Direct Mail Marketing for Contractors | How to Build Effective Campaigns

Angelica NavarroOctober 15th, 2020
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Home services businesses are focusing their marketing efforts on capturing an audience that’s more mobile than ever. Email, video, social media, and online search ads all present new opportunities for businesses to reach customers. 

You might be surprised to learn that direct mail marketing, which precedes digital channels, can actually increase your chances of getting in front of customers. In some cases, it’s more effective than many digital marketing methods. 

If you’ve scaled back or eliminated direct mail marketing at your business, keep reading — we’ve got some compelling reasons why it still works and useful tips to help you get results. 

What is direct mail marketing? 

Direct mail marketing involves mailing marketing materials to someone's home. These mailings are often postcards, letters, catalogs or brochures. At 4.5%, postcards have one of the highest response rates among commonly used formats.

Direct mail marketing isn’t dead. 

There’s a misconception that direct mail marketing is too much of a fossil to be useful. It’s not as exciting as video or social media, which can make it seem a little ho-hum. 

However, your contracting business should make it a part of an overall marketing strategy. Here’s why:

Direct mail offers a great ROI.

Getting a good return on investment (ROI) is a major marketing success metric and influences important decisions regarding where to allocate marketing dollars. 

Believe it or not, you can get serious value for your money with direct mail marketing. In fact, direct mail ROI is actually higher than ROI generated from paid search or display ads, and social media is only one percentage point higher. 

Direct mail is a great brand marketing tool. 

If your goal is to stay top of mind with your customers, direct mail gives you an excellent opportunity to do that. Direct mail open rates can go as high as 90%, a remarkable number when compared to open rates for email and SMS text. In addition, 42% of direct mail recipients scan their mail upon receiving it. That means you’ve got a good chance of your audience actually viewing your message and remembering you.

Direct mail is still popular.

Have you been excited to open your email lately? If you said “no,” you’re not alone. We’re inundated with marketing emails daily, and when you’ve got so many competing for your attention, it’s overwhelming. 

People generally enjoy checking their mailboxes and on average will throw out a piece of mail after 17 days, ample time for them to view your message. 73% of consumers prefer direct mail because they can read it whenever they want. 

Pro Tip: Use direct mail to maximize your most valuable audience — your existing customers. Keep in mind, acquiring a new customer costs 5 times more than retaining an existing one, and you’re more likely to sell to existing customers than new prospects. 

Achieve direct mail marketing success with automation.

If you’ve ever built a direct mail campaign from scratch, you know it’s time-consuming and expensive. Building an audience is a laborious process that typically takes weeks to do. Third-party vendors can also drive up direct mail marketing costs.

Automation takes the hassle out of direct mail marketing by streamlining the direct mail marketing process while keeping you in control. Here are a few reasons contractors should adopt an automated direct mail marketing strategy:

  • It’s customizable -  Many direct mail service providers have easy-to-use dashboards where you can edit and personalize your mailings. 

  • It’s highly targeted - No more culling spreadsheets to build your audience. Software integration lets you quickly create targeted mailing lists using your customer management software.

  • It’s scalable - Smaller businesses used to pay more for direct mail because of large batch requirements. Now, direct mail campaigns can grow with your business, so you pay for and send only what you need to send.

  • It’s trackable - With automation, tools such as tracking numbers and coupon codes let you measure success easily. 

Create effective direct mail marketing campaigns in 5 simple steps.

Now that we’ve gone over the advantages of direct mail marketing, let’s get into how to create and send campaigns your customers will actually look forward to receiving. 

Step 1: Craft your message.

  • Know your objective - Ask yourself what your goal is. Whether you want to inform customers about a service special or encourage them to replace older equipment, you need to have a clear objective.

  • Tell your customers what to do - Don’t assume customers will know what they need to do. If you want them to call for HVAC maintenance or have their older home’s electrical wiring inspected, your call-to-action should make that clear.

  • Keep it short - Don’t bury your message in too many words. Keep your copy short and fluff-free, especially if you’re doing postcard marketing where space is limited.

  • Sell the benefits - For example, instead of focusing on a new water heater’s bells and whistles, focus on how it keeps customers from running out of hot water and lowers their energy bills, which is more appealing.

Step 2: Use eye-catching design details.

  • Source high-quality images - If possible, use your own photos instead of stock photos, as they look more authentic and less staged. Make sure your images are high-resolution, so they don’t look blurry in your mailings. 

  • Choose easy-to-read fonts - Avoid using font colors in your copy that blend in with background colors or are too small for customers (particularly older ones) to read. 

  • Use a reputable printing service - Bleeding colors and streak marks look unprofessional, so look for a printing service that produces high-quality materials and is willing to provide samples of their work.

Step 3:  Build your audience.

  • Start small - Sending blanket campaigns without testing smaller audiences first can lead to wasted marketing dollars. Send small campaigns first and then measure those results, so you can identify whom to target with larger campaigns down the road.

  • Segment your lists - Look for ways to fine-tune your audience. Try grouping customers who have open unsold estimates or customers with expiring memberships. Tools like Marketing Pro make this easy by letting you build targeted audiences with just a few clicks. 

  • Keep it relevant - Ensure your mailings are relevant to your customers’ needs or to certain traits, like the age of their home, geographic location or current maintenance schedule. 

Pro Tip: Boost your direct mail response rates by practicing good contact list hygiene. Go through your contact list yearly and merge duplicate contacts, as well as review your unengaged contacts. Marketing to customers who have a history of never responding costs you both unnecessary time and money.

Step 4: Schedule your campaigns wisely.

  • Be timely - A mailing sent at the right time has the greatest probability of success. For example, try an automated campaign to send customers who’ve received an estimate and haven’t responded after a certain period of time.

  • Leverage holidays - Seasonal holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day work well for maintenance reminder campaigns. You can also create campaigns around more fun, unorthodox holidays that are likely to get attention.

  • Be consistent - Stick to a consistent mailing schedule. Consistency establishes your brand in your customers’ minds and makes them more likely to remember and trust you. 

Step 5: Track your results. 

  • Use coupon codes - If your campaigns advertise discounts, include unique coupon codes customers can provide your CSR upon booking. This can help you gauge your response rate.

  • Create a landing page - Include a link to a unique landing page on your website in your direct mailings. This works well for campaigns that ask customers to sign up for newsletters or discount emails. 

You should keep track of the following key performance indicators (KPIs) that help you measure direct mail campaign performance. 

  • Response Rate = Responses ÷ Sent mailings

  • Conversion Rate = Bookings/signups ÷ Responses

  • Cost per Acquisition = Campaign cost ÷ Bookings/signups

  • Return on Investment = (Revenue - Campaign cost) ÷ Campaign cost

Pro Tip: Instead of trying to manually determine your KPIs, use Marketing Pro’s analytics dashboard to view metrics in one place and see exactly how your direct mail campaigns are performing.

Integrate direct mail with digital campaigns.

Direct mail has many merits on its own, but to unlock its full potential, you should make it part of an integrated overall marketing strategy. Combining email with direct mail increases response rates by up to 35%, making integration a must for contractors looking to get the most out of their marketing. 

A few ideas: 

  • Send postcards to customers who have not responded to maintenance reminder emails as an unexpected way to re-engage them. 

  • Follow up on a direct mail campaign with email if customers haven’t taken action. 

  • Send customers whose email addresses you don’t yet have a postcard offering a small service discount for signing up for your emails. 

When you use an integrated approach, direct mail becomes a powerful tool to help you reach your customers as well as your marketing goals. 

Learn how ServiceTitan Marketing Pro can help you create integrated, automated marketing campaigns that help you get results. Request a demo today!

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business. Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.

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