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Power up your next Direct Mail campaign

Direct mail is any type of physical marketing mail that is posted out, which is unsolicited. There are plenty of negative connotations with ‘junk mail’ or ‘unsolicited mail’, which is probably why many businesses refer to it now as ‘direct mail’. 

Direct marketing campaigns fell out of fashion as digital marketing surged forward in popularity and effectiveness, but as everything, it seems to be coming full circle. Although digital marketing is showing no sign of slowing, the marketplace is much more crowded, and it is becoming increasingly harder and pricier to stand out. In response, businesses are turning back to direct mail to boost their marketing, with great success!  

With the use of technology and data to achieve high levels of personalisation, direct mail can also be much better than it used to be. And, don’t forget that because customers usually physically handle and look at your mail before deciding whether to keep it, you have a good window to catch their eye. Consider adding a personal touch like a handwritten note, as small gestures like this can grab your readers’ attention and make your marketing more memorable.

Getting letters can also give a feeling of nostalgia and have a novelty element because it’s much less common, which is particularly true if you have a younger audience. 

Although it seems that most of the world uses social media, Google and email constantly in today’s digital age, there are still plenty of potential customers who aren’t. You should know your ideal customer, or target market profile, and if this is someone who is older or generally less digital then direct mail could be a fantastic marketing tool for you.

If you send something like a voucher, the prospective customer is likely to keep hold of it if it’s something they might buy or need in future. It might be stuck to their fridge for a while, but it’ll be there and keep your brand at the front of their mind when they are ready to buy.

So, you know that direct mail is worth doing but how do you make sure you’re getting the most out of it? Read these following guidelines to successful direct marketing and supercharge your next campaign!

1. Define your objectives

You’ll hear this over and over in business – knowing your objectives is wildly important. You’ll need to know whether your campaign worked, and the only way to measure its effectiveness is to know what you’re trying to achieve. Include numbers in your plans, so you know that you would like and x number of sales leads, which should turn into x amount of conversions. You’ll then be able to work out your cost per lead and per customer, which will demonstrate whether you have achieved a good ROI or not.

2. Consider your perfect customer/target audience

As with most marketing mediums, to achieve a great ROI on your campaign you need to increase engagement and minimise waste. Thinking about and defining your ideal customer before planning your mailing will help you to achieve this, as you can create content that will appeal and avoid sending to people that are less likely to be interested.

Define your ideal customer based on any attributes you can think of, you could include age, gender, ethnicity, location, hobbies, interests, working status, music tastes – whatever will help you narrow down your target audience. 

Once you have this, you’ll be able to post out mailings to an audience who is much more likely to be interested, which will lower your costs and hopefully increase your response rate.

3. Finding your mailing list

You might already have a database to use – in which case move on to the next point! But if you don’t, or want to expand your existing one, then read on! 

Depending on your time scales you can build your own or purchase data. The advantage of building your own database is that the contacts have all chosen to give you their info, so will have some connection to your brand already.

You can collect info through a form on your website, or by running a competition where entrants need to fill in their address. The data will be yours, and there won’t necessarily be a cost to accumulate it, but the slight disadvantage is that it will take a while to build up a worthwhile database of contacts.

Alternatively, there are many data companies out there who you can buy an existing list from. You can usually refine the list before you purchase it, so that it is as relevant to you and as close to your target audience as possible. 

Whichever option you choose you’ll need to make sure you check your responsibilities within  GDPR, as the government is pretty hot on this at the moment and breaching the terms could see you landed with a fine.

4. Budget properly

Decide on your budget. This may need to cover design, production, mailing lists, mailing costs and even follow up costs. Work out how many sales you’ll need to make from this to break even, and how many leads you usually need to generate that many sales.

By doing this you can see how many leads this mailing will need to generate for it to be worthwhile, and if you need to trim your budget to make the campaign successful, this is the time to do it.

5. Decide what offers you want to use

Consider giving your audience an offer or discount, as this is likely to grab their attention. Think simple and bold like ‘FREE, ‘DISCOUNT’, or ‘£XX OFF’. You could run a competition or offer a free trial/sample to encourage potential customers to try you out too.

Remember, if you choose to offer a discount, you’ll need to adjust your predicted budget accordingly because your revenue from each sale will be less. If you’re mailing existing customers you could consider highlighting a loyalty scheme or rewards programme instead.

6. Use good copy

Whether you’re writing it yourself or using an agency, your mailing must be well written. Don’t make it longer than it needs to be. Our attention spans have never been shorter, and particularly when we’re scanning our post. Good graphics are important too, but an appealing heading and well-chosen text will really make the difference.

As in all marketing, you need to consider what your customer will get from your product or service rather than the features and benefits. For example, a lawn mowing advert might say they are reliable, cheap and will make your lawn look fantastic. Sounds great, but what will engage the customer is the fact that they will have an amazing lawn without having to put work in themselves, they’ll save time and not have that hated chore of mowing the grass. 

It’s also worth reading your copy aloud, because this is a great way to hear it how your prospects will hear it. It should sound professional but not stiff, conversational, and without too much jargon.

7. Personalisation

Whatever you can do to personalise the mailing, do it! Take advantage of the data and tool at your disposal and personalise the message as much as you can. Including the prospects name rather than just ‘hello’ or ‘to the occupier’ is a must if you can, and any further personalisation you can add too will help your response rate even more. Prospects who feel like the campaign was targeted to them and that what you offer is relevant are much more likely to engage with you.

8. Get good graphics

It’s worth spending some time/money getting the graphics right, because this is the first impression and sometimes your only chance to grab your readers’ attention. You’re looking to create something uncomplicated that clearly conveys your message and fits with your branding. If you can say something with a graphic rather than a few lines of text – do that. Images are much easier to digest and are much more aesthetically appealing.

9. Call to action

Make sure you tell your audience what to do next. Whether it’s to call to claim the discount, visit your website to enter the competition, or anything else actionable, don’t forget to clearly include it. Without this, your response rate is likely to be lower.

10. Consider something bulky

If you’ve ever had something in the mail which you can see has something bulky in the envelope, you’ll know it’s much more intriguing than a flat envelope. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or amazing, but something that bulks out the envelope will increase your open rate, meaning more of your prospects get their eyes on your mailing.

11. Proofread, proofread, proofread

Can’t say it enough. Proof it several times, and preferably for the final time by someone who hasn’t read it because they are more likely to spot mistakes. It looks so unprofessional to have obvious mistakes in your text, but also can be damaging if your web address, phone number or opening times are wrong. 

12. Follow up

Just because you don’t get a response from everyone on the first mailing, don’t assume it wasn’t of interest. Try different mail in a month or so, and you might find that the second or third campaign brings out more customers each time. If you have additional details you could consider targeting the audience via a complementary digital marketing campaign or telemarketing campaign. Combining multiple methods can often increase your response rate.

13. Be patient

Especially in a world where we use so much digital marketing which is instantly trackable and usually has quick results, direct mailing can seem like it doesn’t work. However, you need to remember that it often simply takes longer for prospects to respond to or act on. Make sure you have given your campaigns plenty of time to work before analysing the results, otherwise you might end up missing out on valuable customers.


Although digital marketing has many strengths and should definitely still be a big part of your strategy, don’t discount using direct mailing straight away. Follow these tips on your next campaign and see if you can’t generate a load of new business!

For more marketing insights, tips and knowledge why not visit the biggest business event in the North of England? It’s free to attend, takes place in Manchester Central, is sponsored by Dell and will take place on 17th & 18th March 2020. You’ll find marketing masterclasses, Google Digital Garage, networking sessions, keynote speakers and much more, so get your free ticket online now
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