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4 Critical Parts to Mail Campaigns

Mark works in the marketing industry and enjoys helping others to give them creative ideas to help them get better results.


Mail vs. Digital

We are surrounded by fake news, spam, phishing and click fraud. Email & digital ads can be blocked. Email lists can be unsubscribed from. It is said that most of the emails we receive is spam.
What is the first thing we do when we get home? Usually we check the mail. Mail cuts through the clutter. It is less intrusive than digital advertising. It is tangible and you must choose what to do with it. However, with it, companies typically have 3 seconds to get their message across. Most people only have one mailing address. There are nearly 159 million addresses in the USA ( Surprisingly, not everyone has a computer. This is most common with the elderly. Typically, the older someone is, the more they trust mail. Typically, the response rate on mail is much better than digital marketing. This article will talk about doing mail campaigns.


Target Audience

Netflix and Amazon work to personalize for their customers. You can do the same by knowing your target audience. If it is addressed to CURRENT RESIDENT, it will often lose people. You can purchase/rent lists from a list broker. Or, you may have a database of current/prior customers. They already love you and/or your product. They may spread the word for you. Typically, direct mail is best used to target the household versus an individual. Constantly whittle down your audience. Keep your data current and up to date. Have the demographics that include your target market.
If mailing to a business, use a low-key approach as it may get trashed if it looks too much like advertising. You may want to use lingo, especially if you are sending business mail to a specific industry. It is better if it looks important.
40% of your targets will read your letter or significant portions of it (according to Response Marketing Solutions). According to, on average, every $167 spent on direct mail, businesses make $2,095.
How long since your target bought? How often do they buy? How much do they buy?
Are you going to use targeted/direct mail? Or are you going to blanket/saturate a geographical area (EDDM-Every Door Direct Mail)? While targeted/direct mail costs more, you typically get a better response rate.


Goal/Offer/Call to Action

“Free, guaranteed or you save” catch the eye. Also “How To” works well. According to, 66% of millennials are more likely to use a coupon if they have a physical copy in hand. Examples of offers: You can have samples, discounts, personalized coupon codes, a free trial or money-back guarantee. Customers typically respond better to dollar amounts in savings versus percentages off. Have a deadline as it is human nature to procrastinate. The offer should be risk-free.

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Be creative. Engage as many of the senses as possible. You can use photos or illustrations. Color works well. Make sure the images are clear. Differentiate from your competition. You may want to make it unique, yet simple. Be direct. Have a clear message, in a way people will understand. Do not make the mail pieces cluttered. Personalize it as much as possible. Read aloud if needed. Be brief. Write like you speak. Do some storytelling.
In general, have a question on the outside to prompt them to open it. You can have your postcard/envelope in different shapes. A mailing that is too big will waste money or get damaged in mailboxes; too small will look cramped. Postcards are good when your message can be presented clearly in a small space, perhaps for an event. Traditional letters & envelopes cost the most to produce, but it does provoke a response. Often this type is used for fundraising. First Class Mail, versus marketing mail, allows forwarding & returns and arrives faster. You could even have a magnet as part of your mailer. Some companies specialize in that. Black backgrounds can cause a problem while the mail goes through the system., from the US Postal Service, shows case studies and cutting-edge ideas.
Regarding branding, they should not wonder who you are. Repeat your message as needed. It helps you get your message across. Lists help to simplify and help us focus. Use a Johnson box. This captures attention and stands out. Other uses for direct mail: Newsletters, tips & tricks, catalogs. One tactic is to use PS…one more thing (just like Columbo). Business reply envelopes-These can allow your customers to respond. Make it easy for customers to order from you.
Timing is important. For example, AC work (in the summer), fitness centers (around the new year), automotive (end of the month/year sales), lawn care (spring/summer/fall).


Technology Integration

Have you heard of Informed delivery? Customers sign up through the USPS, then they see the mail that they are getting in their email, which allows them to take advantage of offers even before they receive the mail piece! The US Postal Service does not charge for this and it is an extra touch. The more touches, the more likely someone will buy. If you are a data/stats person, you will like this feature because you are able to get details on the campaign. This program encourages faster responses, expands your reach, and helps you get more for your money. You can better track your campaign performance. An informed delivery campaign allows the advertiser to use colored images instead of black & white/gray-scale.
Other ways to Integrate digital: Have your URL/website/social media on the outside, use augmented reality (if your budget supports this pricier feature), QR Codes (not cutting-edge like it used to be, but is economical), have an app, PURLs (personalized URLs), VDP (variable data printing=customized mailings) and/or have mobile features/capabilities. Augmented reality makes it more likely that customers will purchase a product or service if they use it. QR codes can measure analytics, such as how often each code is scanned. Programmable/re-targeted mail is another option. This is one of the most cutting-edge ways to integrate tech. While a little big brother-ish, It transforms online activity into direct mail. If a customer goes to a website or link, it can generate mail to be sent to the location where the IP address is. One challenge to marketing is GDPR, which creates more hoops for companies to have to jump through. You can do email campaigns in conjunction with your mail campaigns, which increases your effectiveness. One idea is to send an offer to those who have items in their online shopping carts. It is easier to reactivate a customer than to create a new one.

Put It Into Action

To get this into action, use a printer or a mail service provider. Get a quote. Ask them what the total cost is. Printers focus on printing, but some can mail as well. It may be good to get bids from at least three. Mail service providers: They specialize in assisting with mailings, which gets you discounts.


For me, going to the mailbox is like Christmas for me every day. For companies, mail is an investment. It is more credible than other sources of marketing. has great resources for marketers that are involved with mail.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Mark Richardson

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