Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bulk Mail Design Study #1

Bulk mail design study
Here is the bulk mail I received today. Let's take a look at the design elements that were used and pick our daily winner.

Today's bulk mail consists of:

  • 1 postcard
  • 5 envelope mailers
Piece 1 (top left): Full color, half sheet postcard. The most colorful piece of the day and the most eye catching. It's actually a thank you note, which is a nice gesture and indicates that this company has a full spectrum plan in place. They use bulk direct mail not just to solicit customers but to strengthen new and existing relationships. 

Though the company that sent me this postcard is just about 30 minutes away, the postcard was mailed from Illinois. I just barely noticed, because I was looking for it. Will your client notice if your postcard is mailed from out of state? Read on for more about your options.

Piece 2 (top right): Half sheet envelope with an imprinted offer and a deadline on the outside. The text says, "Reserved just for you:". Too bad they addressed the mailer to someone who doesn't live here, and as far as I know never has. This is a sure fire way to miss the personalization they were going for. Plus, since this is a credit card offer that doesn't have my name on it I'm defiantly not going to pursue an offer that was intended for someone else.  Mailing list accuracy is important. 

One other note, the permit used does not reference a city or state. Sometimes clients are concerned that if they are mailing to recipients from an out of state post office the recipient will notice and it will make their business appear not to be local and friendly. Did you know the Post Office does not require the permit to indicate the city and state? The requirement is that it references the permit number. So if you feel better about it, go ahead and leave it off. 

Piece 3 (middle left): #10 window envelope. Two color printing on the outside. A call to action. Pretty basic, looks a little cluttered.

Piece 4 (middle right) and Piece 6 (bottom right): I'm going to talk about these pieces together. Why? Because they are identical.

This #10 envelope uses a handwriting font to make it look like personal correspondence. Better yet, it's a friend, who addresses me by name (thanks for variable data printing) letting me know that he's sent me some coupons. And instead of a bulk mail permit, the pieces were stamped. Another small visual cue that makes the piece seem like a personal correspondence. As if someone actually took the time to send me something. 

This is great personalization. The only problem is that I received two of them, which immediately strips the personalization away completely. The company didn't take the time or spend the money to de-dupe their mailing list. In other words, they didn't take the time, or pay the money to have their mailing list checked for duplicates.

Or maybe they did. There are two ways to de-dupe a mailing list. By address, or by name. If you de-dupe my address, but have more than one individuals name on file for that address (in this case, me and my wife) then both entries remain in the database.

If you de-dupe my address, then you are sure to get only one piece delivered to each household.

If you are going to spend the extra money on VDP (variable date printing) to personalize your mail piece, be sure and finish the job and de-dupe your mailing list too.

P.S. If your mailing list is large, it will be easier and quicker to pay to have it de-duped. For just a few cents per name we can run your list through our software and get it taken care of quickly and accurately. 

Piece 5 (bottom left): This slightly larger envelope also uses a handwriting font. It includes a polite "The favor of your reply is requested." This psychological trigger of asking politely for a favor is a good approach. The envelope uses a security paper so that you can't see inside. This is usually a default choice for banks who are sending confidential information. It makes it seem like they've sent me something important and that I have to open to find out what it is that's so important that it needs my reply.

And the winner is: 

My choice for the winner of the day is piece 5. I just have to open this one to find out what it is. Piggy-backing off an established industry standard (like using a security envelope) makes me think it's something important. The others will probably get thrown away un-opened. This one needs to read...just to make sure.

Who did you choose for the winner of the day?

Which of these methods will you use in your next direct mail campaign?