Direct Mail:Everything You Need to Know

Share This Post

What Makes a Successful Direct Mail Campaign?

There are five practices that you can observe if you want a successful direct mail campaign:

  • Personalized content
  • lnformative content
  • Compelling call-to-action
  • Targeted audience
  • Utilize multichannel marketing

In these times, marketing is more effective on a multichannel approach. Combine direct mail with other advertising methods such as email and mobile. This way, your brand has a presence on all forms of media.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Direct Mail Campaigns

It’s important to take note of the strengths and weaknesses of direct mail marketing to determine if it’s worth investing in for your company.

Return of Investment (ROI)

Based on a survey of 589 major marketing agencies in 2020, direct mail was still proven to have a high response rate and ROI. Postcards and letters are the top two forms of direct mail used by the respondents.

According to the results of the survey, the success rate of a direct mail campaign in multichannel campaigns was more likely to earn a very good (8%) or very good (69%) response rate than they were without. 66% of the respondents also reported a positive increase in ROI during this period.

Despite the promising ROI statistics for direct mail, they have a long way to go to match that of digital mail. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that the average DOI for direct mail was $7, compared to email which was $28.50. The cost of printing and sending direct mail in volume is high, and this can be very limiting for companies that rely on it to gain more customers.

Response Rates

The DMA also reported that direct mail has a 4.4% average response rate, which is noticeably higher than the 0.12% average response rate for email. 

Recipients of physical messages have to open and read them, which sparks a personal interaction in a way that email can never replicate. Marketing agencies can get creative to capture the reader’s attention in different ways. If they include a coupon, special promotion, or a Call to Action (CTA) in the envelope, the recipient might be more likely to keep it. Adding personalized touches such as handwritten signatures or notes is also a good way to encourage recipients into responding.

Get To The Top of The Pile

Many companies have scaled down their tangible campaigns in favor of digital marketing. This can be considered an advantage for marketers that continue to rely on direct mail because there is less competition in mailbox space.

Letters and postcards provide more detailed information about a company’s product or service. 

One advantage of direct mail is that it is more effective for brand representation compared to digital mail. Oversized letters and postcards can contain images about a brand that will likely catch the recipient’s attention.

Unlike emails and social media ads, there is nothing else to distract the reader from reading the contents of direct mail

Less Spammy Than Email

Emails may be easier to compose and distribute, but they have one glaring disadvantage: most of them are left unread. In March 2020, 53.95% of all email traffic was considered spam. This may be lower than in 2018 (55%) and even 2012 (69%), but the number is still high considering the amount of email that an individual user receives per day.

How Much Can a Campaign Cost?

In 2019, Inkit calculated the expenses of launching a direct mail campaign. They reported an estimated cost of $1,150 for a target of 1,000 recipients. That’s $1.15 for sending a single postcard to each recipient. Postage, printing and mailing lists account for $300 each in the total expenses. Design and copywriting approximately cost $100 each, and these two have a huge impact in capturing the attention of your recipients. If you want your campaign to succeed and gain the response rate and ROI that you are expecting, then you must plan out each step carefully.

How to Start & Execute a Direct Mail Campaign

There are four important components in a successful direct mail campaign: the mailing list, offer, design or creative, and fulfillment. According to Edward Mayer, there is a 40-40-20 rule when it comes to effective direct marketing. This rule means 40% audience, 40% offer, and 20% creative.

Mailing List

The mailing list comprises your brand’s target audience, which is responsible for 40% of your campaign’s success. The accuracy of the addresses determines whether or not it arrives at the mailbox or doorstep of your recipients. 

There are tools that you can use according to create reliable mailing addresses. The Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) service helps verify the availability of a specific address. CASS-certified software is readily available in the market for those who want to format the addresses on their mailing list based on the postal requirement. The shortcoming of CASS is that it cannot determine if the address still has an occupant even if it is valid. This is where the National Change of Address (NCOA) serves its purpose. Mailing houses usually keep an updated NCOA database, so it’s best to access your nearest one to verify if the recipients on your mailing list match the correct address.


Recipients of direct mail are more likely to respond when they are given an offer. Following the 40-40-20 rule, a good offer is one of the key factors in a successful direct marketing campaign. The offer must also support the call to action (CTA) on your direct mail. If you’re selling a product, the common CTA is “Buy Now”. For companies that offer services or partnerships, “Join Us” is usually the CTA that is used.

Creating a good offer largely depends on your brand and audience. Keep in mind that the goal of every marketing campaign is to establish a consumer base that repeatedly returns to your business. Make the offer enticing enough to catch the recipients’ attention, but not too much that they are willing to commit and come back for more of your products and/or services.

Creative/ Design

The readability and overall aesthetic appearance of your mail rely on creative execution. It is the most visible component of a direct mail marketing campaign, even though it only comprises 20% of the 40-40-20 rule. A well-designed mail catches the eye of recipients that have to skim through a dozen letters from the mailbox.


The final component of direct mail marketing is fulfillment. This indicates that the recipient was interested in the contents of the mail and proceeds to fill up the order form or application form. Fulfillment includes receiving, processing, and delivering orders to the consumers. This component can either be performed in-house or through a reliable third-party service.