How to Drive Tons of Traffic to Your Website with Traditional Direct Mail
Dean Rieck, President, Direct Creative
Websites provide a powerful means of promoting your products and services. But they don't work if no one visits your site. Success is all about driving traffic.
Email delivers traffic quickly and at low cost, though open rates can be low. Social marketing has shown great potential, but early hype hasn't lived up to reality for many businesses. Pay per click, banner ads, and other online strategies work, but with varying results.
What about traditional direct mail?
Too many people suffer from an “oil and water” mentality when it comes to mixing online and offline media. But the fact is, they work well together. And when you need to drive online traffic, an integrated approach can often work wonders.
According to the 2009 Channel Preference Study by ExactTarget, direct mail influences 76% of Internet users to buy a product or service online. Better still, direct mail remains the one medium that gives you direct and reliable access to nearly everyone in your target market.
How do you drive web traffic with direct mail? Here are some pointers:
Should you use email, social, and other online media? Absolutely. But smart business people don’t make decisions based on personal preferences or novelty. They make decisions based on what works.
- Make a compelling offer. It’s not enough to ask people to visit your website.
You need to give them a powerful reason. You do this with a compelling and valuable offer, such as
a free trial, seminar, white paper, savings coupons, or sample. It must be something they want, not
just something you want them to see.
- Use an easy-to-type URL. Unlike email, where you can include a clickable link
to your landing page, in direct mail you can only print a URL. Your prospect must type this into a
browser. The shorter and easier it is to spell, the easier it will be for people to visit your page.
If you create a separate domain exclusively for the promotion, the URL can be much shorter. If you
want the landing page on your site, redirect from the unique URL to your page.
- Test a personalized URL or pURL. This gets extra attention and creates curiosity. For example,
a pURL using my name might look like this: DeanRieck.Widget.com. This is easy to type and allows for
tight integration of the direct mail piece and landing page for tracking.
- Try personalized copy. Just as a pURL gets attention, personalized teasers, headlines, subheads,
and body copy attract attention and encourage reading. Use personalization with restraint to avoid
the appearance of an over-the-top sweepstakes mailing.
- Issue a clear call to action. If you want your prospect to complete a survey, for example, say
“Go to BobSmith.Gadget.com and fill out our survey to claim your $100 Savings Coupon.” People are
more likely to respond when you specifically tell them what to do.
- Push response with a deadline. As in most direct marketing situations, people are more apt
to respond immediately when they know they have limited time. With whatever offer you make, state
a deadline near the call to action.
- Test various formats. Because of printing and postage costs, many people use postcards to drive
web traffic. But you can also test self-mailers, flyers, and envelope packages. The amount of pre-sell
required should dictate the format. The simpler and more valuable your offer, the less pre-sell you need.
Only testing can show you for sure.
- Build a special landing page. Generally, it’s not a good idea to drive traffic to your home
page. There are too many choices and too many ways for prospects to get lost. By creating a unique landing
page and driving people to that page, you can control the message, track response, and collect information
for follow-up and future direct marketing efforts.
- Capture contact information. A one-time visitor offers limited value. Good direct marketing
practice dictates that you use their first visit to begin a dialog. And to do that, you must at least ask
for their email address and maybe their first name to personalize future communications. Depending on the
value of the offer, you might also be able to get full name, mailing address, and other information to build
your in-house database.
So if traditional direct mail is working for others, you should test to see if it can work for you as well.
Dean Rieck is considered one of today's foremost direct mail copywriters and has made sales, generated leads, and raised funds for top organizations worldwide. Get your copy of Dean's white paper, Getting Response in a Down Economy: 4 Key Principles to Boost Your Direct Mail Profits in Today's Difficult Market.