4 Common Mistakes that Sabotage Shared Mail [and how to avoid them]

Shared mail offers a perfect opportunity to get your company’s name in the hands of prospects and customers who want to hear about your latest products, services, special offers and of course coupons. It is relevant to the needs of every household and because it arrives in Maine homes every week, it offers a sense of familiarity that is hard to achieve with other advertising mediums.  Simply put, Shared Mail Works … until it doesn’t.  The basic elements of successful shared mail remain unchanged:  Target your audience, connect with them, and offer them what they want, make it easy for them to respond, measure your response and learn from the results to improve on the next mailing.  Sounds easy, right?  It is, with a little effort.  Below are some common mistakes that can adversely affect the results of your shared mail campaign and how to avoid them.


Mistake #1:  Not Planning For Success

A successful mailing campaign starts at the beginning, with the end in mind. Ask yourself these questions as you get started:

  • What is the goal of this mailing? Increased sales?  Branding? Increased traffic to store or website?
  • Where am I right now? Establish a baseline for the goal or goals you have chosen.
  • What would I consider a success? Set specific targets to meet for each goal chosen.
  • Who is my target audience? What do my best customers have in common?  Where do they live?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you to identify your best customers and will help you to select the best market profile for your shared mailing.  This information will also help you when moving on to the offer and design of your mailing piece.

Mistake #2:  Poor Copy and Design

The recipient of a mail piece will always see the overall presentation of your mail piece before reading its content.  A well designed mail piece captures the reader’s attention and provides them with a reason to contact your business.  Here are a few things to think about while designing your mail piece:

  • Headline & Message

Your headline should tell the story, capture the reader’s attention, and encourage them to read further.  Once you have ‘em hooked, be clear and concise with your message.  Appeal to the reader’s self-interest and present a clear, quickly apparent, and easy to understand benefit.

  • Call-to-Action (CTA) & Offer

What do you want people to do when they read this piece?  Call or visit your store?  Redeem a coupon? Visit your website?  Sign up for your newsletter? Make it clear what the next step is and easy for the reader to take this step.  A strong CTA should also create a sense of urgency to encourage the reader to take this action sooner rather than later.

  • Visual Elements

Always use high resolution images that relate to your business, product, or service.  Low resolution images (such as those found on many websites) will not print clearly and are often unusable.  Don’t fear the white space!  Less is more when it comes to a visually appealing mail piece.  Avoid clutter by limiting the number of images used and simplifying other design elements (such as multiple or unique print fonts) to increase the readability of your piece.

  • Contact Info

Today there are multiple ways for your prospects and customers to reach out to you.  Including all of them might be too much information to include on a mail piece.  To determine what is most important, think about your call-to-action and what you have asked the reader to do.  Did you ask them to visit your website to sign up for newsletter?  Be sure the web address is featured prominently.  Did you include a coupon to redeem in-store?  Your physical address must be included. Don’t waste space with information that is not relevant to the success of the mail piece or can be provided after the initial contact has been made.

  • Proof Read Before Printing

Before giving approval for your mail piece to go to print, be sure to check for errors.  Some of the most important areas to check are:  price points, address, phone numbers, web address, disclaimers, expiration dates, sale dates, spelling, logo, etc.  This is also the time to take one last overview of your mailer to be sure it is in line with your overall goals.

Mistake #3 Not Closing the Sale

Keep in mind that shared mail response doesn’t always guarantee a sale.  If done strategically, your mailing will have intrigued customers enough so they will follow your call to action or take the next step to contact your or come into your store, and then it is up to you to sell them.

You’ve worked hard and spent money to earn a response from your prospects and customers.  Prepare yourself and your employees to be able to provide strong customer service, have sale items in stock and featured prominently, and prove that you really are everything you said you were in your mailing. Make the most of every customer, and your business will grow.

Mistake #4:  Not Measuring Results

Even if you did everything right, how will you know if your mailing was successful if you do not track your results?  If you set goals at the beginning of the process and kept those goals in mind while creating your mail piece, measuring can be as simple as asking a question, monitoring foot traffic and phone calls, making notes on a pad next to your cash register, collecting coupons, or tracking your website analytics.

To be truly effective with a shared mail campaign you must be ready to follow through with tracking and analyzing your results.

  • Make simple notes on a pad next to your phone and cash register to track the number of calls, number of visitors, and other helpful information as you speak with customers.
  • Track (manually or through your POS system) sales of specific items that were featured on your mailer or on sale at the time of distribution.
  • Calculate overall increase in sales/calls/traffic/revenue during a set time frame after distribution (works best when a limited number of marketing efforts are running at one time).
  • Collect all coupons as they are redeemed.
  • Jot notes down on the back of each coupon such as total sale in $$.

One of the most effective and often overlooked methods of tracking how successful certain aspects of your marketing campaigns are is by simply asking your customers “Where did you hear about us?” or “What brings you in today?”  You will learn where they heard about you – whether it’s shared mail, that ad you placed in the local newspaper, word of mouth, etc and it opens a dialogue that may allow you to gather other useful information such as an email address and permission to reach out to them directly in the future.


Falling short in any one of the basic components of shared mail could lead a less than stellar performance.  The knowledgeable sales representatives at TMM have the marketing and shared mail expertise to help you design a successful and profitable mailing campaign.

Ready to begin your successful shared mail campaign?  Contact us today!

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