Lob's website experience is not optimized for Internet Explorer.
Please choose another browser.

Arrow Up to go to top of page
Know When and How to Launch Your First Direct Mail Campaign
July 2, 2019

Know When and How to Launch Your First Direct Mail Campaign

Author Avatar
Lauren Ritchie

Digital channels are overcrowded; marketers are searching out for the next breakthrough channel, where they can seamlessly increase customer engagement. Direct mail has always been a channel that has resonated with consumers in a unique manner and through continuous technological advancements, it’s remained a strong communications tool. Utilizing data and automation to ease a previously laborious operational footprint, modern direct mail is an increasingly agile and transparent medium.

Direct mail is a tangible form of communication, which allows consumers to interact with it in a unique way. With direct mail’s tenured and dependable history, the channel has an established credibility; making the very act of sending direct mail increase a brand’s perceived trustworthiness. Also, direct mail’s configuration makes for easier reader comprehension; as reading mail takes 21% less effort to process than digital channels. On average, each household spends 30 minutes going through their mail. Meaning that direct mail is not only given more attention, it’s also more memorable.

When to Start Sending Direct Mail

Identifying when you are ready to launch a direct mail campaign can be tricky, as new channels come with new nuances. While there is no single formula for knowing when to start a direct mail campaign, there are some telltale signs.

Your unsubscribe rates are on the rise.

People unsubscribe. Some marketers see unsubscribers as a positive, as it potentially concentrates the quality of your email list. However, with email’s low response rates, fewer subscribers translate into fewer conversions. In an attempt to gain insight, marketers are asking unsubscribers for exit feedback. This feedback has unknown variables and validity, as unsubscribers can voice frustrations with their inbox, rather than the feedback you’re asking for. Executing against these results can justify overcorrecting campaigns… which perpetuates the unsubscription cycle.

Some unsubscribers leave in order to get better control of their inboxes, but that doesn’t translate into disinterest for a brand or service. Direct mail fosters a connection that skips the chaos and uncertainty of email. Additionally, certain demographics prefer direct mail over email, making their response rates naturally higher.

Your digital campaigns are getting more expensive.

While it’s cheaper to retain and win back customers than acquire new ones, digital channels charge more when your audience is known. Digital channels can also have a lot of x factors baked into their pricing. Everything from the time of year and the industry you operate in has an impact on your price. This increase in cost can impact your overall efficiency, as it takes more active management to stay on-target and in-budget.

Direct mail has a transparent pricing structure that doesn’t change based on your industry, time of year, or who you want to mail. Additionally, intelligent direct mail services can process mail with no order or batch minimums. Developing direct mail campaigns can be as specific, individualized, and timely, as data allows for.

How to Launch Your First Direct Mail Campaign

On its own, direct mail has response rates that are up to 13x higher than digital channels. Additionally, when implemented across multiple campaigns, and in conjunction with other channels, direct mail can have compounding results. Triggering sends to customer actions, personalizing content, and sending mail in tandem with other channels all increase the overall impact of your campaign. However, the first challenge remains catching your audience’s eye.

Keep a few things in mind when crafting your first (or next) direct mail campaign.

Foster a Connection With Your Audience

Nearly all marketers agree that personalization is key to driving engagement and audiences are beginning to demand it. Leverage the data you collect to create the foundation for dynamic interactions that extend beyond ‘Hello {!first name}’. Personalize content to better build a rapport with potential or inactive customers, while driving engagement with your active base. Use data to illuminate your customer journey and identify opportunities for engagement. Scale your personalization efforts by creating and structuring content to your personas. Test your messaging against the right time, place, and channel for each of your personas.

Need more ideas on how to further personalize your content?

  • Use IP addresses to gain geolocational insights.
  • Poll customers (by personas) on the content they want to see more of.
  • Match imagery in your creative to align with customer browsing or purchase history
  • Interview your engaged customers to create content centered around their journeys.

Coordinate Messaging and Needs

Keep mail relevant by tailoring it’s message to match your audience’s identify and syncing the content to your customer’s lifecycle stage.

Understanding your position in the market can help better define a brand’s tone, timing and overall communications strategy. This answer can often come with many layers, but a great starting point is to ask ‘is my audience businesses or consumers?’ The former will often need a more formal tone, with timing and messaging that is structured to build interest around your product. While marketing directly to yours customers can give more creative freedom on messaging and timing. However, it requires greater focus on consistent messaging, as it will likely be seen across multiple channels.

Identifying the lifecycle stage that your audience is in, can make it easier to create resonating content with clearer calls to action.

  • When doing initial outreach, use direct mail to introduce your brand and push customers to find more information through other channels. SmileDirectClub, an at-home orthodontic service, increases their conversion rates by using direct mail to engage customers that have not finished their customer onboarding, and aren’t responding to email.
  • While converting customers, make sure to communicate in a channel that they respond to and remind them on the value your brand provides. GoGoGrandparent, a company that helps people without smartphones use Uber and Lyft, mails detailed instructions to new accounts that have yet to use their service, explaining how to set up a ride - effectively increasing their active user base.
  • Grow brand advocacy with direct mail by encouraging beneficial behaviors, while engaging with satisfied and loyal customers. HelloFresh, a meal subscription service, makes it easy for customers to evangelize their product by mailing shareable referral cards to current customers. These referral cards offer discounts to the people that share and receive them, making it a positive interaction for all involved members.

Running Your Direct Mail Campaign

As with any channel, it’s important to map out the details of your direct mail campaign beforehand. Knowing when to use direct mail can be difficult to understand, but it’s helpful to think of the weight of your communications from a few different perspectives.

Progress - Define a clear narrative around how your communications should develop.

Success - Know the desired outcome for this interaction for your audience, and peers.

Relatability - Make your communications relevant by attaching them to events and customer actions.

Efficiency - Consider what medium will have the greatest impact with your audience against the channel’s cost.

Limitations - Factor in any restraints that need to be considered.

These variables will give you insight on when you’ll want to use direct mail to engage with your audience. On occasion, they’ll conflict with one another, when they do - consider weighing the overall average to define the best way forward. If the average is uneven or comes with too many stipulations, your communications could benefit from being further defined. When you layer your messaging, you leverage the benefits of multiple channels, while balancing your campaign’s overall efficiency.

Continue Reading