Direct Mail Marketing: The Ultimate Guide
Direct mail marketing is the offline analog of email marketing. The difference is that direct mail’s response rate is 4.4% compared to the 0.12% response rate of emails. And according to our own survey, 42% of your direct mail is opened and read by people who receive direct mail in their mailbox.
Furthermore, direct mail requires 21% less of your cognitive effort than drafting and sending an email.
In this guide, we’ll take you on a tour of direct mail marketing to explain to you what it is, how it works, and whether your business needs it or not. Let’s dive in.
What is Direct Mail Marketing?
Sending your potential and existing customers mailpieces, such as letters, postcards, brochures, catalogs, and gifts, is called direct mail marketing. It has a comparatively higher open and response rate because of the personal touch it brings into your marketing. It’s a common practice for all businesses from B2B to B2C.
A typical direct mail service consists of a creative design to stand out from other mails, engaging and personalized copy to hook the readers, a clear and easy CTA for customers to respond often, and a tracking system to determine your campaigns’ performance.
Types of Direct Mails
You should always tailor your direct mails according to your audience’s standard and personalize them without a second thought for a higher response rate.
Below we’ve explained a few most common formats of mail pieces that you can send to your prospects.
If you have to send short and concise messages to your prospects, then postcards are an excellent choice for you. You can also use them for sending relevant offers and discounts to your customers, brand awareness, announcing a new product launch or hosting an event, sending appointment or subscription reminders, and others.
Most businesses use postcards to send festivals, birthdays, anniversaries, or other special wishes. The main reason why they’re so popular among companies is that they’re cost-effective and easier to send. An added benefit of sending a postcard is that your prospects don’t need to open them; hence, your message is more likely to get read.
While postcards can be the cheapest and most effective direct mail, you cannot use them for each of your direct mail campaigns. Especially if you’re selling a product or offering some services that need the consumers to make an informed decision—for this type of marketing promotion, you should opt for the letters.
You can also use them for confidentiality purposes, for example, if you need your customers to fill out a form. Furthermore, sending personalized letters to decision-makers can significantly increase your lead conversion chances.
You can also send three-dimensional direct mails depending on the amount of information you need to convey to your clients or prospects.
Plus, creative 3D mailers quickly get noticed, as it’s difficult for people to avoid a box from opening.
Along with this, you can also send them corporate gifts and different formats of direct mails. We’ll discuss a few creative examples and ideas that you can use to entice your prospects and enhance your response rate in the latter section of this guide.
Brochures and catalogs are highly popular among businesses as they’re creative, deliver comparatively more information, help increase your brand awareness, and can list multiple products at a single time.
Catalogs are popular for bringing better engagement rates and boosting the response of customers.
How Does It Work?
Direct mail marketing may seem a simple process, but the real struggle begins when you demand to launch a successful direct mail campaign.
To set up direct marketing campaigns that bring maximum results, you need to follow a few essential steps. Here are the most important ones that you need to consider for making your direct mail campaigns a complete success.
Keep Your Mailing List Highly Targeted
The first and most crucial step in determining your marketing promotions’ success is how targeted your mailing list is. If you’re sending irrelevant offers to non-interested people and expecting better returns, we’re sorry, you’re waiting for your train at the wrong platform.
You should conduct in-depth market research and understand your buyer persona while adding prospects to your mailing list. However, more than often, business owners are busy people and already have a lot on their plates, which is why at PostGrid, we offer our clients a highly targeted mailing list based on their audience’s demographic details. It increases their chances of getting a response tremendously.
Improve the Process
The biggest mistake most businesses make is that they focus on their products or services instead of the offer they’re making to their prospects.
If you want excellent results, focus on the steps you require to follow to make a sale instead of the sales alone.
For this particular reason, at PostGrid, we offer our clients tracking features. We not only provide them with full insight about their mailpieces; we give them full analytical reports on how their campaigns are performing. Furthermore, we update their integrated CRMs or tools with each launched direct mail campaign.
It helps them determine their customers’ preferences and study the campaigns and content that’s bringing results. This way, they get to make relevant offers to their customers and eliminate bad marketing campaigns.
Bring a Little Creativity to Your Campaigns
No matter what they say, appearance matters. Hence, you should always try to make your direct mails more creative, so they can entice your customers easily. Furthermore, the copy that will follow should be strong and effective. Consider hiring a quality copywriter. The better your copy and CTA would be, the better the response rate you can expect.
However, at PostGrid, we’ve often noticed that most businesses don’t have a separate designer or content team, which is why we offer ready-to-go templates so you can design your mailpieces rapidly and effectively.
Why Should You Include Direct Marketing in Your Marketing Strategy?
In the beginning, we discussed how effective direct marketing campaigns could be, and even its response rate is higher than emails. According to a survey, direct mail campaigns bring better returns than paid search and online display ads. Here are a few reasons why.
In the digital marketing world, direct interaction has always been difficult, but not anymore. With direct mails, you can interact with your customers on a one-on-one basis.
For example, if you’re sending your customers a coupon that they can redeem when they visit your store, your prospects are more likely to keep it so they can get the added benefit and remember your offer. While on the other hand, if you make a similar offer via email, chances are they would forget about your proposal easily.
When you send your prospects different messages that are more likely to evoke their emotions, they would remember you. There’s also a possibility of them sharing your direct mail with their friends and family.
Unique and creative messages are more likely to make your direct mail more memorable. Your customers would remember the effort you made.
With direct mail, not only can you reach your regular audience and follow up on the ones you sent emails to, but those who avoid using online channels. These are the people who are more likely to be regular customers.
Direct mails offer a lot of creative ways of presenting your offers and that too, in a very personalized way. It can get you noticed in seconds and also help you boost your response tremendously.
You can make your offer compelling in a trillion ways, for example: by sending a 3D mailer, a video direct-mail, free coupons, or other similar formats.
Most companies think direct mails demand way too much work, effort, resources, and capital – which is not entirely true – and hence, avoid investing their efforts in direct mail campaigns.
If you invest in the right automated direct mail software, you can prevent all the tedious manual tasks and experience the added benefits that direct mail marketing offers.
Other benefits of adding direct mails in your marketing strategy:
Can Be Combined With Digital Marketing
If you’re a pro marketer, you understand how much you can improve your results using multiple channel marketing. And hence, running a single ad campaign on a social media channel and calling it a day is not what’s supposed to be done.
For better results, you need to research your market, collect your buyers’ data, and launch numerous campaigns on different marketing channels. And direct mails are one of them, and because of their tangible and personalized personality, they’re more likely to bring better returns.
As discussed earlier, direct mails bring a better ROI than paid ads and online displays.
Along with that, direct mails have a better open, engagement, and response rate than email and other marketing channels.
Most business owners think targeting your potential customers for direct mail is a tedious job. However, targeting your prospects and ideal customers for your direct mail campaign is as easy as in digital marketing.
With the help of USPS’s every-door direct mail tool, you can send your mailpieces to your customers in multiple areas. All you have to do is enter the city and zip code. Once you hover the mouse over the map, you’ll see the essential details required to determine your customers; for example, the number of residents and businesses, age groups, family sizes, the average income of that area, and others.
Besides that, the tool will also give the details of the average cost per direct mail. This way, if you have full knowledge of your audience, assuming your audience research is done, targeting your ideal customers can be super-easy.
Technically, you cannot track your direct mails directly to determine your ROI, response rate, and engaging rate. But assuming there’s no other way to track your direct entirely wrong. You can create unique landing pages, personalized URLs, and buy call tracking services to determine which of your campaigns is bringing results.
Besides that, you can also mention QR codes, coupons, and other general offers. And counting the number of people responding to those offers will be your response rate.
For better engagement, you can personalize all of your mailpieces. When your prospects receive a hand-written message, a letter with their names’ initials on it, or direct mails with relevant offers, they’re more likely to open and engage with that mailpiece. Besides that, if your content is right, you can also enhance your response rate.
Apart from being personalized, tangible direct mails are more likely to impact your customers and prospects. And if you’re willing to close an important deal and hence, you’ve to launch a concise, direct mail campaign, then you can try different types of material in your mailpieces, for example, plastic, metal, and wooden.
Boost Your Brand Awareness
Most businesses use direct mails, especially postcards and brochures, to increase their brand awareness. For example, if you’ve recently opened a store or a restaurant, you can send postcards to the locals with different codes to redeem or coupons. This way, more people will visit your place, and then you can use word-of-mouth marketing to increase your customer base.
How to Conduct a Direct Mail Marketing Campaign?
Consider the following aspects when planning to conduct a direct mail campaign:
Generate a Customer Mailing List:
Once you know your marketplace, you need to generate a customer mailing list. You can use the mailing list of your prospects or existing clients if you have one.
If not, you can opt for tools like PostGrid to get a targeted customer mailing list. The best direct mail companies provide you with an authentic list, especially if you are a small business that is new to direct mail.
Settle on a Design:
The design of the piece or envelope is crucial when sending postcards, envelopes, letters, and more. Remember, every aspect of your mailing must be crafted with utmost care. Additionally, the postal service or a third-party shipping company will provide shipping materials if mailing a physical piece.
Check on the Inventory:
When planning on sending direct mail pieces for the foreseeable fortune, you will need to check the inventory of mailing material and other supplies. Here, having a backup supply of mail pieces is crucial to sustain and manage an ongoing direct mail campaign.
Adjust & Improvise Based on Outcomes:
You can calibrate your business and future direct mail campaigns based on outcomes. The response rate of your direct mail campaign must be tracked, and you should have a strategy for following up with recipients. Direct mail campaigns are sometimes followed up with other forms of marketing.
Stay Well-Informed with the Trends:
Keeping up with the latest changes or trends in direct mail is wise since it is constantly evolving. You can keep up to date on new developments in direct mailing by reading direct mail trade publications and visiting mailing websites.
Why May You Choose to Opt-Out of Direct Mail Marketing?
Along with being more effective, if you’re not using an automated tool for your direct mail marketing, you may face a few disadvantages.
- They can be expensive.
- They have a comparatively lower response rate than emails. (According to DMA, the average return of emails is $28 compared to direct mails, $7.)
- It requires a longer timeline for the whole process.
However, you can avoid all of these limitations by investing in a single automated direct mail tool like PostGrid (please redirect it to PostGrid features).
Ideas for Your Direct Mail Campaigns
We have some practical and effective ideas for both B2B and B2C businesses.
If you’re into the B2B field, you need to educate and inform your potential clients about your product or services in detail to make more informed decisions. Besides that, you also need to give it a personal touch and make it more engaging.
Let’s check out some of the ideas of direct mails that you can send to your prospects.
- 3D mailers: Most companies prefer sending three-dimensional direct mails to their consumers as they’re hard to avoid and ignore. Plus, they can be really creative depending on the design you decide to send on, and spacious. Hence you can give complete information about your product and services, unlike postcards that have limited space.
- Personalized Gifts: If you have a handful of clients that you need to entice for some big deal, you can try sending them some personalized gifts. To send something personal, you may need to study your prospects in a little more detail and find out their interests and preferences.
- Swags: You can also send them multiple gifts depending on your clients and the type of campaign you’re launching. For example, you can spend anywhere between $15-$150 on a single swag.
- Educational Mailers: You can also send your prospects a hard copy of a small ebook. It has more than one benefit. The first one is that it helps educate your prospects more about the problem they’re having, how they can solve it, and how your product or services help them reach their ultimate goal after solving what they’re facing. The second benefit is that they may want to keep this guide on their desk for future references (depending on how much value it’s delivering), and hence it’ll spread your brand awareness. The next added benefit is that it helps you develop better relationships with your customers and build trust.
- Postcards: Send your prospects regular business cards for multiple occasions like festivals, birthdays, anniversaries, or other important days. It’ll not only help you build your brand awareness but keep you and your company on top of their head.
- Handwritten note: Try sending them personalized brochures or catalogs with a handwritten note addressing them by their first name. It’ll make them feel special, and they will be glad to check out your offer instead of feeling like, “once again, someone’s trying to sell them something.”
- Swags: They can be highly effective not only for a business-to-business campaign but also for consumers. Besides that, they are great for increasing your brand awareness. You can send them anything like a t-shirt, coffee beans, a mug, or a travel kit. But don’t forget to print your brand logo on it.
So, despite what you’re sending, always try to make it a little more memorable. Never treat it just like another marketing message, but as a method of building a connection and bond with your customers. Not each direct mail you’ll send will result in sales, but they can always help build trust in your brand and make a deep connection with your customers.
This way, even if your prospects are not buying from you yet, at some point, they definitely will need something that you’re offering. At that time, the connection and trust you build with them will pay off. And they will more likely be buying from you than opting for other brands and companies.
Do's and Don'ts
If you’re considering direct mail marketing for your business now or have been into it always but couldn’t achieve the results you expected, then here are a few tips for you. No matter what stage you are at, you always need to know the dos and don’ts about the game you’re going to get yourself into. Here we have some for direct mail marketing. Enjoy!
Having a plan doesn’t make things any easier, but it sure does make them more effective. Despite the fact you’re launching a postcard campaign or sending personalized swags, you should always remember a few essential things.
The first one is your mailing list. It should always be highly targeted and solid. Your ROI depends mainly depends on whom you’re sending your direct mails to.
Next comes your offer. No matter how hard your copywriter tries, if you haven’t done your research and you’re making irrelevant or wrong offers to your prospects, we’re sorry, your direct mail will not make it.
The rest depends on other things, like, the design, material, copy, and others. Your team should pay close attention to these too.
You may have done your audience research just fine, yet, it’s essential to test your market at least once before you spend your hard-earned money on launching big campaigns. It’s especially true if you have a big list of the target audience.
For example, instead of sending thousands of mail pieces to the entire New York City, consider filtering the ideal residents and businesses. You can also launch more than one testing campaign to save time.
Once it’s done, you can start designing your direct mails as per your audiences’ preferences.
Despite how great your mailing list is, how effective marketing copy your direct mails have, how beautiful and creative your designs are, and how much tested your mailing list is, if your call to action isn’t compelling enough, your results can be bad.
Your call to action should always be clear, easy to follow, and should create a sense of emergency.
Your direct mails should always be error-free. No matter how much effort you’ve put in, if you fail to proofread the copy of mailpieces or verify your addresses, it’ll reflect poorly on your company.
No person is going to believe that a mailpiece with numerous typos is coming from a reputed company. And if you’re into the B2B industry, then watch out—your professionalism matters. So make sure the quality you’re delivering is high.
Not Following Up
After the completion of your marketing campaign, you’re left with a few people who have responded to your direct mails and the ones who have converted.
Now, your main job is to follow up with them, mainly with educational content, so you can help them make informed decisions. And for your customers, it’ll be better if you continue to send them mailpieces to delight them.
Failing to Connect Web With Direct Mails
Time changes, and so do the strategies. We agree that direct mails work more effectively, yet, you need to connect them with your web. After all, that’s where you take them once they’ve read your mailpieces.
Plus, you can also follow up on your email list leads with direct mails to leave a more significant impact on your prospects and build better connections with them.
How to Make Your Direct Mail Marketing Campaign Effective:
Only putting some images and text together isn’t going to give you good results. You’ll need to put in the effort and try different strategies and tips for better results. Here are some practical strategies that you should adopt in your next direct mail marketing campaign for a better response rate.
Give Something Extra
People love to receive gifts, and that’s a psychological fact. Hence, we advise you to send some personalized gifts like a calendar, t-shirt, coffee mug, or others. And don’t forget to mention that on the box, saying something like “free gift inside.”
This way, your customers and prospects will be thrilled to open your mailpiece. Hence, it’ll increase your open rate. And if the copy inside the mailer is good and the offer you’re making is compelling, you can also expect a better response rate.
Give Away Coupons
Now it’s very easy for the prospects to throw away the mailer that you sent. However, if you double your mailpiece as coupons, they’re more likely to be stored. For example, if you’ve opened a new restaurant and you launch a direct mail campaign to increase your brand awareness, most people would just give it a look and won’t bother to save that for the address or whatsoever.
Now, on the other hand, if you decide to send a coupon with that mailer saying free dessert after your meal if you show up with this coupon, they’re more likely to keep your mailpiece.
Some Quick Tips to Follow
- Focus on your ideal buyers, and never try to impress the whole list. After all, you can never get a 100% response rate.
- Always make it easy for your customers to take action. Even if you present a regular call-to-action, try to explain how it works.
- Choose to explain the benefits over features.
- Give a timeline to respond, and make use of urgency.
- Images don’t sell, yet people tend to respond more to what they see. Send them good-quality pictures of what you’re offering.
- Personalize each of your direct mail campaigns with the help of the details you found while doing your market research.
- Consider investing in an address verification software for data management and drop your misspending.
Top Direct Mail Marketing Companies
Below, you can read in-depth reviews of each direct mail service we have reviewed, so keep reading:
PostGrid can customize its direct mail marketing services to satisfy your needs. If you need a full-service agency that can assist with everything from design to printing and mailing, PostGrid is the company to call. You can also create, print, and mail promotional materials right from the comfort of your home if that’s all you need. In addition to its restful API, PostGrid offers flexible payment plans that make it an ideal option for businesses of every shape and size.
As a direct mail company, Gunderson Direct offers a turnkey direct mail marketing solution that is among the best available. It is one of the largest direct mail marketing agencies in the US. And the company has been in business for over 15 years.
In addition to PayPal and ZipRecruiter, the service provider drives business for various national and international brands. With the help of Gunderson’s marketing experts, you get the most value from your marketing campaigns. It is a full-service agency that takes care of all the details involved in sending bulk mail to your mailing list. Even small businesses can also benefit from their detailed reports and analytics that can help them create high-quality mailers.
Located in Indianapolis, IL, Cactus Mailing is all about designing, printing, and mailing services. They lack a design tool that puts you in control, and their platform is outdated compared to other options on the market.
It is convenient to be able to send in your campaign designs and have your campaign started right away if you already have designed material. Cactus Mailing’s limited features and support may prove too limited for businesses seeking more features and benefits from their investments.
Direct mail marketing solutions from PsPrint are among the most budget-friendly on the market. Nevertheless, they do not provide an easy-to-use self-service design platform like others on the market, so design experience is required. Alternatively, you can pay PsPrint to create marketing materials for your direct mail marketing campaign.
While the platform and service seem very basic and no-frills, the price savings when looking at your materials per unit may be worth it for businesses with a limited budget. PsPrint is an effective service to control costs if you have a design background or an employee on your marketing team who can handle the job.
Your specific marketing needs are catered to by Mail Shark. Their EDDM printing solution gives you total control (and cost savings) over your direct mail campaign. The company can handle the entire process of designing, printing, and mailing your direct mail campaign.
Additionally, if you just need a printed product delivered to your home, they offer low-cost professional printing. Mail Shark’s free design services and weekly payment plan are a budget-friendly alternative for new businesses or those on a low budget. The best part is that they have a support staff that guides you through the process. It’s like having your own marketing department.
As one of the top direct mail marketing companies, InfoUSA can give you unique insights to help you build the best direct mail marketing campaign. They can assist you in creating a customized, targeted solution using their pre-created databases of customers.
As soon as you decide on a demographic and a design, you can get your campaign printed and shipped the very next day, so you don’t have to wait for weeks to begin seeing results. InfoUSA is competitively priced compared to other direct mail marketing firms.
SaaSMQL stands out among all of the direct mail providers we look at. This service generates demand for SaaS products based on account identification. SaaSMQL is the top choice for organizations that fall into this category.
Direct mail has rarely been associated with SaaS. However, SaaSMQL revolutionized how lead generation strategies are pursued. By sending direct mail using the platform, you can generate leads and opportunities for mid-market and enterprise-level customers or even prospects.
How did We evaluate The Best Direct Mail Companies?
Direct mail services, at their most basic level, will print your marketing materials quickly (and usually mail them). The best direct mail service should stand out for its affordability, design options, variety of products, and in-house mailing services. To keep the service affordable, the minimum quantity order must be less than 500.
The direct mail services on this page not only meet our criteria, but you can also customize the designs, and most of them even provide templates to get you started. Below are our criteria for deciding which direct mail company to recommend:
- Product offering
- Personalization Capabilities
- Product quality
- Printing and mailing services
- Ease of use
- Bulk Orders
- Quick Turnaround time
FAQs About Direct Mail
How much response rate can you expect from a direct mail campaign?
Oversized direct mails tend to receive the highest response rate of 5%, next to that is postcards that receive a response rate of 4.25%, and then comes the other mailers having a thickness of more than 0.75 inches with 4% and catalogs with 3.9% of response rate.
According to the data of 2018, the house list response rate is 9%, and the prospects’ list is 4.9%.
How much does a direct mail campaign cost?
It can cost anywhere between 30 cents to $10 per mailpiece. It may vary according to the medium, design, content, distribution cost, and so on.
Sending postcards to 1000 recipients may also cost you around $1,150, costing $1.5 per recipient.
Should I go for solo direct mails or shared mails?
Solo mail makes sure that your mailpiece will end up right in front of your ideal prospects. However, when you send a shared mail, you’re sending letters to countless people, and half of them are not even close to your potential customers.
Hence, on PostGrid, we advise you to send solo mail instead of shared ones.
Can direct mail and inbound be combined?
Direct mails can add extra value to your inbound marketing when done right. You can use direct mails to follow up with your leads after sending them emails, educate your customers, and engage with them at a personal level.
Direct mails, when combined with your digital marketing campaigns, can help you get impressive returns.
How to launch a risk-free direct mail campaign?
To launch a risk-free campaign, you should test your market and try sending your direct mails to a comparatively smaller audience at a lower cost.
It’ll help you save money, time, and resources spent on the wrong audience and will make your direct mail campaign more effective.
Why does A/B testing doesn’t work for direct mails?
No doubt, A/B testing is useful, but it’ll take months or years to complete in the case of direct mails. And yet, you’ll only find small differences and be able to make a little improvement. Plus, it’ll prove expensive. Hence, it’s not worth investing in for a direct mail campaign.
Direct mail marketing is the tangible form of marketing that helps you reach your customers more effectively and connect with them at a personal level.
As mentioned above, you have more than one format for direct mails. If you choose to combine it with your digital marketing or inbound marketing campaign, you can experience even better results. Rest you need to follow a few more rules to leave a better impact on your customers and boost your sales, for example, focusing on your ideal buyers, planning ahead of time, tracking the results, and so on.
It can be a little more time-taking for a business owner to do it all on her own. For better and quick results, try investing in an automated tool like PostGrid and automate all of the tedious tasks. With this smart approach, you not only get to save time but improve your returns.