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May 3, 2022

What to Look for in a Direct Mail Template

by 
Guest Author

There have been countless tools and systems created in the last decade to streamline the digital marketing process. But marketers don't always realize they can use these same automation tools to revamp outdated direct mail practices. If your direct mail process feels clunky, inefficient, or hard to track, direct mail templates can help you turn things around. After all, if email templates are now available at the click of a button, why should direct mail be any different?

Direct mail templates help businesses in several key ways:

  • They prevent you from having to reinvent the wheel with each campaign.
  • They streamline the process of sending direct mail.
  • They require no coding and thus save time.
  • They are easy to use (even if you're not especially tech-savvy).
  • They can help make A/B testing even easier.

Just as platforms like Wix and Squarespace allow users to create beautiful websites without coding expertise, direct mail templates allow users to create campaigns simply and effectively.

What you need in a direct mail template

Direct mail templates ensure your mail pieces meet printing and mailing standards and can easily be created without too much technical know-how. Any direct mail template should include reserved space for required mailing data, like:

  • Recipient address
  • Return address
  • Indicia or postage class
  • Trim size or safe zone

At Lob, we use HTML templates and include dynamic fields, called merge variables, so you can easily customize your template with the right information without coming up with the whole letter or postcard from scratch.

Common merge variables our customers use include:

  • Customer information, like name and city
  • Date
  • Purchase information
  • Invoice line items
  • Verification codes
  • Custom URLs or personalized landing page
  • Expiration dates
  • Custom images or personalized product images

These merge variables allow you to use a template for the initial build and have the automated direct mail platform insert the correct information and send the piece off to the printer.

What else do you need to look for in a direct mail template?

Great templates are direct

It's called direct mail for a reason, right? Bad jokes aside, a great template uses directness as a powerful weapon. It slays all of the most common problems that can occur, such as:

  • Customers becoming confused when an ad is too complex or vague.
  • Customers not taking action when the CTA is not clear enough.
  • Customers dismissing the value of an offer because the value isn't spelled out.

Whittling your message down is critical in every campaign, but that doesn't mean you want to sit down and do it manually each time. Furthermore, you may not want to hire a copywriter for every piece of content you produce. Templates allow brands to test out versions of their messages and stick with the language that works best. Once you begin to track campaign results with a direct mail service, you can know for sure which templates generate results.

Great templates are part of omnichannel marketing

It's estimated that it takes up to 62 touchpoints to finally make a sale. Modern consumers aren't interested in hearing from you once, out of the blue, and making a purchase. Instead, they're interested in hearing what you have to offer through multiple channels. Most consumers are in no rush to make decisions, and they'll gladly let you win their trust through consistent communication.

This is why many of the largest, most profit-driven companies in the world are working to fuse their digital marketing efforts with their direct mail efforts. It's especially effective nowadays as both digital and physical ad campaigns can be managed from a computer. Many companies see amplified results from higher conversion rates to better brand loyalty when online and offline strategies are used in tandem. When you connect with your audience both digitally and through physical mail, you create salience around your brand.

Great templates communicate a point

If you run a business, there are many things you may need to communicate aside from marketing a product or service. Direct mail templates aren't just for selling, but can communicate many different messages in a simple and timely manner. Some of these include:

  • Renewal notices
  • Welcome letters
  • Thank you postcards
  • Account verification letters

Things can get confusing and time-consuming when companies need to communicate different messages to different audience segments. With direct mail templates, the entire process can be streamlined so that the right people always receive custom notices at the appropriate time.

Browse our template gallery to see more examples of useable direct mail templates.

Direct mail postcard template example
Lob membership program postcard template example

Great templates sell effortlessly

Your ROI stands to benefit when you make clear and enticing offers. A great template always facilitates a sale and makes it easier for consumers to understand your offer. In addition, a direct mail template will make it easier for consumers to take action. They'll see clearly what the next step is and how to take it.

Templates can help you communicate things such as:

  • Retargeting offers
  • Sales and discount offers
  • New product announcements
  • Holiday specials and deals

Simply put, your company's unique selling proposition (USP) must be prominently featured in your marketing materials. A template can help marketers center the USP effectively in every piece of content.

Great templates create consistency

Your direct mail campaign should be consistent with your overall brand. Your logo, images, and colors should perfectly match your branding strategy and give the same feel at every touchpoint. Every piece of direct mail you send out is a touchpoint. Whether you are distributing a one-time offer or a recurring seasonal message, a template helps make your business more consistent and professional. Templates can also help you create consistency with the customer experience as consumers know how to read invoices and offer letters and scan the letter for the pertinent information whereas they might be caught off-guard if you send an invoice in the format of a postcard.

On a more mundane note, templates ensure that you meet the US Postal Service mailing requirements, including the correct size, margins, and spaces for things like bar codes and addresses. With templates, you never have to worry about a formatting mishap or a printing mistake that ruins your entire direct mail campaign. In short, templates = on-point branding with zero costly errors.

Credit card acqusition direct mail postcard example
Lob reward card acquisition template example

Great templates speak to a precise audience

In the age of personalization, messages that are customized to specific audience segments tend to perform best. Research by Marketo shows that consumers will only engage with an ad if it is directly related to a previous interaction. No longer can brands design generic ads and blast them out to the masses without much thought. Consumers are bombarded with advertisements more than ever before, so it's only natural that they've developed a more discerning eye. It's easier for them to tune out messages that seem irrelevant to them. This leaves brands with one option: become relevant and stay relevant.

When using custom templates to reach your ideal customer, you boost your credibility and your customers' level of trust in your brand. Couple this with a sophisticated system for direct mail attribution and you can quickly gain a better understanding of your audience segments.

Great templates can still be creative and original

The word "template" doesn't necessarily conjure up images of artful marketing masterpieces. However, that doesn't mean that the two can't go together. A template can be attention-grabbing and creative, even without the help of an expert graphic designer. While it's true that a unique design can go a long way, brands need to be careful not to innovate just for the sake of getting attention. Coupled with data analysis, templates can help brands discover what truly drives their audience and avoid ineffective gimmicks. A creative template is a great template only when it speaks to the intended audience and inspires them to take action.

Thankfully, making creative tweaks to a direct mail template doesn't require any special skills. If you know how to edit a standard email campaign, you know how to edit a direct mail template.

Is a direct mail service right for you?

Customizable templates are just one of several things to look for in a direct mail service. If you're looking to program physical campaigns just like email campaigns, automate triggers, and track delivery, we can help. Lob is an automated direct mail platform with solutions for insurance, healthcare, e-commerce, and more. Our platform helps companies seamlessly monitor and tweak their direct mail campaigns for maximum results and increased ROI.

Schedule a demo to learn how to automate and scale your direct mail with Lob.

This blog provides general information and discussion about direct mail marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.

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