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  • Writer's pictureLauren Goldberg

The Top "DOs & DON'Ts" for using Direct Mail to Drive Retail Traffic

You might be thinking....."WHY IS SHE TALKING ABOUT DIRECT MAIL?!?! PRINT IS DEAD! THIS ONE IS A WHACK-A-DO!" I can guarantee you I'm not a insane or crazy (at least when it comes to retail sense of humor and love for celebrity gossip & trashy reality TV might have you thinking differently).

When used correctly, direct mail can be a powerful lever in your marketing toolbox. In their 2018 annual response rate report, the Direct Marketing Association found that response rates grew significantly over the past three years.. In addition, direct mail still generates a higher response rate than any digital marketing tactic.

Here are some simple DOs & DON'Ts when it comes to using direct mail.

DO have a strategy for your direct mail campaign

There are (3) main scenarios to where direct mail can help drive traffic to your retail location. In order to maximize your marketing spend, it's critical you define your strategy and success metrics before you do anything else.

  1. Prospecting - getting NEW customers into your store. It is important to know what your ideal customer looks like. Success metrics could clearly be new customers coming into the store and making a transaction.

  2. Retention - using your existing customer list to generate repeat business. Success looks like increased basket size or an incremental visit.

  3. Reactivation - identifying customers from your existing list who have not done business with you in a set amount of time. A measure of success would be having these valued customers come back into your business.

DON'T buy a prospect list that blankets every home in a zip code or on a mail route

There are vendors who sell turnkey direct mail packages that have an extremely low cost per piece, but I recommend you stay away. Without having a defined customer target in mind, there is no way you can create an offer strategy that will drive customers into your store.

DO invest in a well thought out prospect list

It's amazing how much data is available to be able to target your IDEAL customer. Think beyond zip codes, age, gender and marital status. You can target by life events (recently married, had a baby, new homeowner, etc), presence of children AND their ages, home value, net worth, employers and more. For brick & mortar businesses, definitely consider getting a list based on drive time, rather than mileage. A great direct mail vendor will have access to this, and takes into account traffic patterns and natural barriers.

DON'T use direct mail as a standalone piece

The best direct mail pieces are used as part of an integrated marketing campaign. Pair direct mail up with digital tactics, such as social & email, to get the biggest bang for your buck (and you know we need to stretch those marketing dollars as far as we can!) The increased frequency of message really helps customers recall your business as they are going through their decision making process.

DO provide a strong offer to get people into your door

You've sent the mail piece to the right person and it looks awesome. Now what is going to get them off of their couch and into your door? A kick-butt exclusive offer they can't get anywhere else. Maybe it's a complimentary product or service, or a compelling discount or a gift with purchase. Don't be afraid to include a few offers (but I recommend no more than 4 - with too many options, some people can't make a decision and do nothing!) Make sure you have the ability to track the coupons coming in so you can see what is working.


If this is something that you think can drive traffic into your brick & mortar business, let's talk. Schedule a FREE strategy session and let's discuss how to create an integrated marketing campaign to drive the RIGHT people into your door & have them come back AGAIN & AGAIN!.

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