Best Practices for Your Direct Mail Campaign

Direct mail holds the highest response rate when compared to other marketing tactics.  In a digital world, people are increasingly appreciating the ‘real’ and tangible.

The direct mail household response rate is 5.1%. In comparison, the response rate for other tactics are: Email and Paid Search at .6%; Online Display at .2%; and Social Media at .4%.

For the marketing geek, this is impressive.  But 5.1% is just the average.

Some companies achieve higher results and others face a much lower return.

If you’re going to invest in a direct mail campaign (and with postage — it can be a very high investment), make sure you’re doing it right.

Here are a few practices that’ll help you get to a 5.1%+ ROI:

Consider your brand & target audience

As you plan your direct mail piece, make sure to stay true to your brand and target audience.  Determine what message & image will motivate and inspire them to act.  Even the most gorgeous direct mail piece can fail if it’s off target or off message.

Have a clear and compelling Call-To-Action (CTA)

A good portion of recipients will be skimming your direct mail piece.  Make sure you have a clear and obvious CTA that provides value and creates a sense of urgency.

You should also make it easy to respond.  Give multiple response options — Printed Response, Email, PURLs, Phone Number, QR Code, etc.

You might laugh at the idea of the QR Code, but they are coming back. Apple has added a scanner to their newest iPhone operating system that allows the camera to scan a QR Code whenever one is detected.  You can read more on the “Resurrection of the QR Code.”

Personalize it!

Over 84% of survey participants reported that personalization made them more likely to open a direct mail piece.

Many organizations have data that’s not used (and is therefore useless).  Be creative and implement data in a smart & engaging way that makes your prospect feel recognized and important.

A few industry-specific examples are:

  • All industries: Include their name on the address (Instead of just “Current Resident”).
  • College/Higher Education: Have copy & imagery relevant to the student (Include information on your college based on the student’s involvement in high school clubs and extracurriculars).
  • Nonprofit: Thank the donor for the specific amount they’ve given in the past and how their past donation helped accomplish X and X.
  • Consumer Goods: Give out a coupon on products your target has purchased in the past.

Of course, every company has limits on what data they have access to, but make sure to use what you do have.

Stand out from the crowd

Consider your target’s mailbox experience.  How many standard #10 envelopes and flimsy ads do they quickly skim through and throw away?

Invest in a piece that stands out from the crowd in a captivating way.

Discuss options with your print partner:

  • Touch: Even if the prospect throws your precious piece away, they must feel it to do so. You can use an unusual paper stock, emboss/deboss, or lamination coating that makes them stop and look.
  • Size: An unusual size envelope or postcard will stand out from the mailbox competition.
  • Shape: Implement special folds and/or die cuts that makes a beautiful and killer printed piece (Make sure you consult your print & mail house to determine pieces that will be accepted by the Post Office).
  • Color & Graphics: Use bold and beautiful graphics/imagery that fit your brand. You can also work with your printer and include metallic golds, silver and frost.  You can learn more about metallic ink and frost on our blog.

 If you need help with your direct mail campaign, don’t hesitate to reach out to Gabrielle Liner at