8.25 seconds.

According to researchers, that’s all the time we have, to capture the attention of our audience. It’s shorter than the attention span of a goldfish. And it’s not getting any longer. In fact, the average attention span keeps shrinking over time.

This makes our jobs more challenging than they’ve ever been. 

Think about a direct mail piece and all the advantages it has of making it into the mailbox where the recipient must physically touch it and interact with it. Think about how you interact with the contents of your mailbox, either at the community mailbox hub in your neighbourhood or in your kitchen over the recycling bin. How much time do you give each piece as you decide which makes it past your checkpoint? What criteria do you use? 

Direct mail is the closest we can get to our customers. As a creative director, it’s my responsibility to try and get every piece of direct mail read by our audience, but how do we do that? How do we make a piece of mail that doesn’t end up in the recycle bin in those first 8.25 seconds, get opened, read, AND hopefully acted on? 

Let’s say we’ve got a great brief and have the best audience possible for what we are selling. 
The first thing a target recipient will see is the OE or outside of a self-mailer. I’m often asked which format gives better results, and the answer is, “it depends.” It depends on the audience
and message; do they know your brand? It is always good to test formats when you can and gather insights for your brand and objective. Whatever your format is, the outside of your
piece should be visually appealing, easy to read and make the audience curious to learn more. 
If your budget permits, you can get fancy with varnishes and different paper stocks. Maybe it’s an oversized piece and/or die cut to a shape that makes your concept really stand out. 

On the inside, you need to pay off what you started on the outside, bringing the reader along, and explaining clearly to them the value proposition, the offer, and the necessary steps to take advantage of it. Again, if you have the budget, you can invest in interactive elements to keep their interest, add relevancy to your concept and make it memorable. If you are selling a new car, maybe your piece has a new car scent or audio chip to drive your message home.

Another important aspect of a successful direct mail piece is its relevance to the target audience. Personalization and segmentation can go a long way in making the recipient feel like the piece was specifically tailored to them. Also, the message and offer should be clear and compelling. It should provide the recipient with a clear benefit and make it easy for them to take the next step, whether it’s visiting a website or scheduling an appointment.

Overall, a good direct mail piece is one that effectively grabs the recipient’s attention, makes a clear and compelling offer, and is visually appealing and relevant to the target audience. By keeping these elements in mind, direct mail can be an effective way to reach potential customers and drive conversions.

Here are some great examples of direct mail formats.

Rogers – Audio chip, roll fold

RBC – Slider

Telus Zip – Zip-a-lope

Telus Health – Die cut Pocket