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How Often Should You Mail Prospects?

by Ivan Levison February 24, 2011
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One of my favorite quotes comes from John D. Rockefeller. It's on my wall and reminds me to keep planning my work and working my plan.

Rockefeller wrote: "I do not think there is any quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost anything, even nature."

Over the years, successful direct mailers have learned this lesson well. They know that they can't mail just once and pray for great results. They have to create multiple-mailings that make money over time.

A perfect example: magazine subscription campaigns. As you know from personal experience, these folks just never quit.

It seems as if the day you subscribe, the subscription renewal campaign begins.

Never mind that they're seemingly decimating forests in the process ... they go on and on, begging, hounding, cajoling, until the 86th letter that says, "OK We give up. You'll never hear from us again." (At which point, of course, a lot of the renewals flow in!)

Now, I'm not suggesting that you go to extremes (the way the magazine publishers do), but for goodness sakes, don't throw in the towel after you mail just once!

Why don't companies keep those cards and letters coming? Because printing costs are high and postage these days is murder. But that shouldn't stop you from mailing aggressively if you've got a well-targeted list and a compelling offer.

OK. So you've bought into the idea of mailing prospects or customers more than once. How should you go about handling your remailing efforts? Here are just four ideas for you to consider:

1. Remail the original package to the same target audience.
There's no reason why you can't do this. Timing is everything. You never know when your mailing will catch prospects just when they need your product or service. A simple, cost-effective remailing is well worth trying.

2. If you have the time energy, and resources, you can send a campaign of new letters to non-responders.
Each letter can stress a unique product or service benefit. The theory is, if one approach doesn't work, you go back to the prospect with a different pitch. Again, this is a very reasonable way to go.

3. If your offer is good for a limited time only, be sure to play that up.
In your final letter you can say things like:
 
"We will not contact you again about this special offer."
"You must act immediately since this offer will not be extended under any conditions."
"Your eligibility for this final offer expires on December 31, 2011."
"This is the last time you will hear from us concerning this special offer. Call 800-123-1234 while you are still eligible!"

You get the idea.

4. The last contact with the prospect can be a postcard.
It is inexpensive and your "Last Chance!" message is instantly visible. Show a clock ticking. Say: "Time Is Running Out!" Corny? Of course ... but it works!

The takeaway message this month?

Keep on mailing until you stop making money. Unless you keep getting back to your prospects and customers, you may be leaving money on the table. A lot of money!

Ivan Levison is a freelance direct response copywriter who works for companies like Bank of America, Fireman's Fund, Intel and Microsoft. Levison writes direct mail, emails, and Web copy. For a free subscription to his monthly email newsletter for marketers, and a free copy of his report, "101 Ways to Double Your Response Rates!," visit www.levison.com.
 
 
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Most Recent Comments:
Cynthia Clotzman - Posted on February 25, 2011
Hello-
I was fortunate enough to be able to conduct a long term mailing frequency test to our house file some years ago. We had about 5 tiers of customers that were mailed at different frequencies depending on where their breakeven point was, and we were concerned that we were overmailing the top end of the file. The test approach was as follows:

1. Control: normal frequency
2. Test 1: Mail each tier as if one tier up (added a few test tiers at the top)
3. Test 2: Mail each tier as if one tier down (bottom tier received fewer mailings, but incorporated some of the components into the remaining mailings instead of deleting them altogether)

There were many learnings, but the main one is that even if your gut tells you that you are are overmailing the top customers, you probably are not and they may be able to support even more mailings and bring you LOTS more profit. Don't underestimate how much your best customers love you!


Click here to view archived comments...
Archived Comments:
Cynthia Clotzman - Posted on February 25, 2011
Hello-
I was fortunate enough to be able to conduct a long term mailing frequency test to our house file some years ago. We had about 5 tiers of customers that were mailed at different frequencies depending on where their breakeven point was, and we were concerned that we were overmailing the top end of the file. The test approach was as follows:

1. Control: normal frequency
2. Test 1: Mail each tier as if one tier up (added a few test tiers at the top)
3. Test 2: Mail each tier as if one tier down (bottom tier received fewer mailings, but incorporated some of the components into the remaining mailings instead of deleting them altogether)

There were many learnings, but the main one is that even if your gut tells you that you are are overmailing the top customers, you probably are not and they may be able to support even more mailings and bring you LOTS more profit. Don't underestimate how much your best customers love you!


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