5 Reasons You Need a Strategic Direct Mail Audit

You don’t want to foot the bill for an unnecessary cost, so you put off your direct mail strategic audit again and again. This could be the wrong choice, however, as a direct mail marketing audit can, in fact, save you money and prevent you from getting stung by a very expensive set of disasters.

Look out for these key signs and recognize when it might be time to carry out a direct mail strategy and campaign audit for your business.

Reason #1: You don’t know which elements of your campaign are working

You need a list of people to mail out to. Who do you choose? You decide recent customers are a good bet, so you get your IT department to pull a mailing list that consists of a mix of buyers, ship to recipients, and catalog requests, and you begin targeting them.  

Things seem to be going well. It seems like you made a good call. But you’ve no way to know this for sure. You consider some ways of measuring performance — including deploying coupon codes to gain some insight — but then you decide not to bother. When everything seems to be going ok, what’s the point?

Why this is bad news: Sure, everything seems to be going ok, but what happens when this changes? You won’t know when, why, or how things are going wrong, and, more importantly, you won’t know what to do.  Did you mail too many catalog requests but not enough buyers? What is the ROI for the ship to recipients? Were fewer top buyers included in your most recent direct mail campaign?

Reason #2: You don’t know how to take your strategy to the next level

Now it seems that results are slowing, and your CMO thinks that your catalog strategy is to blame. She starts asking whether you are mailing too many catalogs? How many is too many? And who is the most responsive to receiving a catalog?

Such debate is healthy. It can guide you as you decide on the next step in your strategy — as you consider how to shift up a gear. But, there’s a problem: you don’t have the answers. Worse still: neither does your IT department because job criteria are not stored. This is a bit of a quandary, so what do you do next?

Why this is bad news: Good times are easy, bad times are hard. Lack of measurable strategy makes bad times even more difficult when — and it is a when –– sales start to decrease.

Reason #3: Your mail shop operates with little to no oversight

Mail shops are a great resource.  They can validate customer addresses, dedupe lists, and update customer moves.  There’s no reason for you to worry about what happens after you send them the list, right? Except, you thought they were using the full 48-month NCOA database, and instead they are using the last 18-month version only. To make matters worse, you thought you were mailing one catalog per address but instead you’re sending a catalog to every contact at the same location.

Why this is bad news: Mailing to the wrong address represents lost revenue and adds to the cost of your direct mail campaign.  While mailing multiple catalogs to the same location might make sense for a B2B mailing, it is a very expensive and inefficient way to manage a consumer catalog mailing. When you work with a mail shop, it is very important to understand how they are applying list hygiene to your mailing list.  Ask questions and provide direction on merge logic and list priority.

Reason #4: You don’t know how to define the value of your lists

Your broker identifies a promising list for you to target with your catalogs and you invest $15,000 in a prospecting test. You decide to launch the test again two quarters later. But, before you do, you decide to launch a strategic circulation review to better understand performance.

To your horror, your $15k investment yielded only $5k in sales and heavy loss. You are just pleased you caught this in time.

Why this is bad news: Any profit figure you define is pure fantasy unless you are properly tracking segment performance and results. Don’t assume prior mailings (or customer segments within a mailing) were profitable — measure and confirm them!

Reason #5: Results are trending down across all channels

Sales are dropping, not only in one or two channels, but in all of them. Why is this? You don’t know because you haven’t put the right metrics and the right measurement techniques in place. And besides, your database is not in great shape. You know there are quite a few duplicate customer records that are skewing your metrics.

Why this is bad news: Failing to treat your marketing initiatives as parts of a unified whole has a negative impact across the board. Remember that no marketing component exists in isolation. Decisions made to reduce new product development, reduce spend on digital prospecting, cut back on direct mail frequency, raise prices, etc. impact all facets of marketing. Your ability to accurately measure your marketing programs starts with a clean database.

And now for the good news: A strategic direct mail campaign audit is critical to improving the ongoing profitability of your marketing initiatives, which means you truly need to invest in getting this right. After the strategic direct mail audit is complete and we’ve provided you with insights, key takeaways and recommendations, the rest is up to you.

Do you have sufficient resources to resume running your direct mail program in-house or do you need some extra support?

We can provide as much or as little direct mail marketing guidance on future mailings as needed.

Gain insight, gain understanding, and gain a brighter future for your marketing campaigns — schedule a catalog audit from our team today.