How to Build a Comprehensive Direct Mail Marketing Strategy in 2021 - A complete guide

Categories: Marketing
Sam Thomas avatar
Sam Thomas Updated: September 01, 2021


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Direct mail is one of the oldest forms of business advertising still in use. Direct mail marketing has become easy to dismiss today, as most clients are online and it is far more cost-effective to mass-mail customers via email marketing than through print. Despite its recent drop in form, direct mail is still important for creating brand engagement in a strategic, multi-channel marketing effort. Despite its age, it remains one of the most efficient ways to target potential customers, regardless of whether they own a business. It is important to anyone who wants to market their business to have a clear understanding of how to implement an efficient direct mail campaign.

To increase the effectiveness of your direct mail marketing efforts, you should construct a plan to execute your new direct mail campaign and implement it as a marketing tool in your integrated marketing strategy. We’ll go through some important considerations while designing your direct mail strategy here. Starting your direct mail campaign with a solid plan can affect new and existing customers, increasing their likelihood of purchasing from you in the future.

Table of Content:

What is direct mail marketing?

What is direct mail marketing?

Marketers utilize direct mail marketing, which uses tangible things like printed mailers, dimensional parcels, perishable commodities, or other physical items to promote to potential and current customers in a way that bypasses digital communications. Marketers inbound and outbound sales teams, marketing departments, demand generation teams, growth teams, recruiters, and others utilize it in many ways. You may establish real connections with customers, leads, and prospects by using direct mail marketing. In B2C and B2B selling, this method is utilized, however, it is more typically used with consumers.

As digital media has become increasingly dominant over the past two decades, marketers have employed digital communication to reach broader audiences. Even if digital marketing has exploded, so has digital overwhelm. A quarter of people who do so claim to use ad-blocking software to enhance their online experience, according to Statista. Marketers now find themselves in a tough battle for attention with a customer base that is rapidly growing tired of digital advertising. Increasingly, marketers have begun delivering their message to their mailbox rather than the inbox.

Why does direct mail marketing still work in 2021?

There is one conclusion we can draw, as we approach 2021: Direct mail has never been more important than it is now, especially during this epidemic. With direct mail, organizations have a chance to engage with customers and prospects in their homes, where 88% of purchasing decisions are made. The following explanations show why direct mail marketing is a necessary component of a broader marketing campaign.

Direct mail gets a higher response rate

Direct mail has a response rate 30 times higher than email, which has the highest response rate of any digital channel. Integrated campaigns have the ability to raise ROI by 20 percent, and it is among these strategies. Of all the emails customers receive daily, just a small fraction of the emails are being opened. However, 81% of Americans read and go through all of their mail each day. A better ability to garner the attention of your target audience and improve brand engagement results from having a larger media presence.

Direct mail delivers a memorable message

The human touch is the “specialty” of direct mail since it can be personalized with a handwritten note or a carefully picked item, creating good emotional connections. Direct mail has the potential to surprise and entertain recipients in infinite ways. Marketers can send a wide array of personalized things using a mailing platform, including handwritten cards, creative gifts, gifts, gift cards, and even sweets and delicacies.

Offers are redeemed more easily

Offers are redeemed more easily

Missing a special deal because of an inbox full of promotional emails is easy. In all likelihood, you will wait until you have a chance to make a purchase to really use a discount coupon that arrives in your mailbox. The response rate for direct mail is substantially higher than email or other types of digital marketing: it’s a very visible marketing method. According to the Direct Mail Association, the response rate for direct mail is 5.1 percent, whereas that of email marketing is only 0.6 percent.

How to build a comprehensive direct mail marketing strategy

There are several recurrent themes we have identified in successful direct mail marketing efforts. Our guidance on marketing strategy and direct mail metrics tracking includes a strategy to reach your goals. The following are some of our tips for effective direct mail marketing.

1. Determine your target market

In order to properly plan your mailing, you need to give yourself time to carefully think about your target audience. The capability to precisely target your mailings to a specified audience is a benefit of direct mail advertising. Determine your target demographic (age, gender, income, and location) that is most in line with your brand or business, or that is similar to your voter base. It’s more probable that your direct mail will be successful if you’ve invested time and effort into creating a highly focused marketing campaign.

2. Build a mailing list

Build a mailing list

To begin with, you need to create a target market and compile a direct mail list. If you have an existing list of clients or potential customers, it’s a good idea to leverage it for your marketing campaign. If you can’t find them, you will need to rent or buy a third-party direct mail list from a political party or direct mail provider. When smaller organizations and those new to direct mail marketing use this technique, they choose to rent these mailing lists.

3. Formulate a detailed plan

When you know who your target demographic is, it’s time to go more detailed with your direct mail marketing strategy. Consider everything about your campaign, including the many necessities.

The rest of your plan should only follow once you are certain in your list of recipients. What are you providing for your customers as a result of this promotion, and why should they prefer you over the competition? Direct mail marketing is best served by providing a compelling offer that can encourage customers to respond after receiving your mail.

As a marketing tool or as a loyalty program, you must show your customers why your company is distinct. Now we have to talk about the next step of the plan. Design. Design, language, and text, stunning images, and other vital components, such as a beautiful presentation, all contribute to building your brand for customers, so it’s important to be mindful of the campaign’s look and feel.

4. Write persuasive copy and compelling CTAs

Write persuasive copy and compelling CTAs

Though a robust mailing list is an excellent starting point, it is no good until you have a direct mail piece that is compelling to win consumers or voters. In the United States, homeowners are overwhelmed by junk mail, with most of it going straight to the trash bin. When you send out your mail, you want to be sure that the person reading it has the option to put it away immediately. Even if you produce your own mailers or use a third-party advertising agency, you need to make sure your messaging is eye-catching and fits into your entire marketing or political strategy.

Regardless of whether the present is for a corporation or to gain new customers, strong CTAs help. This item will be a mini flyer that comes with the gifts. The print material can include it as a few sentences, but it must give people something to do. Obvious instructions are useful. Instead of emphasizing legibility, concentrate on making the words strong. It may be a token of appreciation for staff, but it will still make a difference. For example, they could encourage recipients to use certain hashtags on social media to boost buzz.

5. Control your inventories

It is crucial to keep a supply of mailing materials and shipping supplies if you are expecting to continue mailing for the foreseeable future. It is crucial to maintain a regular direct mail marketing strategy with an adequate supply of mailings and physical samples.

6. Pack and send your mail

Pack and send your mail

It is important for business owners to also make sure that their inventory management is smooth and efficient and to have a simple shipping process in place. Regardless of the size of your business, there are multiple ways for you to ship your direct mailings. You can do your direct mail project with a third-party mailing provider or with the USPS, which has special direct mail services like Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM). While you can choose to pack and ship yourself, this option often means you will not have access to the lower bulk rate shipping deals that come with the other choices.

7. Keep track of your performance

If you want to achieve a high response rate with your direct mail, it’s crucial to adjust your plans based on your previous results. You’ll need to create a system to keep track of your direct mail recipients’ response rates and follow-up techniques. Following up on direct mail is the strategy used by some business owners, who conduct additional email or digital marketing campaigns.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re doing direct mail marketing is to have a clear goal or vision in mind. To develop a better sense of appreciation and raise morale, you may be interested in hiring telecommuters. You may also want to examine how many new clients engaged with your print materials. Regardless of what your goals are for this campaign, it is crucial to have a means of tracking progress and identifying areas of improvement. For employee appreciation, among other reasons, you might deliver surveys to your staff before and after deployment. This allows you to follow developments and observe if the campaign has produced any improvements.

Some excellent direct mail marketing strategies to employ in 2021

Coordinating Direct Mail and Email Campaigns

Coordinating Direct Mail and Email Campaigns

Using direct mail and email in combination could boost response rates to much above average results. This will almost certainly damage your ROI. When beginning your campaign, you should start by mailing prospects directly.

Contact the recipients a week after the letter arrives with an email. Your emails should be sent at least four times to ensure everyone receives them. In addition, you should make sure to build a compelling call to action (CTA) for each piece of marketing. Your readers must be motivated to respond to your offer, which should make them feel urgent. Conduct a series of tests to find out which type of CTA (call to action) is most effective in your email and direct mail.

Use direct mail to engage your target market, and send email marketing to keep them engaged. Since direct mail is a common method of email marketing, it is recommended to begin with a direct mail piece.

Target repeat customers

Not only are direct mailings used to welcome new clients; they are also utilized to invite back old ones. For boosting repeat sales, nothing beats direct mail. Skilled direct mail marketers seek to re-engage existing customers and develop strategies to get them back.

Mailers don’t always result in leads. Identifying the same group of people and audience more than once is crucial. In the same way that you might want to run different marketing approaches to target a target audience, you also want to try and reach out to the same audience more than once to give them a reason to choose your brand.

Personalize mails

Personalize mails

It is possible to express to your receiver how much effort you have put into your direct mail in several methods.

If you are mailing an individual, take the time to conduct research on your receiver. Do they use social media a lot? Look for ways to connect your direct mail to their interests. Did they recently have a baby? Do they follow basketball or football closely? Think about how to send them something that is genuinely useful to them personally or professionally.

Although mass direct mail customization remains successful, your campaign can still have power. You may ensure your gift stays relevant by segmenting your consumers by profession and sending them a gift that helps simplify their day. For instance, when you have field marketers as consumers, a high-end water bottle is a good choice for them to have at their booth when they’re at a conference for lengthy hours.

A handwritten letter that is addressed to each individual should be written to all your recipients. Tell your customers why you’re bringing them your product, how it can help them, and how much you appreciate their business.

Afterward, the packing is needed. Outside-the-box thinking will create a strong impression, make your firm more valuable, and help your brand stand out from the others that will be floating around your clients’ workstations. Either through distinctive brand designs, creative patterns, or colored paper, you may add flair to your box.

Take advantage of postcards

Take advantage of postcards

Postcards are better than other direct mail mediums, especially when sending high-value items to recipients. In the opinion of the Data and Marketing Association, the response rate for postcards is as high as 4.25 percent. To drive an ROI from your direct mail marketing strategies, postcards can be a valuable investment.

Sending out a postcard with a promotional offer can help get past or existing customers re-engaged, or introduce new products to existing customers to help increase upsell potential. Place a strong call-to-action for your audience’s next actions in the same section that you display a QR code for scanning.


Just because direct mail marketing is done once doesn’t mean it’s done. Advertise frequently to ensure your brand is top of mind with your target audience, and re-emphasize the brand loyalty you’ve cultivated with your original advertising. Direct mail marketing efforts can benefit from this strategy.

To keep the following set from becoming repetitive, I’ve changed several elements. So you can, for example, change from swag kits to custom postcards or shift from a leaflet to a tiny branded item. You should keep campaigns balanced, so you don’t overwhelm your recipients with information, but instead make it seem like you’re just providing them a pleasant reminder about your business.

Adjust your frequency

Delivering mail to mailboxes too frequently is wasteful and can be disregarded. Set aside a moment to review your mailing schedule. Sending more than one letter piece in a month is excessive. You should make it a priority to maintain courteous connection with the consumer because positive consumer experiences are likely to lead to more successful marketing campaigns.

Managing frequency often includes the problem of overlapping objectives. Mailings can be duplicated because of the overlap between win-back and customer marketing.

Offer undeniable deals

Offer undeniable deals

It is essential to have attention-grabbing offerings. For a successful mailer, it is crucial to understand the psychology of sales and promotions. If you want to appeal to your customers, incorporate eye-catching bargains and direct mailings.

Examples of outstanding direct mail marketing campaigns for your business’ reference


A brand with truly unique branding, McDonald’s direct mail marketing endeavors to push their brand further while still delivering value to customers. Influencers and guests visiting the eatery get branded gifts. Each item picked up is a terrific technique to convey brand awareness as it’s exciting and cool. The products are useful, thus they are less likely to be disregarded. It was done in a smart manner to avoid tedium.


Nestlé’s Kit Kat bar

Nestlé's Kit Kat bar

Kit Kat Chunky, Nestlé’s chocolate bar, saw their sales bolstered with a fantastic direct mail marketing example: a free bar. In order to acquire the free chocolate bar, customers were encouraged to go to the newsagent to pick it up after a ‘we’re sorry we couldn’t deliver your parcel’ card was placed under their door, while pretending that it was too thick to fit through the letterbox. This flyer with the eye-catching design could not have been easier, but it was successful in increasing sales for the chocolate bar due to its ‘chunkiness’. Through the implementation of tailored services and personalizing their correspondence to the reader, Nestlé was able to engage with their audience and deliver a one-of-a-kind experience.

LavOnline Tomato Splat

LavOnline Tomato Splat

The Tomato Splat direct mail campaign was intended to promote firm selling washing supplies. They sent out a novel and interactive form of direct mail after identifying the intended clients as young professionals and managers who did not utilize laundry services. When the gift was opened, the audience was requested to “splat” a tomato, which first took the form of a white t-shirt. Since 32% of the target clients signed up for the service online, and the website traffic increased by 15%.



Direct mail marketing gifts were employed to create brand loyalty and long-term partnerships for TikTok. TikTok educators, beauty influencers, fashion influencers, and other important user demographics are among the targeted categories for their strategy.

Every item is meticulously picked to suit the brand’s style. TikTok has also provided a few extras, such as branded confectionery to provide a unique touch to your experience.

Earth Hour

Earth Hour

To celebrate Earth Hour, the company crafted a direct mail campaign that is one of their most inventive concepts in history. Earth Hour gave yellow candles to CEOs and industry leaders to entice them to follow suit and turn out their lights. The box’s front was made to replicate the building’s front, and the yellow candle was supposed to look like a switch. Thanks to their finest direct mail campaign, the corporation saw a 260% increase in support for the ‘switch off.’

Things to avoid in direct mail marketing

The same kind of dangers that are likely to be found in a successful direct mail marketing program are also present in an unsuccessful one. Below are a few common errors in email delivery that can cause a serious effect on your campaign and marketing expenses.

Running without having a goal in mind

Your campaign’s success depends on the chance if you don’t understand your target audience. Unless you invest in proper targeting and strategy during the planning phase of your campaign, you may be giving your products to people who won’t use them or don’t have the means to act on your offer. Another example of an ineffective incentive is giving gas cards to explore a new location when you know that the beneficiaries primarily use their cars to travel.

Not following up

After deliveries have been sent and reactions have been recognized, you should continue to improve your campaign’s success. When following up on responses, you are guaranteed to capture all the messages that otherwise would have gone missing, saving you time and money and dramatically increasing your return on investment. Also, follow-ups can send the message that the sender wants to maintain contact with the receiver. Get a backup plan ready to put into action before shipping is finished.

Forgetting to Track Deliveries

While sending out your direct mailings is only one component of the solution, it is not the entire component. In order to maximize your efforts, it is necessary to follow your deliveries, trace them back to particular campaigns, and be able to gauge the reaction. This can be further improved by the usage of a Sending Platform.

Packing boxes manually

Direct mail takes a lot of time to stuff, and that time could be better spent on other, more profitable, tasks. The use of a Shipping Platform to ship and track parcels is, therefore, a much more effective method of ensuring delivery to the end-user.

Final Words

Ultimately, it is the personal nature of direct mail marketing that makes it successful. It doesn’t appear to be an email or junk mail. It’s a thoughtful method to let customers, workers, and prospective clients know that you care about them. An efficient direct mail marketing campaign is possible by utilizing tailored direct marketing lists and having a sound direct mail marketing plan in place.

You will have the tools to build, track, and send highly engaging campaigns; overcome the digital noise and increase your return on investment using the information and methods described in this overview.

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