If you’re on the hunt for a new direct mail service, you’ve likely been doing direct mail manually, or your current solution just isn’t cutting it anymore. Luckily, there are direct mail services available for every industry, business size, and purpose. Whatever your needs are, there’s a tool to help you meet them. You just need to find it.
In general, every direct mail service will help you manage the basic aspects of campaigns—printing, tracking, shipping, analytics, warehouse management, design, and more.
But there are feature differences across these tools to meet the needs of different company types. After all, a small business owner doesn’t require the same direct mail features as an enterprise. Choosing the right direct mail service for your team will help you get the most out of direct mail without overpaying for services you don’t need.
Mail Shark functions like an extension of your marketing team. If you’re a small, local business looking for a more hands-off direct mail service, Mail Shark may be a good option.
Mail Shark is a full-service agency offering custom design, targeted mailing lists, professional printing, and delivery. This service model allows you to focus on high-level priorities, like business development, instead of on administrative direct mail tasks.
Mail Shark also uses the Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) program, USPS’s targeted advertising program. This is a huge plus if you’re targeting by geographic location alone without any further segmentation.
The EDDM program is limited to U.S. addresses, and Mail Shark can’t integrate with digital marketing tools. As such, Mail Shark is best for small, local businesses that need to target certain zip codes or cities rather than base their direct mail sends on digital behaviors. It specializes in industry-specific strategies for local restaurants, auto dealers, and professional services, such as construction and law firms.
The USPS specializes in targeting by geographic location without having to buy an address list.
Mailing lists can be expensive. Luckily, the USPS already has every address in the United States at its fingertips, so you don’t need to buy a list.
As a bonus, you don’t need to request a postal permit when mailing with the USPS. Getting a postal permit doesn’t cost anything, but it’s still nice to eliminate any extra step.
The USPS doesn’t allow for trigger-based sends or automated personalization. There is also a quantity limit: you can’t mail more than 5,000 pieces a day, making it less suitable for enterprise or international businesses.
But because the USPS has every U.S. address on file, it’s easy to target by location. So if you’re focused solely on zip codes or cities and not segmenting your audience in any other way, the USPS is the most straightforward way to get the job done.
Wooing execs and getting them to meet with you can be...tricky. Sending gifts can help, but there’s always the chance recipients will receive the gift and still not show up for your meeting. Alyce helps its customers book meetings as part of the gifting process.
Alyce offers calendar integrations, so it’s easy for users to book meetings. It also lets recipients choose their gift, so you know your contact is getting something they’ll appreciate—increasing the chance that they’ll make time for you. And with Alyce’s built-in marketplace, you can give your recipients plenty of options to choose from.
The company also stores the gifts in their own warehouse. No more cluttering up your office with boxes of gifts and swag.
Alyce is best for those targeting fewer people with the purpose of opening a new line of communication with contacts that are traditionally hard to get a hold of. It’s a great tool for encouraging people to book meetings with you but not as great for sending mass amounts of direct mail.
If you want to wrap both physical gifts and gift cards into your outreach, Reachdesk can help you do both on the same platform.
Unlike Alyce, Reachdesk helps you integrate your direct mail gifts with digital gifts, particularly eGift cards.
Reachdesk gives you access to hundreds of gift cards, not just for national chains but for local stores and international chains, too. And with their marketplace for physical gifts, you can combine digital and direct gifting powers to increase the reply rates for both channels.
The tool also offers budgeting functionalities to help your team allocate resources and scale direct and digital gifting right on the platform.
While Reachdesk does offer international gifting, you need support from your Reachdesk account manager to transfer and convert funds, which can slow down the process. However, it’s still the only platform that focuses solely on combining direct and digital gifting, so dealing with these hiccups is worth it for companies whose clients respond well to gift cards.
Like Mail Shark, Gunderson Direct functions as a full-service direct marketing agency but is better suited for tech, SaaS, and B2B companies.
The full-service agency model allows you to be more hands-off, and it also offers additional services such as email integration and landing page optimization
Additionally, Gunderson Direct can conduct A/B testing for you. This service makes it easier to test and optimize future direct mail campaigns.
If you took Mail Shark and optimized it for large-scale campaigns, you’d get Gunderson Direct. This direct mail service is expensive, with project-based rates starting at $10,000, making it less suitable for small and local businesses and better for tech and B2B companies with a bigger budget.
Beyond email, though, Gunderson Direct doesn’t offer any trigger-based mailings, which is inconvenient if you’re trying to build your omnichannel strategy. If your digital and direct mail serve entirely different purposes, the lack of trigger-based mailings may not be an issue.
Inkit specializes in synchronizing direct mail and digital files, making it a good choice for communications departments rather than marketing.
Inkit offers PDF generation for paperless communication but also automates the direct mail process, so you can keep your direct and digital communications in sync. Inkit integrates with many CRMs and cloud-based systems, so you can automatically deliver printed communication based on specific digital actions or events.
Plus, Inkit also has the ability to verify addresses and send HIPAA-compliant mailings, so you can keep your customer information safe, secure, and compliant.
If you’re a small company, Inkit may be an unrealistic option with PDF generation alone starting at $1,500 a month if you want anything more than 100 pages. There’s also no mention of response alerts on their site, and analytics are only available through third-party integrations. You may end up paying for a variety of tools just to get all the data you need to optimize your communications.
However, if you’re in healthcare and have the budget to afford both Inkit and third-party tools, Inkit is a good option to help you synchronize your communications and remain compliant.
Direct mail isn’t just for your customers—you can send mail to your employees, too. Printfection makes it easy to create and ship branded swag, so you don’t have to store boxes of T-shirts in your office.
Printfection makes it easy to send branded swag to your own team, even if that team is international. The company pays attention to detail—not only can you brand your swag, but you can brand the box it’s delivered in, too. And, like Alyce and Reachdesk, you can store the swag in Printfection’s warehouse rather than your office (or closet).
With Printfection, you can also create an internal store where your employees can easily request specific swag and send it through an approval process. This feature eliminates the need for managers to send emails and have meetings to approve swag purchases.
Printfection does place a minimum on some orders, so it may not be the best direct mail service if you have a smaller team. However, if you’re a medium- or large-sized company and send swag to your employees on a regular basis, Printfection might be the best fit for you.
Sendoso specializes in swag and gift boxes for B2B companies.
With Sendoso, brands can send client gifts to increase renewals. It even offers services specific to virtual events, like the ability to automatically send thank you gifts to attendees after an event.
Sendoso also offers analytics and address confirmation, so you can ensure every gift will get delivered and measure the engagement to see what gifts drive the most engagement.
There are plenty of direct mail services that help you send gifts, but Sendoso is the only one that specializes in sending physical gifts to attendees of virtual events to create memorable experiences. If you rely on demos and webinars to increase conversions, Sendoso is the platform for you.
Postal.io is another direct mail service that focuses on gifts and swag. However, unlike Sendoso, Postal.io is best for sending smaller quantities of hyper-personalized direct mail.
Postal.io’s handwriting AI allows you to add a more “human” touch to your direct mail at scale. These cards and gifts can also be triggered by digital events, which can help you time your direct mail sends perfectly.
Postal.io also gives recipients the ability to choose their own gift from Postal.io’s digital marketplace. A custom gift and a handwritten note? It’s a double-whammy for personalized communication.
With Postal.io, you can send the same gift to a large number of people at the same time. But without A/B testing capabilities, determining what types of gifts are most successful for these larger campaigns is difficult. Where Postal.io really shines is creating a unique physical touchpoint during the lead nurturing process for SaaS and tech companies.
PrintingForLess (PFL) has been around since 1996. Despite its outdated website, it’s been able to optimize its services over the years and remain one of the most popular direct mail companies.
One of PFL’s greatest strengths is its wide variety of print products. From catalogs and stationery to greeting cards and business cards, PFL’s product selection is one of the most diverse of any of the direct mail services listed.
PFL also uses the USPS’s EDDM, making it easy to target your audience by geographic location.
While it does use EDDM, PFL’s specialty is printing, not mailing. Because of this, PFL is best for those who need massive quantities of direct mail printed and shipped to one location with the intent to ship it themselves or to target solely by geographic location.
Like Postal.io, Postable also has handwriting AI. But while Postal.io specializes in sending gifts, Postable specializes in greeting cards.
This direct mail service is used by individuals and companies alike for sending automated birthday, anniversary, and holiday cards. With hundreds of cards to choose from for every occasion, Postable is akin to a Hallmark store. The added bonus? Postable’s shelves are never empty, and you can get a discount when you increase your order amount.
While Postable does allow for mass mailings, it’s more suited for individuals who want to automate the process of sending birthday or holiday cards to a small number of friends. Even their free address book feature is advertised on their website as “a very clever little trick to help get your friends’ mailing addresses for you.” If you’re trying to improve customer retention by celebrating holidays and birthdays via “handwritten“ cards, there’s no reason why you can’t use Postable.
Postalytics is one of the few direct mail services that has white-label direct mail automation specifically for agencies.
Wouldn’t it be nice to just plug in some numbers and automatically know the price of your direct mail campaign? With Postalytics, you can do exactly that with their pricing calculator.
Unlike many of the direct mail services on this list, Postalytics offers analytics, A/B testing, and event-triggered sends, making it easy to integrate your direct mail into your digital marketing.
Plus, the drag-and-drop design makes Postalytics easy to use even if you’re not a developer or designer.
Postalytics is a bit on the pricier side for per-unit rates and doesn’t have as many customization options. However, its agency-specific automation plus its access to a print delivery network (PDN) and a variety of integrations make it a great choice for those running direct mail campaigns for multiple clients.
We may be a little biased, but we think Lob is one of the best direct mail services out there. It combines a lot of the tools and features of the above services, and it’s also one of the few direct mail services that can be built directly into your own proprietary platforms.
Event-triggered actions, response alerts, A/B and multivariate testing, the ability to be built into your proprietary systems...Lob has everything a company—particularly enterprise healthcare and finance businesses—needs to fully integrate their direct mail into their digital marketing.
Lob also has its own Print Delivery Network (PDN), which means you don’t have to worry about whether or not your printer will have the time or supplies to fulfill your order.
Plus, Lob offers modular HTML templates, an extensive knowledge base, and dedicated mobile, email, and chat support. This sets you up for success from the moment you sign up.
Many of the direct mail services on this list have a primary focus on marketing or non-promotional communications. Lob is built for both, making it the go-to choice for companies that use direct mail in a variety of ways.
If you’re sending lower volumes of mail, though, Lob’s per-unit prices can be a bit more expensive than other platforms. That means Lob is best for medium to large companies with large amounts of direct mail to send.
While integrating Lob into your proprietary system is a relatively simple process, it might be difficult without developers. Luckily, most enterprise, finance, and healthcare companies have developers on deck who can work with Lob’s team to implement Lob’s API in a matter of days.
If you want a completely hands-off experience, look for a full-service agency. But if you want more control and a holistic omnichannel approach, look for a direct mail service that can integrate with your current tech, work in tandem with your digital initiatives, and automate the testing process for continual optimization.