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8 Direct Mail Marketing Strategy Tips From the Experts

Master the art of direct mail marketing with expert tips.
Dustin Hodgson
Published Aug 15, 2019

A great direct mail marketing strategy is necessary if you want to reach the right people and get them to act. However, creating an effective strategy is an art that s perfected as you test, learn and uncover what your audience likes.

If you re new to direct mail marketing, you may not have the data or insights needed to guide your efforts. Instead of guessing about what will work and what won t, we re sharing insights from direct mail veterans. Use their tips and ideas to drive your direct mail marketing strategy. 

#1: Think Past Postcards

While a postcard can be a valuable asset in your direct mail marketing campaign, don t stop there. Dave Martin, Director of Growth at Nettra Media developed a campaign that delivered boxes, each one containing a 7-inch video screen with an intro ready to be played. We had the owner record an opening message 50 times so that each recipient had an incredibly authentic viewing experience, says Martin.

Video Box Direct Mail Idea
*Example of what that video box may have looked like

After the 1-minute video was done, they used a simple call to action: use the attached $25 restaurant gift card to grab lunch and discuss their future partnership.

This unique approach, which generated a 45 percent conversion rate, was a hit. Martin says, This campaign was so successful that we're now targeting non-solar contractors with a similar message.

Note: Although this first example is a rather extreme leap away from traditional direct mail postcards, it's an example of what can be done when you think creatively about how to capture the attention of your audience through direct mail. 

#2: Save Recipients Time, Money or Both

Save Time & Money

Getting potential customers to act on your direct mail is all about getting the offer right, and what do consumers care about most? The two most valuable resources: time and money. That s why Donna Peterson, Executive VP of World Innovators, suggests: Offer them something that they need to save time and money. Everyone is short on time so if you can help them in that area, people will respond.

For example, include a front-of-line coupon for your busy Sunday Brunch. Pair that with a free coffee for a powerful combination. 

#3: Get the Design Details Right

Don t overlook the details when designing your direct mail campaign. Ciara Hautau, Lead Digital Marketing Strategist for Fueled, says: Every little detail counts when it comes to representing your brand (the type of paper you use, branding, design, colors, etc.). When you use direct mailing you can give your audience a preview of what it'd be like to work with you and leave a really outstanding impression.

Design Details Magnifying Glass

This is your chance to give the potential customer a preview of your product or service experience, Hautau suggests, so don t miss the opportunity to shine. Check out some of our design guides to get on the right track:

#4: Send Something Valuable

While consumers get less mail than ever before, your direct mail marketing strategy still needs to focus on providing value to be noticed. Andrew Helling, a Nebraska-licensed real estate agent and the owner of says: By including a piece of valuable information, you're incentivizing the recipient to pay attention.

For example, Helling suggests, If you're a real estate agent, include a quick market analysis of the neighborhood, including recent home sales and any trends you're seeing.

Get creative: 9 Fresh Ideas for Real Estate Postcard Marketing.

#5: Look Beyond Your First Mailer

Just as with digital marketing, you have to remember: Not everyone is in the market for what you are offering at any given time, says Rodger Roeser, CEO of The Eisen Agency.

As such, he explains that your first mailer is a chance to introduce your brand with a simple call to action. Give the prospect a chance to get familiar with your business so when they need your business, they know you re there.

Introduce Yourself

This is step one. Next comes follow ups. Roeser explains that these mailers are necessary, which means your strategy needs to account for the entire lifecycle of your campaign. Be certain you ve budgeted enough to be able to create multiple touchpoints over the course of the campaign.

Create a print marketing calendar to make sure the necessary budget is accounted for.

#6: Consider Your Mailing List Size

The goal of your campaign is to reach a large number of people at one time but if your list is too big, you may need to reconsider your approach, suggests Kimberly Presnail, VP, Marketing and Culture for Active International.

She explains, If your list isn t small enough, you re either too high in the funnel or need to revisit your targeting and segmentation (you re spraying and praying). If your message isn t hyper-personal and relevant, it means you don t know your prospect well enough and it's SPAM.

Direct Mail Funnel

How do you know if your list is the right size? Presnail says, It comes down to your ability to research, know each person, and be highly personalized. If you have a list of 10 thousand people and you ve taken the time to get to know them all and craft very meaningful messages to each, then go for it.

#7: Make the Mailer Memorable

Direct mail marketing is a chance to make a great brand impression without the clutter of social media posts or spam emails.

When you send postcards or flyers or catalogs, you're making your presence known. Even if the person receiving your mail doesn't take action right then and there, you're in the back of their mind for the future, says Keri Lindenmuth, Marketing Manager for KDG.

However, not every direct mail campaign is created equal. Lindenmuth explains how her company makes their outreach fun, in turn, ensuring it s also memorable: 

A fun campaign our B2B company does is send swag boxes to local businesses, along with some pamphlets on what we do. The business may not need our services now, if they do down the road, they're more likely to remember the company that sent them a box of swag rather than they are a company that sent them a postcard that got overlooked with the rest of their mail.

Swag Box

Brainstorm on how you can think out of the box with your campaign to make an impression that counts. 

Check out our customizable stickers, perfect for a swag package.

#8: Actively Test All Your Campaigns

One key element of a great direct mail marketing strategy is split testing, allowing you to improve future campaigns. When planning this piece, remember that you don t have to test just two direct mailers against one another.

Test Campaigns

You can also test online versus offline. This is what Alistair Dodds, Marketing Direct and Co-Founder, Ever Increasing Circles, did and the results were telling:

We split tested an open house that was only advertised via direct mail Vs another open house that was only promoted via Digital ads. The direct mail open house was far better attended and provided us an opportunity to personally match prospects against the list so that we could follow up with personal letters and housing that matched their desired locations and budgets.

Start Planning Your Direct Mail Marketing Strategy 

These experts know how to create a campaign that drives results. Use their tips and ideas to develop a direct mail marketing strategy that drives brand impressions and leads to conversions.

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