For small businesses, direct mail marketing can be a great way to generate consistent revenue. It builds brand awareness, increases credibility and builds trust with prospective guests. Recent innovations have made direct mail even more effective by combining it with online marketing tools to create a comprehensive, integrated marketing system.

Using this systematic approach, you can create a winning direct mail campaign in these four steps:

Step 1: Create your campaign.

Direct mail is the foundation of this system. It is the lead generator. A professional postcard design company can help design your postcards based on proven marketing principles for your industry. Also make sure they give you a variety of size options, so you can choose the right size to be noticed by your specific type of prospect. Because the restaurant industry is more competitive, you may want to opt for a bigger card to really stand out.

Be sure they can provide you with a targeted mailing list that targets high quality prospects. These are prospects who already have interest in what you offer. This is the most important part of any direct mail campaign, so make sure your direct mail provider knows what they’re doing.

Step 2: Track it.

The U.S. Postal Service uses barcode technology to track all the mail they process. You can have a code placed on your postcards that tracks them from your mailbox to your prospects’ mailboxes. This is important, because it allows you to prepare your restaurant for new customers in a cost-effective manner.

For example, you may need some staff up if you mail a large number of postcards and new customers start coming in. Mail tracking allows you to make adjustments to your staffing/operations in a cost-effective manner.

Step 3: Use remarketing to create automatic follow-up for website visitors.

Direct mail covers your traditional marketing and will get your phone ringing. But these days 90 percent of your prospects go right to your website before they decide to call you. That means you must have (a) a well-designed website and (b) a way to follow up with those prospects who do visit your website. If a prospect were to go to your website, but never call, you wouldn’t be able to follow up with them. However, there’s an online marketing tool called remarketing that can solve this problem for you.

It adds a tiny bit of code to the programming of your website that, once in place, tracks every visitor to your website. If the visitor doesn’t connect with you (make a reservation, order online, etc.), then it automatically shows them targeted pay per click ads on any of the millions of websites within the Google Display Network until they return to your site to connect with you. It’s a great and easy way to stay in front of unclosed leads as they travel all over the web, keep those leads from forgetting about you and ultimately gain more new customers simply because they didn’t fall through the cracks.

Step 4: Analyze your results to improve them.

The last thing you need to do in your direct mail campaign is track your calls and analyze the results. Call tracking software uses a unique phone number to track responses via the phone. These numbers route calls to your restaurant, but they track the calls along several analytical metrics as they do. This gives you response data for each campaign you send out, so you can compare which ones worked well and which ones were less effective. You can experiment with new designs or messages to see which gets the best response. This gives you the opportunity to improve your results. It also records your call responses, so you can evaluate how your staff is handling your calls.

These four steps create a bulletproof direct mail campaign that is sure to generate new customers. You’ll generate more interest, lose fewer prospective guests and get all the data you need to continue to improve your results with each new campaign.

Joy Gendusa is the founder and c.e.o. of direct mail marketing firm PostcardMania. Contact her at joy.gendusa@postcardmania.com or 800-628-1804.