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Want Response Rates of up to 12%? Designing a Successful Targeted Mail Campaign to U.S. Employers

Economics & Investments

Treat the reader’s time as a valuable resource; don’t waste it, be very clear in your communication, get quickly to the point, and be very truthful.  Don’t promise anything in your communication that you can’t follow up on.  Chances are your company will not get a second chance to make good on another promise if the reader has been previously disappointed.

Well-designed and managed mass mailing campaigns are lucky to achieve a 0.1% response rate.  Targeted mailing campaigns can achieve response rates as high as 12%.  The cost savings that a mailing campaign can realize with such a high response rate differential, can be partially used to upgrade the mailing to a quality befitting the intended recipient.  Use targeted mailing campaigns to reach high-level executives at companies you wish to do business with.

Employers are one of the most sought after audiences in the U.S.  Executives of U.S. companies have executive administrators and personal assistants to help them navigate the tremendous demand on their time and attention.  

Communication will go unheeded unless it can help their business become more successful.  But, numerous communications that can help an executive improve his or her company’s bottom line go unattended to because they fail to adhere to some very important rules of engagement.

When I worked at Chrysler as Marketing Manager I received upward of 80 emails and 20 letters per day, not counting phone calls and other requests for my time and attention.  In order for a communication to be classified as valuable, and not an intrusion, I always looked for some obvious signals about the communication.  I also used these very signals as rules, to design my business-to-business (b2b) communications.

First, target the communication.  By using an actual name and title, your communication will pass the first veil of recognition.  Executives’ assistants are taught to intercept communications that are addressed to a title, and not to a specific individual.  Included in this rule are the obvious; avoid typos in the name, title and company spelling.  Use the correct address.  

Even if the mail eventually reaches its target, if the wrong address was used, chances are it traversed many a company mailbox prior to reaching its eventual destination.  Which means the information is probably outdated, and/or the communication now contains visible markings on it that make it clear to the recipient that the wrong address was initially used.  Take the extra step to make sure the title and address you are using are current.

Second, make the communication recognizable.  Whereas communication from Fortune 100 companies with worldwide recognition would be very effective, many of our companies don’t fall into that fortunate category.  So, the next best thing, in my opinion, is to get the communication endorsed by a recognizable entity.  

I always try to get the target company itself to endorse the communication so that the recipient actually receives a communication that looks like it’s coming from his or her own company.  Or, I get a recognizable organization such as an industry association to endorse the communication by allowing use of its letterhead or envelope or mailing channel.  This is not an impossible task, if the communication is offering valuable information or assistance to improve profits or grow sales.

Third, use a hard-hitting title for your communication.  The title should communicate the benefit of the communication to the reader.  Verbs like “Improve”, “Increase”, and “Reduce” are effective attention-grabbers.  Nouns like “Costs”, “Profits”, “Revenues”, “Retention”, and “Response”, are recognizable to business audiences.  

Use alert words to direct the attention of the reader to the title such as “Important!”, “Immediately”, and “Alert!”.  Avoid non-descript, commonly used (and often overused) words such as “Designed”, “Manage”, and “Implement” unless they are used effectively with attention grabbers.

Fourth, your opening paragraph, should demonstrate knowledge of the reader’s business.  In the first sentence, use an industry or, even better, a company statistic to show the specific area that your communication is directing his or her attention.  In the second sentence, relate that statistic to the problem that you know is affecting his or her business.  

Use the third sentence to demonstrate how your communication can help the reader solve the problem.  Make this sentence very powerful by demonstrating your particular skill or experience in the specific problem area, which will convince the reader that your claims are true.  Sometimes this can be effectively communicated by referencing an association or partnership with an industry giant, that your company has or has made recently.

Fifth, keep your communication to one page.  No communication that I’ve ever received that was worth reading, was more than a page in length.  Any explanation that would lengthen the communication beyond a page should instead be replaced by contact information.  Which brings us to our next rule.

Sixth, provide contact information on how the reader can access your solution.  Avoid words that contain “for more information”.  Instead, use words that provide specific follow up instructions such as; “to schedule a sales visit”, “call to speak to an account executive”, or “click here to schedule a personal visit”.

Seventh, follow up.  Remember you want as high a response rate as possible.  A really nice tactic is to schedule targeted mailings prior to an industry conference or convention that you know your recipients will be attending.  Your follow up can be that you visit their booth or get their attention at the networking dinner, or some similar follow up tactic.  

Otherwise, make a follow up phone call to make sure they received the mail.  In an organized campaign, a second mailing directed to recipients who did not respond to the first mailing, is a very effective follow up.  I routinely would increase my response rate by two or more percentage points using this method.

Eighth, and perhaps this should have come first, establish targeted mailing goals and your marketing budget.  This will enable you to determine your Return on Investment (ROI), which is how successful your mailing campaign was, compared to the money you spent to implement it.  I always advocate “results-oriented marketing” to my clients.  All marketing campaigns should be measured against desired outcome goals, in order to gauge their success.  

Successful campaigns should be repeated and improved upon, while unsuccessful ones should be discontinued unless improvements are made.  A good marketing agency will advise you to implement measures of success.

In closing what is admittedly an overview of what makes targeted mail successful, let me remind you to always keep in mind that your target audience’s time is very valuable.  Treat the reader’s time as a valuable resource; don’t waste it, be very clear in your communication, get quickly to the point, and be very truthful.  

Don’t promise anything in your communication that you can’t follow up on.  Chances are your company will not get a second chance to make good on another promise if the reader has been previously disappointed.

In healthcare-related communications, countless efforts are wasted by the over-abundant use of medical terms, lengthy explanations, too much information, false promises, and ineffective follow-up.  On the other hand, I have always achieved above-average response, and eventual business, by sticking to the above referenced rules and I have countless successful campaigns, including targeted mailing campaigns, to prove it.  Successful Medical Tourism communication campaigns can result from complying with these rules.

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