Starting From Square One

The endless possibilities presented by the 2020 re-emergence of the QR code. 

Scrunchies, biker shorts, and QR codes. All things we never thought would see a resurgence, yet here they are! Rewind back a few years and QR codes had a less-than-stellar reception. The average cellphone camera was not equipped to capture them easily, scan rates were generally low, and use cases were either too niche for the average user or resulted in dead links. 

Then 2020 happened. We were worried about every cough, dousing our groceries with Lysol, and refusing to touch public surfaces. QR codes became an excellent way for patrons to get information quickly. Consumers became increasingly comfortable with the new drill, and phone cameras more compatible. Now, everyone including your tech-challenged 2nd cousin knows how to scan a QR code. 

Besides being an easy way for consumers to get rapid and relevant reports (hence their lesser-known full name, “Quick Response Codes”) QR codes have become an unexpectedly-brilliant tool for marketers who tap their newfangled power in 2022 for a number of reasons. QR codes… 

  1. Create a bridge between the digital and physical world
  2. Are an excellent way to track and boost the success of direct mail 
  3. Require less work for the user (no URL-typing required)
  4. Assist remarkably in lead generation 
  5. Are endlessly versatile

And Oh, The Possibilities. 

QR codes are often used in stores, trade shows, and mailers to connect consumers to destinations like landing pages, donation portals, event invites, questionnaires, and the all-time favorite – free stuff. They can benefit businesses by collecting data from the curious customers who scan them. Each scan reveals who is interacting with your brand, and provides promising new leads for your contact list.

But the uses for our four-sided friends don’t have to be so, well, square. Number five on our list above got us thinking about the creative ways businesses could use QR codes, and as usual, we took that ball and ran with it right up to the edge of weird.

So while you start pondering the possibilities for your company’s uses for QR codes, enjoy the finalists on our short list of creative (yet highly-unlikely) QR combos: 

The “I Want to Believe” QR Code

In theory, QR codes can be applied to any flat surface. And we do mean any. In this case… A corn field. While perhaps more of a crop square than a circle, a larger-than-life QR code stamped into your field could drive crop loads of curious customers to the website of say, an ag. equipment company, eager to showcase their new line of products. While only scannable from the sky, a QR code of this magnitude would likely harvest enough publicity to drive traffic to your website with or without a plane. While you’re at it, why not go for the Guinness World Record for largest QR Code?

The Teleportation QR Code

A serene alpine lake in Italy? A bustling market in Morocco? What better way to urge cabin fever victims to book that flight they’ve been dreaming of than to transport them to a live feed of their dream destination? This QR code could come in handy for travel agencies or credit card companies. A live feed could also drive appeals campaigns for say, a wildlife conservancy, sending donors to a trail cam of an eagle nest or a big cat monitoring project. If you’re feeling a bit pent-up lately, consider testing out one site’s viral virtual feed encouraging the masses to Let it Out

The Wearable QR Code

Slapping your company logo on branded swag is already highly effective and pocket-friendly. Why not take that notion a step further and make that wearable marketing interactive? Put a QR code on your company polo to drive fellow golfers to your website in between swings. Or, skip the itchy tags in your clothing designs and create a square that links to iconic, Gen-Z-approved digital washing instructions. Laundry day has never felt so future

The Permanent QR Code

Conspiracy theorists have been rumbling about the government making on-body human tracking a requirement for years. While we prefer to ignore these darker notions, it is actually possible to get a functional QR code permanently scribed on one’s sacred vessel. Just imagine if someone asked you for a business card, and you had them scan your wrist tattoo with a smartphone to access your personal website? Your business would likely not be forgotten. 

The Portfolio QR Code

The last one on our list isn’t that weird, but it is a cool way to promote your skills and showcase your work that you may not have considered before. Ideal for college applicants or professionals applying for jobs, attaching your own custom QR code to the top of your resume could be what you need to set yourself apart from the competition. If you’d like to create a little more mystery, consider a business card with nothing on it but a QR code. Imagine how many more scans you’d get from curious recipients! 


QR codes are an affordable way to boost trackability and lead generation for direct mail campaigns. While we wouldn’t ultimately suggest getting a QR code tatted across your forehead, we do hope this list inspires some creative ideas of your own. If you’re still feeling a bit lost in the fog, that’s where we come in. Our team of experts can ensure your next campaign (direct mail or otherwise) strikes the perfect balance of messaging and design, performance and trackability. Drop us a line or head to our direct mail services page to explore on your own. 

Colorful Language: Perplexing Print Lingo Defined

Communicate with your printer like a pro for spot-on results and smoother workflows. 

Vamoose. Widdershins. Non-sequitur. Cattywampus. Will using big words make you a better person? No. But will it change the trajectory of your business and catapult your career to another level? Also, probably no. However, familiarizing yourself with some key print-related jargon will make you sound like a whiz in verbal exchanges with your printer. More importantly, understanding common lingo involved in the creation of your projects means you can better communicate your goals and expectations – ultimately resulting in a more buttoned-up final product, the best bang for your buck, and overall less-stressful communication along the way. 

Below we’ve compiled a short list of uber-useful print production terms and their definitions. However note that the following is just one of three lists we have yet to unveil – the others pertaining to Graphic Design and Brand Development. If awkward innuendos are your thing, be sure to check out the wild n’ wacky terms used in Specialty Graphics installations here.

CMYK

Remember the primary and secondary color wheels you learned about in your elementary school art class? Blue + yellow = green? This is roughly the same concept. CMYK is an acronym that refers to the 4 color ink plates used in the color printing process: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (usually black). Different combinations of the 4 are used to create the full range of colors, with the key plate being used to print the detail – a tidbit you might recall if you’ve been following along with our monthly Trivia questions.

Offset Printing 

The most commonly used commercial print method, offset involves transferring an inked image from a metal printing ‘plate’ to a rubber cylinder, then rolling the image onto a sheet of paper. All of this of course happens inside a massive, state-of-the-art machine. Offset produces the highest-quality prints, with the most accurate color reproduction and clean, crisp images. However this method is more cost effective when used for larger press runs. 

Digital Printing 

That small laser or inkjet printer you have hooked up to your laptop at home? That’s a digital printer. However the ones used for commercial printing purposes are larger, faster and more precise. Unlike offset that utilizes plates, digital printing transfers ink directly onto the paper. Digital is often seen as more cost effective, and a better option for shorter press runs. 

G7 Certification 

A three-tiered certification system that indicates a printer’s ability to accurately reproduce colors and maintain color consistency across their various substrates and print processes. That means the red on your logo will match the red on your website, your packaging, your store signage, and so on. Color consistency has a significant impact on consumers’ overall impression of a brand, learn more about the science of color management here

Digital Proof 

Not to be confused with a pdf proof (viewed on screen), a digital proof is a physical copy of a project printed on a digital printer (see above). Digital proofs are a cost effective way to check things like fonts, graphics, lines, copy, and page layout with excellent accuracy. However, since digital uses process colors, it is not always an accurate representation of the actual pantone colors that may be specified for your job. 

Resolution 

The detail or visual sharpness of an image. If an image appears very crisp and clear, it has high resolution. If it appears blurry, low resolution. The resolution of an image in the graphic design world is measured in pixels per square inch (PPI) or dots per inch (DPI). 

Trim 

The trim size represents the actual dimensions of your project. In other words, the trim marks where the paper will be cut, or trimmed away, from the surrounding border. In order to avoid potential white slivers from being visible around your piece after it has been cut, your graphic designer will typically extend the background beyond the trim (see below). 

Bleed 

Far less violent than it sounds, bleed is the extra ⅛” border of background color extended beyond the trim (see above). The bleed prevents accidental white slivers from showing up around the edges after a piece has been cut and ensures a polished final product. 

Indicia 

In the realm of direct mail, an ‘in-dee-shuh’ is essentially a printed postage stamp. They save time and money associated with having to manually stamp each individual piece, however they must adhere to a strict set of USPS formatting guidelines. It is generally the responsibility of your graphic designer to ensure these requirements are met and incorporated into the design. 

Kitting 

Sorry, no kittens involved. However, kitting is extremely beneficial for cutting costs and streamlining your work flows. Kitting (or kit packing), is assembling multiple related items into a single package and shipping them to a list of recipients. Commonly kitted items include signage resets for retail stores, promotional products for trade shows, and folders stuffed with pre-sorted documents. 

Bindery 

The department within a commercial printer which handles any finishing processes involved in a project, including scoring, cutting, stitching, stickering, foiling, assembling, embossing, and of course, binding. Bindery ensures your project looks polished and professional, and applies the final touches that make your printed piece stand out from the rest. 

Spot UV 

A fancy finishing technique that makes certain areas on a printed piece appear high-shine and glossy. Spot UV treatments are particularly eye-popping on a matte background, adding depth and visual contrast. This is a great finishing option to make certain elements of your piece stand out, such as your company logo on a business card for example. 

Scoring 

Ever wonder how greeting cards get those clean, crisp folds in the center? In the print world, scoring means to press or emboss a crease-line onto a substrate to allow for easier folding. Fold lines are especially beneficial for thicker substrates like cardboard. Pieces that require scoring should be designed so that the crease line runs in the same direction as the grain of the paper. Substrates should also be carefully selected to avoid the possibility of cracking. 


While we hope you spend some time familiarizing yourself with the terms above, we also recognize that becoming a human commercial print dictionary doesn’t always fall high on the priority list (that’s our job!). The great news is that Thysse’s team of graphic designers and production specialists have conversations about this stuff on the daily, and they’re always happy to break down any unfamiliar terms throughout the process. Got a print project in mind? Head to our contact page and drop us a line or check out our Print Services page to explore more on your own.

Introducing Mail+ : Thysse’s Latest Innovation in Direct Mail Marketing

Digital Advertising & Improved tracking for Direct Mail is here.

What is cloud-based digital marketing, and how does it boost the impact of your direct mail campaigns?

What if you could significantly increase the number of touchpoints on a single direct mail piece and improve its reach (per recipient) across multiple, integrated channels without lifting a finger? How is that even possible?

Picture this:

 A soon-to-be recipient of your postcard first catches a glimpse of your company’s ad while perusing Facebook (1). While enjoying their morning coffee, they see it again at the top of their daily Informed Delivery email (2). Perhaps they (3) click the interactive link and engage with your website before heading down the driveway.

Your recipient snags the postcard from the mailbox and gives it a once-over (4). Intrigued by the 20% off promo, they send a text with the SMS trigger printed on your piece (5). They receive a link to a landing page and coupon in an automated response; their contact info and website behavior logged. 

Before making the trek to your store, they decide to call your business to verify product availability (6). Any calls placed using the phone number printed on your mail piece are automatically logged and recorded.  

Your recipient gets pulled away on a business trip. Your postcard is slowly covered by a stack of dirty dishes. During that sad, spaghetti-sauce-laden stint, Google ads swoop in to save the day by reminding the recipient of your brand’s greatness (7).

What’s fueling these synchronized touchpoints? It’s called Mail+ and it’s Thysse’s latest technology in direct mail. It enhances the already significantly-higher response rates of direct mail, and combines it with the superb trackability of digital mail. But before we delve into the secrets behind how this cloud-based digital marketing platform works, let’s lay down the bottom line: What the heck is it? 

Mail+ is a marketing program that’s designed to track the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns – while boosting their overall results – through multi-channel marketing with Google, Social Media and Informed Delivery.  

This is accomplished via multiple integrated features, all of which can be tracked and analyzed on a user-friendly dashboard. Here’s what each component brings to the table:


SOCIAL MATCHING

Did you know that a whopping 80% of sales are made after multiple contacts? When it comes to enhancing the results of your direct mail campaigns, repetition is everything, (EVERYTHING). The Social Media Matching feature built into Mail+ matches the contacts on your mailing list with their existing social media accounts. Your targets not only receive your mail piece, but see ads before, during, and after on their Facebook and Instagram feeds.

MAIL TRACKING

With the Mail+ built-in tracking feature, you can track, predict and confirm delivery down to each individual addressee, just like a package! Knowing exactly when your mail pieces will be delivered allows you to align your staff and processes perfectly to handle the influx of responses (and make sure your printer isn’t pulling a fast one!) How can Mail+ provide such accurate tracking data? A small-yet-magical barcode gets added to your mail piece which allows you to view real-time tracking data on your dashboard. 

INFORMED DELIVERY

This entirely free, consumer-facing, service offered by the USPS has already garnered over 39 million subscribers. Mail+ takes Informed Delivery one step further, by enhancing the standard greyscale ad typically placed in Informed Delivery emails with a full-color clickable ad, interactive content, and a link that drives to your website. Additionally, Mail+ allows you to track where Informed Delivery emails have been opened geographically, and the behavior of any recipients who click your ad. 

CALL TRACKING

Ever wonder who is calling as a direct result of your campaign? With Mail+ every call that comes through on the unique number assigned to your mailing is automatically counted and recorded. A unique phone number gets printed on your mail piece, which gets linked directly to your business line. No line changes are required on your end – simply answer the phone as normal, while Mail+ software collects contact info from callers. Additionally, you can listen back to recordings of calls that came in as a direct result of your campaign to ensure your processes are running smoothly. 

SMS TEXT TRACKING

“Text ‘SAUCY’ to 608-555-1234 for a direct link to our pizza menu!” Is a message you might see on a mail piece enhanced with Mail+ Text Tracking. This feature is meant to increase engagement with your mail piece while driving more traffic to your website. When a recipient sends a text using the keyword, the Mail+ dashboard sends an automated response with a short message, and a link to your preferred web page. The prospect’s name, address and contact info is collected, which can then be added to your internal database. 

ONLINE FOLLOW-UP

Here’s where that ever-important repetition, those extra few ‘pokes’ with your messaging, starts to pull some serious sway for your mail campaigns. Online Follow-up allows visitors to your website who leave without taking any action to be retargeted on Social Media, the Google Display Network, even on competitors websites. Ads are placed in front of your prospects as they peruse the web and scroll their social feeds, garnering more impressions and more sales. 

LEADMatch

Imagine if you could tap the huge pool of anonymous prospects who visit your website who leave before taking action. LEADMatch is a particularly standout component of Mail+ because it can identify website visitors from your direct mail campaign, as well as unique visitors to your website. That means you can get the postal addresses of visitors who did not receive your mailing and retarget them. Think of LEADMatch as your ticket to building the perfect, optimized mail list.  


We understand that investing in marketing for your business can feel like more of a giant leap than a step. We also know you need to have the utmost confidence that your investment will be returned. Combining strategic, repetitive messaging with digital advertising not only enhances your direct mail campaigns, but provides real, tangible evidence that it’s working. 

While we love taking things a step further and explaining the ‘how’ behind everything we do – the great news is that you don’t have to do any of the leg work yourself! Thysse has a full team of experts ready to facilitate your Mail+ digital marketing campaign from start to finish. Intrigued? Give us a shout! Just bring your goals, a link to your website, and let Thysse handle the rest. 

What’s In a List?

Demystifying the list purchasing process for direct mail campaigns. 

Imagine yourself a plumber. You’ve worked hard to build a loyal customer base, and now seek to crack into a new market. You’ve spent countless hours designing the perfect mail piece. Yet, when your mailing lands in-home, all you hear is the distant drip of a leaky faucet.

What’s the mystery behind your direct mail misfire? Maybe you’ve sent your mailing to neighborhoods in which the vast majority of residents are renters. Or perhaps to younger housing developments where the homes have brand-spanking-new plumbing. 

Who you send your mailing to determines if it will be successful, or if your hard-earned dollars get flushed down the loo. 

Purchasing a mail list is a proven way to get your message in the right hands and attain detailed contact information for new leads. But the elephant in the room, the BFQ is, who should you send to? What kind of lists provide the biggest return? To start, frame your audience to understand your options. 

DEFINE YOUR GOALS

Consider the geographic location you’d like to send to. Will you focus on clusters of zip codes, carrier routes, a radius around your company, a state, the entire country? If you own a small Italian restaurant, it might not be beneficial for someone three hours away to receive your mail piece. That’s a long drive for a plate of pasta. On the other hand, if you’re selling custom boats, it might be smarter to send targeted pieces across the entire state, you never know where their trailer is hitched.

Next, move on to your audience. What do your current customers look like? Do they share common demographics like age, income, interests or marital status? If you own an Ice Cream shop for instance, you might find that the majority of your customers are families with younger kids. Thysse can help you examine your current list and enhance it by identifying patterns. Once you’ve defined your targets, the next step is to decide which type of list will accomplish your goals. 

SATURATION LISTS: THE SHOTGUN APPROACH

Saturation mail is a budget-friendly way to send ‘blanket mailings’ to a large number of residences within a specific area. The problem with this “Spray and Pray” method (other than its rather suggestive name) is that it lacks a ‘real’ strategy. You’re wholly reliant on geographical location.

Saturation mail can be effective for local businesses whose products and services apply to a wide, general audience like pizza restaurants, childcare centers, or lawn care providers. If your aim is to get the word out about your business to as many people in your local area as possible, purchasing a saturation list might be a good option to get kids eating pizzas on a plethora of lawns.

While the USPS’s free tool, Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM), is intended to be an affordable option for businesses who don’t want to purchase a mail list, some businesses opt for purchasing a saturation list because they come with some snappy benefits:

  • They can be addressed to specific person vs “Dear Customer” which boosts response rates
  • There are no size limitations on mail pieces (just keep in mind that postage costs are still affected by size and weight)
  • You acquire new contacts for your internal database because you are purchasing a list 

MARKETING MAILING LISTS: THE TARGETED APPROACH

If your services apply to a narrower audience (or if you want to have significantly more confidence in your messaging) purchasing a Marketing Mailing List is an option to consider. Marketing Mailing Lists can target recipients based on a huge range of demographics, from peanut allergies and vintage car interests to homeowner status. 

Perhaps you own an insurance company targeting retired cat owners with a pilot’s license and a penchant for base jumping. Who knows! With Marketing Mailing Lists, the options are nearly limitless. To give you an idea of the scope of possibilities, we’ve listed common categories, along with a few example demographic filters for each:

  • Consumer Lists: Purchasing behaviors, occupation, gender, ethnicity, age, children, education, household income 
  • Business Lists: Fortune rank, executives, employees by title, new businesses, credit rating, size, public/private, sales volume 
  • Healthcare Lists: Health care workers by job function, administrators, specialties, public/private practice, dentists, pharmacists 
  • Education Lists: School type, grade level, district name, public/private, educator’s by title, enrollment size, national rank 
  • Government Lists: Police officers, attorneys, parks and recreation, city managers and clerks, human resources directors 

Note that lists available for purchase can only include public-facing data like the examples listed above. Private data, such as medical records or unemployment status, are a no go.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

When you purchase a list, you are actually purchasing the rights to access certain data. The more detailed your data, the higher the response rates will be. This is unfortunately reflected in higher costs up front. List cost is highly subjective, however typically dependent on a few factors: 

  • Size: The number of recipients on your list
  • Type: Business lists generally cost more than consumer lists
  • Specificity: The more demographic filters, the higher the cost 
  • Longevity: Multiple-use lists (good for one year) cost more than single-use lists because they require ongoing maintenance

Thysse’s direct mail team can work with you to get the most bang for your buck. If you have a mile-long contact list but your budget only stretches a couple blocks, we can help you reduce the number of sends by drilling down to more specific to your ideal market. 


The bottom line is that the more targeted your direct mail campaign is, the better the response will be. Purchasing a mail list can feel like a financial leap, but with a bit of planning, lists can ensure your direct mail campaign delivers the best possible results. 

Thysse has a dedicated team to help you identify your audience and purchase the right list for your business. Drop us a line on our contact form to learn more!

Results-Driven Direct Mail Design

All Eyes on Your Direct Mail Piece

Tips for creating a standout direct mail piece through design, messaging & personalization 

Designing a mail piece that delivers results involves a certain finesse. After all, unlike an email that contains a direct link to a sale or service, a physical mail piece needs to engage recipients enough to take an external action. 

So can a snappy design really increase the likelihood that recipients make the long slog to a retail store? As it turns out, yes. The more engaging your piece looks, the more likely it is to be handled, read or skimmed by the recipient, and the longer it tends to stick around on the top of the mail pile reinforcing your message.  

While designing, remember that it’s crucial to balance aesthetics with USPS requirements and to consider postage savings options to deliver the highest possible response rates.

A checklist for creating a standout mail piece involves three core components: the design, the messaging, and the personalization. 

We don’t care what anyone says, size matters. In addition to keeping your piece in alignment with USPS requirements for your specific category of mail, the dimensions of your mail piece determines how well it stands out in your recipients’ mailbox. Designing a mail piece with a slightly larger size, interactive folds, or choosing specialty finishes and substrates can also increase engagement, keeping your mail piece in hands for longer.  For instance, an oversized mailer at 11″ x 13″ is close to the length of a mailbox but still qualifies as a flat mailer under USPS regulations. The larger size provides plenty of extra real estate for your design without sending costs through the roof. 

Also linked to increased response rates are enhancing elements like embossing, foil, ultraviolet coatings, die-cutting and tactile features that appeal to the recipient’s sense of touch. Specialty finishes are especially important when marketing higher-end or niche-market products, where the mail piece needs to reflect a more upscale image.

Graphically speaking, authenticity is always better. Choose images or photography with your specific audience in mind, that align with your messaging and stay true to the visual identity of your brand. Incorporating strategic use of white space and colors, and ensuring your printer can reproduce them in a way that’s consistent with your brand standards, reinforces trust and can even elicit certain emotions

Rule numero uno for direct mail copywriting is ‘clarity’. A concise message trumps cleverness and grandiose vocabulary eleven times out of ten. If you can pepper in humor or wit without diluting your core message, by all means do so… then send us your resume. Don’t feel compelled to fill every space with content to get your money’s worth. In fact, a few simple, strong words can amplify your message and garner better results.  

Consider the audience’s demographics and interests while writing, after all, you’ve got the attention of the recipient for roughly two seconds so use it wisely! Review the contacts on your mailing list and look for patterns among your existing customers. Are there recurrent trends in their buying habits? Common complaints or pain points? Do they tend to fall within a certain age bracket or location? Understanding specifics on who you are targeting allows you tailor your messaging to achieve more impact.

Unless your piece is contained in an envelope, you’ll most likely need a strong headline to draw the recipient in. Generally speaking, your headline should be no more than 8 words, and include all the information your customer needs to know even if they don’t make it through the rest of your piece. Your piece should also feature unique activation codes, and typefaces that are easy to read. The most important element is your call to action, responsible for roughly 40% of your campaign’s success. Keep your CTA short, and keep it clear. Call Thysse’s mailing experts today! See what we did there? 

Blanket mailings like EDDM offer the highest cost savings per piece, and can be extremely effective for certain messages. However generally speaking, the more personalized your mail is to each recipient, the higher the response rates tend to be. Response rates for non-personalized mail pieces average about 2%, while personalized pieces have response rates of 6%. For all the math haters out there, that’s a 300% increase!

One of the most efficient ways to tailor your design and messaging to specific recipients is with a digital print option called Variable Data Printing (VPD). VDP digital printing offers flexibility of design during press runs that allows text and graphics within each printed piece to become interchangeable as needed. Each piece can be printed with a different recipient’s name, a unique barcode for tracking, even a unique promotion based on the zip code’s median income. 

VPD extends far beyond text variations. It also applies to things like color and image choices. For example, say you own a store that sells pet supplies. VDP allows you to tailor each mail piece to feature a dog, a cat or a parakeet based on each customer’s past purchase history. Likewise, if you’re a clothing retailer running a sale on t-shirts, you can feature a different color shirt on the cover of your mail piece depending on the gender of the recipient.  


Smart design decisions not only drive strong direct mail response rates, they can also ensure you aren’t paying unnecessarily high postage rates. Balancing the two components in accordance with your goals will give your next direct mail campaign the highest chance for delivering results.  

A strong mail piece involves careful consideration of your budget, target audience and goals. If you need some pointers, or have a unique idea for a mailing you’ve been dying to execute, give us a shout! If you’re more the ‘explore-on-your-own’ type, get the full rundown on mailing services here.

Direct Mail Savings Delivered

Making your campaign work harder without breaking the bank

There’s no lack of evidence suggesting direct mail delivers results. Take its average response rate: A respectable 5-9%, towering over that of email at less than 1%. 

Yet despite the smorgasbord of statistics underpinning its advantages, only about 50% of businesses report using direct mail in their marketing strategy, compared to over 80% utilizing email. 

If direct mail marketing is such a game changer, why aren’t more companies using it? 

Spoiler, it comes down to cost. The physical production and shipment of a printed mail piece typically comes with a larger price tag than that of digital mail. 

However, a strong mail campaign doesn’t have to be the budget-consuming super beast it’s cracked up to be. Knowing how to navigate USPS tools, and take advantage of postage efficiencies can cut costs significantly, and ultimately, increase your ROI. 

Here we’ve outlined some of the smartest ways to boost your return on investment and make your direct mail campaigns work harder without chewing through your budget. 

Get More From Every Door 

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is in fact not a new genre of dance music. It’s a free service from the USPS that allows you to send a mailing to every residence within a specified zip code. This is accomplished using a mapping tool on the USPS website. You can select mail routes within a certain zip code radius, as well as filter by age, income, and average household size. 

It can be used to reach your audience without needing (much) contact information and significantly reduces both production and postage costs because it: 

  1. Gets pre-sorted, thus qualifying for USPS discounts 
  2. Is zip code based, eliminating the need for a costly mailing list
  3. Prints in larger quantities, qualifying for bulk mail discounts 
  4. Involves simpler designs, hence doesn’t require elaborate creative services

There are two different types of EDDM, Retail and Business Mail Entry Units (BMEU), each having slightly different requirements. Things like the amount of pieces being sent, and how many different areas you plan to send to, help determine which to choose. Thysse can advise you on which type of EDDM is right for you, ensure your pieces are printed to proper specifications, and take care of drop off to the post office for you. 

Increase Your Reach with Informed Delivery 

Another handy free service from the USPS, Informed Delivery®, doesn’t cut costs per se, but it can boost the return on your investment by enhancing the impact of your mail. When the owner of a residence subscribes to the service, Informed Delivery sends a digital preview of the items inside their mailbox. 

The beauty of this email preview for businesses, is that it provides an opportunity to attach full color ride-along images and website URLs – effectively putting your mail in the digital and physical world simultaneously. Users can see their mail while traveling, obtain a digital, archivable copy of their mail, and take action on mail sooner via digital preview. 

Your reach is also extended to all members of the household who subscribe to Informed Delivery, even if they’re not on your mailing list. With over 39 million subscribers and average open rates hovering around 64.7%, Informed Delivery presents a promising opportunity to get more eyes on your message. Talk to us about designing a campaign to integrate seamlessly with Informed Delivery, as well as provide you with detailed post-campaign reports. 

Practice Good Hygiene 

No, we’re not suggesting that you take a bath… but it wouldn’t kill you to clean up your mail list. If EDDM is too much of a blanket approach for your business goals, using a mail list is a great option for targeting specific prospects. As we addressed in our last post, you can either purchase a list or create one. 

If maintaining your own mail list, ensuring proper ‘list hygiene’ is key for eliminating unnecessary campaign costs. A ‘clean’ list ensures you won’t be sending mail to duplicates, customers who have moved, are deceased, or no longer qualify for your service. Your high school health teacher would be proud. 

List maintenance is often easier said than done. The USPS can help match your list to the NCOA (National Change of Address) list to help clean up your data, which happens to be a step in achieving our next cost-cutting highlight: Automation. 

Don’t Hate. Automate.

Similar to EDDM, automation is a USPS offering that decreases the amount of futzing required at the post office. Thus, substantially reducing costs and processing time. However unlike EDDM, these pieces are tailored to specific recipients on a mailing list. 

Thysse can help you navigate the freakishly-long checklist of acronyms for a mailing to be eligible for automation. To give you an idea of complexity, the addresses on your list must be verified (using one of several options, like the NCOA process above), and specifically formatted to include zip+4 postal codes (a CASS certification). This generates a magical barcode on each piece which allows for more efficient processing. 

Like EDDM, there are a handful of design and size requirements for a piece to qualify for automation. However the range of styles and sizes you can choose from is slightly more diverse than that of EDDM. 

Find The Logistical Sweet Spot 

As per economics 101, the more mail pieces you print up front, the lower the price per piece. Unless you’re advertising a one-off event or a going out of business sale (knock on wood) repeat mailings generally perform better. However, more is not always better, and determining the most efficient number and type of mailings in accordance with your business objectives is a delicate dance. For example, is it better to send:

  • 30,000 pieces all at once? 
  • 10,000 pieces 3 times to the same list? 
  • 10,000 pieces 3 times to different customers? 
  • 10,000 plain white EDDM postcards? 
  • 500 targeted First Class pieces?

Consider how you want the recipient to act and select a style accordingly: Do you want them to order products directly from your piece (a catalog) or do you want them to visit your website and use a promo code (a flat mailer). The less components your mail piece has, the lower the cost. However if your target audience is a smaller, niche market, say, high-end custom boat owners, you may find more value in decreasing the number of sends and paying a bit more for a stand out piece. 


With near limitless options for design and customization, balancing cost with impact based on your unique objectives is the ticket to maximizing your return while keeping costs manageable. Understanding USPS requirements, maintaining your data, and knowing what free tools are available, are proactive steps you can take in creating a strong campaign that stays within budget.

Or, if all else fails… just have your printer do it. 

If you’re curious to learn more about the features mentioned here, or if you just need some pointers on where to begin, drop us a line! We’re ready and waiting to find the most cost effective direct mail solution for your brand. 

Getting Started with Direct Mail Services

The 6 D’s of Direct Mail Defined 

A small business guide to launching a direct mail campaign. 

Let’s begin by considering an enlightening statistic. From the moment it enters a residence, a printed mail piece has an average lifespan of 17 days. 

17 glorious axial rotations shuffling around the kitchen table and narrowly escaping coffee mug rings, only to be folded up during dinner and launched like a fighter jet. Each casual glance, each physical point of contact increasing brand awareness and unconsciously driving home your message. 

Now consider another form of [extremely] direct mail: Email has an average life span of (wait for it) 2 seconds! 

Two seconds? That’s shorter than the attention span of a goldfish (five seconds). 

The response rate for direct mail is also about 9 times higher than that of email, rolling in between 5-9%. When combined with digital marketing efforts, that rate skyrockets to a whopping 28%. 

So what’s the catch?

Navigating the influx of new technology, postage costs and infinitely-changing USPS requirements has a better chance of sending you under your desk than it does sending your mail piece. So, how do you navigate the various complexities without pulling your hair out? Break it down into a few digestible steps, all conveniently starting with the letter ‘D’. 

Develop a direct mail Plan

Putting some thought into your budget, and what you expect to get out of your mailing is a critical first step. It determines how you’ll analyze the results, and how the mail piece will be designed. What are your goals? Are you aiming to expand services with current customers? Develop new ones? Convert prospects? All are valid reasons for launching a mail campaign that involve a different plan of attack.

Consider what style of piece you want to send and how you want to measure the results. What kind of piece best showcases your services, products or promotions? A brochure or catalog will be more effective showcasing a range of products, while postcards tend to be the most cost-effective. With modern technology, designing a trackable piece is not only possible, but relatively easy thanks to digital tools like Informed Delivery®, Mail+ and personalized landing pages (PURLs). Making your piece trackable can be as simple as including a unique phone number, scannable QR code or promo code.

Define your audience for direct mail

Consider who your current customers are. This will offer insight into the audience you should focus on. Targeting the right people determines whether your mailing will be successful, or whether your marketing dollars will spiral wildly down the porcelain throne. For example, sending an ad about a daycare to a childless couple, is likely to get the same result as sending your piece through a paper shredder. Consider your audience demographics including age, gender, past purchase history, geography, interests and life stages, to name a few. 

One of the best ways to reach your targets is to create a mailing list. If you don’t have a list, or the data to create one, you could purchase one. Or consider if you really need a list. The answer to this question is highly dependent on your goal. If your aim is to reach as many people as possible about, say, a one-off event or a grand opening, a blanket send USPS tool like Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM), may do the trick. 

Design your piece of Direct Mail

You can send anything from a flat white (no, not the Starbucks drink) postcard to a stuffed swag box shaped like an octopus, but the most efficient design is one that aligns with your budget and specific business objectives. Elements to consider when designing your piece include size and style, materials, finish, color, graphics, messaging and font. Your piece should have a strong call to action and concise messaging. 

If you have the resources, designing and writing your piece in-house can offset costs. If you outsource the design, choosing a printer certified to take your brand standards seriously is key (hint, we are!). Ultimately, the more visually appealing your piece is, the more attention it will receive. A professional-looking piece also builds trust with your customers and establishes your company as a reputable one.

Deliver it home

The most efficient way to send your mail is to choose a printer that tackles both the production and shipping for you. Printers that offer direct mail services have experts on staff with a well of knowledge on USPS requirements and can typically wrangle the best postage rates. 

Decide on the postage class (First, Standard, or Non-profit) knowing that budget, what kind of piece you are mailing, and the speed at which you’d like it to arrive will be deciding factors. For a deeper dive into postage requirements, check out our updated 2021 Direct Mail Guide.

Double Down

The more times your message is seen, the better the results will be. Hence, multiple sends to a targeted list of customers will generally outperform one giant send to an expansive list. As mentioned prior, reinforcing your message via digital channels like social media and email can also substantially boost your return on investment. 

In recent years, digital marketing tools that target receipients before, during and after they receive your mailing have become increasingly accessible to businesses of all sizes. Not ready to delve into fancy omni-channel marketing just yet? Have sales staff specializing in the fine art of follow up make some calls to your list in between drops.  

Determine the Results of Direct Mail

If you took the time to set up detailed tracking methods in the fist stage, analyzing your results should be a breeze. Consider your original goal: If your aim was to generate new leads, a good indicator of success is your ‘response rate’. How many people scanned the QR code on your mail piece? How many people visited their personalized landing page or called for more info?

If your aim was to increase sales, asses your conversion rate. How many people used the promo code on your mail piece to make a purchase? This statistic can be used to calculate the Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), or how much it ‘costs’ to gain a new customer. Analyzing the results of your campaign also highlights tweaks to make the next time around. 


There’s plenty to consider in launching your first direct mail campaign, but putting in a bit of planning up front, and squaring away your goals from the get-go, will lay the foundation for smoother sailing and ultimately, a mail campaign that delivers results. 

Kind of like what you see but still wondering how it fits in with your brand? That’s okay! Give us a shout. We’re happy to help you sort through the details.

Badger Group’s Sally O’Brien fills us in on the latest technology in direct mail marketing.

Thysse interviews Badger Group President, Sally O’Brien, about her industry expertise. 

Last month, Thysse finalized a partnership with another family-owned print and marketing services provider from Fort Atkinson, WI. In the weeks following the big handshake, Badger Group staff has been busy settling in to their new home at the Oregon campus and giving the break room Keurig a hefty workout. With the transition now well under way, we stole a rare free minute from Badger Group president, Sally O’Brien, to tap her expertise in direct mail and campaign planning tools and get a read on what it means for our clients’ bottom line.

Thysse: Can you tell us a little bit about Badger Group’s history and what brought you to the industry? 

Sally: Growing up, my family always had a close connection to the print industry. My father bought Badger Press, Inc. in 1975, then located in Jefferson, WI. I worked there throughout college in various production areas and, after a few years working as a music therapist, returned to accept a full-time sales role. The work was something that instantly clicked with me. I really connected with the clients – I think that’s been the most rewarding piece all along! I love helping people come up with solutions to make their business better. In 1990, Badger Group built a new facility and moved to Fort Atkinson. I became President in 2000, expanding my role and responsibilities, but I’ve always focused on the customer side of the business.

Thysse: Badger Group started as a commercial printer, and, similar to Thysse, ended up expanding into a breadth of other areas as customer needs evolved. What other services does your team specialize in? 

Sally: We wanted to add more value for our clients, and make their marketing dollars work harder for them. We added digital marketing components to direct mail to increase their exposure and ROI. This omnichannel marketing approach can be created on a campaign level, or on a broader level using marketing automation software to engage audiences over time. We also create web-to-print storefront portals that enable clients to easily order and fulfill marketing materials within their organizations.

Thysse: Can you describe any recent projects that have been particularly effective print campaigns? Or how your marketing services are continuing to evolve the perception of what a printer provides?

Sally: We recently won a ‘best of’ category through Great Lakes Graphics Association (GLGA) for a unique self-mailer we produced for Madison College. They wanted an interactive piece that prospective students would spend time with once they received it in the mail, so we created a design with multiple folds and flaps that needed to be opened to reveal the content. We incorporated multi-channel digital follow up in their direct mail strategy as well, which resulted in an incredible response rate. They got a ton of extra exposure that they wouldn’t have gotten with just the direct mail piece. 

Thysse: The Badger staff joining the team are experts at applying the latest technology to boost direct mail marketing efforts. What can you tell us about Mail+ and why should businesses consider it? 

“STATISTICS SHOW THAT 80% OF ALL SALES ARE MADE BETWEEN THE 8TH AND 12TH CONTACT.” 

Sally O’Brien, Badger Group President

Sally: This means you need to be reaching your audience multiple times to successfully engage them and convert into a sale or action. Using Mail+ adds multiple digital components to your direct mail campaigns to extend your reach across many different communication channels – keeping your message and brand in front of your target audience. It’s a really cost effective way for companies to boost their direct mail ROI.

Thysse: How would you explain marketing automation and its benefits to a company who’s never used it before? 

“YOU CAN ENHANCE RESULTS OF DIRECT MAIL CAMPAIGNS BY AN AVERAGE OF 23-46% THROUGH INTEGRATED MARKETING STRATEGIES.” 

Sally O’Brien, Badger Group President

Sally: Any company or organization that is looking to grow and fill their sales or lead funnel can benefit from marketing automation. It takes time and planning on the front end to create and implement a marketing automation program. But – once in place, this data-driven, omnichannel marketing campaign works behind the scenes to send out content based on actions taken and qualify leads based on past behaviors. This data is collected, managed and stored in a digital dashboard and can also be linked directly to your CRM for a seamless transition of information.

Thysse: Can you explain the importance of customer data in helping businesses reach the next level of brand awareness and engagement?

Sally: Data is king – you need accurate, detailed data to best attract and engage your audience. The more details you have about your audience the better you will be able to push out relevant content. If you’re looking for a good prospect list – the more you know about your current customers the better chance you have of finding ‘look alike’ audiences to create great prospect lists.

Thysse: What insights can companies gain about their customers by using the marketing automation analytics dashboard? 

Sally: Digital dashboards help you manage the activities happening within your campaigns. They allow you to do things like: 

  • Predict and confirm when the direct mail piece is delivered so you can be prepared for new calls and online leads
  • Track phone calls that were a direct result of your campaign 
  • Tell you how many unique visitors came to your website, how many digital ads were shown and how often they were clicked on 
  • Track email open rates to know who is interested in the content you are creating 
  • Gather survey data collected from personalized URLs. The data can also be reviewed and used for future actions

Campaign tactics can be tweaked during a campaign based on what kind of results you are seeing on your dashboard – giving you the best possible chance for success. 

Thysse: What is the biggest challenge companies face regarding their marketing efforts? 

Sally: The average person receives more than 2,900 marketing messages a day – across multiple communication platforms. That’s a lot of competition for your message to stand out, engage and create action. Organizations need to use multiple communication channels to make sure their brand and message is reaching their audience. These communications need to be personalized so your audience finds value and takes notice. 

Thysse: Is there anything else you would like to share about Badger Group’s partnership with Thysse? 

Sally: Jason [Thysse President] and his team have the same values as our Badger family. Both being family owned and operated businesses, we care about our employees and are able to recruit and retain great team members. In both organizations, customers come first. I needed to be sure that my clients would feel completely comfortable that their needs would be well taken care of with this partnership. This past year with the pandemic, we often heard things about being ‘in this together’. I believe that this partnership will make us ‘better together’ with our expanded teams and services. I trusted Jason and his team from the first time we met and am excited about what the future will bring!


About Badger Group

A family-run business since 1975 and a WBENC-certified Woman-Owned Small Business, Badger Group is a print and marketing services provider specializing in data-driven, cost-effective, targeted direct mail communications. As of June 1st, Badger Group staff became a proud member of the Thysse family and looks forward to providing clients with an expanded range of services and capabilities.

About Thysse

Thysse is an ever-evolving brand experience provider built by three generations of visual communication specialists. We like to say Thysse is “Where you go with your brand,” and provide innovative solutions to back that statement up. We are a design, printing, specialty graphics, and manufacturing company at our core, but we also offer imagination and the tools to customize your project to find the right solution every time.

For questions about the services mentioned in this interview, get in touch with us through our contact page and ask for more details.

Thysse Unveils New Campus and New Capabilities.

New Address, Same Thysse Culture.

Monday, July 27 marked the next chapter in the Thysse legacy. The company opened the doors on its new headquarters, a 95,500 square-foot building in Oregon, WI. The new campus, situated just a stone’s throw from the previous Netherwood location, is the third expansion in seven years to support Thysse’s enhanced services and growing lines of business.

The building itself is as functional as it is visually impressive; featuring 2 glass lined stories and triple the production space. The new location brings together a full in-house design suite for Thysse’s Experiential Graphic Design team, moves all production, specialty graphics, and fulfillment services to a single site, creating greater efficiencies for Thysse’s customers, and enhances the close team culture for its employees. For President Jason Thysse, this is the real measure of success,

“Since my grandfather started Thysse in 1941, this company has always been about the people. We designed the new campus with both client and employee needs in mind, and the result we’ve realized with the team of Thysse architects, designers, and assistance from OPN Architects is a dream come true. We are very excited for this next chapter in Thysse’s story!”

Fleet of Thysse delivery trucks at new campus

Director of Operations, Nick Brevik knows that the new campus will start showing a return on investment almost immediately,

“The move to a larger space that can house all our services in one location minimizes our logistical inefficiencies. We’ll be able to reduce travel time, particularly in fulfillment, and we’re able to increase our service offerings, adding on foil stamping and embossing capabilities starting in August. The bigger production space allowed us to bring in a larger format and faster press, as well as the prepress workflow to support it, effectively doubling our offset printing rate. The move also increased fulfillment storage by 30%. Thysse has always looked for the best way to meet our customers’ current needs, while simultaneously planning for their future; this move is a continuation on that promise.”  

Thysse’s new address, as of July 27th, is 780 Cusick Parkway, Oregon, WI 53575.

Production space in Thysse's new campus

Although the building was completed for Thysse, it wasn’t done alone. The project had many partners involved including: The Village of Oregon, Oregon Community Bank, Wisconsin Business Development, OPN Architects, Newcomb Construction, and Thysse’s very own Experiential Design Team. Thank you for your support and assistance along this journey!

To stay up to date with what’s happening at Thysse, stay tuned on our social channels and at www.thysse.com.

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For more information, contact Jen Braga, Thysse, at 608.249.6951.