Is Direct Mail a Worthy Use of Your Marketing Dollars?

direct mail marketingStrategies to help make direct mail marketing campaigns a more cost-effective investment that produces a better ROI for your business

When was the last time you checked your mailbox? If the answer is, “I don’t remember,” you might be forgetting a major marketing opportunity. In our increasingly digital world, direct mail campaigns are still an excellent option for specific situations.

Before you plan your next campaign, get educated on the potential return on investment (ROI) for direct mail marketing, and consider whether you should include it in your marketing arsenal.

Targeted Delivery

Direct mail projects require lots of up front work to make sure the execution isn’t wasteful. You may not be able to control when consumers have their televisions on or when they leave a room, but you can be sure you’re not sending mail to nowhere. If you have a list of customers that you haven’t contacted in a while or who proven to be unresponsive through other mediums (e.g. phone, email), use a service like QAS address validation to pre-check your mailing list and ensure formatting and destinations are valid. You’re paying for printing, packaging, and distribution so be selective with your targets.

Key Demographics

Surprisingly enough, the ever desirable 18-34 demographic is generally responsive to direct mail pieces. Chief Marketer reports that 18-34-year-olds “proclaimed nearly a two-to-one preference for receiving product information by direct mail over e-mail or online, across all categories.” As always, specific research on your target audience and consumer base should be performed to assess the feasibility of direct mail (or any marketing method).

Smart Content

To get a true return on your marketing material, make sure you have a strong call to action on your mailer. This call to action should be easy to complete and measurable. For instance, using a coupon code with a deadline and providing a one-click web address for purchasing. If you’re prompting your customers to call, ask your phone provider to set up a new toll-free phone number so you can track the response rate.

Stand Out

Consumers may be getting less mail than ever (just ask the USPS) but you still have to make your piece special if you want to make it past the trash bin and into the “to be read” pile. You’ll likely want to keep production costs low but beware of blending in with junk mail. Strike a balance between low cost and high art — and don’t forget to stay true to your brand identity!

Don’t Overwhelm

Catalogs are a powerful tool, because the act of physically flipping through a printed item gets the brain working in a way that’s more similar to touching a product than to browsing online. In short, by reading a catalog consumers are more likely to get attached to an item and follow through with a purchase than if they saw a product online. Direct mail pieces shouldn’t double as brand textbooks or encyclopedias. Interested consumers can research your brand online if they want the complete history and brand profile. Rely heavily on clean formatting and pictures so the message of your text isn’t lost in a sea of over-design. Most graphic designers start with this in mind and continue to add content because the client is demanding it — if your designer is telling you the layout is too cluttered, they’re probably right.

Next time you set up a campaign don’t limit yourself to email blasts and banner ads. There’s no guarantee direct mail will work for your campaign — like anything else you have to make all the variables work for you.


By Guest Contributor – Contributor Jennifer Lewis writes about social networking and business, especially as they relate to education. She lives in the New England area and loves all snow-related sports.

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Editorial Staff

This post was written by editorial staff.