Whether you are engaged in a dedicated Internet marketing campaign or a mix of marketing methods for your business, the bottom line is converting prospects into customers.

Business owners and marketers are constantly testing and evaluating the effectiveness of a variety of integrated marketing campaigns. There is a much bigger variety of communication channels available to the marketer today than was available in the past and a good marketer has to be alert, organized and ready to make changes swiftly in order to be using the most effective and efficient marketing at one’s disposal.

The 2009 Channel Preference Study conducted by ExactTarget sheds some important light on direct mail in today’s marketing environment. The study concludes that when comparing traditional and emerging media for driving purchases, 76% of consumers have been directly influenced to purchase through direct mail. It is therefore important for marketers and small businesses to realize that direct mail will continue to influence more consumers to purchase than any other channel.

The Changing Landscape of Marketing – The Online Universe

Websites, email and social media are continually playing a bigger role the marketing efforts of small businesses. These are online communications channels and they are adding a whole new dimension to brick and mortar businesses and traditional marketing methods like space advertising and direct mail.

While on the surface it might appear that traditional marketing methods are shrinking, nevertheless there is still a lot of print media in existence – a lot of magazines, newspapers and direct mail. The key to success is how to use it effectively.

Marketing Study Concludes Direct Mail Still Drives Purchases

According to the marketing study conducted by ExactTarget, if 76% of consumers are influenced to make purchases by direct mail then it is important for small businesses and marketers to understand this marketing channel and be able to use it effectively in their marketing campaigns.

A whitepaper on the marketing study is available online as a downloadable PDF.

Almost everyone in your target market can be reached through direct mail so two important questions come to mind. These are, “How do I integrate an offline medium like direct mail to drive traffic to our Web site, and ultimately to conversions?” and “How can mailing lists be used most effectively to accomplish my marketing objectives?”

Successful Integration of Direct Mail With Web-Based Marketing

In order for a direct mail marketing campaign to be successful, there are the usual tried and true principles that should still be put into effect, but there are a few points to keep in mind when integrating direct mail with an online marketing campaign.

In an article by Dean Rieck at the MarketingProfs.com website, the author best explains what to keep in mind, but here are some of our own thoughts on the topic.

The offer must be compelling – There has to be a good enough reason for the prospect to visit your website such as a valuable offer, free white paper, free trail offer, a discount coupon or sample. Rieck says, “It must be something they want, not just something you want them to see.”

The url must be short and simple – Bear in mind that the user has to read the url off your mailing piece, then type it into the browser by hand. Keep it short and simple and easy to type. Getting the respondent to actually do something in response to your direct mail piece is hard enough. Don’t make it any harder than it has to be. You may be able to use a commercial link shortening service similar to bit.ly or tinurl.com, but only those that would allow commercial use in its terms of service. Neither bit.ly or tinyurl.com allow their shortened urls to be used to sell products.

Create a landing page for the offer – Don’t send prospects to the home page of your website because they will likely become confused and you will lose them. Always have a specific page with the specific offer and call to action. Don’t let prospects wander all over your main website. If you need more than one page for the offer, then consider a mini-site that is dedicated to just that one single offer.

Consider using a personalized url (pURL) – A personalized URL can be created specifically for your prospect. It is basically done a redirection service or “pURL resolver service” that redirects a personalized URL to the landing page for your offer. This requires more technical than the average small business because it requires a platform of its own to do the job, so you will have to use an outside service for this.

Make a deadline for your offer – This is the old “tried and true” principle of compelling the prospect to take action now and not put it off forever. Include it in your mailing piece.

These are just a few points we wanted to make. The MarketingPros article has more on this topic like having a clear-cut call to action, getting contact information, testing various formats, etc. It’s a good article and we think it is important to know.

Effective Use of Mailing Lists in Direct Mail Campaigns

Choosing a mailing list in your direct mail campaign is just as important as the mailing piece and response structure. Keep these points in mind when buying a mailing list or using a mailing list service for your own in-house list.

Make sure the list is clean – Nobody wants a list full of duds. Mailing lists can get old very fast and require constant maintenance. Maintaining proper data hygiene for your own house list can be a huge job for a small business. Consider using a mailing list service to maintain your mailing list instead of trying to do it in house.

Make the selects that are the best fit for your business – Using a professional mailing list company can save you thousands of dollars in wasted postage and printing. A good mailing list company can help you understand how to find your best prospects.

Work with a qualified list provider – It is important to choose the right mailing list company who understands your needs and budget and will help you develop the most effective strategy to accomplish your goals.