4 Smart Strategies to Grow Your Business with Direct Mail

by John Roberts


Let’s face it: inbound marketing is currently all the rage. Drawn by impressive stats regarding strategies like search engine optimization, content marketing and social media engagement, marketers have too often overlooked many highly-effective, traditional outbound strategies—in particular, direct mail marketing.

The Challenge of Inbound Marketing

There’s no question that inbound marketing has several key advantages. Marketers need to go where their customers live and, increasingly, where they live is on search engines and social media sites—but inbound marketing is not without its own inherent challenges.

For one thing, competition in digital space is intense, and the benefits which come with inbound campaigns—which typically require a good deal of time and investment to ramp up—are often difficult to sustain over the long haul. In addition, as Target Marketing Magazine points out, inbound marketers are forced to navigate a digital landscape full of annoying distractions, like pop-up and banner ads:

“It seems you cannot even visit a site without being slapped in the face with an invasive pop-up ad, or flashing banner ad. Since 72 percent of Internet users say pop-ups are “very annoying,” and 49 percent find banner ads as annoying as pop-ups, your brand could probably benefit from moving into a distraction-free zone — which is what direct mail truly offers.”

What Is Direct Mail Marketing?

In the simplest sense, direct mail marketing is the delivery of various promotional materials using the mail. As Entrepreneur defines it, direct mail is:

“…a marketing effort that uses a mail service to deliver a promotional printed piece to your target audience. Direct mail encompasses a wide variety of marketing materials, including brochures, catalogs, postcards, newsletters and sales letters. Major corporations know that direct-mail advertising is one of the most effective and profitable ways to reach out to new and existing clients.”


Why Direct Mail Is Still a Smart Investment

That said, direct mail remains among the most effective, cost-effective and least complicated strategies to reach and influence your target market. While inbound marketers must devise complex strategies to ensure they reach prospective customers, direct mail is, well, direct—and guaranteed to reach the customers you want to influence.

According to the US Postal Service, for example, 42 percent of recipients read direct mail pieces. On average, direct mail gets a 1-2% response rate. Digital ads have on average 0.14 percent ad clickthrough rate and a conversion rate of just 2.35 percent . That means sending out 10,000 direct mails pieces will land about 100 new customers. You’d have to put a digital ad in front of 3 million viewers to get those same 100 customers. In addition, using USPS services “Every Door Direct Mail,” you can reach your targets for just $0.29 per household.


How to Make Direct Mail Work for Your Business

Like every other form of marketing, direct mail has its own rules of engagement, and following those rules leads to a successful campaign. According to Entrepreneur:

“Today…some of the most innovative and effective advertising is delivered through the mail, and more and more business owners are finding the rewards of direct mail are great if their campaigns are designed with a discerning eye and a realistic strategy in mind.”

Here are 4 strategies to succeed with your direct mail campaign:

1. Keep it real: don’t make unrealistic promises in your post card or letter. Today’s consumers are savvier than they used to be and will consign pieces that over promise to the junk mail pile. Keep your offers credible, and don’t insult your customers’ intelligence with direct mail pieces that promise the moon.

2. Keep it short and simple: because you’re spending money on your direct mail campaign, you’ll be tempted to include too much information in your pieces. Your customers don’t need to know the entire history of your company, or your entire product line. Limit copy to an attention-grabbing headline and 5 to 6 sentences of body text, including your offer and your call-to-action.

3. Keep your call-to-action specific and clear: you need to tell customers exactly what you want them to do in your call-to-action. Listing a phone number isn’t telling them what to do—telling them “Call us at (your phone number) today for more information” is. You can link to your website, but don’t assume they’ll go there—make sure everything they need to know to contact you is right in your piece.

4. Keep it personal: addressing your piece to “resident” is another way of saying “this is junk mail.” Make sure your mailing list is up-to-date, and address your piece using your customer’s name. You should also speak with your printer about options for variable printing, which you can use to include any data element (such as name or address) in the art area of your post card to impress recipients and further personalize the experience for them.


Direct mail, contrary to rumors you might have heard, is most definitely not dead—in fact, it can be a critical component of a comprehensive marketing strategy which includes both outbound and digital elements. The best mail and printing houses will help you substantially increase your response rate with cross-channel marketing campaigns that integrate print mail with email or microsites. To learn more about the ways integrating direct mail with your other marketing strategies will help you grow your business, contact us today.