Direct Mail

How to Run a Direct Mail Campaign

By 13 August 2023April 15th, 2024No Comments
direct mail campaign

How to Run a Direct Mail Campaign

Let us start by asking you something simple – What is a direct mail marketing campaign?

It is the process of sending physical correspondence to customers and prospects as an advertising strategy. Marketers also include their contact information, logo, and brand name for people to identify their company.

direct mail campaign

All direct mail items should have exciting offers and a call to action to drive conversions. Therefore, create eye-catching mail pieces that help you communicate with your target audience personally.

While creating a campaign, many such steps need your attention. Knowing how to run a direct mail campaign can help you complete these steps effortlessly and push prospects ahead in their customer journey.

To complete this goal, understand your buyer persona and build mailing lists around it. Always focus on the potential customers that are most likely to buy from you.

However, you can also reach out to your cold leads through direct mail campaigns. List their needs and personalize your items according to them. Highly customized mail items enable you to grab a person’s attention and at least push them to complete the CTA.

Once your campaign starts getting responses, make a strategy to keep your respondents hooked. For example, spread out your efforts throughout the year so that you can keep them engaged.

In this guide, we will discuss many things like direct mail marketing costs, benefits, etc.

Keep reading to understand the working mechanism of successful direct mail marketing campaigns.

Benefits of Conducting Direct Mail Campaigns

Before knowing what are the stages of managing a direct marketing campaign, find below its benefits. These benefits can help you know if direct mail can help boost your sales and expand your customer base.

Garner High Response Rates

Direct mail advertising generates five to nine times higher response rates than other advertising channels. Also, the average response rate for mailing to prospect lists is 4.9%. These statistics prove that direct mail performs better than other channels and can beat the marketing competition.

Target Prospects Personally

In a pool of digital marketing campaigns, it is easy for marketers to lose the human touch, and they might fail to connect with an audience. There can be several elements that can distract the customer and lead them somewhere else.

For example, most people find social media ads angering. But, direct mail offers them a break from these ads while allowing you to bond with prospects.

This kind of one-to-one connection can prove to be very fruitful for your company in the long run.

Offer a Personalized and Tangible Experience

Personalization is one of the prime characteristics of direct mail advertising. These aspects allow companies to make their prospects feel special and appreciated.

All they have to do is use the recipient’s first name along with a personalized offer. Many companies also use other variable data tags like gender, age, etc., to make the experience even better for the recipients.

Also, direct mail items are tangible, meaning one can see, touch, and even share them with others. These features help you strengthen your relationships with your target market and increase your brand visibility.

Adjust Marketing Costs According to Your Budget

Marketers can create a direct mail campaign of any shape and size according to their marketing budget. It is not a hard and fast rule to mail to thousands of people. You can start small and work your way up or stick to small-scale campaigns. So, direct mail marketing offers you the flexibility to work with any volume and send mail at any time you want.

Stand Out From the Crowd

Direct mail faces less competition. As many companies have replaced traditional mailing with digital marketing, you can take advantage of it.

Companies can stand out from the crowd through direct mail marketing. You can further make an impact on your audience by sending relevant and customized mail items.

Explore New Target Markets

Another prime benefit is that you can explore new markets and access a wider demographic area. If you cannot reach some prospects via online platforms, direct mail can help you connect with them.

PostGrid’s print and mail API can also help you build targeted mailing lists using several geo-demographics. These mailing lists can help you increase the leads in your pipeline and keep your sales cycle running.

Deal With Customer Responses Smartly

While running advertising campaigns, it is hard to guess whether you will receive 100 responses or 1,000. Therefore, you can estimate a response rate but not make the correct prediction.

If you are not prepared to handle all your campaign responses, it can tarnish your brand image to a considerable extent. A prospect may be disappointed by receiving no response after completing the CTA.

But, direct mail marketing keeps you away from such issues. You can control your mailing volume and be ready in advance to handle the responses. Furthermore, there are several mechanisms that we will discuss further that help you track your responses.

Build Brand Credibility and Boost Awareness

Talking about your brand through direct mail helps people get confidence in your offerings. It shows your company in a good light and proves its credibility in the market.

To boost your authenticity even further, try adding customer reviews and testimonials to direct mail assets. Now that you know why direct mail is still helpful, let’s talk about how to create a direct mail campaign.

Define Your Campaign Goals

The first thing to do while developing a direct mail marketing strategy is to define the campaign goals. List all your expected results beforehand. These results could be:

  • Driving people to your website and social media pages.
  • Convincing customers to complete checkouts on your shopping site or application.
  • Asking people to visit your newly-launched store.
  • Gaining new leads.
  • Connecting with your old customers.
  • Informing existing customers about new products and services to boost cross-selling.
  • Inviting prospects to a seminar or trade fair.

These are only a few examples. Marketers can also list other marketing objectives according to their needs.

Remember, your campaign goals decide the entire structure of your campaign. For example, they dictate whether you use a house list or a prospects list. Also, these goals help you draft the marketing copy. So, defining goals is the most crucial aspect of a successful mail campaign.

Know Your Target Audience and Create Segmented Mailing Lists

Are you aware of your customer profile? Where do most of your customers reside? Well, these questions can help you know your audience better.

Once you know your customers well, you need to find their look-alikes. First, search for prospects that share the same characteristics as your target audience. For example, if the age of your existing customers is between 25 to 45 years, find other people who are in the same age group.

To understand it better, let’s divide the process into two parts- assembling and segmenting.

Assembling Your Mailing List

It means compiling the physical addresses of all your prospects. This step decides the size of your mailing list. It also dictates your campaign size.

Consider your marketing budget before putting together a list. If your budget is small, compile a short mailing list consisting of your high-ticket accounts.

However, this step can be difficult for small or newly established businesses. This is because they might not have the physical addresses of their prospects to send mail to them.

But, you no longer need to worry about these things. PostGrid’s print and mail services can help you build targeted mailing lists from scratch. Hence, assembling mailing lists has now become very easy and requires very little time.

Segmenting Mailing Lists

It is not enough to put together a mailing list before a campaign. These mailing lists also need segmentation and laser-focused targeting.

Let us talk about our previous example wherein your customers are between 25 to 45 years old. Imagine you already have a mailing list with their names and mailing addresses.

Suppose you want to launch a campaign to announce the opening of a new store in New York. In this case, you only need a list of prospects residing in New York. Thus, you must segment your mailing list according to location.

In general, there are many geo-demographics to consider while segmenting mailing lists, like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income level
  • Number of children
  • Marital status
  • Profession
  • Likes and preferences
  • Lifestyle habits, etc.

PostGrid's direct mail marketing services can help you segment your mailing lists and expand your database. Moreover, our address verification API also enables you to validate your existing mailing lists. Thus, you can keep your database clean and updated.

It is advisable to use the NCOA (National Change of Address) database to keep track of address changes. So, every time a prospect moves to a new location, you can update your mailing list according to it.

But, cross-checking your mailing lists with the NCOA database does not make them deliverable. Somehow, there might still be some misspellings, missing details, and other issues.

Also, many people do not file their address change notices, and these changes are never registered. So, you cannot access their correct mailing addresses by NCOA processing.

That is why PostGrid uses CASS-verified addresses. CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) is a certification program for address verification vendors.

PostGrid can validate your mailing lists according to the United States Postal Services database. Hence, you can continue mailing your direct mail items to the correct and valid addresses.

Develop a Response Tracking System

Having a response tracking system is beneficial in two ways, like helping you drive responses and record those responses for follow-ups.

So, how to do mail marketing and track its responses? The only logical solution is to develop an effective tracking system that helps you keep a tab on all your respondents.

Marketers can come up with a CTA and use it as their tracking system. For example, if you mention a unique QR code on your mail piece, you can track how many people scanned it. But, make sure to give people a reason to scan the code. A compelling offer in exchange for completing the CTA can do the trick in this case.

We will talk about direct mail offers in the next section. But, for now, let us discuss all the possible options you can use as a CTA.

QR Codes

A recent survey found that around 11 million US households possibly scanned a QR code in 2020. This figure portrays a massive increase in QR code scanning since 2018.

With the increasing popularity of QR codes, it makes sense to use them alongside your marketing efforts.

Also, QR codes take up very little space on a direct mail item. They can redirect your recipients to any page or website that you want them to visit. All they have to do is take out their mobile phones and scan them.

Most companies redirect recipients to their abandoned shopping carts so that they can complete their checkouts. Others use QR codes to redirect recipients to their websites where they can sign up.

Personalized URLs (PURLs)

PURLs do pretty much the same thing as QR codes. But, instead of scanning them, recipients need to enter the link on their device.

But, with an attention span of just a few seconds, it is hard to keep them hooked and convince them to visit the PURL. As a result, some companies avoid using PURLs as they feel that entering a link can be too much work for the recipients.

However, there are a few ways in which you can make PURLs work for you. To begin with, use short links that are easy and quick to enter into a search box. Also, include the recipient’s name in the link. For example, using the PURL can help you get the person’s attention.

Coupon Codes

Another option is using coupon codes. Ask recipients to enter the code while checking out on your website to avail discounts.

Coupons are very effective in attracting people to buy something from you. They make your recipients feel like they have got their hands on an excellent deal. Creating such a mindset can help you convince people to complete the CTA.

You can also add a deadline to make people act faster. For example, you can write, “Use the code HOLIDAY20 before 24th December to get a 20% discount.”

Unique Phone Numbers and Email Addresses

While conducting an email marketing campaign, companies often use a separate email address. This step assures them that they can track any responses generated from the campaign.

Similarly, you should use a dedicated phone number and email address for your direct mail marketing campaign. So, whenever someone calls on that number or drops an email, it is counted as a response.

To conclude, keep your CTAs upfront and clear. Also, guide the recipients on how to complete the CTA.

Include Exciting Offers

As said above, you need to offer something to your recipients so that they complete the CTA. Find below some examples:

  • Scan the QR code below to get a freebie on your first purchase.
  • Walk into your nearest store with this postcard and register your name for an exciting giveaway.
  • Call us on the toll-free number below to get a flat cashback of $50.
  • Visit this link and sign up now to avail a 10% discount.

Make sure to include a relevant offer for your recipients. You can also add more than one offer and ask them to make their choice. For example, mention sentences like “Buy 1 Get 1 Free or Buy 2 Get 3 Free.”

Creating a Direct Mail Item

It is one of the most creative and fun steps of conducting a direct mail campaign. But, it is also very decisive and crucial.

What types of direct mail advertising items should you consider? How to decide the item size? What kind of envelope should you use?

You can answer all these questions in this step. Firstly, consider the direct mail types that you can use for your campaign. The most popular options are:

Marketing Letters

If you want to explain your brand in detail, marketing letters are your best choice. It gives you enough space to talk to your prospect personally and make a connection.

You can also develop a story around your brand and explain how the prospects need your products.

Find below some things to keep in mind while writing and mailing letters:

  • Always enclose your letters in eye-catching envelopes. If possible, add a personalized sentence on your outer cover to convince people to open it up.
  • You can use an oversized envelope in case you want to make a higher impact on your prospects.
  • Make your introductory paragraph the best. Most people are busy and only read a few sentences. So, remember to put together your top benefits and offers in your first paragraph.
  • Use headings, subheadings, and bullet points. They can help make your letter easily scannable.
  • Don’t use more than two pages. Summarize your message in not more than four to five paragraphs.
  • Repeat your offer and CTA in your last section. Also, include a warm and personalized concluding line.

Direct Mail Postcards

Postcards are small, appealing, and inexpensive direct mail items. Many people like receiving postcards in their mailboxes and often find them helpful.

Also, postcards don’t need envelopes which increases their open and read rates.

Direct mail marketing companies like PostGrid offer various pre-built design templates. Thus, you can start designing your postcards from scratch without the help of a graphic designer.

Read more: Postcard marketing ideas and advertising tips


Company newsletters enable you to stay in touch with your audience and prove yourself as a valuable source of information.

Try including the latest trends and industry news along with your company’s most recent accomplishments. Most companies choose to email their newsletters to their email list,  but you can take a step further and mail them out for that long-lasting bond.

Add your customer testimonials, real-life stories, and use cases to your newsletter. You also have the option to print your online resources, such as blog posts and whitepapers.

It is advisable to print and mail at least four newsletters every year. It helps you inform and sell at the same time.

After selecting a relevant mail item, you can go ahead with your design elements. Below are some tips for you to consider:

  • Include relevant images to make your items noticeable.
  • Leave enough white space in your design so that the recipients can focus on every part of your mail.
  • Use a legible font that is easy to read and also impressive.
  • Mention your headlines in bold.
  • Select bright colors that match your message.
  • Use words like “you,” “offer,” “deadline,” “free,” etc.
  • Place your CTA and contact details in visible spots.

Test Your Campaign

Marketers often ask how to run a successful direct mail campaign or how to ensure its success. The best way to do that is to test your campaigns.

Once you design a direct mail campaign, testing it will give you an idea of its performance. This way, you can spot any possible issues beforehand and make the necessary changes.

Divide your target audience into small segments, say four equal parts. Then, send out your direct mail items to only one group and record their responses. If you get a large number of responses, you can continue mailing to the other groups. Otherwise, you can modify your items to appeal to more people and boost response levels.

Run the Campaign

This step can be very daunting to undertake for most marketers. There is a lot of work involved, and you need to stay proactive throughout the process. 

Running a direct mail campaign consists of two main tasks- printing and shipping. Of course, you can print your mail items by yourself, but the process can be daunting and time-consuming. Also, you would need to buy perishables like ink cartridges, paper stock, envelopes, etc. 

You can skip these steps and save yourself a lot of time, money, and effort. Instead, outsource the job to a local printing vendor that can print your items in high-quality.

The next task is mailing out your items. Firstly, consider your mailing options. The USPS offers various services like First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, Priority Express Mail, EDDM, etc.

Each of these mailing options has its list of guidelines and required dimensions. You can visit your nearest post office to find out which option is the best for you. Take care of these things in advance so that you can conduct your campaign without any issues.

PostGrid’s direct mail API offers all-in-one services inclusive of designing, printing, and mailing. This way, you can avoid carrying out the above steps by yourself and only focus on results.

Follow Up On Customer Responses

Are you prepared to provide your respondents with a demo when asked? What if a respondent wants to talk to a sales representative and discuss your offer? These things are bound to happen after every mailing campaign. 

You must prepare to deal with all your campaign responses. As we said earlier, not replying to responses on time can leave a negative impression.

Another question that we generally come across is-  how to make direct mail responses productive? First, make sure that all your sales and marketing representatives know about the campaign. This way, they can deal with any incoming calls and emails. 

Instruct them to guide the respondents further. The prime purpose of handling responses and following up is to push customers ahead in the sales funnel.

Analyze Your Direct Mail Campaign Results

While you learn how to send direct mail items, also plan on how to analyze responses. Perhaps, it is the most underrated step in the entire process of conducting a campaign.

After you create an effective campaign, it is crucial to check whether it was successful. 

Do the results match your estimated response rates? Was the return on investment good enough? Always be on top of such details as they offer a critical analysis of your entire campaign.

These insights help you know which part of your campaign worked or which did not. In addition, you can use them as references to improvise your future mailing campaigns. 

Every campaign should not only drive sales but also enhance your customer base in the long run. Analyzing your campaign performance can help you get there. 

PostGrid’s print and mail API helps you access periodic reports and campaign insights. Also, it makes it easy for you to have a quick look at your campaign results.

Direct Mail Best Practices 2021

Integrate Direct Mail Efforts With Other Marketing Channels

Marketers can combine direct mail with an email drip campaign or run simultaneous social media ads. Either way, using more than one channel helps you reach out to more people and increase your visibility.

It is always better to avoid using any marketing channel as a standalone strategy. Instead, it is best to integrate your marketing efforts to take advantage of the immense marketing opportunities available.

Make Data-Driven Decisions

You can acquire data in many ways. Every company has a database that it keeps expanding with every passing year. But, you can also use secondary data to enhance your database and make better marketing decisions.  

Data can help business owners send more relevant mail to their prospects. It also helps them tailor their solutions according to the customers’ needs. 

Focus on How You Can Help Prospects

Avoid talking too much about your product features. Instead, talk about how your product or service can help prospects. Then, list your benefits in bullet points and try matching them with the prospects’ needs. 

Also, motivate them to get in touch with you for any other requirements. 

Keep Your Messaging Straightforward

Do not keep beating around the bush while speaking to your prospects via direct mail. Keep your messages short and precise. They should be able to communicate about your brand in the least words possible. 

Avoid using jargon and long sentences. They can make your messages boring and hard to read. 

Always Send Attractive-Looking Mail Items

It is not necessary to spend a lot on your direct mail pieces. You can also make your low-cost postcards attractive and appealing. Take care to give them a simple and elegant look that can please your audience.

Direct Mail Marketing Costs

Direct mail costs depend on a lot of factors like:

  • Designing
  • Mailing list
  • Copywriting
  • Choice of a direct mail item
  • Envelope, paper stock options, coating
  • Printing
  • Mailing options

Designing and copywriting costs can range anywhere between $10 to $2,000. But, of course, it all depends on how to choose to get these jobs done. If you opt for doing these tasks in-house, you need not spend anything on such activities and save a lot. 

Similarly, if you use an in-house mailing list, you can skip spending on a rented mailing list. However, PostGrid can help you get started even without having a mailing list. This way, you can keep your marketing budget under complete control. 

The costs for undertaking other steps can vary drastically. But, PostGrid can provide you with all-inclusive rates. These rates are very affordable, and there are no hidden fees involved.

Direct Mail Campaign Examples

Below are some of the most effective direct mail campaign examples for you to get some practical knowledge on how to start a direct mail campaign.

Here’s an example of a marketing postcard designed by Papa Jones: 

This postcard shows that there is no limit to the size and shape of your direct mail items, which means that you can get as creative as possible. 

Papa Jones designed their postcards in the shape of a pizza to get the attention of their recipients and boost brand recognition. 

Let’s consider another example. The image below is of a postcard created by Gigaclear. It has only one huge headline on the front side with a bright background. Such aspects can help your postcards stand out from the other mail items. 

postcard envelope

As we mentioned above, you can also get creative with your direct mail envelopes. It can help you push up your open rates significantly.

Also, try adding a personalized touch to them. For example, look at the envelope image below to understand how personalization can make your mailpiece attractive.


Hopefully, these direct mail campaign ideas can help you put your thinking caps on and create appealing mail items.

Wrapping Up

We hope this guide can help you understand how to do direct mail automation in the best way possible. Following the above steps, you can conduct a campaign of any volume and mail to any part of the world. 

Here, to help you stand out, PostGrid’s print and mail API enables you to conduct productive campaigns with ease. Thus, you can expand your business and carry out flexible marketing campaigns. 

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