You know that feeling when you get a brand new notebook that’s filled with clean, blank pages just waiting to be filled in? That’s how many people, and businesses, choose to treat the new year; like a fresh start filled with opportunity. And while it might be too soon to tell exactly what’s going to happen for your business in the new year, it’s wise to start planning out what you hope will happen.

Let’s talk about goal-setting.

While you should make sure to start the year with high-level goals of what you want your business to accomplish (i.e. revenue targets, list growth, etc.), it’s also important to consider the goal-setting strategy you’ll implement when it comes to evaluating various campaigns throughout the year. After all, it’s the success of these smaller campaigns that will ultimately add up to a successful year.

Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to establishing goals for your next direct mail marketing campaign:

Outline What You’re Trying to Achieve

Before spending any time focusing on the how, you should focus on the what: What exactly do you want customers to do as a result of what you’ve sent them in the mail? The obvious answer is “buy our product” or “pay for our service”, but the reality is, there are often many steps before a consumer converts.

Instead, you should focus on micro-conversions, or smaller next steps you want your target customer to take as a result of receiving your mail piece. Whether you want them to check out your website or call a member of your team to learn more about what you offer, determining what the desired action is (the what) is crucial when it comes to planning execution (the how). After all, you should not be sending out messages to your consumers for the sake of it—you should have a very targeted goal in mind.

Set Measurable Goals

Every time your company sends out a new marketing campaign, you should be coming up with some measurable ways to gauge its success. Otherwise, how will you be able to determine if it was effective? Many business choose to establish KPIs (“key performance indicators”) before launching a campaign. “KPIs” refer to the metrics and outcomes that are the most important to look at when it comes to evaluating success. In other words, if you could only look at one (or two) results from a campaign in order to determine if it was successful, what would it be?

Another important thing to remember is that goals should always be measurable. For example, you should not have “increase open rate” as a goal for your direct mail campaign if there is ultimately no way to track it. Instead, focus on something you can measure, such as web visits to a particular landing page URL that was included in the mail send.

Evaluate Success

While it is much easier to move onto the next marketing initiative once one has finished, it’s imperative to take a step back and evaluate how the campaign performed. You didn’t set those KPIs for nothing! In order to evaluate how successful your campaign was, you need to collect all of the relevant results and refresh yourself with what the goals were. From there, you’ll get a sense of how well your campaign performed in terms of what you were hoping to accomplish. 

If you’re at a loss, boil all of the analyses down to a single question: “Did this campaign accomplish what it was supposed to?” As you start to answer this question, the important results—and learnings for next time—will rise to the top.