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? 


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? 


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

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