hurry while it lasts!"
  • Deliver stacks of left-over printed items to trade organizations
  • Its OK to send the same piece over and over for consistency
  • Mail to educational institutions
  • Create fun for you and your prospect with your campaign
  • Tie other marketing to your mailings
  • Put your website address on all mailing pieces
  • Odd shapes work, too
  • Mail with stamps get opened before metered mail
  • Include pre-stamped reply envelopes
  • Don't delay your mailing by trying to mail in bulk on one day
  • Include a business card in a letter
  • Lumpy mail gets attention--it gets opened and gets a good response
  • Have a conversation with your prospect
  • Publicize your direct-mail campaign

Hopefully you've found one or two--or even dozens--of tips for your next mailing. They're easy tips for any business to use, and are guaranteed to increase your customer response rate.