Wednesday, October 24, 2007

When Should You Go Dimensional?

A direct mail package can come in all different shapes — from a tube or a box to a thick envelope or custom carrier. You can even mail a lunch pail or a tackle box.

What can a dimensional mailing do that a flat mailing cannot? It takes up space. It has depth. It stands out. It gets noticed. And it sticks around.

What is a dimensional mailing?

When you think of direct mail formats, typically what comes to mind are #10 envelopes and postcards. Maybe an oversized 9x12 envelope or a small invitation-style envelope. The common denominator is that they are all flat.

With a dimensional format, there is height, depth, and thickness. It has an unusual shape or lumpiness. It can be a round tube or a triangular tube. It can be a box. It can be a bubble-pack envelope. And it most likely makes noise or sounds clunky when you shake it.

I usually call these types of mailings “dimensionals,” but there are many names for them. Some people call them 3-D mailings, lumpy packages, or high impact mail. It all refers to mail with an added dimension — both physically and creatively.

The added benefits of added dimension.

Some of the benefits of dimensional mailings are more obvious. It stands out in the mail among the flat pieces. It is more likely to get noticed and make its way to the top of the mail pile.

Along those lines, dimensional mail also tends to make it through a gatekeeper, such as a mailroom sorter or office assistant. It looks and feels important. Whoever sent it put time and money into it.

Plus, it almost always gets opened. How can you throw out a rattling tube or a lumpy envelope? It’s human nature to want to know what’s inside. Dimensionals usually have an interactive element. Once you open it, there’s some type of premium, display, or materials to interact with. Getting the recipient involved in the mailing helps intrigue them to consider your offer.

Dimensional mail has pass-along or bystander value. The recipient wants to show it to others. If it’s on someone’s desk, people walking by will want to see what is, touch it, play with it, or ask who it came from.

Because it’s interesting or has perceived value, a dimensional mailing tends to stick around. It may contain information that can be referred to in the future, it may have play value, or it may simply be too cool to throw away.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, dimensional mail can improve response rates over flat mail. A research study by Baylor University found that response rates for those who received a dimensional package were 75% higher than for those who received only a sales letter in an envelope.

So, we should be sending dimensional mailings all the time, right? Dimensional mail does actually have a time and place when it provides the most benefit.

So, when do you add another dimension?

There must be a reason for a dimensional mailing, otherwise it may very well fall flat, so to speak. Dimensionals are most often used for business-to-business mail. The prospects — busy executives, managers, technical professionals — may be difficult to reach and their attention may be hard to capture. In addition, business-to-business mailings typically involve a higher-end product or service. If you’re selling a $5 widget, a $10 dimensional mailing will most likely be impractical. If you’re selling a $100,000 networking solution, then a mailing program with a $10 per piece cost may pay for itself with one sale.

So, if you have a high-end product or service and need to get the attention of busy professionals, then a dimensional mailing may be able to significantly increase your response rates.

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