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Direct Mail Campaigns Aren’t Dead: 7 Ways to Boost Responses and Save Money

Direct Mail Campaigns Aren’t Dead: 7 Ways to Boost Responses and Save Money

“Is direct mail marketing a thing of the past?” This is a fair question. After all, why would marketing teams bother sending old fashioned “snail mail” when they have more modern methods like email, social media tactics, content marketing, and video creation?

While these techniques are relatively instantaneous, low cost and can drive a high ROI, direct mail marketing can be just as effective, if not more effective, in reaching customers and prospects, even in our digital age. Read on to find our favorite tips for creating a strategic direct mail marketing campaign that will produce significant results for your organization.


What is Direct Mail Marketing?

Direct mail marketing involves sending physical correspondence to customers or prospects with the goal of getting them to patronize your business. Examples of direct mail may include catalogues, brochures, coupons, postcards, branded envelopes, letters, and poly-mailers.

Direct mail can be as simple or as intricate as your team wants. For instance, some organizations send packages like custom branded gift boxes, promotional items and product samplers.

The goal of direct mail is to give consumers a tangible experience with your brand. You’ll also gain exposure, build rapport, and give customers more confidence in their purchase.

Notable Direct Mail Marketing Data and Benefits

Did you know that according to Forbes, the average consumer is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day? Between constant digital ads and overflowing email inboxes, it’s no wonder we often feel overwhelmed with how much media we are exposed to.

The good news? Direct mail can help. Sending a physical item in the mail is the perfect way for brands to “cut through the clutter” and stand out from competitors. In fact, many organizations see more responses from consumers via direct mail. Consider the following:

  • One study found that direct mail is generally viewed as less “spammy” than unsolicited emails.
  • A study by Postary found that direct mail open rates can vary between 57.5%-85%, about 3-4x higher than email open rates.
  • The same study found that the average read rate of direct mail is around 42%.
  • Direct mail response rates hover between 2.7% – 4.4%, while email has around 0.6%.

Did you know that direct mail also affects generations differently? Consider the following:

Direct mail marketing can help at any stage in a marketing campaign. It can be an initial touchpoint to introduce a consumer to your brand, or it can push a consumer through the sales funnel towards a purchase. A piece of mail could mean the difference between making (or breaking) your revenue goals.

While the cost of direct mail advertising can be high, a well-executed piece can make it well worth the investment. Use the following tips to ensure your success.

Build a Successful Direct Marketing Campaign: 7 Tips to Steal

Creating a solid direct mail campaign may seem intimidating, However, you may find that this strategy is just as effective as your digital marketing methods, especially if you utilize the following strategies. Here’s how to get started.

1. Target the right audience with the right offer.

Defining your audience is an essential step for any successful marketing strategy, especially if you’re just getting started. Make sure to clearly define what types of people you’re trying to sell to. It can be helpful to draw some generalizations, including the following:

  • What is the age range of your audience?
  • What is the gender of your audience?
  • What is their educational background?
  • What purchasing power do they have?
  • Where do they live or operate?
  • What are their consumer behaviors?
  • What media platforms do they use?
  • What motivates them to make a purchase?

Your overall goal is to create buyer persona profiles to determine who you’re trying to sell to. Then, understand what motivates them to buy. What do they want or need from you as a company? Appeal to these interests with direct mail marketing.

2. Determine your mailing lists and techniques.

Once you’ve established a set of target buyer personas, you’ll need a high-quality mailing list. This step is key, as you cannot create a highly successful or appealing offer without knowing who you’re mailing to. Sending your mailers to the wrong audience can even alienate the right prospects, causing your team to lose money.

There are two types of mailing lists: an in-house mailing list and a third-party list rental:

  • An in-house mailing list contains names of people you’ve already established a relationship with, including current customers, past customers, and people who have inquired about your product or service in the past.
  • A third-party list rental contains a curated list of names that has been purchased or rented from a full-service direct mail company.

Renting a mailing list is a great way to procure new contacts outside of your customer database. Not only is renting less expensive than buying, but it is also less of a commitment since you are not responsible for maintaining the list. The only catch is that you cannot own the information on a rented mailing list. You will, however, still receive the contact information of people who respond to your campaign.

3. Define direct mail campaign KPIs.

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Therefore, data is an important part of optimizing your direct mail campaign. Establishing your key performance indicators (KPIs) will help your team set itself up for success, while also seeing which tactics work and which don’t. Create a discussion around the following:

  • What outcomes do we want from this campaign?
  • What methods can we use to track our success?
  • How often will we check on the progress of the campaign?
  • How will we track and report our return on investment (ROI)?
  • How will we adjust and make improvements?

By establishing expectations beforehand, your team will be more likely to hit its goals. Make a point to learn from mistakes and re-direct marketing dollars toward your most effective strategies.

4. Incorporate branding into direct mail marketing campaigns.

Design plays a huge role in hosting a great direct mail campaign. The right design can catch a prospect’s eye, guide them through your advertisement, and ultimately get them to act—all in a highly visual and appealing way. Great design should always adhere to your brand standards and be easily recognizable in the mailbox. Here are a few pointers our team can share with you:

  • Incorporate your organization’s colors and logo. It should be obvious that the piece is coming from your company. The best mailers orient consumers and grab their attention.

  • Experiment with basic color theory. Different colors can have different psychological effects on consumers. For example, use red for urgency, orange for enthusiasm, purple for luxury, or green for sustainability.

  • Avoid using a lackluster design. Pops of color and eye-catching designs go a long way. If you can’t catch their eyes within a few seconds, your piece of mail may go straight in the recycling bin.

  • Leverage a QR code for easy website access. Make it easier than ever for smartphone users to gain instant access to your website! A matrix-style code eliminates the need to type a URL.

  • Add variable data. Switch out copy or headlines based on different lists, behavior, or buying habits. In most cases, variable data printing delivers better results than generalized printing.

  • Use A/B testing. Not sure which design will work best? Create two options and see which design fosters the best response.

When in doubt, keep tweaking your designs until you find something that works. You’ll have greater success if you keep your designs fresh and intriguing.

5. Use concise messaging with a single call to action.

In addition to design, you will want to incorporate a clear message on your piece of mail. You’ll also want to include a call to action (CTA). A CTA leverages command words that tell the consumer what action you’d like them to take. Great CTA examples include the following:

  • Buy now.
  • Order today.
  • Shop the sale.
  • Download your copy.
  • Subscribe today.
  • Visit the website.
  • Get the coupon.
  • Read more.

A tip we often give is to provide a simple URL that a reader can type in to learn more about your offer. A great way to add further intrigue is to offer a link to a free guide, checklist, or piece of content that’s gated by a short form. This way, you’ll obtain the person’s email address for future marketing efforts. 

6. Track the ROI of direct mail marketing campaigns.

Determining the return on investment (ROI) of your direct mail campaign isn’t just about increasing sales or leads. You also need to track the data associated with your campaign to examine where your successes lie. Tracking methods will help you ensure accuracy and performance of all direct mail efforts.

Want to accurately gauge response rates? You can track direct mail ROI digitally through reliable tracking methods and success metrics, including the following:

  1. Use a trackable URL.
  2. Use a trackable QR code.
  3. Use a trackable phone number.
  4. Use a scannable coupon code.
  5. Use a unique promo code.

As a rule of thumb, every contact method on your direct mail piece (I.e., phone number, landing page, coupon code, etc.) should be unique and trackable. You want an accurate way to attribute sales and leads to your campaign.

7. Utilize the value of strategic repetition.

Consider the following: Would you rather market to a smaller audience multiple times, or a bigger audience only once?Chances are that your smaller, more concise audience will remember your marketing message better than a large audience that only hears from you once.

Marketers know that a strategic use of repetition is key to helping consumers remember your brand. It is for this reason that having a concise and reliable mailing list is important. In addition, most businesses have a limited marketing budget, so using repetition to your advantage is key. We suggest using direct mail in tandem with other media channels (I.e. email, social media, PPC, paid advertisements) to continuously reach your audience.

Get the Marketing Strategy Guide for Free!

While devising a direct mail campaign is exciting, this is just one piece of a professional marketer’s strategy puzzle. Our free eBook on Surefire Marketing Tactics Any Team Can Use covers a variety of useful topics, including how to formulate buyer personas, build brand loyalty, boost web traffic, generate sales leads, and strengthen your marketing strategy. Download your free copy today!