Are you still using direct mail at your school?
Does direct mail work for your school?
Are you tracking the success or failure of your direct mail efforts?
A little over 2 years ago we got serious about tracking all of our marketing efforts and focused on direct mail. We were working under the assumption that direct mail can be potentially effective if you have the time and money to saturate your target market with constant and personalized messages. Although we were literally spending thousands of dollars on our direct mail campaigns we really weren’t sure if they were yielding the results that we needed. The issue for us is that we operate with a limited marketing budget and we began to feel that we didn’t have the money or time to make direct mail work for us. As a result, we began to question our investment in direct mail.
Where’s the Data?
Our questioning alone wasn’t enough to begin writing direct mail’s obituary though. We needed data to make an informed decision about the future of direct mail for my school. We decided to track the effectiveness of one of our direct mail campaigns by using a Vanity URL to send the prospective family to a landing page and specifically asked them to pre-register to attend an open house.
We used the following Vanity URL: http://www.sewickley.org/openhouse
If you follow the above link you can also see the landing page that we used to have families pre-register.
For this particular direct mail piece we sent somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 – 4,000 pieces and only had 2 people pre-register. We also asked the families who attended these particular open houses how they heard about the open house making sure not to mention any particular marketing efforts. Not one family mentioned the direct mail piece!
This direct mail campaign cost us thousands of dollars and only yielded 2 inquiries. We also tracked the 2 inquiries through our admission process and they didn’t even apply. After looking at this data we determined we had enough to information to kill direct mail at my school.
Am I suggesting that you kill direct mail at your school and follow in our footsteps? Absolutely not!
What I am encouraging you to do is to question ALL of your marketing campaigns – including direct mail. Each of our schools is unique and we all operate in different markets and face different external pressures on enrollment. What works at one school might not work at another and visa versa. You owe to yourself, and your school, to begin tracking and evaluating all of your marketing campaigns and make decisions after you have gathered the data to do so.
I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions about using direct mail at your school. Does it work for you? Do you still use it? Please let me know by sharing in the comments section below.