Direct mail is receiving rave reviews from modern-day marketers for its outstanding response rates and return on investment. Are you ready to follow in their footsteps and create successful direct mail marketing campaigns? Here are 12 best practices brands use for their top direct mail campaigns.


1. Look to the List: Determine Your Target Audience


To create the top direct mail campaigns, it’s important to know who you’re planning them for. So first, you’ll need to determine a target audience(s). The more you know about them the better, that way you can serve their needs and solve their problems. If you’re struggling to connect a target audience with your product or service, create a customer profile to make the process easier. This will help you develop the empathy that leads to a great solution. Ask yourself some questions about them, like:


  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Geographic location
  • Family status
  • Occupation
  • Interests


This may seem like pretty basic information (and it is), but you can learn a lot from it. If you want to dig deeper, consider sending surveys, conduct interviews, even schedule focus groups to provide feedback about your product or service. Start with your current customers, then branch out to prospective patrons that fit your brand’s customer persona. Also, continually look at your business with an objective eye. That way you can adjust what you already know about consumers into better serving their needs with your direct mail marketing campaigns.


2. Establish Goals for Your Top Direct Mail Campaigns


successful direct mail marketing campaignsNow that you know who you’re selling to, it’s time to determine your goals. What do you want to accomplish with each campaign? You can start by asking yourself what you want your customers (or potential customers) to do when they receive your mailing. Is it your goal to elicit a digital response via email or a landing page, inspire a visit to a physical store, or complete a quick sale based on the mailing? You might just want to establish brand awareness. Once you know your goals, you’re well on your way to creating your top direct mail campaigns.


Let’s look at a few ways you can generate customer responses.



Goal: Buy a Product or Service


This is a bold, straightforward goal. You want to sell your product/service based on this mailing. So whether you’re sending a catalog, brochure, or postcard, your best sales option is to include your website’s URL (try including a QR code that links directly to the item you want to sell) or a phone number for your customers to call and place an order.


Goal: Get a Response


Like most direct mailers, the goal is typically to get your recipients to act in some manner. Maybe your goal is to get them to fill out a form on your website to request more information. You could include a QR code or PURL that leads them to a landing page on your website to complete the response.


Goal: Visit a Local Store


Encourage your recipients to visit one of your local stores (where applicable). Include something like a coupon or special code as an incentive to drive traffic and keep track of how many visits you get to each location.


Goal: Build Brand Awareness


Your goal is almost always to complete a sale sooner or later, but it’s a process. Some consumers aren’t ready to buy immediately. They need a bit of convincing. So you can use multiple direct mailers to show them what your brand is all about. Plus, repetition is key for successful direct mail marketing campaigns. We’ll talk more about that later.


These are some of the goals you can use to create your top direct mail campaigns. Identify a goal early in your direct mail process and you’ll make every corresponding step easier to accomplish.


3. Do You Want Successful Direct Mail Marketing Campaigns? Be Certain Your Data is Clean


If your marketing data is dirty, you have a problem. Bad data has become a big issue for modern-day marketers who want to create their top direct mail campaigns. In fact, wrongful data creates a $3 trillion per year problem. To avoid losing valuable dollars for your business, make sure you regularly check and clean your data. You’ll not only save money, but you’ll also prevent marketing waste en route to successful direct mail marketing campaigns. Data hygiene will help eliminate duplicate records (aka dupes), old data, and typos. It’s important to catch all of these potential campaign killers, but let’s look at one specifically: duplicates.


Dupes may seem innocent. After all, what’s the big deal about someone receiving more than one of your mailings? Isn’t that an advantage? No, it isn’t. Duplicate records create ROI over projections. Let’s take a closer look at what that means. Let’s say that 8% of your 54,000 leads are dupes. If you’re projecting that 20% of those leads will make a purchase, you’re not counting on the 4,320 people that will receive double mailings. That’s where the over-projection comes in. Furthermore, when recipients get two of the same pieces of mail from you, it sends a poor message. Your brand looks like it doesn’t have its act together and you’re wasting marketing dollars and resources, too.


Bottom line: Bad data is bad for business. So clean up your act and enjoy the results.


Assess and Clean Your Data


Many marketers aren’t even aware they have dirty data. But you can achieve your best direct mail marketing campaigns by applying the following data hygiene and list management advice:


  1. Double-check how you’re entering customer data into your CRM software. If you don’t currently have specific data entry rules, make that a top priority. For instance, ask your data entrant team to cross-check a person’s name before entering it into your system. They may already be on your list.
  2. Create specific categories to better target or segment your list. These could be “top clients,” “geographic location,” and/or those showing an interest in a particular product or service.
  3. Setup automatic deduplication. Your CRM should include a feature that will automatically look for identical (or closely related) records.
  4. Create an ongoing maintenance schedule, then clean your data before you send a new campaign. This will give you the best chance to deliver a successful direct mail campaign. You may not reach 100% accuracy, but the closer you get to perfect, the better results you’ll see. And that leads to direct mail success.


MSP provides NCOA (National Change of Address) services that help to keep your data clean and check for dupes. We run a data suppression program that adds, subtracts, or edits the information within your database to make sure you have the cleanest, most up-to-date data possible. This not only helps to create successful direct mail campaigns but also maximizes response rates and ROI.


4. Budget for Your Top Direct Mail Campaigns


top direct mail campaignsYou build successful direct mail marketing campaigns around a budget. If you don’t have the luxury of spending as much money you want (like most brands), you’ll need to create a targeted amount for each campaign based on your goals. Unlike email, direct mail has more costs involved, but it also offers higher response rates. The key is to be smart with your spending. There are a variety of factors that play into the cost of the top direct mail campaigns. Here are some of the areas to pay particular attention to.


Design: How’s Your Presentation?


When it comes to designing the top direct mail campaigns, remember that less is more. The key is to make sure your message gets across. But don’t make the design so plain that it gets lost with the other mail. To fully engage your recipients, appeal to as many of their senses as possible. Incorporate scents, textures, sounds, video—even taste samples where applicable—to make your most successful direct mail marketing campaigns.


Copywriting: What’s Your Message?


You want to grab people’s attention with great design, but you also want to make sure your brand’s message and CTA are obvious. How you write your letter is every bit as important as how it looks.


Mailing Lists: Who Are You Sending This To?


If you’re buying a list from a third-party vendor, you’ll need to, first of all, find out how much it will cost. Be sure to inquire about where they get their data and if their lists are regularly updated. Also, demand that they use the latest data hygiene and optimization methods.


Printing: What Type of Ink and Paper Should You Use?


Printing the top direct mail campaigns means selecting the right inks and papers. An MSP representative will be happy to discuss your goals and help guide you through all of your options in the printing process.


Mailing Costs: How Can You Save Money?


You’re going to spend most of your campaign’s budget on mailing costs. But there are clever ways to save money and we’re happy to tell you about them. It’s called postal optimization, and we’ll discuss it more in a moment. This will help you save on mailing costs and get your campaigns into mailboxes faster. That’s where MSP shows up as your full-service direct mail provider because we can print and ship your direct mail campaigns.


When you understand these budgeting highlights, you can create your top direct mail campaigns. If you’d like to discuss how to create a budget for your next campaign, reach out to an MSP representative today.


5. Determine What Kind of Direct Mail You’ll Send


Once you’ve decided how much money you have in your campaign budget, it’s time to determine what types of direct mail you’re going to send. The options are almost endless, but let’s focus on four of the most popular methods that lead to successful direct mail marketing campaigns.


Direct Mail Letter and Envelope


A personal letter inside an envelope is one of the most effective forms of direct mail. You’ll likely see, on average, a 4.3% response rate, according to Data Marketing and Analytics. There are a variety of sizes to pick from, but larger envelopes (like 9″ x 12″) will deliver the best response (usually between 6-7%). Keep in mind: self-mailers will help you save on envelope costs.


Direct Mail Postcards


If you want a simple, inexpensive method of getting your marketing message to your customers, embrace the simple two-sided postcard. This is a great option if you want to debut a new product, event, or location, plus there are a wide variety of sizes to pick from—specifically standard (4¼” x 6″), oversized (9″ x 6″), or jumbo (11″ x 6″). Keep in mind that the bigger the postcard, the more likely you are to grab people’s attention out of the mailbox.


Direct Mail Catalogs


If you look back at the history of direct mail marketing, you’ll find catalogs at the beginning. These informative marketing staples have been around for 100+ years and over 90% of retailers admit that catalogs are their best marketing channel because they promote all their product lines and drive traffic to their websites simultaneously.


Dimensional Marketing Mail


Dimensional mail requires a larger budget, but there are undeniable advantages. You’re almost guaranteed to get your mail piece opened. Whether it’s a box, tube, or bag, people can’t ignore what might be inside. It’s too intriguing to pass up. That’s why dimensional mail has a nearly 100% open rate.


6. Use Quality Content for Successful Direct Mail Marketing Campaigns


successful direct mail marketing campaignsHere comes the fun part, right? Creating content that will serve as the foundation of your top direct mail campaigns is challenging but rewarding. Sure, you want to get people’s attention with your design, but the primary goal is to get them to act. That’s where your words—and the placement of your words—matter. Interestingly, there are ways to influence how your recipients read your message.


Think Like Your Customers


When you’re crafting a direct mail letter, consider what triggers your customers. Think the way they think. Use emotion to appeal to them. What’s going to pull at their heartstrings and make them act?


Create a Primary CTA


You need to make it abundantly clear what you want your readers to do. If you want them to visit your website, make it obvious. If you want them to place an order, guide them through with your words so they’ll make that purchase. Reference one CTA throughout the entire letter, and include it in a P.S. at the end, too.


Benefits > Features


Emotion is a strong influencer, but you can also point out the benefits of your product/service. Your customers don’t want to know about the features as much as they want to know how your product/service is going to help them, and maybe even change their lives for the better.


Use A/B Testing and Pay Attention to the Results


There’s more than one way to write a direct mail letter, but you’d like to know the best way. That’s where A/B testing comes in. This helps you figure out what’s most appealing to your customers. For instance, you could cut your mailing list in half and include a single difference like the primary color, different images, or the location of your CTAs. Then look for the results that will shape future successful direct mail marketing campaigns.


Include a Sense of Urgency


Remember to include a sense of urgency in your letter. Give your customers a deadline so they have to act or miss out on a great offer.


Learning how to optimize your direct mail letter will lead to positive results. Apply the tips above and you’ll see your most successful direct mail marketing campaigns.


7. Send Your Top Direct Mail Campaigns via Postal Optimization


Digital marketing delivery is pretty simple. Essentially, you press a button, and presto, you’ve sent your campaign to hundreds or thousands of recipients. With direct mail marketing, there are a few more steps to work through. But they’re worth it, especially when you apply postal optimization methods. We spoke about postal optimization in our section on budgeting, but what does it mean? In a nutshell, it’s a process designed to give you the best possible rates via technology and logistics, and it’s based on how many pieces you’re mailing. Of course, there’s more than one way to accomplish this. Let’s look at the possibilities, simplified so you can see how the process works.


  • Presorting. When you group each piece of mail according to its zip code, you’re making life easier for the USPS. Thus, you’re rewarded with lower mailing rates.
  • Commingling. This option is like presorting via zip codes, but you’re combining your campaigns with other businesses (bundled into trays) to generate an even deeper discount.
  • Co-Palletization, aka CoPAL. With CoPAL, rather than sharing pieces of mail sorted by zip code in a tray, you’re sharing the full trays of mail onto a larger pallet. Ultimately, this places your mail deeper into the USPS delivery system, so you’re rewarded with additional discounts.
  • Consolidated. Just when you thought you couldn’t get any deeper into the USPS mail system, there’s consolidation. Here, you can combine those aforementioned pallets of mail with other businesses to create an even greater discount.


When we ship your campaigns, we automatically optimize them for USPS delivery. This takes days off the production time plus you’ll get the best rates. We’ll let you know what your options are so you can choose how to send your campaigns. This is how to build successful direct mail marketing campaigns.


8. Apply Multichannel Marketing Methods


multichannel marketingSo we bragged up digital marketing as a simple and quick marketing channel—and it is for the most part. But we know direct mail produces better response rates. So which one do you choose? In the direct mail vs. digital marketing debate, the answer is unquestionably both! That’s right, you choose both and apply multichannel marketing methods to make them work better—together.


Almost all consumers switch back and forth between their electronic devices each day. They’re using desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones on a regular basis. That’s the primary reason about 90% of those same consumers expect your brand to embrace multichannel marketing. So what works on one device, also works just as well on another. Research shows if consumers can’t jump back and forth, they get frustrated. On the flip side, if you do provide multichannel marketing methods, consumers are so happy that they’ll spend, on average, 3x more than one-channel customers.


So how does direct mail play into this? Let’s say a consumer receives a direct mail piece from you and based on your message, they have digital options like entering a URL address or scanning a QR code to complete your CTA. It doesn’t matter whether you’re asking them to sign-up for a mailing list or sending them to a product page on your website. When you add a digital component to your strategy, it leads to more successful direct mail marketing campaigns.


9. Speed to Market: Decide When You Want Your Mail to Arrive


With all the direct mail data available, you’d think there would be a window of opportunity for marketers to schedule their deliveries. The good news? There is! And it’s pretty simple to achieve, too. Your brand’s speed to market is influenced by several aspects we’ve already mentioned, namely clean data, postal optimization, and marketing automation. They all help to plan your direct mail deliveries as close to the desired date as possible.


Research shows that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the best days for people to receive mail. So as long as you focus on those three days of the week, you’ll put yourself in the best position to achieve successful direct mail marketing campaigns. With proper direct mail timing, you can also focus on specific times of the year, such as holidays and those seasons that are typically the busiest for your particular industry. And don’t forget about days that celebrate your customers, like birthdays and anniversaries. Thoughtful consideration of these moments is key to maintaining long-lasting customer relationships.


Of course, you may be wondering how these types of deliveries are possible. How do you arrange for a direct mailer to arrive on a specific day? To help manage a reliable delivery date, it pays to hire a marketing services provider like MSP that employs expert staff and follows a strong postal logistics strategy. We’ll help you determine what arrival dates are best and get it delivered on time.


10. Analyze the Results


marketing roiIf you don’t pay close attention to how your direct mail campaigns performed, you won’t know what’s working and what’s not. That’s why you should always look at your data to achieve your top direct mail campaigns. If you’re new to direct mail, pay attention to marketing metrics like response and conversion rates, cost per acquisition (CPAs), and return on investment (ROI). When you include this data in your CRM, you can identify successful direct mail marketing campaigns. As a result, you can create future strategies with confidence.


Achieve Your Top Direct Mail Campaigns with Direct Mail Panorama


You can manage your own direct mail campaigns, but it takes a lot of time and patience to get the results you’re looking for. You have to track changes, manage spreadsheets, and keep up with a seemingly endless amount of emails. Many companies have gone through this painstaking pattern for decades—and they’re still stuck in the past. But we know there’s a better way. The key is a revolutionary new software solution called Direct Mail Panorama. It’s the future of direct mail management. This game-changing product will help you better manage successful direct mail marketing campaigns.


Direct Mail Panorama reduces your management time and improves your speed to market. An automated proofing system simplifies the editing and approval process. Plus, you can easily keep track of changes and manage multi-level approvals. In fact, you can track and analyze every step of the mailing process, from production to delivery. It’s a full-service direct mail management system that leads to shorter cycle times and higher engagement rates.


11. Rinse and Repeat: Keep Mailing for Best Results


To achieve your top direct mail campaigns, you’ll need to embrace repetition. Studies show that most consumers need to see your marketing message at least seven times before they’ll buy your product or service. It’s an age-old advertising philosophy known as “The Rule of Seven,” which states that a potential customer has to read your marketing materials at least seven times before they act. What’s so significant about that number? It’s not just a lucky number. Rather, it’s about repetition and consistency. Sure, you might sell your product or service after just one mailing, but most of the time consumers will need to hear from you on a regular basis to get to know you and trust what you’re telling them.


12. Partner with an Expert for Your Top Direct Mail Campaigns


Top brands apply all of the previously mentioned best practices to achieve the direct mail results they’re looking for. But the most important point is trusting the process to an experienced direct mail marketing provider. This is how to create successful direct mail marketing campaigns. MSP can help your brand build your top direct mail campaigns. To talk about your brand’s marketing goals using direct mail and other channels, contact MSP and speak with one of our direct mail experts today.

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