Getting the Most from Direct Mail


To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of direct mail’s death have been exaggerated. In fact, recent studies show that direct mail remains a relevant and effective promotional tool, even for e-commerce and digitally oriented businesses. We’ve compiled some best practices to help make your next direct mail campaign more successful. The following are five general guidelines that will assist in generating better results:

1.) Identify your target audience. Even if you’re short on existing leads or prospects, mailing lists are available for practically every field and demographic. Reputable sources include trade media and data services such as SRDS, which offers over 65,000 lists covering 230 industries.

2.) Know your target audience. Identifying is one thing, knowing is another. As the late great direct mail copywriter Malcolm Decker advised, “Develop a clear profile of your prospect as the available research offers and then match that profile up with someone you know. Put him or her in a chair across from you, and write to that person, conversationally!”

3.) Include an offer — give the recipient a reason to respond — whether it’s a discount, complimentary service or inexpensive gift card.

4.) Stand out. As most marketing professionals will tell you, colored envelopes with a stamp or a 3-dimensional mailer packaged in a tube or box usually will not get thrown out prior to being opened like a lot of standard, ho hum business reply mail. Additionally, ensure your awesome design meets US Postal Service standards. We included a handy list of tips at the end of the story for reference.

5.) Follow up! Connecting with a phone call or email to non-respondents 10-14 days after the mailing can help ensure they received the mailer and determine their interest in your offer. For more information, visit the Direct Marketing Association website. And, remember to check out our list of USPS tips below to make your next mail print project go smoothly. The direct mail representative at your local post office can provide more details.

Helpful Direct Mail Design Tips:

  • Max flat dimension: height: 6″ length: 10.5″
  • Max weight: 3 oz.
  • If a flap is used, it is considered the final fold.
  • External flap is final fold down from top on non-address side or from lead to trail edge
  • Die-cut shape allowed must be sufficiently sealed to panel
  • Die-cut holes completely through mailers are not allowed.
  • Scent coating, such as that offered by Homewood, cannot be on the outside of the mailing piece, it must be enclosed.

Random Fact: The postage rate for a 6 x 4.25 postcard is 34 cents instead of the standard first class rate of 49 cents.