4 Actionable Direct Mail Marketing Tips that Actually Make a Bottom-Line Difference

Direct mail is a marketing mainstay and an important component of successful multi-channel campaigns. Even in today’s digital environment, where reports of time spent online can be upwards of more than 10 hours daily, direct mail remains relevant.

Direct mail marketing by the numbers:

Yet, with the cost of printing and postage driving direct mail budgets, you may be searching for ways to optimize your direct mail campaign without cutting back on quantity or quality. Here are ways that you can successfully implement a direct mail campaign.

1. Maintain your mailing list properly, and invest wisely in new lists.

Direct mail, in many ways, comes down to the mailing list. You could have an award-winning design, a highly motivating offer, and a coordinated landing page but if your audience isn’t qualified in the first place, your campaign can be a waste of time and money.

If you’re already getting a good response on your direct mail piece, it’s vital that you continue to clean your list of bad addresses and returned mail. To do this, you’ll need to include a return address on your direct mail piece, and have the recipients on pieces that are returned removed from your list. Similarly, once someone responds to your direct mail piece, flag them on your list to avoid mailing duplicative content.

Consider mailing lists with reduced postage rates, like EDDM (every door direct mail) or carrier route lists if your products or services are suitable for all consumers. Because these pieces aren’t targeted and instead go into every single mailbox in a chosen area, you’ll save big on postage, the lion’s share of direct mail cost.

2. Make sure your business is ready to track lead sources and optimize where necessary.

Marketing without a way to track results creates inefficiency. How can you maximize what is working and improve what isn’t if you don’t have insight into the performance of your campaign?

This is where tracking comes in. The importance of tracking can’t be overstated.

Tracking direct mail can be tricky, since a lot can happen between the time your prospect receives your marketing piece and when they take action.

For leads that call you directly using the phone number on your direct mail piece, a unique phone number and call tracking provider are essential. Call tracking provides businesses with a great way to identify which marketing channels are driving leads. Call tracking allows you to use unique forwarding numbers for each marketing channel, like direct mail, to help you identify which campaigns are driving the most calls.

But what about prospects that go online before calling you?

You can utilize online call tracking on your coordinated landing pages that are driving prospects online from your direct mailer.

Using features like CallRail’s Dynamic Number Insertion, you can tag new leads who arrive at your website from your direct mail piece with a call tracking number. This not only makes the jump from offline to online seamless but also ensures that those leads are tagged with the correct source information from the start — even if they interact with other marketing channels before converting. Here’s a breakdown of reasons you’ll want to implement call tracking for all of your campaigns, and especially direct mail campaigns:

  • Optimizing marketing campaigns by focusing on what channels are driving calls
  • Maximizing every marketing dollar with focused spend on what’s working
  • The ability to accelerate sales and revenue

3. Ensure your direct mail’s message is relevant and clear.

Direct mail is not like other traditional forms of advertising that reach large groups of people. Television ads and billboards reach large audiences but don’t give you a ton of options to make the message targeted and relevant for your demographic.

Identifying unique value propositions and promotions based on the location of your mail recipients can make all of the difference between the junk pile and the save pile. For example, if you’re an automotive repair shop, you wouldn’t want to promote a sale on snow tires to potential customers in your Arizona market. The message isn’t relevant and will be lost. Instead, promote your latest oil and lube special in Arizona and save the snow tire promotion for cold climate markets.

On top of creating an incentive or value relevant to your prospects, make sure your call-to-action is clear and concise. One of the biggest mistakes that prevent conversions on direct mail is not having a clear path to purchase. Share your content and give your recipient something actionable to do.

4. Look for unique opportunities and take advantage.

Re-boots are having a moment, and direct mail marketing is no exception. Gone are the days in which direct marketers were limited to postcards and windowed-envelope letters. The possibilities are extensive, and many have contributed to improved response rates and returns.

Here are just a few of the unique elements that can be added to your direct mail campaign without breaking the budget:

  • Variable data: Variable data has been used in business letters for years. It’s dynamic information that is programmed in to be unique for each piece. But these days, you’re no longer limited to “Dear Mr. <>” — the sky is the limit with variable data. Personal URLs (PURLs), home addresses, even the images and offers used on your direct mail piece can be dynamic down to each individual on your list. And with personalization improving click through rate by more than 17% in email marketing, variable data on direct mail is a promising investment.
  • Magnets: Magnets can be added to your direct mail piece for increased interest. Prospects are more likely to keep and save pieces that include magnets for later use. Magnets can also be incorporated cleverly into design, as one Czech car manufacturer demonstrated.
  • Post-it notes: Speaking of adding interest to your mailing… nothing says “look at this” quite like adding a yellow post-it note to the front of it. These can be added after printing with any number of design elements, from the classic red Sharpie look to a hand-drawn image or note.
  • Scratch-offs: Adding a gaming element to your direct mail encourages prospects to interact with your ad. What they win is completely up to you, and prizes can be printed in any quantity.
  • Reactive mail: Sophisticated marketers understand that direct mail is only one piece of the overall acquisition puzzle. Certain programmatic direct mail software is available to help your business react advantageously to customer behavior. Say a prospect is browsing your website, but never buys and ends up abandoning. A few days later, that prospect will receive a postcard in the mail with a special offer on select products similar to their interests the day before, reminding them of their need and providing an incentive to buy. Another programmatic option flips the script — prospects receive a postcard, become interested, and go online to learn more. However, they too abandon the site before taking action. Now, when they browse the web, they’ll be remarketed to on the Google network with an ad that resembles the postcard that piqued their initial interest. Not only does this direct mail option have a high repetition factor built in, it’s all-inclusive and completely turnkey from the day the direct mail piece is sent.
    And here’s some great news: the USPS recognizes the value in reactive mail and is currently offering postage discounts on business campaigns equipped with this technology.


Here are some main takeaways that can set you up for direct mail marketing success:

  • Save on postage where you can
  • Track your campaigns so you can strengthen the good parts and improve or eliminate the bad
  • Make sure that your campaign will attract interest and drive action
  • And, if the numbers tell you that direct mail marketing is working, continue to innovate how you’re reaching customers in their mailboxes.

Have questions or want to effectively track your direct mail campaigns? Contact our team for more information.