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5 Direct Marketing Mistakes and how to Avoid Them

Long gone are the days of mass mailing cheesy, generic postcards—or so we hope. The modern marketer uses direct marketing as an enticement to spark interest and get a response. It’s definitely an effective tool, but starting a campaign with a bland, general mailing can be costly and annoying to customers.  

Here are five common mistakes and ways you can avoid them:  

1) Going too broad

Not properly segmenting your audience is like throwing darts while wearing a blindfold. It hurts your brand when customers receive irrelevant promotional materials.

Instead: Identify and target your ideal customers by delivering your marketing message using the right channels at the right time. For example, if you want to capture the Gen Y market, find them on Facebook, but if you’re after the older, more tech-savvy male audience then go to Google+. If you’re doing email marketing, make sure your list is clean with updated information and stay away from mass mailing. Rely on your in-house list as those are the people who opted-in and have already shown an interest in your company. Better yet, allow customers to pick their preferred method of correspondence whether it’s by phone, email, postal mail, or social media.  

2) Including content or creative of poor quality

Attention spans are dwindling and, as advertisers, we only really have a few seconds to make a lasting impression. So when you have a design or copy that is confusing, isn’t engaging, or doesn’t solve a problem, consumers are likely to turn away even before they get to your offer.

Instead: When developing your copy, consider highlighting benefits over features, use trending words, and ask relevant questions. Grab attention by eliciting an emotional response such as fear, greed, and love. Note: People like immediate gratification. Take special care when writing subject lines and headlines; approximately 80% of people will read a headline, but only 20% will read the rest.

3) Using a weak call to action

If you try to be all things to all people, you only end up being nothing to everybody. Every customer needs a nudge once in a while to remind them exactly what you want them to do next.

Instead: Invest in split-testing to see what works. A good call to action (CTA) stands out and is designed to convince visitors to take immediate action. The difference between one small word can make a big difference. Vague CTAs like “Buy Now” and “Click Here” are not as effective as citing the details of what a customer can expect like “Buy This eBook Now” or “Click Here For My Free Trial.”  

4) Not streamlining email and social media into one integrated campaign

Connectivity matters more than ever today in this multi-device world and delivering an inconsistent brand experience is a major turnoff to consumers.

Instead: Increase customer engagement and expand your reach by being in all the places your consumers are. If you send an email, enable social media sharing. Incorporate testimonials that you receive from followers or put teasers in your status updates and expand on the details in your emails. Use Facebook not necessarily to acquire new customers but to keep your brand top-of-mind with your existing ones and enable repeat business. The person who sends out your emails should be the same person that manages your social media.

5) Forgetting to follow up

This should be a no-brainer, but it’s astonishing how many salespeople forget to follow up with a prospect or even check in with someone who has recently purchased a product/service of theirs. Don’t sit there waiting and expect that they will call.

Instead: When you make a sale it shouldn’t be the end of your marketing effort. A follow-up allows you to show appreciation. If you didn’t get the sale, it’ll help you understand what went wrong. Make following up part of your business. Miss this opportunity and you could miss out on a lifetime of recurring income and referrals.

Keep in mind that direct marketing doesn’t always guarantee a sale, so treat it more like a stepping stone. If done strategically, you’ll have intrigued customers enough so they will take the next step in the buying cycle or open a new channel of communication with you.

Wendy Kam Marcy is marketing manager at WhatRunsWhere.com

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