In a study from Marketing Sherpa, 76% of surveyed consumers said they trusted traditional offline advertising like direct mail over online channels such as pop up ads, banner ads, video posts and social media marketing. While that statistic should not deter marketers from pursuing consumers through the digital platforms we all live by (and let’s be honest, we do live by them), it does indicate that the reports of direct mail’s demise are not only premature—but utterly false.
So, with consumer trust in the tactic on your side, how do you make sure the contents within your direct mail don’t squander it? Here are some quick tips to help your direct mail remain trustworthy in the eyes of consumers—and generate results.
Follow These Guidelines to Make Your Direct Mail Trustworthy
1. Make Credible Claims
Skeptical consumers know when you’re making claims that are too good to be true. So don’t do it. Overpromising and under-delivering is the kiss of death for your brand. Make sure you can make good on your copy’s pitch. If your product or service is the fastest, most affordable, or highest quality on the market, by all means say so—but be able to back it up with statistics.
If you are not superior in a given area, don’t pretend you are. Find another advantage to tout that sets you apart. In the 1960s, Avis was unable to overtake Hertz as the #1 car rental provider. So they touted their customer satisfaction instead, promoting the idea that being #2 made them work harder. Today, Sprint does not pretend to offer better coverage than Verizon. Instead, they make the very rational point that the reliability difference is negligible—leaving it up to the customer to decide whether it’s worth the additional cost.
Straight talk that’s clear and compelling can go a long way toward building trust with consumers. Don’t blow it by blowing smoke.
2. Keep It Personal
As much as we all complain about Big Data tracking our activity online, the truth is targeted ads work. They work because we like personalized experiences. Not only do we like the special feeling that being catered to brings us, but we like the convenience it provides too. When we feel a brand “gets us,” it’s easier to allow one-time transactions to become ongoing relationships.
You can create personalized experiences with direct mail too—without provoking nearly the amount of privacy suspicion online ads raise. Today’s variable data printing has become highly sophisticated, making it easy to target mail messaging and offers directly to the individual. Segmentation makes it possible to drill down beyond zip codes, demographics and incomes to specific interests and buying behavior. Targeting consumers with highly relevant offers and information can go a long way toward increasing response rates and brand trust.
3. Pay Attention to Design
First impressions are hard to overcome, so it’s important that your direct mail looks as credible as it sounds. Dated design elements, “cheesy” images and clip art, crowded copy, unbalanced use of fonts and overall sloppy composition can undermine even the most artfully crafted message or tempting offer. Research color choices to determine which will put readers in the right emotional state. Avoid old-fashioned typefaces, star bursts and hammy photos. Instead, adopt modern layout trends that speak to today’s digital-friendly audiences.
No matter how clearly and simply you want to make your pitch, don’t underestimate the power of strong visual design. After all, if your direct mail design looks cheap and lazy, what message are you sending about how you do business?
4. Don't Hide the Details
Anyone who has ever clicked “Accept” without reading the Terms of Service (i.e., all of us) understands that legal disclaimers come with every transaction. But there’s a big difference between “fine print” and “bait and switch”—and your brand will suffer mightily if you employ the latter in your direct mail.
Never hide critical details that are fundamental to your key promise. If a promotional price ends in three months, make sure that fact is listed in the offer, not down in the disclaimer. If a free appointment is contingent on the purchase of future service, be clear and open about it. You can still emphasize the more attractive elements in your offer, but never intentionally mislead in your mail just to get the phones ringing and expect customer service reps to clarify things later. It not only turns potential customers into vocal critics, it sends the signal that you don’t believe your product or service is good enough to sell without subterfuge. And if you don’t believe in it, why should anyone else?
When you get right down to it, people afford direct mail a higher level of authority because they trust what they can touch, feel and understand. If you can avoid undermining that trust with outrageous claims, outdated design and impersonal copy, you can leverage it to generate immediate response—and lasting loyalty.
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