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.