Looking for ways to get more mileage out of your marketing budget? Creative direct mail advertising can give a huge boost to ROI. While many businesses are stuck in the days of gluing a penny to a postcard, new innovations in direct mail technology can offer you many ways to stand out from the daily junk mail jumble (and pack a serious punch when it comes to conversion rate!).
How Do You Make a Creative Mailer?
You have two options to make a creative mailer: you can DIY the entire thing in-house, or you can use a direct mail company for part or all of the process. The benefit to executing it entirely in-house is potential cost savings, but working with a direct mail service provider will offer you much more flexibility to use creative formats, will save your team time, and will give you access to strategic recommendations for how to maximize your campaign.
After you decide if you will be executing the campaign entirely in-house or using a third party, you will also want to decide on the messaging for your creative direct mail campaign. What do you want to convey to your recipients and what action do you want them to take? You’ll have the most success if you personalize the message for each recipient with a mail merge so that it at least has their first name and company name included, but a best practice is to also personalize the message with another relevant piece of data like their industry or a pain point they mentioned in an intake form.
Creative Direct Mail Formats
Personalizing the message of your direct mail campaign is critically important to success, but you also need to select a format of mail that will resonate with your audience. There are many different types of direct mail available in the market today, but one of the formats with the highest return is lumpy mail.
Lumpy mail is basically any type of mail that is not flat. (So say goodbye to postcards and hello to boxes!). Adding dimension to your direct mail campaign has huge potential to improve your response rate and, in turn, your ROI. An easy option for creative lumpy mail is customizable gift boxes. Adding your brand styling to the box itself, images and a message to the interior, and selecting a gift that will resonate with your audience gives you tons of opportunities to make each send a completely unique experience, even if you are sending the same format of mail to the same list repeatedly.
When to Send Direct Mail
After identifying which direct mail format makes the most sense for your brand, it’s also helpful to determine a few different points in the customer journey where should prioritize sending campaigns. Think about the typical lifetime of experiences a customer has with your brand – what are the key moments in which you want to really WOW them?
- Prospecting/exploration stage
- After purchase
- During service
- Check-In process
- Birthdays (or half birthdays!)
- Birth or adoption of a child
- After a death (of person or pet)
- During a crisis (coping with a fire, illness, or accident)
- When there is a complaint
- Anniversary of service or purchase with your company
- Holiday season
- Unusual special days (Best Friends Day, Wear Red Day)
Creative Direct Mail for the Holidays
Many businesses choose to send direct mail campaigns during the holiday season, and that often makes a lot of sense. After all, in many industries, a holiday card or gift has become table stakes. That said, during the holiday season, consumers are bombarded with bland, impersonal messages from every direction. Simple changes to how you approach your holiday direct mail could create big changes in how your customers perceive your brand – and result in more referrals, better customer retention, and more satisfied customers overall.
Four Ways to Make an Impact with Holiday Gifts:
- Make them personal: send gifts with a personalized message and photos. Greetabl makes this easy with a simple spreadsheet template. You can use an easy mail merge to create dynamic messages for each person on your list, and we’ll take care of the rest!
- Send smaller gifts to a larger list: small gestures go a long way. If you usually send an expensive gift basket to an entire office, opt for smaller gifts to each person instead. This will also be easier logistically and will ensure that your message gets seen by the right people, not just stuck in the break room and devoured by interns in the first 10 minutes.
- Choose something unique: to stand out from the crowd, send gifts that are more unique than what your competitors are sending. Greetabl gifts offer a fun unboxing experience that will definitely stand out in a sea of greeting cards.
- Send gifts earlier or later: to make a bigger splash, send gifts for Thanksgiving or New Years instead of the peak Christmas season. This will make your gift a little more surprising and you’ll have less competition for the attention of your recipients, but you’ll still get your gift there during the holiday season.
The key takeaway: don’t send the same boring gift baskets you always do. You have an opportunity to make a big investment in your professional relationships during the holidays; don’t waste it by sending the same thing all of your competitors are sending.
Read more about creative holiday gifts for your business in our holiday trends report.
Holidays to Send Creative Direct Mail
Sometimes the busy winter holiday season isn’t the best time to send appreciation gifts to your clients. Get creative by exploring other times of year that offer the advantage of fewer competing messages and less hectic schedules. Here are a few smaller holidays and occasions that might be a good fit for your brand:
- Valentines day
- Chinese New Year
- Mother’s Day/Father’s Day
- Friendship Day
- International Women’s Day
- Daylight Savings
- May Day
- Sweetest Day
- First day of Summer
- World Gratitude Day
- National Good Neighbor Day
- Eid al-Fitr
- St. Nicholas Day
- Back to school
- National [insert your industry] Day
Direct Mail Design Inspiration
Another important aspect of a creative direct mail campaign is the design of the mailer itself. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite direct mail design elements as inspiration and we asked our team of experts to share a few tips and tricks that have worked best for the thousands of campaigns they have executed for our clients.
A few branding dos and don’ts for direct mail design:
DO: Incorporate your brand colors into the design and packaging. You want the direct mail to be a tactile extension of your brand.
DON’T: Turn your logo into a pattern for the packaging; that will feel more like junk mail and will be less likely to get opened.
DO: Make it beautiful and on-brand. You want this mail to feel totally different from the piles of bills and pizza coupons the average person gets each day.
DON’T: Include too much copy. The piece should get the message across in about 300 characters or less. That gives ample space to personalize the message, convey your value proposition, and give a clear call to action—but it’s also much more likely to be read than if you write a full-length letter.
Need more help? Our team of account executives is always available to help brainstorm something custom for your business.
Best Direct Mail Marketing Examples
The most successful direct mail marketing campaigns prioritize offering value to the recipient in some way. It’s not enough to share your message, you need to give the recipient a reason to want to engage with that message. Make your mail irresistible by incorporating creative design elements, provocative copy, and useful or consumable add-ons (think yummy chocolate or a handy multi-tool). The exact execution is highly dependent on your use case and your audience, but here are a few examples of highly successful direct mail campaigns to help get you started.
One clear example is Uber’s campaign for their Uber anniversaries for employees. Uber incorporated their brand identity into the design of their Greetabl gift box and personalized the message in the interior of the box specific to the number of years each employee had worked for the company. This added an extra personal touch that made the direct mail feel less like a mass mailer and more like a gift specifically chosen for each individual.
When Life Gives You Lemons
During the COVID-19 pandemic, one company sent a lemon-patterned mailer with a cheeky message about what to do when life hands you lemons. Incorporating playful messaging that ties back to the design of your mailer is one easy way to stand out from the crowd with direct mail. It makes it easier to leverage bright designs and unexpected imagery, without the mailer feeling totally disconnected from your brand message.
You’re My Everything (Bagel)
Another example of a creative take on direct mail is sending a gift that has a punny meaning. For example, one company sent everything bagel seasoning to their recipients with a message that “you’re my everything.” This campaign was extremely successful because it felt authentic, personalized, and fun—it completely avoided the typical junk mail feeling and helped build a connection between the brand and the recipients.
Mini Vaca In a Box Campaign
One Greetabl client sent their recipients a creative “vacation in a box” direct mail campaign. They kept the message fun and playful, choosing to use this as a brand touchpoint rather than incorporating a firm call to action. In addition to the beach vibes of the box design and message, the client also personalized the box with some branded images to ensure their recipients knew who it was sent from.
Want to take your direct mail marketing to the next level? Browse these 17 creative direct mail examples as inspiration for your next campaign.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Direct Mail Campaign
The most important piece of launching a creative direct mail campaign is leaving space for personalization. Without a personal touch, your direct mail may not generate the same wow-worthy reaction from your recipients and, even worse, it won’t maximize the benefits of the medium. Personalization gives you a huge advantage over your competition and increases your chances of closing new business. To really captivate your prospects, focus on creating moments that feel unique and customized to them, without sacrificing scalability and consistency. That may sound
a tiny bit massively contradictory, but new direct mail technology makes it easy to send personalized messages at scale.
Additionally, with any marketing or sales tactic, the follow-up process is just as important as the initial campaign. Direct mail is no exception. Prepare your teams to reach out after the direct mail lands in mailboxes and you’ll be surprised at the response rates you can achieve. Read our Ultimate Guide to Direct Mail Marketing to learn more.
As your business grows and your brand evolves, your direct mail strategy may need to change as well. You may add new products or services, expand into new verticals, or experience significant changes in the general environment. All of these changes could have an impact on your marketing strategy and how it’s received by your target audience. If you find in time that your direct mail tactics are no longer generating the results you expect, you may want to revisit this article to identify other opportunities for optimization and testing. Our account executives are also always here to help brainstorm new ways to reach your audience and hit your sales targets!