For most of you, direct mail is a critical component of your overall marketing strategy. But how certain are you that the mail you are sending your customers is effective? Here are some quick tips to help you answer this question and assess the value of your mail campaigns:

• Does each mail piece start with a plan? To start, set a goal for the mailer. Is the goal to fill the hotel? Fill a VIP event? Make guests aware of an upcoming drawing or promotion? Or is it just informational, to let them know a new restaurant is opening? Then you should integrate the piece with other marketing initiatives. If you send out a mailer about an event, you might also back-up the mailer with an e-mail marketing initiative to the same audience. Another option is to launch a telemarketing effort to the same audience. You might also create a poster or mailer about an event in the VIP Lounge if all guests who have access to the lounge were invited. Finally, don’t forget to track your mailer. It’s vitally important that you know and understand what your marketing dollars are getting you. So be sure your mailer has an offer code or some type of bar code or number, so that the redemptions can be tracked allowing you to see if the mailer was a success or not.

• Spend time on the list and the offer. These two components represent 80 percent of why your mailer will succeed or fail. Who’s it going to and what’s the offer? Will they care? How can you make them pay attention? It helps to include a call to action whenever possible. For example, offering a free buffet meal to players who redeem the card. This offer might not appeal to the segment of customers under the age of 50, so save postage by not mailing them this card. On the flip side, you might think about excluding older players from your Wet ‘n’ Wild Pool Party invitation. Is the offer relevant, specific and focused? Making it time sensitive can also help since it creates a sense of urgency. Always include an expiration date when possible.

• What format will you go with? Don’t get stuck on what you’ve always done. If you’ve always used postcards, maybe try changing the size, especially if it’s a really special event. One way to make your mail noticeable is to make the postcard large (8.5 x 11 inches). You could also do a letter in an envelope, which will create a more personalized or VIP touch for a smaller audience. Your direct mail vendor can help you get creative with paper stock and special treatments (glossy, dimensional) to make your mailer stand out. Other treatments include personalization where you feature the guest’s name in the artwork.

• Text and detail are everything. Be sure you stay as short and sweet as possible. At the same time, double and triple check that all critical details are included. If it’s an event, be sure to include date, time, place, a phone number to RSVP and an offer code, and an RSVP deadline. Include an expiration date and ending time if applicable. Also, don’t forget your company’s website and QR code, ideally near the return address information.

• Graphics and imagery are important as well. Try to have one strong image versus making your piece very busy and hard to read. Is your piece visually pleasing to the eye? Feel free to have your agency or in-house designer mock up a few “looks” and show it to several people around the office to get their opinions. After all, everyone gets bombarded with lots of mail in their mailboxes on a daily basis. Even though your office mates might not be your customers, they can still provide valuable feedback.

• Last but not least – save on postage. One of the best ways to do this is to keep a clean list. If your business is a casino, the best place to start is the player card center. Be sure every time a guest walks up that your card center rep is verifying their mailing address. Then make a notation of the date you checked. Have the rep verify addresses every six months or so. A clean list means less chance of returned or undeliverable mail.

 There are many factors that determine the effectiveness of any given direct mail piece. Hopefully, the tips here will help your team run an initial assessment of the campaigns you execute; and decide what changes or adjustments might be in order. A smart strategy plus your team’s focused execution will equal a very effective direct mail campaign.