Taking Aim With Targeted Mailing Campaigns

My last article on target marketing focused largely around working to discover to whom you’ll be selling your books. What demographic or group of people will be the ones interested in your story? I talked about the importance of creating a target and catering to them.

In this article, I’d like to dig a little deeper and talk about taking aim and hopefully hitting the bullseye of the target you’ve created.

This is what a standard rifle target looks like: Taking Aim With Targeted Mailing Campaigns image bullseye 300x300Taking Aim With Targeted Mailing Campaigns

As you can see, there are eight rings around the bull’s eye. The better shot you are, the higher score you’ll achieve, or in the case of an author, the more sales you’ll make, the more fans you’ll amass, and the more recognition, reviews, and accolades you’ll receive. Seems pretty simple, right? Well, it’s certainly a lot easier to hit a target once you know it’s there, but just because you can see the target and have the gun doesn’t always mean you’ll hit it.

In the marketing world, we create what are called campaigns. Campaigns are activities that send a message or offer to a targeted group of people with a specific call to action and a hopeful (projected or forecasted) outcome. Campaigns always have a budget associated with them and are tracked precisely to determine whether or not we’ve realized our desired return on investment.

This article will discuss the first in a series of campaigns I’ll share with you that I’ve tried. The first, and probably easiest, is the old fashioned mailer.

A mailer is a great example of a traditional marketing campaign. Whether snail mail or email, you start by selecting a group of recipients. Then you craft a message that will hopefully resonate enough that they act on your call to action, which in our case is to buy our book.

Your mailer might be a postcard with an image of the book and a starburst that says 50% off. Just click (or type) the link to see the details. (Note – when sending postcards via snail mail, I highly encourage the use of a QR code). Whatever your offer, or call to action, make it exciting. Make it easy for your receiver to say, “that’s a no-brainer.” If your offer is for a 10% discount, your postcard just went in the recycle bin. If it’s “Read a great story and win a new Kindle Fire” that’s a little more exciting*. Let’s look at the sample postcard campaign:

Let’s say you have $500 to spend. I’m going to assume you have a mailing list of people to whom you’d like to send a postcard.

· Glossy postcards quantity 1000 – $125 (rough estimate based on Vistaprint.com)

· If you use Vista Print’s addressing and mailing service, it’ll cost $459.99.

Now we’re over budget. Keep in mind, though, addressing and mailing 250 postcards can take up to 4 hours if you do it yourself.

So let’s back out our numbers. 500 Postcards addressed and mailed will be $249.98. The cost of 500 versus 1000 postcards is $69.99. That puts us at $319.97. That leaves us $180.03.

I’d spend it on a freelance designer, one who will design a knockout image for the front of your postcard. You can find plenty at www.freelancer.com and it should cost about $30-$60.

At the high end ($60) for our freelancer, the postcard creation, and the mailing service (addressing, postage, and mailing), we’re at a total cost of $379.97. That’s excellent because the less we spend, the less we need to sell to get our money back, or return our investment (ROI).

I typically look for a one to two percent return (actual purchases) on a postcard mailing, which means that if you’ve chosen your list wisely (this is the most important thing), you can expect about 10 people to buy your book. If the book is priced at $4.99, it means we’ve only made $49.90 in actual sales. Not so great, right? We’re $330 in the hole and have very little to show for it.

Welcome to marketing! Running a campaign is a LOT of trial and error. We measure what’s working and what’s not. We tweak the things that aren’t until we’ve created something that we can “scale with predictability.”

For example:

· What was the image on the front of the postcard?

· Did it have a clear or exciting enough call to action?

· Was it busy or was it clean and legible?

· What was the information on the back of the card?

· Was there a QR code they could easily scan with their phone?

· Did it have a link that had a thousand characters someone would have to hand-type?

Common sense has a good deal of play in marketing. Think about how you sort through your mail. What stands out? What do you immediately toss in the trash? Do you pitch the sweepstakes envelopes but hold on to the oil change coupon postcard? If so, why? What was it about the messaging you liked? Was it simple, concise, and clear, or was it “gimmicky?”

What are you marketing and who will likely be sorting through the mail? Are you trying to sell a zombie book to teens during the school year? Will mom or dad (who get the mail) throw it away? Are you trying to sell a business book to CEO’s and mailing to residential addresses? If you’re pitching a romance novel to a female audience and believe that they’ll be the ones most likely to retrieve the mail and see it, then you have a good shot of getting your message through to the right person – the decision maker.

I recommend keeping mailings small, inexpensive, and frequent. Send out a batch of 100 and see what happens. Send them to an easy link. I use www.sweetjim.com. It’s easy to remember and easy to type. Then, on my home page, if I have an offer, I make it front and center. Yours should be a big postcard that says click here if you received our postcard. Use promo codes if you can, as it aides in tracking and you should already be using Google Analytics to see where people are going and what they’re doing. I normally say to send people directly to where they can buy your book, but with a postcard mailing, it’s a drag because you can’t track who goes to Amazon and Amazon doesn’t yet offer promo codes for use to use.

In short, test and measure. If you’re seeing a lot of clicks on your postcard link but not a lot of purchases, ask yourself what’s keeping them from buying once they’re on your site? Are there any positive review snippets? Any excerpts from the story that might get them excited? Worst of all, is there a very visible “buy now” button?

Good luck with your mailings! In my next article, I’ll talk about email campaigns.

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