The Magic of Direct Mail – Why Every Company Needs a Direct Marketing Strategy

Direct mail has fallen out of fashion in recent years as an increasing number of marketers turn to the internet for cheap mass-marketing campaigns. But if carried out properly, a direct mail campaign can be one of the most effective marketing methods you have in your arsenal.

According to Direct Mail News, in 2012 the average response rate for direct mail was 4.4% for both business-to-business and business to consumer mailings—considerably higher than industry expectations, and surging past electronic mail’s response rate of just 0.12%*

Unlike television advertising, print advertising, and even e-mails, which are all too quickly deleted or marked as spam before they’re opened, direct mail gives you the opportunity to deliver your message right into the hands of your target audience. With a highly targeted campaign and a little creativity, the results of direct mail can be nothing short of magical.

What is direct mail?

You’re familiar with the letters, postcards, catalogues and other printed mail that arrives on your doorstep from companies that you may or may not have done business with in the past. You probably came across a few of these as you sorted through your own post this week.

This is direct mail, which unfortunately is often referred to as ‘junk’ mail. But carried out properly, direct mail stays out of the recycling and can make a real impact on the consumer, resulting in a huge success rate compared to other advertising methods.

Direct mail may be sent out in bulk, in the hope that a small percentage of recipients will respond to the offer, or it may be sent to only a very targeted list, which offers a potentially much higher rate of response at a higher cost per unit but lower cost per order. Neither method is the ‘right’ one – it depends on your business, your potential customers and your available budget as to which strategy is right for you.

What do direct mail companies do?

Direct mail can be sent out directly from your business to the consumer or another business. Even a single hand-written letter is considered to be direct mail. In many cases however, it is more efficient and cost effective to employ the services of a direct mail company to carry out your direct marketing campaigns.

Direct mail companies offer a range of services including design, artwork creation, list management, data cleansing, document creation, personalisation, printing, folding, envelope filling, delivery, or distribution through a third party system such as Royal Mail.

How to set up a direct mail campaign

To start a direct marketing campaign, first you need a list of names and addresses to target. This may be a list that you’ve built through your website and other means, or you may buy a ready-built list. Direct mail companies often offer lists for rent that target particular markets.

Depending on your budget and marketing message, you need to decide what type of mail is the most suitable. It may be a letter, brochure, postcard, newsletter, catalogue or magazine. Whichever type of printed mail you choose, you need to make sure that you include a clear offer and a call to action.

After your mailing company has produced and distributed your mail your job is then to field enquiries resulting from the campaign and turn leads into sales. You should also have a way of measuring the success of the campaign so that you can test variables such as letters versus postcards and improve future success rates.

Tips on direct mail

  • Be creative. The major hurdle with direct mail is simply getting the recipient to open it, rather than putting it straight in the recycling. Using high quality or unusual stock and printing tricks such as handwriting fonts can be good ways to get your mail read.
  • Effective personalisation can make a huge difference to your success rate.
  • Always include a clear call to action.
  • Make sure your contact details such as company phone number and website are prominently displayed.
  • Always work with a clean list to avoid wasting money.
  • Ask a professional DMA recognised company to take care of the legwork for you and provide free of charge advice.

For more information call Sharp Cat on 0208 946 1234

*From Online Marketing Institute: On 06.13.13, In Direct Marketing, by Laurie Beasley


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