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The 6 Components of a Winning Direct Mail Campaign
September 23, 2015

The 6 Components of a Winning Direct Mail Campaign

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Russell Taylor

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2015 and was updated in November 2021.

Did you know that when you pair direct mail with online marketing, like emails, it can increase your website traffic by 68%, your response rates by 63%, and increase your ROI by 60%? Using the tactic of combining direct mail with online marketing is very effective and efficient, especially when it’s used strategically.

Here are six essential components for creating a successful direct mail campaign that can increase response rates and ROI.

1. A targeted mailing list

The days of spray and pray direct mail campaigns are a thing of the past. By using data you have about your audience, you can send much more targeted messages that get better response rates and produce more ROI for each campaign sent.

Why you should have a targeted mailing list:

  • Maximizes campaign impact. You need to use each touchpoint with a prospect or customer wisely especially when integrating direct mail into your omnichannel strategy. By sending direct mail to cohorts of your audience you can laser-focus who receives which offer to get the most impact.
  • Enables you to test and optimize. Part of marketing is to always be testing so when you segment your audience you can effectively A/B test offers, creative, form factors and other aspects of your campaign and optimize based on what works best.
  • Reduces waste. Address verification helps you ensure you only mail to addresses that are valid ensuring your mail gets delivered and reducing waste

2. Compelling copy

Create compelling copy for your direct mail campaign that will engage your audience and elicit the response you desire.

You can create compelling copy by using copywriting best practices. For example:

  • Focus on the benefits of your product instead of the features. For example, when you sell a blow dryer, you might focus on how someone can get their hair dried faster with your product instead of focusing on how hot the blow dryer gets.
  • Identify customer pain points and talk about how your product solves them. For example, if you’re selling slow-brewed coffee at your coffee shop, you can tell your customers about how they no longer have to worry about having the time to make slow-brewed coffee at home — they can simply show up at your shop.
  • Personalize your copy to your target audience. Use vocabulary your target audience understands. Entice your potential customers with your product by making it relatable. Let’s say you are selling protein bars to busy moms. In this case, you’ll want to focus on the fact that it’s convenient and tasty to eat on the go without sacrificing the nutrients they need for energy.
  • Inform your audience with credible data. Anybody can make up information to promote a product, but if your product is supported with data, results, facts, or anything that will give the product support, you’ll be a more credible source.

Recommended reading: Best Practices for Direct Mail Copywriting

3. A valuable offer

You need to provide an offer to motivate your audience to act; this is called a call to action (CTA).

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However, you can’t use any CTA. Make sure your offer is relevant, timely, and easy to execute — your potential customers may lose interest if they have to jump through hoops to take advantage of an offer, so no scavenger hunts for discounts.

An effective CTA can:

  • Be time-sensitive. Make your offers timely and include a sense of urgency so your recipients will be encouraged to take action.
  • Have a size and shape that begs to be clicked. That same study by Qreuz found that square buttons, with soft edges, were the most dominating CTA button shape.
  • Be intuitive. Your CTA should be clear and easy to understand. For instance, if you are asking people to register for a webinar you can use “Save my spot” or “Register now” for the copy in your CTA.

Pro tip: Use active verbs in your CTA, further motivating your audience to take action. Use words like “hurry,” “donate,” “act now,” or “support,” so there’s no confusion as to how you want your audience to react to your CTA.

4. An eye-catching design

Consumers are inundated with marketing every day. The best direct mail campaigns present an engaging creative design that gets seen and acted on.

  • Make the first glance visually appealing. Remember, the envelope (or the postcard) will be the first thing your potential customers see, so you want to make an excellent first impression.
  • Use high-quality photographs to capture attention. Images should be high-resolution and pertinent to your target audience and your product (preferably of your product). For example, you could be selling outdoor adventure backpacks, where you feature a high-resolution photo with incredible outdoor scenery and a hiker wearing your backpack. This allows you to highlight the backpack features while also inspiring your audience to buy your product.
  • Stay away from tiny font sizes. It can be easy to want to fill up your limited space with as much information about your product as possible, but the smaller the print is, the harder it’ll be for the reader to see it.
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Recommended tool: Lob offers an array of postcard and letter templates to help you hit the ground running.

5. A tracked delivery

How do you ensure your mail is getting sent and delivered? Track it.

  • You have the ability to include a custom QR code (Quick Response code) or a PURL (Personalized Universal Resource Locator) pointing to a webpage to help track your campaign’s results.
  • The United States Postal Service (USPS) doesn’t provide tracking on letters or postcards, but they’ll tell you when they’re delivered. However, if you want to track it and ensure your campaign lands in the correct mailbox, Lob tracks your direct mail campaigns every step of the way giving you total visibility.

6. Data-driven reports

Track direct mail campaign metrics so you know how to optimize future campaigns.

  • Use Lob’s reporting to gain insights by following your direct mail campaign APIs and using the data-driven results to make informed decisions. With Lob, you can track mail speed to see on average how many business days it takes for your mail campaign to get to its delivery point. You can also track mail distribution, so you see where most of your mail is sent (separated by states). With those two analytics, you can combine the results to find how many business days it takes for your mail to get to each state. This can help you get early predictions on when their mail will arrive and what your response rates should look like.
  • Lob has a direct mail dashboard that allows you to monitor your collected data and filter it. You can filter your mail type according to things like product type, recipient zip code, or template type. Once you know that, you can filter it one step further and find the amount of mail you sent out according to different campaigns or recipients. You have unlimited possibilities for how you can utilize this information. For example, you can figure out which states most of your target audience live in. Or who’s responding the most to your mail according to demographics and location. Or which of your templates got the most responses.


Using the six components of a winning direct mail campaign can help your campaigns get greater response and ROI making your campaigns more efficient and effective.

Lob takes care of the printing, mailing, and postage — so you can send print mail on-demand as quickly as you’d send an email. You can sign up for a free account today.

For more direct mail tips and tactics, get our free mini-guide, Running a Tactical Direct Mail Campaign.

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