They Said Direct Mail is Dead and Then Tried it – See Their Results!

direct mail is dead

marketing planSmall businesses that think direct mail is dead and only rely on digital marketing are missing out on real local marketing results

Let’s be honest — do you think direct mail is dead? If you’re like a lot of business owners I meet, you probably believe digital marketing is the future, and therefore, hands-down THE BEST way to generate leads for your business. Am I right?

Or, maybe you think direct mail works for another guy’s “old school” brick-and-mortar business, but there’s NO way it could work for your business. Right again?

Not so fast.

I recently came across a couple business owners who gave direct mail a try — despite believing it would NOT work for their businesses — and they generated results like these:

  • A 400% increase in leads
  • A 143% increase in new, paying clients
  • A return on investment (ROI) of 998%

Interested to see HOW they did it?

direct mail questions

I’m going to show you their nitty gritty campaign details so you can easily replicate their success and run a profitable direct mail campaign yourself.

But first: Let’s address the elephant in the room!

WHY even bother with direct mail?

“Why don’t you just show me digital strategies instead?” (Right?)

Well, you may be surprised, but the cold hard data behind direct mail paints a different picture…

Check it out:

  • Direct mail’s response rate is 750% more than email
  • 81% of people read (or minimally scan) their mail every single day
  • 70% outright prefer to be marketed to by traditional mail
  • 95% of millennials (millennials!) enjoy receiving direct mail (CRAZY)
  • 82% of millennials view digital marketing as more trustworthy than that of digital

Honestly, these stats even blow MY mind, and I own a print company!

Despite the above statistics, most business owners maintain that digital marketing is the sole solution to generating leads to increase their revenue…

But that is simply NOT true. 

When I spoke with two business owners recently to get feedback on their direct mail campaigns, I luckily got permission to share their incredible stories and results!

So here they are:

1. Direct mail = a 400% increase in leads (with automated lead tracking)

That’s right — “old school” direct mail generated a 400% increase in leads for this business…

A software startup (!) in Florida, called DirectMail2.0, decided to try mailing postcards to generate more leads to increase their network of partners.

This digital-obsessed company, DirectMail2.0, helps commercial printers and direct mail companies offer their own clients digital advertising services — including automated online campaign tracking.

Here’s how this software company operates, so you can follow along:

  • 0 takes their software platform and brands it with a partner’s name and logo (aka, white labeling)
  • Then, they train printers to use their platform
  • Printers then sell digital advertising services to their clients as their own product (because it’s white-labeled)

DirectMail2.0’s CEO, Brad Kugler, came to us for help promoting DirectMail2.0 to all 11,000 commercial printers in the U.S. (Side note: We’ve been a partner of DirectMail2.0 for YEARS so when Brad approached us, I was all too excited to help them out since we use and love their product!)

We started off by designing a postcard campaign for DirectMail2.0 that would cut through the mail-stack with a text-only design meant to grab the attention of commercial printers.

Here’s their design…

The front:

offline vs online marketing

And here’s the back:

online offline marketing integration

After mailing 11,000 of the above postcards to EVERY commercial printer and direct mail company in the U.S., check out what happened:


  • 0 received a 4X increase in leads (400%!)
  • The time prospects spent on their website increased by 5X — up to 9 minutes!
  • 87 people visited their website DIRECTLY from their postcard (I’ll explain how below)
  • 12 calls came in directly from their postcard
  • 10 people contacted them online, again, directly from their postcard

Noticing anything here?

It was CRYSTAL CLEAR that DirectMail2.0’s results came directly from their postcards!

Since prospects can’t click on a postcard like they can with an online ad, we set up a “vanity URL” just for this postcard campaign…

Meaning this:

losing to digital

A Vanity URL is a unique web address that is branded for marketing purposes. But let me explain further…

Yes, Brad could’ve just used on his postcard, but works MUCH better because:

  • It MATCHES the postcard’s hard-hitting marketing message
  • It’s easier to remember (no one wants to LOSE anything!)
  • Losing leads to digital puts a major hurt on businesses, so they’re more likely to follow that link to find out where it leads

But isn’t just about branding a URL…it’s used for easily tracking your marketing! One of the most effective ways to measure your marketing is by taking advantage of the internet, namely — Google Analytics… which is conveniently FREE.

Using Google Analytics, you can track how many people visit your website and from where (amongst MANY many other things, but we’re keeping it simple today!).

Here’s how Google Analytics relates to this vanity URL example: You can track how many people visit your vanity URL —

Showing exactly how many people took action from your postcard!

Let me break it down for you:

  • A prospect receives your postcard
  • Your message speaks to them and they LOVE your irresistible special offer
  • They decide to take action and type your vanity URL into their internet browser
  • Google Analytics tracks how many people visit your vanity URL
  • You see in your Google Analytics dashboard how many people responded to your postcard!

Here’s a visual look at how this works:

marketing call to actions

Remember the results from their campaign?

  • A 4X increase in leads (400%)
  • The time prospects spent on their website increased by 5X
  • 87 people visited their website directly from their postcard
  • 12 calls came in directly from their postcard
  • 10 people contacted them online, again, directly from their postcard

Each of those results were measured in Google Analytics (except the 12 calls — those were tracked using a call tracking system, something I recommend ALL business owners use!).

You can get whoever handles your website to set up vanity URLs for you, as it does involve a little bit of coding and backend experience with your hosting service. Plus, it saves you time!

Here’s the main takeaway from DirectMail2.0’s campaign:

Even DirectMail2.0’s CEO was shocked by the results. And he owns a company works directly with the direct mail industry!!

But the numbers were there in plain sight: His postcards produced measurable — trackable — results for his company, and more exciting is this:

The FULL results (meaning, return on investment) have yet to be realized.

Integrating digital solutions (like Google Analytics as just one example) into your mailings can help you track your leads effortlessly, leaving NO question as to which leads came directly from your postcard campaign.

Here’s the next case study…

2. This dental practice increased new patients by 143% (and hired a new doctor!)

The Goolsbys (made up of Dr. Sean and Becky, his wife and business manager) purchased Borealis Dental Studio in Lindstrom, MN, in July 2016.

Like most business owners, they were excited to start their own venture, but quickly realized that growing a business consisted of much more than they had planned for.

They knew they needed to market their practice, but didn’t know where to start.

So they buckled down and got their hands on as much marketing training as possible, which included attending our live Growth Summit event at PostcardMania in September of 2016.

The Goolsbys learned that marketing consistently, regardless of the channel or platform, can make or break your business (and budget). So they dove in and committed to a year-long marketing campaign to penetrate their local market with postcards and online ads to see what would happen.

Before the Goolsbys started their new marketing plan, they were generating about 28 new patients per month on average. That’s NOT bad, but check this out:

They had a no-fail goal to hire a new doctor for their practice in just 2 years, which meant they needed to grow their monthly new patients MUCH faster.

They started out mailing 6,000 postcards per month. Using DirectMail2.0 (that software I mentioned above!), they were able to run Google ads online at the same time their postcards hit mailboxes.

Here’s their family-themed postcard design:

postcard design

Fast forward to 6 months after the start of this campaign…

By mailing consistently and pairing digital ads with their postcards, in just 6 months, the Goolsbys bumped their average monthly new patients up from 28 to 46 —

That’s a 60% increase in new patients in just 6 months!

And because they saw results (new patients in the door!), they then DOUBLED their mailings to 12,000 postcards per month. Amazingly —

Their average monthly new patients jumped up to 68 (almost triple)!

That’s a 143% increase in monthly new patients in just 1 year.

 Check out their graph:

postcard results

Their new patients started steadily climbing.

The Goolsbys and their staff are now SO busy providing for all their new patients at Borealis, that they ended up hiring that second doctor they originally wanted. And to introduce the new dentist — and keep their consistent marketing rolling — they mailed freshly designed postcards.

updated postcard designs

It’s worth noting that the Goolsbys did NOT originally think that postcards would work for their practice.

Nope! Not at all.

They figured that digital advertising would do the trick for Borealis Dental, but they decided to “try out” postcards because they realized an interesting thing about direct mail (and probably one of the reasons why those stats above I mentioned are so high):

A tangible postcard in the mail CANNOT be clicked away from in an instant and easily forgotten.

The other marketing methods the Goolsbys tried (for 8 months before their year-long postcard campaign) generated literally just a handful of leads.

I’m talking about these:

  • Newspaper ads
  • Community events and networking
  • Booths
  • Bulletins

When I interviewed Becky, she said they spent a TON of time and effort on those “tried and true” all-too-common outreach efforts, yet received ZERO return on investment… so: a waste of time.

However, direct mail — overlooked for not being the new kid in town — vaulted their practice to a whole new level, meaning:

They generated a 998% return on investment from their postcard marketing!

Direct mail continues to work today even though everywhere you look everyone’s glued to their smartphone and social media.

digital marketing clutter

Truthfully, it may be the inundation of digital marketing (that we ALL get hit with) which in turn makes direct mail stand out from the screens.

Let me say this:

Do I think digital should be scrapped altogether in your marketing plan?


Both case studies I analyzed above clearly used digital methods to amplify their reach AND track results.

I’m saying you need BOTH direct mail and digital, but in their proper places.

 Remember these high statistics?

  • Direct mail’s response rate is 750% more than email
  • 81% of people read (or minimally scan) their mail every single day
  • 70% outright prefer to be marketed to by traditional mail
  • 95% of millennials (millennials!) enjoy receiving direct mail (CRAZY)
  • 82% of millennials view digital marketing as more trustworthy than that of digital

Skipping direct mail in your marketing strategy could mean ignoring leads.

People still pay attention to direct mail, and they LIKE receiving it!

I recommend small business owners think of direct mail as the base of their marketing strategy, with add-ons being Google, Facebook, and Instagram ads.

By reaching people in their mailbox at home (where they statistically will see you!), and by flanking your direct mail campaign with matching digital ads on the internet and on social media, you can market to your prospects virtually everywhere they spend their time.

We found this strategy works excellent for our clients — generating ROIs as high as 14,000% — so we bundled it up and call it Everywhere Small Business™.

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Joy Gendusa

Founder and CEO at PostcardMania
Joy Gendusa is the Founder and CEO of PostcardMania, a fully-integrated marketing firm specializing in direct mail. She used postcards to grow PostcardMania from just a phone and computer to a $22million enterprise in less than a decade.