What Goes On in the Mailbox?
It’s the same with direct mail. The intermediate steps aren’t measurable, but by applying some imagination, you get a picture of what happens to direct mail on its way to nonresponse. And that can suggest some smart tactics that will improve response.
It’s a long and winding road between the bulk mail center and the donor’s checkbook. Let’s take a look at what can go wrong and when.
Not every piece of mail you send gets to its intended recipient. If you’re mailing bulk rate, somewhere between 10 percent and 20 percent of your pieces lose their way. Good data hygiene improves that number. But to really drive down your nondelivery rate, use First Class postage. The only problem is the cost — it might be too much to be worth the boost it will create. I’ve found that the breaking point is with donors who give around $100 a year. Above that, First Class postage is worth it; below that, it’s not. But test that for yourself.
This is probably the largest category of nonresponse. It has a lot to do with how much other mail is in the mailbox, the relative importance of your mail and how your donor is feeling that day. I’m afraid the numbers are not on your side in this category; there’s just a lot going on in everybody’s mailbox all the time. I’m guessing that 50 percent to 70 percent of your mail gets ignored.
You can improve your chances of being noticed with superb creativity. Duh, right? The trick is, all that creativity has to be on the carrier envelope. Nothing else really matters at this point.
We usually think this is entirely a question of copy and design, but if you stop there, you’re missing opportunities: color, texture and size. These all can help an envelope stand out in the crowd and improve response.