The Best Direct Mail Campaigns Use the 40/40/20 Rule

Direct mail response rates are on the rise, delivering an impressive 29% return on investment (ROI). With many forms of communication being virtual, it’s no surprise that over 56% of people in the U.S. love getting tangible mail, which is why it’s the perfect time to implement your own direct mail campaign. 

Many in the industry believe the best direct mail campaigns follow a simple rule developed in 1960 by Ed Mayer, a direct marketing pioneer. Mayer’s 40/40/20 rule provides a simple blueprint for effective direct mail marketing

What is the 40/40/20 Rule? 

The 40/40/20 rule suggests three areas to focus on in a direct mail campaign and the percentage of time and money to spend on each. According to the rule, the three key elements of a successful direct mail campaign are:

  • 40% – Your list (audience)
  • 40% – Your call to action (offer)
  • 20% – Your design

40% is Your List (Audience)

The success of your direct mail campaign largely relies on your response rate, which is why targeting the right audience (or creating the best list) should take 40% of your efforts and budget. A great place to start is utilizing your existing list of customers since they have already made a purchase from your business. Plus, statistics show that after one purchase, there is a 27% chance the customer will return to your business. If you don’t have an address list of your own, targeted mailing lists are available to purchase

Once you have a mailing list, consider segmenting your audience by targeted demographics. By breaking down the overall list into smaller groups you’re able to be more specific and personal with your mailers. For example, you could segment a group of people that made a recent purchase from you with a ‘thank you for your business’ direct mailer and a coupon attached. Alternately, you could look at those that formerly made a purchase but haven’t returned to send them a ‘we miss you’ direct mailer with a coupon as an incentive. 

40% is Your Call to Action

Once you reach the intended audience, now what? Most direct mail campaigns work to lead the recipient toward a specific action. For example, the campaign’s objective might be to attend an event, go to a physical location, or check out a specific website. This is when having a clear and specific call-to-action (CTA) is imperative to reaching your intended goal and why it represents 40% of the 40/40/20 rule. 

A CTA should be obvious – what are you offering? How can they take advantage of it? The objective should be that when the recipient gets to the end of a direct mailer they want to act. 

Here are some best practices for effective direct mail call-to-actions:

  • Make sure your CTA clearly stands out – which can be achieved by using graphics or images, an outlined box, or a different font
  • Be sure the offer and its value can be easily understood
  • Create a sense of urgency, such as including an expiration date
  • Ensure that copy is easy for scanning so that your message isn’t lost on the page

20% is Your Design

With design involving a recommended 20% of the total time and money invested in your direct mail initiatives, it may be easy to downplay its importance compared to the other elements. But, design is what ensures that you capture the attention of your audience. 

The best direct mail design should always include your logo so that you build brand recognition and your audience can quickly identify that it is coming from your company. Creating continuity with your brand helps to acquire, retain, and build relationships with customers. 

Here are some key elements of design that should be included in every piece of direct mail:

  • An eye-catching color or high-quality image
  • A headline with a compelling message that urges customers to read on
  • Your business name or logo
  • Additional sales copy
  • The call to action positioned where it can’t be missed

Let the Direct Mail Professionals Help

The 40/40/20 rule is a great starting point for creating the best direct mail campaigns, however, printing and mailing your pieces are important tasks you’ll also have to consider. Luckily, companies like Page Per Page can take these timely responsibilities off your hands!

Page Per Page is a family-owned print, mail, and technology solutions company that specializes in HOA mailings. With Page Per Page’s deep understanding and appreciation for the 40/40/20 rule, they can help design, print, and mail an effective direct mailer that resonates with your audience. 

Whether you need creative help with design or simply want to delegate the mailing portion of the campaign, Page Per Page has the resources and experience to streamline the process leaving you to focus on your overall strategy.

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