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The 5 Shared Mail Advertising Mistakes You’re Making, and You Don’t Even Know It

Advertisers looking to keep their costs down are turning to shared mail for economy and scale. By mailing alongside other advertisers to share postage and distribution costs, advertisers can extend their reach with less bottom-line impact. But you might not be getting all you can from your shared mail investment. Consider these fatal shared mail advertising mistakes that can lower your ROI.

Mistake #1: You’re blanketing—not targeting

Shared mail is a distribution and postal efficiency tactic—it’s not a replacement for doing thorough market research and audience segmentation. Take the time to identify the demographics of your target audience, including the age, gender, and geography of your customer prospects before committing to a shared mail advertising program. Shared mail advertising vendors offer a wide range of distribution options, so it pays to be picky. More isn’t always better. A mass mailing to the wrong audience won’t get you the results you desire. Saturation across a strategically targeted audience will reap the biggest rewards. Consider the age-old 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing developed by David Ogilvy in which he says 40% of direct mail success hinges on targeting the right audience. Consider these shared mail targeting options:

  • Households
  • Contiguous zip codes
  • Targeted zip codes
  • Carrier routes 

Mistake #2: You don’t have a message or incentive

One of the most compelling things about shared mail to the consumer is the excitement of getting the physical advertising in their mailbox. Many consumers look forward to browsing these ads to plan for their shopping and to find bargains. You’re reaching an eager audience of consumers, but you’re also competing with other advertisers mailing within that same shared mail package. Do your homework to understand the types of offers running in your shared mail advertising bundle. You need to include a compelling message and enticing offer in your shared mail promotion—or consumers will look past your ad. Here again Ogilvy’s 40/40/20 rule applies because 40% of direct mail success also applies to your offer. Here are some messaging and offer ideas you can try:

  • Tie into a holiday or seasonal change
  • Offer a coupon for purchase discounts
  • Include a deadline for savings or sales
  • Include a menu or a recipe
  • Invite consumers to an upcoming event

Mistake #3: You skimped on your design

The last part of Ogilvy’s 40/40/20 applies to creative. And 20% of direct mail success hinges on creative excellence. Shared mail might be an economy-class advertising solution, but it can deliver first-class revenue if consumers act on your advertising message, so don’t skimp on shared mail advertising design. In fact, your design needs to work harder to attract and retain the attention of consumers looking at other shared mail ads alongside yours. Consumers will naturally gravitate towards shared mail that is visually pleasing, easy to read, and features professional-grade graphics. Here are some design tips:

  • Use color to highlight offers and discounts
  • Feature professional-grade photography of your products and services
  • Follow your corporate branding standards
  • Include your logo prominently
  • Use white space strategically

Mistake #4: You overpaid for the wrong format

Shared mail comes in many different formats, and even includes some standalone options to make your brand stand out from the crowd. Formats vary widely in size, so it’s important to know upfront what you want to communicate—and how much you want to spend. Smaller, economy-sized inserts to run coupons can be an excellent way to test shared mail. Multi-page advertisements and oversized ads cost more, but also give you more visibility. Consider these different shared mail options:

  • Postcards
  • Coupon books
  • Oversized sheets
  • Multi-page inserts
  • Wrappers

Mistake #5: You’re doing everything yourself

Creating and printing a shared mail advertising insert takes time—and even a small schedule delay can cause you to miss your mailing date. If you’re trying to write, design, print and ship your shared mail advertising using in-house or a mix of in-house and outsourced vendors, then you’re making shared mail harder than it needs to be—and causing costly delays. Many vendors offer one-stop-shopping for shared mail advertising, in which they provide a turnkey solution that includes writing, design, printing, inserting and mailing under the same roof. This eliminates many of the production problems and delays that can occur—and ensures your format and printing aligns with postal requirements for shared mail advertising. For example, Upper Valley Press offers:

  • Concept and design
  • Photography
  • Commercial printing
  • Direct mail
  • Inserting
  • Mailing with USPS verification on site

Shared mail advertising doesn’t have to be difficult. Remember to treat your shared mail advertising like you would any other promotion. Take time and care to create a professional, compelling ad that entices consumers and draws them in—and tap into the expertise of shared mail vendors to simplify and streamline your shared mail advertising campaign.

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