How to Use Direct Mail in a Political Campaign
In our previous blog post, we covered the basics of direct mail and explained how it’s one of the most effective methods for political campaigns. But how can you make sure you’re making the most out of this tried and true tactic?
The United States Postal Service outlines four tips for using direct mail in a political campaign or election in this infographic. Below, we’ll explain how you can run a highly effective campaign by taking a deep dive into each of those tips.
Educate and inform
The main goal of your direct mail campaign (in addition, of course, to winning an election or driving political action) should always be to educate and inform your audience.
Direct mail is such an effective campaign strategy because it’s one of the most trusted forms of political advertising. As the USPS notes, most Americans believe that direct mail is more factual than other sources; 2-in-3 trust it over other forms. However, if you lose sight of the importance of education and information in your campaign, you can easily lose some of that trust from voters.
Research shows that informed people are the most likely to vote, which is why the best way to promote action from voters is to keep them as informed on the facts as possible. Promisingly, the USPS says that voters are likely to read information on candidates and ballot issues, save it to read later, and do their own research online to learn more about the race. This means that an informative brochure sent directly to their mailboxes is a highly effective way to keep your campaign at the forefront of their minds.
It’s also noted that Americans tend to trust direct mail more than other forms of advertising due to the balanced tone they believe direct mail maintains. To build trust with your audience and maximize the effectiveness of your direct mail maintains, keep your own tone neutral while you inform. That means playing nice, avoiding negative campaigning and finger-pointing, and primarily sticking to the facts–passion is important, but statistics will be more helpful than personal bias.
Drive action and reinforce messages
It goes without saying that, in this day and age, digital advertising is still an essential part of any campaign. However, while direct mail shouldn’t be your sole method of campaigning, it can play a crucial role in reinforcing your online presence and messaging–and vice versa.
The USPS notes that 27% of Americans visited a website from a QR code or link found on a piece of direct mail, and an even more encouraging 48% say that they turned to the internet to learn more about a candidate or campaign after receiving direct mail.
This means that direct mail is a great way to reach a range of voters who may not have otherwise taken the time to learn about your campaign. It serves as a valuable starting point when it comes to educating your audience–especially demographics who are less plugged into media outlets.
Including links or QR codes to your NationBuilder website as part of your campaign is a promising method for leading potential voters to action pages to learn more, sign petitions, join mailing lists, make donations, or RSVP to events. It can even serve as a way to lead them to a campaign video.
One of the biggest benefits to using direct mail in political campagins and elections is the fact that it’s targeted and personalizable. People value advertising that speaks directly to them: their interests, their cultures, and their values. It’s the same reason targeted online ads work so well! And direct mail is about as targeted as it gets.
When building your direct mail campaign strategy, you should prioritize culturally relevant messaging for your audience; USPS found that people responded the most positively to this type of micro-targeted direct mail.
Consider keeping your direct mail culturally relevant to the communities and zip codes you’re targeting in your campaign based on their demographics. For example, Hispanic Americans responded positively to bilingual mail that was presented in both English and Spanish–as long as the messaging felt authentic. Sincerity is another major factor. Half-hearted attempts can be more obvious than you may think.
Ultimately, you should put time and care into creating authentic messaging for a range of diverse audiences. If you can speak directly to their values and concerns throughout your campaign, you’ll be able to make meaningful connections with communities.
You can even direct recipients directly to petitions that are relevant to their communities about and events in their area through links provided on direct mail, as we mentioned in the last point.
At the end of the day, voters–no matter their age or culture–appreciate direct mail because it feels personal, establishes a stronger connection than other forms of advertising, and shows more effort on your part; going the extra mile with mico-targeted messaging will help your cause that much more.
Leave a lasting impression
Direct mail is one of the most memorable campaigning methods for several reasons. For one, it evokes a sense of nostalgia: everyone is so used to receiving text messages and spam emails these days that snail mail often feels like an exciting blast from the past. That alone gives direct mail an edge over other forms of advertising.
Secondly, when something shows up directly in your mailbox, you have to do something with it. There’s no getting around it. For many people, this means reading it, saving it for later, or even putting it on the fridge–which means looking at it several times each day. It’s no surprise, then, that 52% of people say that direct mail is harder to ignore than TV ads; in fact, 1 in 2 believe it was the most memorable form of political advertising they saw in the last election.
What’s even more encouraging for the case of direct mail is that participants in one focus group were able to not only recall mailings they recieved in the last election, but to articulate the type of mail they received in detail.
So, there’s no doubt that people will remember your direct mail. But how can you make it even more memorable and leave the most lasting impression on voters?
Eye-catching visuals are a huge factor. Take time to perfect the layout, color scheme, fonts, graphics, and images on your direct mail. Here are some design tips to consider:
- Only use one or two typefaces to keep it simple and easy to read, but vary font size to draw interest
- Use high resolution images
- Don’t place text over images unless it’s over a solid background
- Avoid busy backgrounds
- Ask third parties for feedback on visual appearance and the effectiveness of your messaging
The power of direct mail
Direct mail is one of the most trusted and effective ways to get your message out there–but it does take work and strategizing to do it right.
However, if you take the time to perfect your messaging by prioritizing facts, drive your audience to action, make meaningful connections through targeted mail, and leave your mark with memorable visuals, you’re sure to have a successful direct mail campaign. At the end of the day, it all comes down to a lasting connection created through authenticity.