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? It should. Things to keep in mind when formulating this plan include:

• 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?

• 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 do a poster about the event/mailer in the VIP lounge if all guests who have access to the lounge were invited.

• 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 mailer was a success or not. Response rates will vary based on the type of offer you’re sending. Your direct mail vendor should even be able to track delivery of your mail to ensure your customers received the piece.

Spend time on the list and the offer. These two components represent a huge part 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? Include a call-to-action whenever possible—something that appeals to them. Make it time-sensitive; create a sense of urgency by including an expiration date when possible. The offer should also be easy to understand and make your guest feel special, like you crafted the offer just for him/her.

What format will you go with? Don’t get stuck with 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 stick out is make the postcard large—you can even send an 8.5-inch x 11-inch sized postcard! Never send 4-inch x 6-inch; that is too small. The minimum size should be 6-inch x 9-inch or in that range. You could also do a letter in an envelope. This might create a more personalized or VIP touch for a smaller audience. Or, of course, a self-mailer folded once or twice.

Wording and copy 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, make sure there is a date, time, place, phone number to RSVP and an offer code and deadline date. Include an expiration date and an ending time of event 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 just 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. The key is to stand out above the clutter and get the addressee to open your mail.

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. 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 you and your team create and execute a smart and profitable campaign. Taking the time to do each of the steps above will equal a very effective direct mail campaign.