Does Political Direct Mail Still Work? 3 Secrets For Success

Business Politics

You might think in the internet age that direct mail doesn’t work for political campaigns. You might think it’s passe or ineffective.

But you’d be wrong.

In 2018, the United States Postal Service surveyed thousands of voters after the gubernatorial race in Virginia. They wanted to know more about how voters felt about different forms of political outreach, including direct mail.

They found that voters believe direct mail to be the single most credible form of political advertising.

Direct mail beat out TV, in-home visits, radio, and digital ads. It even works on Millennials! 58% of Millennials surveyed said that direct mail was very or somewhat likely to have them engage with the race online.

Clearly, direct mail should still be a huge part of every political campaign. We’re here to share a few secrets about how to make the most of your direct mail strategy.

3 Secrets To Political Direct Mail Success

1. Know Your Audience

When it comes to direct mail, there are 3 types of readers:

  • The Scanners: They read the headlines, quickly scan the photos, your name, and your slogan. All told they spend 3-4 seconds on your card.
  • The Headliners: They really focus on your headline. They’ll absorb the meaning of that but only scan the copy. Headliners spend about 10-20 seconds looking at your mailer.
  • The Readers: This is your most receptive audience. They want to know more, so will carefully read the headlines and text.

For bigger elections you are more likely to have a high amount of scanners, and for low-turnout elections you will probably have more readers.

Regardless of what your ratio of readers to scanners is, it’s crucial to optimize your message for every audience. Make sure your main point comes across clearly. Spend some time editing and re-writing the copy until your message is succinct and powerful. Here, bold is often better, as you want to catch the reader’s eye and pique their interest. And don’t forget to make sure the font is big enough for elderly voters to read.

Read more: Why Absentee Voters May Decide 2020 Elections

2. Know Your Purpose

There are lots of different reasons to send political mail. Knowing your goal and creating a strategy to reach it will yield far more results for your direct mail campaign.

Here are just a few ideas:
  • Messaging: One of the most common ways candidates use direct mail is to reinforce their political message. If you want voters to remember what you stand for, you need to make as many impressions as you can.
  • Targeting: Just like you can segment email lists, you can segment your direct mailing lists. Target different groups of voters based on their age, location, or the political issue they’re most passionate about.
  • Educating: During the COVID pandemic, political leaders are serving as sources of information and education for voters. You can use direct mail to keep supporters informed about things like voter registration, mail-in ballots, health regulations and more.
  • Voting: People are busy, and voting usually isn’t a priority. Send out a voting reminder before the election to stay top of mind.

3. Repeat and Reinforce

Repetition and reinforcement are the keys to direct mail success. People need to be exposed to an idea, brand, or candidate as many as a dozen times before they can recall it. That means any direct mail campaign you send out should have 5-10 touchpoints to maximize the likelihood of a voter remembering your message.

This might sound like a lot, but it’s simple math–the more you send, the more likely your audience will remember you.

When you’re sending out mail to the same people, remember to keep it fresh. You can make small changes for each mailer but remember to stay on theme and keep a consistent message.

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