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Turning Your Direct Mail Campaign Into An Online Lead Generating Machine

Dec 14, 2007
Here's a GREAT way for you to save time, save money, and increase your sales leads. Let me tell you a quick little story...

I have a client for whom I run a lead generation direct mail campaign. I've been trying to persuade him to move some of the campaign online in order to cut down costs and increase conversions. He's been a pretty hard sell, but I've finally managed to convince him.

So, what was it that got him to step out of the Stone Age and into the 21st Century? It was simply a matter of running the numbers. Let's take a look at some of the hidden costs of his direct mail campaign that he hasn't been considering:

Additional Hidden Postage Fees
With the recent postage hikes, the additional cost of mailing is an obvious factor. But my client didn't consider how his campaign was fully impacted by the rate increases. Now that shaped-based postage is in effect, his overall campaign cost is more expensive because he's using the less expensive padded envelope. His campaign is already in need of an overhaul to maximize the savings that are available to him. So now is a great time to make the changes I suggested.

Man Hours
My client never realized how much time his employees are spending on packing and printing and shipping. He considers payroll as a human resources expense and never allocated a payroll line item in figuring out his direct mail ROI. When we actually sat down and looked at it, he was amazed at how many payroll dollars this direct mail project is eating up.

Storage Space
My client has tons of space dedicated to housing his cases of padded envelopes (which, by the way, take up a lot of room), video tapes (I told you he was in the Stone Age), audio CDs and the rest of the items for his campaign. Yet, when he hired a new administrative assistant, he couldn't find anywhere to put her desk. (And, just between you and me, he did get in trouble once with the fire marshall for having boxes stacked too high near the ceiling.)

Opportunity Costs
A lot of time and money goes into his direct mail campaign - time and money that could be spent elsewhere.

So he agreed to move the campaign on line. I suggested we start small and test it out for a few months. Here are the steps I followed that you can easily recreate with your own campaigns:

1. Redesigned the ad that had been running in a specialized magazine. Instead of telling prospects to call a phone number to request a direct mail package, I sent them to a special landing page.

2. Created a landing page to be used only for this ad. The page mimicked the look and feel of the magazine ad and focused strictly on the lead generation device. Check out my free report on maximizing lead generation for more details on how this works.

3. Broke the direct mail package into several smaller steps. The original physical product contains a welcome letter, a brochure, an audio CD, a videotape, a checklist and several miscellaneous printed pieces. All that material can be overwhelming to a brand new prospect. I decided to deliver each piece individually, over time.

4. Digitized each piece. The printed materials were turned into PDF files, the audio was turned into an MP3 file and the video was turned into a flash movie.

5. Opened an autoresponder account. My client decided to use the same autoresponder service that I use in my own business because it's easy to use and extremely cost effective.

6. Created the autoresponder messages. Individual email messages were created to automatically deliver the pieces over time. This was much less overwhelming than having a huge package loaded with tons of materials land with a thud on the doorstep. And, because the email messages are very warm and personal, the prospect feels like he is really getting to know the company.

So, how did it all work out? Well, we're still midway through our six-month testing period, but my client is already foaming at the mouth to move the rest of the campaign online. He's noticed a huge increase in the conversion rate of the online prospects versus the direct mail prospects. His current direct mail process involves mailing out the lead generation package, then following up with the prospect by phone a few days later. Usually, that phone conversation goes something like this:

Company Rep: Hi, this is Jane Doe from XYZ Corporation. I'm calling to see if you received our super duper lead generation package.

Prospect: Yeah, I got it the other day, but I haven't had time to look through it all yet.

Company Rep: Well, I'm sure that after you've reviewed it all, you'll agree that we offer the best widgets on the market. So please give us a call as soon as you're ready to make a purchase.

Prospect: OK, sure. Goodbye.

Not very productive, is it? With the new online system, I was able to totally revamp that process. Now, a company representative contacts the prospect personally only after all the individual messages and pieces have been delivered. By this time, the prospect has been receiving several personalized email messages and he's already warmed up to the company. Plus, because the pieces were gradually delivered over time, the prospect has had time to review them all. The follow up phone calls are warm and friendly and the conversion rate has increased dramatically.
About the Author
Karen Scharf offers several whitepapers, free reports and checklists, including her FREE report on maximizing lead generation at your website. Download your copies at http://www.ModernImage.com.
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