The Ultimate Guide to Direct Mail Marketing (What Every Sales Team Needs to Know)

The Ultimate Guide to Direct Mail Marketing (What Every Sales Team Needs to Know)

Direct mail marketing is so much more than junk mail! Learn more about how to maximize your ROI, book more meetings, and retain your clients in this Ultimate Guide to Direct Mail Marketing.

As digital advertising is changing with the death of cookies and new privacy restrictions, marketers and salespeople across the globe are looking for alternative ways to reach their target audiences. Although direct mail advertising may have a reputation for being “old school,” it offers a level of one-to-one personalization that is unachievable with nearly any other advertising channel.

In this guide, we’ll answer some of the most common FAQs about direct mail advertising, share helpful inspiration from successful direct mail campaigns, and help break down how to set the right budget to maximize your ROI (because if it doesn’t give you a return, it’s not worth doing!).

What is Direct Mail Marketing?

When you think of direct mail, you may visualize the typical oversized postcard that’s so commonly sent from car dealers and furniture stores. Those definitely still have their place, but today’s direct mail marketing is so much more than that. Simply put, direct mail marketing is a strategy used to engage prospects and customers offline by sending physical items in the mail. It can include printed mailers (think: glossy oversized postcards or catalogs), dimensional mail and gifts, or other forms of corporate swag.

Common Types of Direct Mail:

  • Postcards
  • Gift boxes
  • Self-Mailers
  • Catalogs
  • Holiday cards
  • Dimensional mailers
  • Video cards
  • Brochures

Why Should You Use Direct Mail in Your Marketing or Sales Strategy?

There are many reasons to incorporate direct mail as part of your marketing strategy. It can be highly personalized, it stands out from a sea of digital ads and cold emails, and it has a higher ROI than most other marketing tactics. On top of that, in today’s world of hybrid offices and distributed teams, direct mail can offer you a more targeted way to reach the right people at the right companies. All you need is a mailing address and you’ll be able to surprise and delight your clients and prospects in a way that doesn’t feel like an ad at all.

Direct Mail is More Memorable than Digital Marketing

Did you know that the average person receives 121 emails a day? On top of that, the cost of digital advertising is on the rise and the market is becoming increasingly saturated. Consumers encounter thousands of messages a day; from the moment they wake up, the average person is completely inundated with advertising. It’s in the apps that we use, the websites we read, the podcasts we listen to, the emails we receive, and even in the video games we play. 

It’s no wonder that many people struggle in modern society – we are literally not adapted to our environment. A human being today is overloaded with information, inundated with data, and almost constantly staring at screens. In fact, Forbes found that the average American sees up to 10,000 ads a day! This wreaks havoc on our brains leaving us feeling overwhelmed and disconnected.

Direct mail advertising ties back to our fundamental need for connection and relationships. It gives you a way to cut through the clutter of the digital landscape and leaving a wow-worthy impression with your audience. So, when it comes to connecting with your prospects (or choosing a hip-hop playlist to jam to), sometimes old school is the best choice. 😉

Direct Mail Can be Highly Personalized (At Scale!)

On top of offering a way to stand out from the crowd of pay-per-click sameness, modern direct mail solutions can also provide a highly personalized message for your recipients. For example, Greetabl gifts can be personalized with first and last names, a unique message for each recipient, and even different gift items for different people on your list—all with a simple mail merge! It only takes a few minutes to export the data from a CRM or other internal tool and the Greetabl team can do all the heavy lifting from there! Bet your Facebook ads can’t do that, can they?

Whether you’re sending to 20 clients or 2,000, direct mail empowers you to give a totally personalized experience (without taking a ton of time).

Higher ROI than Other Advertising Channels

With direct mail, your audience gets a tactile experience with your brand, even if they never meet you in person. Because of this, direct mail marketing has a response rate 30x higher than the next best marketing channel. It has the power to boost ROI by 20% as part of an integrated campaign.

Some businesses have been able to secure meetings with 25% of the accounts targeted with Greetabl gifts. That is a significantly higher conversion rate than most other marketing channels, especially when compared to digital marketing.

Direct Mail Marketing Trends

Is direct mail marketing dead? Some businesses have moved away from direct mail in favor or newer digital marketing channels, but that doesn’t mean direct mail advertising is dead! There are many new trends in direct mail that offer businesses a way to meaningfully connect with prospects and clients, and to improve ROI at the same time. There has been massive innovation and disruption in the direct mail industry in the past few years, making direct mail an even more essential part of any marketing mix. Let’s dive in deeper to look at a few of the biggest trends in direct mail, from lumpy mail to personalization and easy digital follow up.

Lumpy Mail

One new trend in direct mail advertising is lumpy mail. Lumpy mail is a term that basically means any mail that isn’t flat; think boxes, including objects in a mailer, or dimensional mail. The goal is to send something that stands out from normal, flat letters or postcards.

Interested in sending lumpy mail but not sure what to use to “bulk out” your mailer? What you send all depends on your objectives, budget, and your target audience. Many companies choose to include promotional or branded merchandise, like bookmarks or pens, but a recommended best practice to make your direct mail more delightful is to avoid sending swag. To decide what would work best for your business, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and brainstorm a list of things that would be useful or appreciated by them, and that would stand out from your competition.

How to Personalize Direct Mail Marketing

Personalized direct mail is another trend that can set your business apart. Without a personal touch, many direct mail efforts feel stale, clinical, or even a little strange. Remember: direct mail has a reputation for being ‘junk’! You want to differentiate your advertising efforts so that they feel new, innovative, and inspiring—not bland, boring, and a little bit cheesy. To ‘wow’ your customers, focus on creating moments that feel unique and customized to them, without sacrificing scalability and consistency. That may sound overwhelming (or maybe impossible?), but there are a few simple steps you can take to make your customers feel seen and appreciated as individuals.

The first step to personalizing your direct mail is to research your clients and start to understand their pain points. Getting to know your client’s needs, thoughts and pains will help you relate to them in a meaningful way. The more you can visualize and empathize with your clients, the better prepared you will be to provide them an experience that resonates and suits them well.

Additionally, as a best practice, write a custom message to accompany your package to provide a more personalized experience for your recipients whenever possible. At the end of the day, people want to know that you’re a human. When you send a more personalized note, it sends the message that you took the time to go the extra mile, and earning their business is important to you. And if you went the extra mile to earn their business, that tells them that you will work very hard to keep their business when they become a customer. Want to learn more about personalized direct mail? Click here to download our Customer Experience Workbook.

How Should You Follow Up on Direct Mail Marketing?

On average, it takes 9+ touchpoints to receive a response from a prospect. Even with the higher response rates for direct mail, you will give yourself the best chance of closing new business by incorporating a follow-up process after the mail is delivered. So, how should you follow up with your prospects?

The process will vary based on your business and your technology stack, but in general, a best practice is to follow up immediately after the package is marked as delivered to let your prospect know they should check their mail for something fun. Not all direct mail service providers have the ability to provide detailed tracking details, so make sure you ask about that before you sign a sales order. At Greetabl, we provide tracking information in an automated dashboard and our Account Managers will reach out to let you know after all of your gifts have been delivered.

Another good practice is to reach out to your prospects a few weeks after the gift was delivered. You can use this opportunity to ask them what they thought about the gift, if they’ve had a chance to try it yet, and to ask if they’d like to schedule a demo or a free trial of your product or service. As always, this is also a good chance for your business development or sales team to ask if there would be a better time to follow up in the future if the prospect isn’t ready to move forward right now.

With any marketing or sales tactic, if at first you don’t succeed – try and try again! Direct mail is no exception. Prepare your teams to follow up after the direct mail lands in mail boxes and you’ll be surprised at the response rates you can achieve.

Creative Direct Mail Advertising

Ready to leave boring postcards and brochures behind you? There are many creative direct mail advertising options that will stand out from the daily junk mail jumble. One of the easiest ways to send something more creative is to opt for lumpy mail or a gift box instead of a typical flat mailer. Boxes and packages stand out much more in a pile of mail than envelopes so you’ll give yourself a much stronger chance of getting eyes on your message if you send something with dimension.

To get creative with your direct mail, think about what action you want your recipients to take and then work backwards from there. With the desired outcome in mind, you’ll be able to hone in on the tactic that will give you the best results. If you don’t need your recipients to watch a video, then a video mailer or VR viewer isn’t a wise investment, whereas a flipbook isn’t going to work if you have a dedicated virtual experience you want to link users to with a QR code. Deciding on the medium and message will be much easier if you already have your CTA in mind.

And remember! Sometimes the message is the easiest way to get creative. You don’t need to send a different type of mailer each time to wow your prospects and clients with your creativity. For example, you could send your recipients caramel popcorn with a message that says, “Need an estimate? POP into my inbox anytime! Email [email protected] to get started”. It will be memorable, fun, and tie back to the action you want them to take.

Looking for strategy recommendations for your campaign? Schedule a call with a Greetabl account executive today.

Other Creative Direct Mail Options:

  1. Greetabl gifts
  2. Video mailers
  3. QR code experiential mail
  4. Flipbooks
  5. Pop up cubes
  6. Oversized or undersized mailers
  7. VR viewers
  8. Hidden message mailers
  9. Gift bento boxes
  10. Web key/USB mailers
  11. Pop up pen holders
  12. Plantable mail
  13. Hologram prisms
  14. DIY or LEGO kits
  15. Gift cards
  16. Cardboard record players

Looking for more inspiration? Read our list of 17 creative direct mail marketing examples.

Direct Mail Marketing Costs

Direct mail advertising costs can vary widely depending on the scale of your project. You could easily spend less than a dollar or over $100 per unit; it just comes down to your goals, the type of impression you want to leave with your clients and prospects, and your allowable cost to acquire a customer.

Additionally, the way direct mail costs are presented can vary from company to company, with some pricing per 1,000 pieces, and others itemizing costs down to a very granular level. To break things down and demystify things a bit, according to the USPS, the average cost for a higher-end flat mailer is about $7.00. That cost can move up or down based on if you will be designing the mailer yourself, what quantity you are sending, what shipping method you select, and what type of list you use.

Lumpy mail or dimensional mail will cost slightly more. If you are choosing to send gifts to your recipients instead of junk mail, the costs could range from about $20 to as high as $200+. The average gift box company price is around $100, but smaller gifts like Greetabl can be delivered for under $25 per piece.

Setting a Direct Mail Campaign Budget

To set your direct mail campaign budget, you’ll need to consider the goal of the campaign. Are you trying to close new business, improve your brand awareness, build brand equity with your existing clients, or something else entirely? That goal will drive the budget for your campaign. After you have a goal in mind, it’s important to understand what value you can assign to the completion of the goal. After all, if your average deal size is $25, you’ll have a lot less room to push your budget than if your average deal size is $25,000.

Once you have a goal and an assigned value in mind, you can start setting your budget for the campaign. You’ll need to consider the estimated response rate for the campaign and a target ROI. If you’re not sure what response rate to use, a best practice is to aim low so that you don’t get into a situation where you over-estimated the response rate and are unable to achieve your target ROI for the campaign. A safe bet is to use your email marketing response rate as a baseline since direct mail typically outperforms email. After that, it’s just simple math. Take your list size x response rate x your goal completion value to get your expected value of the campaign, and then divide that total number by your target return on ad spend. That gives you the budget for your campaign!

How to Choose the Right Direct Mail Marketing Service for Your Business

To get the best return on investment, you need to select a direct mail partner who is a good fit for your business. It’s important to choose a partner who understands your objectives, has proven success with similar campaigns, and can provide you the level of support and service that you need to meet your business requirements.

Here are the five most important things to keep in mind when selecting a direct mail service provider for your campaign:

  1. Do they fit your budget? Some direct mail companies specialize in very high-end solutions, while others offer more casual options at a lower price point. Decide what you are looking for from your campaign and choose a partner who can meet those budgetary requirements.
  2. Can they meet your timeline? Depending on how far in advance you are planning, lead times may play an important role in your decision-making. If you need your event invitations to land in mailboxes at least a month before your event – and your event is only five weeks away – you’ll need to select a partner with a fast turnaround time. Ask your vendors about standard lead times and the option to pay a rush fee to get your direct mail delivered faster.
  3. Does their product offer the level of personalization that you need? If you want to include unique messages for each recipient, make sure you ask about that upfront. Not all direct mail providers can meet that requirement, and some may charge an additional fee to personalize your order at that level.
  4. Do they ship to the locations you need? For some less traditional direct mail services, you may not be able to have the items shipped directly to your recipients. Make sure you ask your service provider if they can ship your gifts to your recipients directly and, if so, if they deliver in all of the states or countries you need to ship to.
  5. Do they offer the level of tracking information that your team needs? It’s important to understand what type of tracking dashboard the direct mail company will be able to provide to your team. If you want to be able to call prospects the day after their gift is delivered, you’ll need to be able to see that tracking information on a unit-by-unit level in real-time.

Compare Direct Mail Companies

Next Steps and Getting Started

Now that you have the information you need, you’ll be able to rise above the noise of digital advertising, create meaningful connections with your prospects, and greatly improve the ROI of your marketing spend.

If you’re ready to explore the power of personalized direct mail marketing at scale, schedule your demo with one of our gifting experts today.

Want to Learn More? Request a Demo to See Greetabl’s Direct Mail Solution: