Direct mail advertising has recently become more powerful and effective than ever. Current U.S. households receive more than 120-billion pieces of mail each year, and a majority of them enjoy receiving it. That’s why the direct mail response rate for house lists was recently reported at an outstanding 9%, according to the Association of National Advertisers. That’s the highest number since the report began and it’s almost double the percentage from the previous year. Additionally, U.S. advertisers are reveling in a 1,300% return on their investment. With those numbers in mind, it appears that direct mail is here to stay.


After you’ve tested the basics of direct mail marketing, you’re likely looking for new and interesting ways to appeal to your target audience. If you want to push the limits to get higher response rates and larger return numbers, there’s good news to report. You have plenty of options. Here are six little-known techniques you can try to boost your direct mail advertising results today.


1. Augmented Reality


augmented realityBy definition, augmented reality (AR) is a technology that takes a computer-generated image and overlaps a user’s view of their surroundings. This provides a blended look of both the virtual world and the real world. In other words, you can use your mobile device to add information and imagery over top of what you see all around you. You may have used AR before and not even realized it. Here are a few direct mail advertising examples:


  • Warby Parker has an AR app that allows you to try on a pair of glasses via your smartphone. By using your device’s frontside camera, the app places your choice of glasses on your face. It’s not the same as trying on real glasses in a store, but it’s pretty close.
  • The IKEA Place app lets you see how more than 2,000 different pieces of furniture will look in your home. Find an empty spot in your abode and choose the piece of furniture (or lamp, etc.) you’re interested in. Voila. You’ll get an AR view of the product where you live.
  • Stargazing apps like Star Chart, Sky View, and Star Walk are just a few that help you identify stars, constellations, satellites, and more. See that bright light in the sky? Fire up one of the apps to find out what it is and learn more about it.


These may seem like trivial examples, but AR gets much deeper. In the construction industry, AR lets architects and developers see what a proposed design will look like in a space before they start building. Plus, startup businesses are creating AR technology to assist with digital surgery and 3D medical imaging.


Incorporate AR Into Your Direct Mail Advertising Campaigns


With direct mail, AR can layer digital images over top of your customer’s surroundings. For example, you could include a visual trigger in your direct mail piece that recipient’s can activate with a smartphone or tablet camera. This brings dimension and movement to your product or service. AR can turn a traditional piece of mail into an extraordinary experience. The more interactive the mailing, the more successful it’s likely to be. Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your next direct mail campaign.


  • Video demonstrations of your product or service.
  • See how your product will look in a specific location, like a home or office.
  • View pricing, payment, or special discount options.
  • Find a local retail store.


Augmented reality can make your next direct mail campaign come to life. By providing this multi-sensory experience for your recipients, you’re also giving them a “wow factor” piece that they’re more likely to share with other potential customers.


2. Video Mailers


direct mail advertisingOnline videos are popular. That’s why we watch over one-billion hours of YouTube videos every day. By 2021, it’s estimated that 80% of all internet traffic will involve people watching videos. Today, about 96% of all consumers find online videos helpful when making their purchasing decisions. When you consider the medium’s growing appeal, it only makes sense to build video into your next direct mail advertising campaign, too.


Studies show that people remember about 10% of what they hear, 35% of what they see, and 65% of what they see and hear. You can really grab the attention of your customers by embedding video content in some form. Here are a few possibilities.


  • Embed a paper-thin screen directly into your direct mail piece.
  • Use video‑enhanced print that works with a tablet computer.
  • Build a box, book, or brochure around a small LCD screen.


There are a seemingly endless number of possibilities with video and direct mail. However you choose to incorporate video, it increases consumers’ understanding of your product or service by almost 75%. Plus, almost half of your recipients will likely keep the video mailer for future reference or to share with their friends and family.


Of course, there’s more than one way to include video in your direct mailer. Another option would be to use QR code marketing. Add a QR code into your direct mail piece to provide your customers with dynamic digital content. Once you scan the image with your smartphone camera, it launches the video on your screen. From there you can customize the offer by using voice and text to personalize a landing page video.


3. Dimensional Mail


direct mail advertising examplesThink about a time when you received an envelope or package in the mail that was “lumpy.” It wasn’t a traditional flat piece of mail. You knew there was something inside, but what? And that’s what made you open it. You had to find out. How about sending your customers a box or tube? They almost assuredly won’t toss those in the trash without seeing what’s inside, either. Dimensional mail is the most effective form of direct mail advertising.


Whether it’s a bulging envelope or a box or tube, dimensional mailers have an almost perfect open rate. Plus, you’ll increase your chances of getting some feedback. Response rates have been reported as high as 8.5%.


No matter what kind of business you have, dimensional mail is a great way to put your product in people’s hands.


Here’s How Coke Used Dimensional Mail to Create a Social Buzz


Coke designed a set of musical cans to celebrate “Rock in Rio,” the world’s largest music and entertainment festival. Each can represented a different genre of music. The challenge was to create as big a buzz as possible about the fest. So Coke created a direct mail advertising VIP kit that served as an amplifier. Inside was the entire line of musical cans. Then they sent it to the most influential celebrities among Brazilians, hoping they would become real-life amplifiers and promote the festival. They could scan each of the cans with a mobile app. This would, in turn, launch playlists of bands performing at the festival.


Since the amplifier box was, in fact, a cardboard amplifier, recipients could place their smartphones into the top slot and crank up the music without cables or electricity. As it turns out, the celebrities shared images of the amp and cans via social media. The buzz reached more than 1.7-million people and generated more than 30,000 likes on the first day.


There are many innovative and creative ways to share your marketing message with your audience, but dimensional mail continues to be one of the most interesting and effective methods.


4. Direct Mail Sequences


direct mail sequencingThere’s an old rule in advertising that says you need to see an ad seven times before you buy what’s sold in the ad. It’s appropriately known as the “Seven Times Factor.” The same concept applies to your direct mail advertising campaigns. Don’t become frustrated when your first mailing doesn’t produce the results you’re looking for. If you apply direct mail sequencing, you may notice a significant return on your marketing investment.


Direct Mail Sequencing: Marketing Automation in Action


Direct mail sequencing is a form of marketing automation. It’s usually triggered by an event like a new lead requesting information or signing up for your mailing list. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to plan for seven separate mailings, but multiple pieces of direct mail advertising will give you an opportunity to educate your recipients in a variety of ways—and hopefully earn a new customer. Here are some of the lesser-known ways you can use direct mail sequencing.


  • Follow up with a new customer. When someone makes a purchase from you for the first time, assure them that they made a wise choice. This helps to alleviate what’s known as buyer’s remorse. Send a handwritten letter of thanks and include some FAQs to let them know you’re there for them if they have any questions. You’re not only reassuring a new customer, you’re also creating a customer for life.
  • Let your customers know about other products they may like. If your customer is happy with their shopping experience, they may want to by something else from you. Ask them if they’d like related products or accessories for the item they recently bought.
  • Test customer response to a new product. If you’re introducing a new product or service, use direct mail advertising to test the waters, so to speak. Based on the responses you get, you’ll have an idea how much interest there will be if/when you roll out a full-blown campaign.


When your direct mail is triggered by a customer’s actions, you can expect 5x more engagement. Plus, the more often you send it, the more effective it becomes. That’s why smart marketers turn to direct mail sequencing to achieve their marketing goals.


Related: How to Use Direct Mail Marketing Effectively


5. Plan Your Direct Mail to Arrive Mid-Week


direct mail timingDirect mail outperforms email when it comes to results. Consumers act on it faster, it has a higher response rate, and it generates more customers. That’s due, in part, to the fact there’s less of it. Your direct mail piece has less competition in recipients’ mailboxes. It’s less of a challenge than email. Still, you’re competing with bills, catalogs, magazines, packages, and any other advertising mail. So how do you gain an advantage?


To give yourself the best chance to succeed, plan to have your direct mail advertising campaign arrive on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Your customers are usually opening their mail after work on these days. That’s because there are fewer distractions to keep them from doing so. It’s a routine action for them and smart marketing for you. Focus on this example of direct mail timing. When you get the right message to the right people at the right time, you’re maximizing your direct mail advertising efforts.


To help coordinate a stable in-home mail date for your direct mail advertising campaign, contact MSP. We’re an expert marketing services provider with a postal logistics action plan just for you.


6. Target Very Specific Groups


direct mail advertisingTo make sure the right people are getting your message, target those specific groups that most likely want to hear it. In other words, segment your direct mail audience. This is the foundation of direct mail advertising, so it’s not a little-known technique. Digging deeper is, though. With all of the analytics available today, there’s no reason not to. Here are some segments you can use to determine who’s going to receive your next direct mail campaign.


  • Location. You might say that every piece of direct mail is location-specific. That’s because each recipient has an address. You can narrow your focus, though. Would your campaign be best suited for a specific zip code or neighborhood?
  • Demographic. The U.S. Postal Service found that 62% of millennials visited a retail store because of information they received in the mail. If you’re marketing to a specific age group, maybe people born between 1981 and 1996 are the right recipients for your direct mail campaign.
  • Type of Business. If you’re a B2B marketer, you might target a specific industry or company that has a certain number of locations, like a franchise business.
  • Psychographics. Consider the hobbies, interests, and lifestyles of your target market. For example, if you’re marketing veterinary services, a specific group of dog owners would be a great fit for your message.
  • Buyer’s Journey Status. Depending upon where your customers are in the buyer’s journey, you can send them the message they need to hear. One direct mail advertising example would be sending mail to someone who hasn’t ordered from you in a while. A “Come Back” offer is appropriately tailored for this very specific group. It wouldn’t make sense for anyone else.


When you target very specific groups based on their demands and desires, you can optimize your next direct mail advertising campaign. Break down your target markets into very specific groups. This will allow you to deliver highly focused offers that appeal to their needs as a customer.


Direct Mail Advertising: Let’s Create Your Next Advertising Campaign


MSP is an industry leader in direct mail advertising. Let us help you put the well-known and lesser-known direct mail advertising techniques to work for you. With more than 65 years of experience in direct mail advertising, we can help you create and schedule your marketing campaigns for success. Contact an MSP representative today and let’s discuss your goals.

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