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Three Reasons Your Last Mailing Failed
(and how to fix it)


A Web developer came to me with a copy of a direct mail letter he had sent offering prospects a free sample Web site. He had mailed the letter to a list that had generated numerous leads the first time he used it. However, this time the response was terrible. What happened?

Reason One: An Old Mailing List

He bought the list two years ago. The list worked when it was new, but two years later he ended up with a large pile of returned mail. It was like throwing money in the garbage.

Keep your house lists up-to-date

The failure rate (returned mail) should be about 2-3%. If you get significantly more returned mail than that, invest the time and money to clean your list.

If you're renting a list, ask when it was last updated.

The list is the single most important part of any direct mail campaign, accounting for up to 40% of the return.

The best mailing list isn't the cheapest or the biggest.

Make updating info easy

Put a change of address form or email contact address on your Web site so it's easy for your customers to tell you they've moved.

Reason Two: It Was Too Hard to Respond

The free sample web sites printed on the promotional letter had long, complex URLs. Since it was hard to type, the mailing failed.

Keep it simple

The harder it is to contact you or take action, the less likely it is your prospects will do it. Keep your URLs short and simple, and make sure your mailings include several ways to contact you (phone, fax, email, and web).

Reason Three: Too Many Fonts

He'd used four different fonts, and five or six colors.

Limit font usage

One or two fonts, maybe three is fine. More than that, and it looks like a ransom note.

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