September 1, 2018

Direct Mail Marketing (Advanced Guide + Expert Secrets)

There is no debating that Direct mail marketing has been around for a while. The United States Postal Service has been around for 231 years. The Incan Empire had a complex mail delivery system as early as 1438-1533 CE. Humans have always loved communications and gifts in a tangible form delivered right to them.

But flash-forward to 2019

Has direct mail reached its apocalyptic end?

In the digital age, there is pressure on marketers to come up with the best new campaign trends. It is easy to fall into a trap of chasing innovation to the point that marketers are going around in circles and not getting necessary results. There are many marketing methods to choose from: telecommunication, online display, social media, paid search, email, and direct mail to name a few.

While it’s beneficial to always focus on innovation, it’s good to have a steady marketing campaign method that you can rely on to bring in customers. What’s steadier than something that has been successful for over a thousand years? If the method works, it works. It may be time for you to fall in love with direct mail again.

What is Direct Mail Marketing

The definition of direct mail is:

"Unsolicited advertising sent to prospective customers through the mail"

Direct mail marketing is a form of marketing to help businesses of all sizes increase more leads and sales. It encompasses creating physical promotional materials sent to prospective customers in order to drive business and increase awareness for potential clients.

For many businesses

Direct mail marketing works as a major component in making sure your current and prospective understand what your business is and why they continue or start doing business with you. There are many aspects to direct mail marketing. This includes how you display your calls-to-action to the shape of your materials. But the best direct mail marketing isn’t just about printing a postcard with your logo and putting a phone number on it. It’s about enticing recipients to respond on the way your prospect prefers. At List Giant we believe these principles go hand-in-hand.

This article is designed to familiarize you with many areas of direct mail marketing—from collecting the data list of your perfect customer, to making sure your website is mobile-friendly, to building your marketing list for future nurturing of your prospects and current customers. If you are confused about any of the above, you are not alone. That’s why we’re here to help show you how to use direct mail effectively.

Why your business can benefit from direct mail marketing?

Response through direct mail continues to be strong every year. Direct mail can be successful in generating sales and leads for your business. This is true across for businesses of different sizes and industries. Many direct mail marketing companies just offer to send the promotional material. However That is just one marketing channel that can help with your other channels and vice-versa. When you reach a potential customer on multiple channels they are 400% more likely to respond.

If prospects cannot find an easy way to business with you through their preferred method, you miss out on incredible opportunities to drive revenue to your business. Statistics show that successful multi-channel marketing can make (or break) a businesses' success. Investing in a great list of people who would most likely become your customer and multiple marketing channels can have an exceptionally high rate of return compared to starting without one. List Giant is currently offering 500 free direct mail sales leads to new customers with no risk and no obligated commitment on your end. Try our high-quality data and see how it boosts your direct marketing campaign.

Stats that show if direct mail marketing works?

Here are 10 stats and facts that show that direct mail still does work and is a viable marketing channel. You might be wondering Direct mail doesn't work anymore and it is more of a nuisance than a viable marketing channel. Well the truth is that people are still responding to it according to the United States Postal Service. Are they being truthful with their stats?

You will never know until you try a campaign yourself and see how it does for your business. One thing is certain though. Much of the success of your direct mail campaign will be determined by the selection and quality of your consumer mailing list for marketing.

Stat 1: Direct Mail Still Gets Great Response

On a marketing campaign, you are playing an odds game. Play with the odds in your favor with a tried-and-true method. Response rates for common campaign methods:

0.9% Online Display

0.6% Social Media

0.5% Paid Search

0.45% Email

6% Direct Mail to Household

To improve your response rates, it is crucial to use a multi-channel approach. Combining your direct mail marketing campaign with an email marketing strategy and online advertising channels will drastically improve your response rates.

Stat 2: Believe it or Not - Young People Still Scan Their Direct Mail Offers.

The USPS found that 47% of Millennial's actually check their physical mailbox each day. They also consider going through their direct mail as a leisurely activity. Keep in mind they also spend a lot of time online. Many marketers have focused on hybrid tactics. Using direct mail ads with QR codes, short links, scannable coupons give you a well-rounded approach to leveraging Millennial's multi-channel interests.

Stat 3: Young People Actually Respond to Direct Mail

Actions speak louder than words. Not only do young people say that read their direct mail offers... They actually respond to direct mail offers well. The DMA marks 18-21 years old's’ response rate as 12.4%. If you have a new business or are willing to give a coupon offer, millennials don't have a problem driving over to your business and giving their review.

Stat 4: Want Repeat Customers? The Direct Mail Response Rate Can Be Big for Former Brand Customers

18.4 % of people will respond to mail advertisements from companies that they have previously purchased from. If you have an old mailing list from past customers, send them a coupon or small gift offer in the mail. Remind them of how great your business is by getting them in the door.

Stat 5: People Sort their Mail Immediately

If you are worried about your mail advertisement sitting in your prospect's mailbox for a week, don't be. Epsilon conducted a study revealing that over 80% of people immediately sort through their mail upon receipt This is great news for you, that way you can analyze the results of your direct marketing campaign within a reasonable amount of time.

Stat 6: Direct Mail is perceived as More Personal

There’s nothing quite like getting a letter. According to USPS, 69% of people think direct mail is more personal than the Internet. People are more likely to buy from places that they can trust. If you want to build a bond with your customer, a physical letter is the way to go.

Stat 7: Direct Mail isn’t that Expensive

While you may spend more initially to kick off your direct mail campaign, the return to your investment should compensate this extra fee. Direct mail median household return on investment is 29%. So even if you spend more than what you would use on an online display advertisement, you could receive a bigger return.

Stat 8: Americans Look Forward to Checking their Mail

Imagine that you have a prospective customer that is positive and excited to receive your advertisement in the mail. Lucky you. This is a reality. In a world full of social media and email, GALLUP found in their study, “41% of Americans nevertheless look forward to checking what is in their mailbox each day.”

Stat 9: Adding Direct Mail to Your Digital Campaign Escalates Your Conversion Rates

Adding direct mail to your digital ad campaign boosts your conversion rate by 28%. It is always better to add your advertisement to multiple channels. Imagine seeing an ad online while you are scrolling through Facebook and then getting an ad in the mail. Seeing an ad in multiple forms gives your prospect the impression that you are legitimate and that your company is everywhere.

Stat 10: The Success of your Direct Mail Campaign is in the Data Prep Work

If you want a successful direct mail marketing campaign, 40% of the success is in the data. This is great for you because you have control of the quality of data that you use for your mailing campaign. List Giant is a high-quality 3rd party data provider that is currently offering 500 free mailing list leads to new customers.

Direct Mail Marketing Strategy

Below are some direct mail marketing tips and benefits that will help you increase the success of your campaigns. Because the truth is: If you cross your fingers and HOPE people will respond to your mail piece without a proper strategy, you're in for a world of pain. (This is an expensive lesson learned the hard way) But when you promote your direct mail to the right people and use a multi-channel approach, the results can be spectacular.

Tip 1: Mobile Responsive Website

Direct mail marketing is a perfect opportunity to get your company's name in the hands of customers who want to hear about your latest products, services, and coupons. It is important that your website is responsive for mobile users.

90% of people who receive your marketing piece will visit your website first before doing anything else. The majority of people checking their mail have their phone with them which makes having a mobile-friendly website extremely important. Now, more than ever, you need to consider the user experience of your potential customers on every channel. Not just one.

Tip 2: Be On target

Knowing about your best customers is a key factor in targeted direct mail marketing. The customers' basic demographics, such as males 18 to 34 or females with children, is a start.

However A more complete understanding of your customer's profile like their

  • Shopping and purchasing behavior
  • Attitudes toward trends, products, marketing, and media
  • Lifestyle habits
  • Financial Standing

These data points will help you become even more effective in both your lead selection and the messages you'll use in communicating with them

Tip 3: Find The Ideal Customer

Once you understand your customers you can use this information to build a targeted list of potential new leads. Want to know the best part? Targeted direct mailing lists are likely to result in the best response rate and generate future loyal customers because they pinpoint your best leads. There is less waste and a higher percentage of prospects responding to your mailing.

Tip 4: Pick a Mailing List

It's practically impossible to overstate the importance of direct mailing lists to the success of your direct mail program. Here's the bottom line: The correct mailing list will contain your most valuable prospects and future customers. The more careful you are in analyzing and selecting direct mailing lists, the better your chances for success. There are several different categories of mailing lists available on the market today ranging in cost and appropriateness for your market. Here are some of the most popular lists to ensure you contact your most receptive audience.


Once you have a mailing list it is time to create your direct mail message. The direct mail piece you create delivers your message. The piece represents who and what your business is about. Make it consistent with what you're selling. If you are offering a high-quality professional service, your direct mail piece needs to reflect that quality.

Tip 6: Test the Market

Many companies have wasted a lot of hard-earned marketing dollars. Why? Because they didn't test the market before throwing a ton of ad dollars into it. Before you launch a full-blown direct-mail campaign, you should always test against a smaller market to determine your rate of return. If you can't make sales off a small portion of your target audience, you're not likely to realize much more success with a larger demographic.

Direct Mail Experts Share Their Secrets

Cost Saving Secrets

Shawn Breyer, Owner at Breyer Home Buyers

1. Make sure that the list you use is your target market. Don't blindly send direct mail to geography. If you are trying to send out postcards to promote your assisted living facility, for example, you don't want to send out mailers to people in their 30s. You'd want to filter your list more towards your avatar.

2. Not everyone is going to buy from you just because you send them a postcard. Most people won't be ready to buy your product or services, or they will just be too busy to check it out. Have a monthly marketing plan for at least 6 months and have a great follow up plan to maximize your marketing dollars.

Randy Mitchelson, VP Sales & Marketing at IPartnerMedia

One cost-saving tactic we advise clients for postcard campaigns is to design one side to be fixed so that the receivers get used to seeing the brand and design consistently. On the flip side, vary the message, offer, call to action from campaign to campaign so you can test the effectiveness of different messages. Another cost savings tactic is to understand that there are different direct mail types and postal rates associated with them. First class mail is the most expensive but there are other programs available through the U.S. Postal Service for advertisers (for example, the Every Door Direct Mail program) to send mail at significantly lower postal rates.

Not all marketing companies are experts at these programs so it is important that advertisers shop around to find a company that is very experienced in direct mail marketing. Another cost that may be associated with a direct mail campaign is acquiring a mailing list. Many SMBs do not have the addresses of the people they are trying to reach. There are several mailing list companies from which this data can be acquired. In addition, the list companies can filter the data based on criteria such as household income, age of home, etc. which may make sense to do for certain businesses.  A reputable marketing company with direct mail capabilities will be able to help a SMB acquire the list through a trusted partner.

Tactics Working Right Now

Nicole LeBlanc, Creative Director at Scott Allen Creative Give your audience a reason to open your mailer now. Give them an offer they can't refuse that is only for a limited time like a coupon or discount for example. Spend time on the copy and make sure the headlines are catchy enough to grab the attention of the reader. Keri Lindenmuth, Marketing Manager at KDG One of our company's tips for direct mail is to send something that piques the recipient's curiosity. We like to send huge boxes or even poster tubes. Recipients will usually wonder why they're receiving such a large or oddly shaped package and are bound to open it.

That package is filled with our company's literature and swag. The recipient's curiosity is so high that they usually end up reading the literature, trying to understand what our company does other than send fun surprise boxes. While we can't guarantee that the recipient won't throw away the literature, we can guarantee that your business will be in their mind long after they open the package. They may just think of that business that sent them a random surprise the next time they need one of your services.

Ellen Hoffman, Director of Marketing at JDC Healthcare Management

1. Integrate direct mail as one tactic in a broader campaign. As with any marketing tactic, direct mail cannot be a siloed channel.

2. If you have store-front locations, be sure to segment your list based on proximity to the store and include location-specific details to the creative. Adding maps with short geographic descriptions (ex. On the southwest corner of X st. and Y st. beside Old Navy) will help customers identify your location and proximity.

3. Add your business' personality to the piece by incorporating in pictures, testimonials, quotes, videos or other details that might help a customer make a decision.

4. Create a sense of urgency with a limited-time offer and a call-to-action that clearly defines the action that a recipient should take.

Kim Smith, Content Marketing at GoodFirms

The strategy of a successful campaign requires few permutations and combinations that result into a perfect blend of crucial factors like the type of target audience, timings, and the value you add with your post. So being into the business from past few years we follow a tactic wherein we research and analyze the most suited mailing amalgamation and reach out to the audience in a personalized way.

Jeff Moriarty, Marketing at Moriarty's Gem Art

We are a brick and mortar store, but also have a couple ecommerce websites. We use direct mail marketing to remarket to our B&M and Ecommerce customers.About two weeks after a purchase a direct mail piece goes out automatically to them thanking them for their purchase and giving them a discount on their next purchase.

We make sure to add their name and a big thank you in the mailer. This normally catches their attention. We then show them related products and pictures of our team. To track everything we add a code to the mailer which they can use on the next purchase. Conversion rates are excellent based on the number we send vs the amount or re-orders we get. We even have people just contacting us thanking us for following up with their purchase. Because of the great results we are receiving, we won't be stopping this anytime soon.

Jerian DiMattei, VP of Accounts at Linx Communications

We create unique packages or items and send them to key targets to communicate our messaging. By providing a package or item, we offer customers something they can share with the office or keep on their desk that leaves a lasting impression.

As technology and online media becomes more and more cluttered, dimensional direct mail remains a relevant way to capture the attention of your leads. But, of course, it's the program that surrounds the mailed item that matters.

That's why we pair direct mail with email and digital advertising, online interactivity, Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality, and more.

This engages prospects in new, unique and personalized ways that stand apart from the competition. We worked with Canon to dimensional direct mail campaign. The program consisted of unique custom puzzles illustrating the main messaging around solving document and data management issues. Prospects were linked directly with dealers to drive appointments. The dealers were provided telemarketing support, informational landing pages and a reporting module along with the dimensional program.

Small Business Secrets

Nicolas Straut, Content Marketing at Fundera

For SMBs just beginning their direct mail marketing efforts, I would highly recommend tracking campaign success with codes on mailers. If you sell online, make customers enter the mailer code to receive the offer or discount and if customers buy in store, request that they bring the mailer in to track the code. Being highly organized with your campaigns will help you know which marketing efforts or offers are working and which aren't.

Experimenting with different offers like Buy-1-Get-1-Free vs. 25% off your total offer will help you better focus your marketing efforts. Some of your most effective direct mail campaigns may come from repeat customers so don't hesitate to send out mailers to customers who have provided their address for a rewards card or membership. With previous customers, you have intent to buy and brand awareness already so you could offer a less generous offer and yet still have higher redemption. Just remember the tracking codes to keep track of your success rate!

Nicole LeBlanc, Creative Director at Scott Allen Creative

Use a printer that is an expert at mailing. There are printers that have mailing in-house which saves money and gives them an expertise that not every printing house has. Make sure the design is well-done. This mailer will be the first impression for some of the recipients. Make sure you are looking your best.

Randy Mitchelson, VP Sales & Marketing at IPartnerMedia

Every household still has the daily ritual of walking to their mailbox and flipping through their stack of mail. Your brand is guaranteed to be seen, at least for a few seconds. Direct mail is a great strategy for farming specific neighborhoods. It is smart of establish a regular schedule of sending direct mail to the target households so that the brand and message is consistently seen by residents. Doing a one-time direct mail campaign to build a business is not a smart tactic. SMBs should not make the mistake of skimping on professional graphic design.

Ellen Hoffman, Director of Marketing at JDC Healthcare Management

Small to midsize businesses often have limited budgets, so a direct mail campaign can become expensive with little ROI if it is not well-planned. For starters, it's important to integrate direct mail as one tactic in a larger multi-channel campaign.  Are you running a sale, have a special offer, or are opening a new location? Use direct mail as a channel to reinforce your messaging across all channels. This means that your call-to-action, creative and messaging should match across all platforms - whether a customer sees your direct mail piece, landing page, Facebook ad, email, video, etc. it should all synchronize. Always have tracking phone lines and URLs clearly printed on both the front and back of the piece so that customers can easily call or visit your website.

Also, just as user experience is crucial in digital marketing - think through user experience for direct mail as well. Whether over the phone, web, email, on the ground or in your office, your team should be prepared to answer questions pertaining to the mailer - keep anyone who might interact with a customer looped in regarding the offer or messaging being presented to customers so there is a seamless experience for the customer when they do come to you.

Nate Masterson, Marketing Manager at Maple Holistics

It’s a numbers game, your direct mail will rarely have a success rate over 4%, and that’s already almost too good to be true. However, if your return ratio is significantly below 4%, say under 1% then you may want to consider testing different ads to see which design works best with which ad copy.

Shawn Breyer, Owner at Breyer Home Buyers

We use direct mail as the beginning of the funnel for our company. On the postcard, we send them to a landing page specifically made for this direct mail campaign. When they land on this page, we retarget them with FB Ads and Google AdWords.  When they get into our sales funnel, they become warm leads and are more likely to convert into a customer. We save a lot of money by retargeting warm leads vs trying to convert cold ones.

How to Avoid the Trash

Kristen Harold, KMH Marketing

A lot of people tend to think that direct mail is outdated. Direct mail can be one of the most effective tools. Consumers are used to receiving multiple marketing emails a day, while direct mail is used less often and therefore making it a great way to stand out. To avoid simply being thrown in the trash, make the design, paper stock or size something that stands out and catches your eye. Whatever you're offering should be right up front and bold. Be thoughtful about your strategy.

Make your offer something that feels personal to those you are sending it to. It should be something that answers a need you know they have. Personalize your greeting or customize your copy based on region to help make it feel more tailored to them. To better track results, use a QR code or custom link that leads to your landing page.

Randy Mitchelson, VP Sales & Marketing at IPartnerMedia

Design is the key to avoiding the mail item being immediately dismissed to
the garbage. One way to stand out and get noticed is to use an oversized piece that sticks out from the stack of mail. You commonly see politicians do this with oversized postcard mailers. They still end up in the garbage but they get noticed and glanced at by the receiver, at least for a few seconds, before it is disposed. Another design trick is to add an element of design to the envelope. A smart designer and printer will be able to handle this. Colorful envelopes stand out from the typical plain white ones that make up the bulk of our daily mail.

Ellen Hoffman, Director of Marketing at JDC Healthcare Management

Don't make direct mail an isolated tactic. Direct mail works well with frequency and in conjunction with a mix of tactics or as part of an automated sequence. Keep the larger picture in mind when planning a campaign, and be sure that you have proper tracking in place to measure the effectiveness of each channel, including direct mail. Secondly, create a sense of urgency with a limited-time offer and strong CTA that emboldens customers to take immediate action.

Test creative and see what works for your segments, while also being reflective of your database. Be concise about messaging and call-to-actions, and avoid trying to fit as much as possible on a single postcard. Lastly, think outside the postcard. There are different types of mailers, shapes, sizes, weight, textures, items - think creatively and strategically about your customer's experience with the piece. For certain businesses, based on LTV or CPA for example, it might be profitable to send a small promotional item or intro kit to a recipient as a means to stand out. For others adding an attachment or perforated piece is another way to add value for your customer.

Reamark Real Estate Marketing

The key to avoid ending up in the trash is to provide value in your direct mail pieces, as well as timeliness. For example, some of our most popular products at this time of year are our magnetic calendars that include home maintenance tips or recipes. They provide information that everyone can use year round. In addition, it is important to be the first into the home so that your piece is first on the fridge.

In the past, experts have said that it takes 7 times for a customer to see your brand before they would trust you enough to make a purchase. In the digital age where we are constantly bombarded with advertisements, experts now say that number is closer to 20 times! So imagine if your brand is on a magnet on the fridge that gets opened 10-15 times per day! Additionally, direct mail can be highly targeted through mailing list services that allow you to reach your ideal customers. There are many strategies to track the ROI of your mail activities and they can often work alongside digital campaigns.

Shawn Breyer, Owner at Breyer Home Buyers

When we send out direct mail, we use handwritten fonts and personalize the postcards as much as we possibly can.  When your prospects are getting 11 other postcards that look really spammy and yours is personalized and handwritten to them they will definitely be reading yours.

Notable Results That Show The Value

Zach Hendrix at GreenPal

Direct mail can work for most any business but there’s a catch… You have to measure it relentlessly. We send out about 300,000 pieces of direct mail a year advertising the Greenpal platform and specials for homeowners to order lawn care online. The way that we measure the effectiveness of our direct mail campaigns is we send that traffic to a unique domain.  We very cheaply purchased which nobody knows about and would never go to unless they are responding to one of our direct mail offers. This is totally unique to our master domain This maneuver makes it insanely easy to measure the traffic that comes through this unique domain, conversions and customer acquisition costs that we are achieving through or direct mail channels. By using the personalized tactic in the direct mail marketing, we saw a boost of nearly 23% in the engagement metric and around 16% increase in company sign-ups.

Kim Smith, Content Marketing at GoodFirms

By using the personalized tactic in the direct mail marketing, we saw a boost of nearly 23% in the engagement metric and around 16% increase in company sign-ups.

Trends/Changes predicted for 2019

Ellen Hoffman, Director of Marketing at JDC Healthcare Management

Hyper-personalization. Customers are accustomed to receiving custom messaging across all of their devices - mailers should be no different. Map your customer's journey and develop a direct mail program that makes sense to your customer's unique needs and interests.

Kim Smith, Content Marketing at GoodFirms

Use Artificial intelligence in targeting direct-mail audience.  It can help marketers pick the most qualified data among the market. This approach will enhance the probability of transforming the target audience into leads. Use of Augmented Reality can be on the hot list of marketers when it comes to direct marketing in 2019. You can offer sample AR Glasses with a link of your AR gaming mobile apps or AR real estate projects.

Direct Mail Marketing Examples

Below you will find direct mail marketing ideas that will give you the inspiration you need to have a killer campaign this year. These are some of the best direct mail examples seen in 2019 from some of the hottest brands that you can use to get started. Mail was included in a program provided by Share Local Media.












Do you want to try direct mail marketing with the best possible data list? List Giant is currently offering 500 free direct mail sales leads to new customers with no risk and no obligated commitment on your end. Try our high-quality data and see how it boosts your direct marketing campaign. LIST GIANT data is conveniently stored on a List Portal that allows you to download your lists with demographic and psychographic filtering options. Please give us a call at (800) 547-8080 for List Portal help, or schedule a walk through.


What is U.S Consumer Email Database?
A consumer email database contains lists of personal email addresses. These email addresses are sourced every month through online forms, subscriptions, purchases, sweepstakes offers, and lucky draws. The list includes the full name of the consumers, their mailing addresses, and physical mailing addresses. These lists are presented in excel files for a proper assortment of information. You can easily save and utilize them on your desktop after purchase.
Where can I find and buy consumer email addresses?
You can find different online platforms that deal with consumer email addresses. The easiest way to discover them is through targeted google searches. You will find companies such as LIST GIANT that provide list portals for online purchase at very affordable prices. For further inquiries, you can always call their contact number cited on the website.
How important are consumer email addresses for my business?
Consumer email addresses are essential in generating leads. It is very likely for someone to buy your product if they’ve bought a similar product in the recent past. You can lose great sales opportunities by not remaining in contact with a previous client. These email addresses also help to promote new products and mark your brand identity. You will also have direct access to consumer feedback and satisfaction scores.
What demographic selects are available on the U.S Consumer Email Database?
There are several parameters and segments which divide the U.S. Consumer Email Database. These segments include different demographics such as:

Age Range
Income Range
Marital Status
Presence of Credit Card
Pet Owner
Shopping Preferences
Phone Number

All these sectors have diverse needs and are generated each month. To receive the latest up-to-date lists, you can subscribe for a monthly service.

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