Direct Mail Products

The Power of Direct Mail for Acquisitions

Acquisition direct mail works well because it stands out from the clutter of messages people see every day across many channels. Using a step-by-step approach and some investment of money, time, and other resources, prospects become customers. In this article, I’m going to define acquisition in direct mail marketing and discuss best practices that result in success.

What is Acquisition Direct Mail?

Acquisition direct mail is any campaign with a goal of creating new customers, building a brand, or driving leads for conversion. Sales are very important, but the name of the game is repeat sales. A one-time sale, because of highly-discounted cut-rate pricing, doesn’t necessarily build your business in the long term. When you establish a dialogue with a prospect, you begin to measure what to sell, when to sell, how much to sell, and the best offer to use going forward.

But first, to even get the customer to say that first “yes”, a variety of print technology and marketing techniques must be used to grab the recipient’s attention, keep it focused, then get them to act.

Different Types of Acquisitions

New Customer Acquisition

As noted above, the primary objective of acquisition direct mail is to turn prospects into customers. To best accomplish this, the direct mail campaign, regardless of the format it uses, needs to include a call to action. When you are able to track your results and measure attribution, you can understand where your customers are coming from.

Lead Generation

Generating direct mail leads is a powerful marketing model. With this bottom-of-the-funnel outbound strategy, you can build strong relationships with potential customers and convert them into customers. Using mail lead generation pieces makes sense as a way to educate, qualify, and then, zero in on qualified buyers. This saves money and produces better ROI.

Donor Acquisition

Just as acquisition is the lifeblood of any business, acquisition direct mail is the lifeblood of many non-profit and membership organizations. Statistics from Blackbaud surveys, among other sources, show that donors still prefer to give primarily through direct mail. Email, peer-to-peer, social, or other channels only account for 12% of fundraising totals.

Donor acquisition direct mail looks a lot like for-profit mail. The same tactics and tips talked about later in this article work just as well to convince recipients to give money to or join a non-profit organization.

The biggest difference between the two types is that fundraisers rely far more on premiums to bolster their case to the donor. For example, calendars, address labels, and even coin mailings pull a better response than efforts without them. When non-profits have tried to move away from using them, many have seen a decline in gifts, memberships, and amounts.

Difference Between Acquisition and Retention Direct Mail

The primary difference between acquisition direct mail and retention direct mail is the relationship between company (or non-profit) and the consumer.As noted above, the goal of customer acquisition is getting new customers – period.

Customer retention is a strategy focused on keeping those customers. With direct mail, you can use several tactics to continually engage customers with campaigns that nurture their interest, reward loyalty, serve their interests better, and achieve higher long-term customer value.

For example, customer retention mail campaigns can center on:

  • Cross-Selling to Similar Products or Services
  • Upselling/Upgrading
  • Renewal or Repeat Purchase

How Businesses Can Leverage Acquisition Direct Mail to Acquire High Value Customers

Driving conversions with acquisition direct mail is an art form as much as it is a science. That is to say that you should A/B test some of the individual tactics to see what works best at driving response as well as delivers the best ROI. Remember – they are separate goals that may not necessarily mean identical campaigns.

Get Attention

According to some studies, you have only 8 seconds to grab the attention of readers with something that stands out from the rest of their mail. The idea here is simple: to stop your prospect in their tracks.

Some examples:

  • Company Name Brand – Its familiarity, reputation, or authority is important
  • Headlines and Subheads – The product and service your mail piece offers should be easily known by how you talk about it with short words
  • White Space – It focuses the readers’ eyes on headlines in large type on a postcard or teaser copy on the front of an envelope

Make It Relevant

Data is the most crucial factor in direct mail success. Instead of a saturation campaign that reaches “everyone”, target high-value audiences using segmentation factors such as behavior, purchase history, etc. to match your product or service to the most-likely prospects. And your copy, format, and design can vary to appeal to each segment.

Segmentation has limits when appealing to prospects on an individual level. Instead, use personalization to make the mail piece more intriguing or meaningful. Variable Data Printing (VDP) makes it possible by leveraging individual data points from the recipient’s personal profile. Even better, after becoming a customer, more relevant customized offers become possible as more data is drawn upon.

For example:

  • A map on a postcard shows the exact route from the recipient’s house to a local hospital
  • A homeowner’s insurance quote uses public information to make an offer
  • A local cleaning firm targets companies based on their square footage or industry code

Tell Prospects WIIFM

Always assume that prospects don’t know or care about you or your company or your product. They do want to know “What’s In It For Me?”

So tell them in your copy and headlines. Instead of focusing only on features or pricing, talk about any pain (or pleasure) points or emotional needs they may have – and how your product or service will help them.

Here are a few examples:

  • “Help a Phoenix family find a home on Thanksgiving!”
  • “Most Safe Small SUV J.D. Power Ratings 2018-2022”
  • “Keep your kids smiling & Get a FREE dental exam!”

Offer Something of High Value

Who doesn’t like getting something for free? “FREE” is the magic word – so think about how you can emphasize an item or service that a prospect may want.

Some examples:

  • Free report
  • Free shipping
  • Buy 5, Get 50% Off

Convey Urgency

Using action-oriented terms or phrases in your copy and headlines, especially the call to action (see below section) may seem overdone. But they are effective in any channel, especially in direct mail acquisition. Most buyers are aware that in today’s fast-paced world, the clock is ticking. The fear of missing out (FOMO) is real, and by capitalizing on this mindset, you can build direct mail campaigns that convince people to “act now”.

Prospects sometimes need to receive multiple touches or impressions before taking action. So be sure to budget for multiple pieces to draw their interest, either by repeating the offer and main selling points, or trying various tactics in a drip campaign.

Other examples of key phrases:

  • “Hurry! Act Now!”
  • “Only 10 days to respond”
  • “Offer Expires March 31!”

Make a Call to Action

The call to action (CTA) is the most crucial part of your copy and design that completes the customer journey because it triggers them to take action. It is most effective when it follows certain rules of the road, such as:

  • Be Specific – Tell the recipient exactly what they should do next
  • Make It Easy to Find – Design your headline, copy, and images flow and hierarchy to make your CTA unmissable
  • Engage with Technology – Use a QR code or website to get immediate action

How Can Help You With Your Next Acquisition Direct Mail Campaign

When it’s done well, direct mail has a higher response rate than purely digital channels. As we’ve seen in this article, it excels at getting the attention of audiences and driving response. And remember, the sale begins when the customer says “yes”. All of the marketing strategy, print work, and tactics you’ve invested to get them to that point means little if you can’t make the relationship last. New and current customers need to be treated as if your business depends on it — because it does.

At, we have decades of experience in helping companies reach new customers and donors. We can work with you to put together a complete and cost-effective direct mail campaign — from planning to printing to mailing — that reaches prospects and turns them into customers.

Drop us a line or call us! We’d love to show you how to put mail to work to build your customer base with acquisition and to accomplish your goals.

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