eTip #32

Why Do Customers Throw Away Your Direct Mail?

Is your direct mail on their desk or in their trash? Combining the right componets to work together in a direct mail campaign can keep your direct mail marketing efforts from being wasted. Just like making sure the strategy, messaging, and creative are all in line with your marketing efforts, making sure the right data is used in combination with a direct mail campaign will reach your audience that drives sales. in In this month’s eTip, we interviewed Marilyn McCray, a marketing communications expert in Austin, Texas, on the subject of combining the power of direct mail and CRM to bring results.

BMC: How long have you been involved with marketing communications and how did you get started?

McCray: I started in marketing communications in a graduate program for museum practice. I had the good fortune to work with the marketing and communications departments of a major corporate sponsor where I learned the importance of really getting to know your audience and how best to speak to them. This was an excellent foundation for my marketing career which included arts organization, hospitality and companies from other industries.

BMC: What kind of an impact can happen when you combine the power of direct mail and CRM (Customer relationship management)?

McCray: It is a powerful combination if the right data is there to reach your target directly. CRM is so much more than buying software. The secret to CRM is the continual collection of relevant data for defined marketing goals and objectives. Appending customer records with information relevant to your business is critical to growing the usefulness of any list.

How can two post cards provide $1 million in new revenue?
One of the most effective CRM vendors in hospitality was contracted to import data from the property management system of a well known Mid-Atlantic resort into a specialized database and append the information on a weekly basis. Critical attributes of past guests were defined as well as annual cycles and business patterns. This ongoing effort provided data to guide future marketing efforts. Looking at significant needs for the upcoming summer season, direct mail was chosen as the way to reach new guests to drive occupancy. The campaign was created by “cloning” the characteristics defined in the CRM database to create attributes for the new guests. A “cloned” list with key characteristics was acquired from a region located 150 miles away. The two postcard campaign sent to the new list generated over $1 million in revenue for the season and created new guests for the property. It was all about talking to the right people at the right time with a pertinent offer.

BMC: What steps should you take after a direct mail campaign has been sent?

McCray: Tracking the responses from the campaign is extremely critical. Integrating the results into the CRM system to enhance relevant data more completely defines the customer for future marketing. Come back and other offers are another good way to improve the reach of a direct mail campaign. Evaluate ROI to determine the cost of customer acquisition and determine if direct mail works for the business.

BMC: What are the three most common mistakes you have seen companies make when it comes to direct mail and CRM?

McCray: 1) Thinking that huge lists are necessary to produce results. It’s not the number of people who are on the list, but who is there and what you know about them. Again, tracking the results can make future campaigns more effective.

2) Undervaluing the importance of the right CRM system. One size does not fit all. It is worth investing in the right tool or vendor to reach marketing goals. A specialist may be a better choice than widely used software. Really using the tool to acquire specific data is the next crucial step.

3) Timing is everything. Having the offer in the right hands at the right time is critical. Direct mail campaigns fail, even with qualified lists when they are launched at the wrong time.

BMC: Last words of wisdom in regard to direct mail and CRM.

McCray: Make data collection a priority and track every campaign.

Marilyn McCray has had an interesting and varied career that has afforded her the opportunity to use a wide range of skills from the writing and overseeing of profitable direct mail campaigns to creating winning strategies for websites and email marketing. Her previous experience in sales, marketing and public relations was gained while working on accounts with some of the nation’s Fortune 500 corporations and several major hospitality companies. She founded McCray & Company to provide businesses and nonprofit organizations with access to proven marketing options. Marilyn McCray can be reached at 512.358.4603 or


Previous  |  Next  |  Back to eTips |  See More Work in Print