After reading, you will know if direct mail is right for your business, how to
create and send direct mail that sells, how much direct mail marketing costs,
and how to track your success.
This guide is for
that want to
increase their business
using good old fashion snail mail.
Does Direct Mail Work?
According to a recent study by the United States Postal Service, 79% of
households either read or scan advertising mail sent to their household.
The response rate on direct mail is also multiple times that of online and
email marketing. According to the direct marketing association, the
response rate of direct mail when sent to a house list is 3.94%.
Will direct mail
work for your business?
If a company with no physical products that specializes in online advertising
is using direct mail, there is a good bet that it will work for your business as
At the end of the day,
the answer is going to
depend on two things:
1. Can you offer something that is interesting
enough to elicit a response?
2. Do the sales that you make from your direct
mail campaign generate enough revenue to
cover the costs of your direct mail campaign,
with profit to spare?
It is the Lifetime Value
of your customer that
You don’t necessarily need to cover the
cost of your mailer via the first sale you
make to responders. If you are a
restaurant where you expect people to
come back in the future, then you are
earning more from acquiring that new
client than just the first sale.
There are many different things
that you can send via direct mail
• Sales letters
• Physical Items (also referred to
as dimensional mail)
The less the recipient
knows about you and
your product or service,
the more elaborate
your mailer is going to
need to be.
If you are selling vacations to an
exotic country, to people that have
never travelled with you before, then
a lengthy brochure is likely to
convert better than a postcard.
If you are a restaurant targeting
existing customers however, then a
long brochure is likely to be overkill.
In this instance a short post card
with a coupon is more likely to
accomplish your goal.
If you need some inspiration here are 13 creative
examples of direct mail from Sourcelink.
What Should It Say?
You want to have a single purpose for your direct mail piece. Often times
the goal of a direct mail campaign is to get the recipient to buy a product
or use a service. You can however also send direct mail for other reasons.
They care about their own goals and interests, which
is what your piece needs to speak to.
While it is important to have a singular goal for your piece, you should also
keep in mind that your potential customer doesn’t care about your goal.
Once you have a handle on what people want, it’s time to write directly to
that desire. We call that persuasive content “copy.” If you’re writing your
own copy, it’s a good idea to follow a time-tested principle: AIDA.
AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
Let’s break it down:
The very first thing you must do in
your copy is grab a person’s attention.
This is your headline. It’s where you
announce what’s so special and
important about this particular mail.
For more on how to write a great headline see this article by Russ
Henneberry on the Crazy Egg Blog.
This comes next and it’s where
you discuss your customer’s
problem and then present your
business as the solution. Don’t
get too wordy, but take a
general approach on how your
business can help that person.
If you’ve captured the reader’s
attention this far, now is the time for
some serious selling. Be careful not to
simply list features. You want to share
the benefits of your product or
service. For example, A benefit is that
your vacuums can deep clean years’
worth of dirt and soil without the use
of harmful cleaners. Now I’m
interested because I like the idea of
being environmentally responsible.
What would you like for them to do?
Maybe you’d like for them to stop by soon
or on a specific date, or set up an appointment?
Lead them to the very next step that needs to happen as soon as they stop
reading your mail.
For some great examples of effective calls to action, see this article from
• If you are looking for the recipient to get in touch with you then
make sure you provide several different ways for them to respond,
including phone, email, website, and location.
• Keep paragraphs short
• Use bullet points that make it easy to skim.
• Keep repeating the main point in different ways.
• Always write to an audience of 1, use the words you and your.
• Create a sense of urgency with a limited time offer.
Other things to keep in mind when writing
your sales copy:
For most businesses it is way
more cost effective to increase
the business that you are doing with
existing clients, than it is to gain a completely
new client. The fact that your existing customers
have already bought from you means that they know who you are, and have
already trusted you enough to do business with you.
•Ask when they checkout if they would like to leave their address for
special deals and coupons.
•Create a loyalty program
•Run a contest
•Request address for things like appointment booking, reservations, and
•Have an event and request address to attend
Once you have their information you will need a way to store it. We
recommend Insightly CRM for this purpose. For more on Insightly read our
article comparing the top CRM software.
Businesses that deal with people in person need to get a little
more creative. Here are some ideas on how to capture the
Target New Customers
The sky is really the limit in terms of how
many people you can reach via direct mail. In
order for your offer to work however, it has to be
relevant to the people that you are sending it too.
• Where do they live
• What are their interests
• What types of things do they buy
• Income level
• Political leanings
• Religious beliefs
If you are a new business what you think your ideal
client will look like:
Once you have an understanding of who your customer is
then you can look into acquiring a mailing list that includes
that type of customer.
The easiest way to send direct mail is
using the USPS Every Door Direct Mail
Service. This allows you to deliver to
every address within a target area without
having to know the names or addresses of
How to Acquire a Third
Party Mailing List
There are five major costs involved in direct mail. They are design, copy,
mailing lists, print, and distribution. You may not need to pay for all of these,
but you will have to pay for at least printing and mailing.
Here they are in detail:
You can choose to hire a designer, buy a template, or do your own design
from scratch. If you just need something basic then we recommend finding
a freelancer on Elance. You should be able to get something created for
Buying a template can be done on a variety of print shops and also on
Graphic River. They cost around $10 on average.
If you choose to do your own direct mail design, keep in mind that you may
need to order stock images or illustrations to spice it up. Popular stock
sites include Shutterstock and Dreamstime. You can get 5 images there for
Regardless of whether you rent or purchase, a mailing list will cost you
between .03¢ to .20¢ per record. Generally speaking, the more you
request, the less per record you pay.
A postcard will be a different price than a brochure. For 5000
postcards, you price averages around .03¢ per postcard at places like
PrintPlace to VistaPrint. For 5000 one-page brochures, you can expect
to pay anywhere between .08¢ to .14¢ per brochure at the same online
The final cost consideration you must
remember is mailing costs. The price fluctuates, depending on the current
rate of postage, and on the amount of mail you send.
Following the same amount of 5000, your mailing costs will be:
For postcards: The rate is between .25¢ to .34¢.
For brochures and letters under 3.5 oz: The rate is between .38¢ to .44¢.
If you follow the advice outlined in the rest of this guide, then you will
include a clear call to action in your direct mail campaign. Now you just
need a way to track those that complete the call to action so you can
How do you
If you are not currently asking your customers how they found
out about you, you should start doing so and recording their
responses in your CRM software. This is true whether or not
you are running a direct marketing campaign or not.
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