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Direct Mail FAQs

Lob answers all your direct mail questions so you can create highly effective and intelligent direct mail marketing campaigns.

From direct mail marketing basics to advanced analytics, we cover the most common direct mail marketing questions so every campaign you send can be a success.

Table of Contents

What is direct mail?

Direct mail is a form of direct marketing that's physically delivered to mailboxes. This mail includes marketing materials such as postcards, folded self-mailers, buck slips, flyers, catalogs, and sales letters. Any physical correspondence sent via various postal services is classified as direct mail marketing.

In a highly digitalized world, direct mail can be that breath of fresh air consumers seek. Those who implement direct mail marketing in their omnichannel strategy can supercharge their ROI, stand out from competitors, and successfully build customer relationships. 

Overall, direct mail is:

  • Creative and versatile
  • Tangible and personable
  • Cost-effective
  • Easily tracked
  • The perfect addition to your digital marketing strategy

What is a major strength of direct mail advertising?

There are many advantages to implementing direct mail in your omnichannel marketing strategy. However, one of the most significant strengths of direct mail advertising is its cost-effectiveness. Automated direct mail drives massive ROI, with 74% of marketers saying direct mail delivers the best ROI of any channel. When marketers combine email with direct mail, there's an increase of 60% in ROI and 40% in conversion rates. With Lob, companies have even achieved a 200% ROI.

Some other major advantages include higher open rates and response rates. For example, if your goal is to generate more leads, direct mail has a 130% higher response rate than email. When used in the right situations, targeting specific customers, you can effectively retarget and retain leads, boost brand awareness, improve customer communications, and more. It's an effective way to stand out from the digital noise and your competitors. 

Related: Lob's Direct Mail ROI Calculator

Why invest in direct mail?

There are many advantages associated with direct mail, including the following:

  • It is cost-effective, as seen through high conversion and ROI rates.
  • Direct mail is personal — 67% of consumers think physical mail is more personal than online marketing content.
  • The ability to reach a specific target audience, especially those in a localized region.
  • This channel is an effective means of building trust.
  • It grabs the attention of consumers.

As marketers implement more omnichannel strategies, direct mail should be a top priority. Direct mail marketing cohesively works with digital marketing, helping businesses supercharge ROI. Response rates are specifically high when using direct mail. 

How to send direct mail 

There are plenty of ways to approach direct mail campaigns. However, not all approaches are equal concerning efficiencies and ROI.

Gone are the days when direct mail campaigns took months to complete. When you partner with an automation platform like Lob, you can create and print mailers in less than a week. That type of timeline ensures the right message reaches the targeted person at the most effective time — and it makes all the difference. 

When sending direct mail with the support of Lob, you're not just sending physical marketing material. You're sending intelligent mail at scale

How you complete this process is simple. Lob offers modern technology that streamlines mail production and delivery. Whether it's thousands or millions of mail pieces, Lob has a nationwide network of printers to optimize the process. Quickly and affordably personalize each piece with images, QR codes, URLs, promo codes, and more. 

Printing, postage, delivery, and address verification can all be automated with Lob. 

How effective is direct mail marketing?

Email marketing and other digital marketing channels have been all the rage in recent years — and rightfully so, as they offer immense value. However, direct mail can yield a higher ROI when your goal is to achieve higher response and open rates. For example, direct mail open rates can reach up to 90%

When you have access to an automated direct mail platform, you can quickly and easily send relevant, customized direct mail. Direct mail can yield a 13x higher base response rate than email when used on its own. However, you can experience even higher rates when your direct mail campaigns are created alongside other channels, integrating with the platforms your company is already using — for example, Salesforce CRM.

Some of the reasons direct mail is so effective compared to digital channels, like email, include:

  • Direct mail doesn't require an opt-in.
  • A longer shelf life.
  • Won't get lost in a junk folder.
  • Reaching customers who don't use email, unsubscribed from your mailing list, or do not spend much time online.

The key is to know when to choose which, thinking about variables like budget, who you wish to target, the timeline, and compliance requirements. The ultimate goal is to reduce silos so all channels can work together within a cohesive strategy. 

How should you follow up on direct mail advertising?

Your follow-up strategy will depend on your goals and where the customer is within their journey. For example, you can use direct mail to follow up with customers based on your CRM data. With API-powered direct mail platforms like Lob, customer data is pulled from your CRM so you can re-engage customers via direct mail. You can follow with an upsell mailer if a customer makes a purchase. It can include a related product image with a trackable offer within a set number of days or weeks after their initial purchase.  

Another example is the connection between email and direct mail. While email marketing is a valuable channel, users often experience email fatigue. Direct mail can help combat this, allowing you to reach customers who are not responsive via email. Unsubscribers can also be targeted with direct mail to help these individuals re-engage with your brand. ThirdLove successfully implemented this strategy. Learn more about how they were able to increase customer lifetime value

How to optimize a direct mail campaign

Investing in automation is the best way to optimize a direct mail campaign. Leveraging available data and technology is key to optimizing your campaigns. For many, misunderstanding direct mail's efficiency is the greatest barrier to entry. Traditionally, direct mail isn't the most technology-forward channel. However, when partnering with a solution like Lob, you'll access the integrations, attribution methods, and optimization tactics needed to boost the efficiency of campaigns. 

One of the simplest places to begin is to focus on your campaign's creative assets. You may need to change your CTAs, imagery, messaging, or promos if you do not see the expected results. Once you alter your design and approach, you can test which options convert best. A/B testing is ideal for this purpose. 

Is it time to optimize your direct mail campaigns? Read more about the warning signs that indicate it's time to revisit your current strategy. 

How much does a direct mail campaign cost?

Each direct mail campaign will require a budget review, especially if you're making significant changes in the number of customers you're sending mail to. The size and scope of each campaign matter. Some of the most important considerations include the following:

  • Printing costs include the cost of ink, paper, and the printing process. 
  • Postage costs include the cost of sending the mail to its desired destination. This cost is determined by several factors, including location (local, national, or international), size, weight, etc. 
  • Production costs, including designer and copywriters.

You'll want to partner with an automated direct mail platform to get the most bang for your buck. To ensure the most significant ROI, you'll need to make your team more efficient, eliminate time-consuming workflows, and better manage risk — all of which are possible with Lob. 

The actual costs associated with direct mail vary, depending on the considerations above. With Lob, pricing is based on your plan:

  • Developer plan — This plan costs $0 per month and is ideal for companies exploring the concept of direct mail marketing. Print and post costs are combined and are $0.77 per postcard and $0.89 per letter. 
  • Small business plan — This plan costs $260 per month and is ideal for companies that send up to 3,000 monthly mailings. The combined print and post costs are $0.51 per postcard, $0.72 per letter, and $0.87 per check.
  • Growth plan — This plan costs $550 per month and is ideal for growing companies that send up to 6,000 monthly mailings. Print and post costs are $0.48 per postcard, $0.69 per letter, and $0.87 per check.
  • Enterprise plan — To discuss this plan, contact Lob. This plan is ideal for high-volume mailers seeking unbeatable per-piece printing costs. 

You can also purchase add-ons. For example, you can access 50,000 U.S. address verifications for $450/month with the small business plan.

How much does direct mail advertising cost?

Direct mail advertising costs depend on several variables, including the materials you send and the overall complexity of your advertising campaign. For example, the more consumers you target, the more your campaign will cost. The goal is to target customers as effectively as possible to achieve the highest ROI.

When partnering with a platform like Lob, you get flat-rate pricing. This pricing also comes with many perks, including in-transit mail tracking. The best option will depend on several factors, including maximum mail capacity, the number of users, and the overall budget. 

What are some disadvantages of using direct mail as an advertising medium?

Direct mail is effective — that much is certain. However, like any channel, direct mail campaigns can fail when they aren't done strategically. Instead of experiencing the benefits of direct mail, inefficient workflows can have the opposite effect. To avoid this, you must proactively manage your direct mail campaigns and be aware of the possible shortcomings of direct mail. 

Here are some potential disadvantages of direct mail and, more importantly, how to address them:

  • Direct mail can be perceived as junk if it is not designed or worded correctly. You don't want your mail to come across as "junk" mail, so take the time to craft strong brand messaging and create well-designed material. Learn more about the benefits of professionally designed templates
  • If you send mail too often, you risk redundancy. You'll need to develop a strategy to send the right mail to the right customer at the right time. Not all possible recipients should receive every mail piece you send out. 
  • Some believe direct mail doesn't support eco-friendly branding. However, this isn't the case. Direct mail can be a sustainable method. For example, all mail sent with Lob is carbon neutral through the entire lifecycle. Lob offsets the emissions of every mail piece through reforestation and renewable energy projects.

How does direct mail work?

The answer to this question is, "It depends." You can send direct mail the old fashion way, but why risk errors and inefficiencies? 

With the old way, direct mail is static, non-personalized, and lacks the insight needed to optimize campaigns. A single campaign would also take months. Being aware of these inefficiencies can help you supercharge your campaigns. With the old way, campaigns took 3+ months from start to finish. Now, this process can be achieved in under a week. This rapid timeline helps ensure greater success. So, it's no surprise that 74% of marketers agree that direct mail delivers the best ROI, response rate, and conversion rates than all other channels used and is more effective than email.

Here is a step-by-step process of what a direct mail campaign looks like:

  • Step one: Know your purpose and audience. What do you wish to achieve? Who are you reaching out to, and why? Know these answers before you proceed. 
  • Step two: Create a mailing list. Here is a resource on list building 101
  • Step three: Decide what type of campaign you're building. Remember, personalization is crucial here. 
  • Step four: Design your mail pieces. Don't forget to include a compelling CTA that allows you to track data.
  • Step five: Choose a printing partner. 
  • Step six: Mail your pieces out to your list based on the desired timeline.

The key is to automate the process to get the most out of every direct mail campaign. For example, with Lob, all mail is hyper-personalized, measurable, and prioritized. What once took three months can now be achieved in less than a week — delivered at scale. Whether you wish to send out a thousand postcards or three million, the process remains the same, and that's powerful. 

The process is simple:

  • Set up direct mail campaigns in minutes. You can easily schedule ahead or create trigger-based campaigns that respond to specific events or custom behaviors. Select an address, select postage, and the desired timeline.
  • Add your target audience, implementing your campaign into your existing omnichannel strategy. Lob can seamlessly integrate with your existing tech stack so you're able to leverage data from Salesforce, Marketo, Shopify, and more. 

Customer spotlight: Read about a large telecomms experience with Lob and how the enterprise sends millions of mail pieces with Lob.

What is Every Door Direct Mail?

Every Door Direct Mail® (EDDM®) is a USPS service that promotes businesses within local communities. For example, if you want to send out menus, coupons, or other promotional material, EDDM can help. The EDDM Online Tool can help filter recipients using US Census data. 

There are two options for EDDM: Every Door Direct Mail – Retail® (EDDM Retail) or entering an EDDM bulk mailing at a Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU). The best option for you depends on your industry and desired volume. EDDM BMEU is ideal for most large-volume mailers. Regardless of your choice, you will need to drop off your mail at either the Post Office (for EDDM Retail) or a large USPS mail processing center (for BMEU).

Here is the EDDM process:

  • Create or use an existing USPS.com account.
  • Select neighborhood and audience based on various demographics.
  • Design and print mail — this step can be time-consuming and costly if you do not have the right tools and support in place.
  • Choose a drop-off location.
  • Print forms and prep mailing bundles.
  • Drop off or ship mail.

How much is the USPS Every Door Direct Mail?

  • EDDM Retail® USPS Marketing Flats currently cost $0.187 per piece (the minimum is 200 pieces, and the maximum is 5000 per day per ZIP Code).
  • EDDM BMEU USPS Marketing Mail Flats are currently as low as $0.182 per piece

These prices are for materials up to 3.3 ounces. 

The above rates do not include the costs associated with additional services, such as hiring a design team or buying printing materials. Lean on templates to optimize this process. Here is an example of a new customer welcome letter. Although you can easily customize it with personalized messaging, contact info, and unique artwork, having this design template helps boost efficiency and productivity. View all templates here. 

How to get addresses for direct mail

The first step for a direct mail campaign to succeed is acquiring a great mailing list. This step is a crucial investment that can make or break direct mail as an effective channel within your omnichannel strategy. Around 60% of responses happen because of the list used. 

To get addresses for direct mail, many companies rent or purchase information about consumers and businesses. This purchase provides access to a list of addresses. USPS recommends looking in the Yellow Pages under "lists" or "mailing lists." Alternatively, you can search online. However, this isn't the most effective option. After all, you don't just want a list of addresses. You want the addresses of those interested in what you're offering. 

One way to achieve this is to partner with a direct mail provider. While mailing material seems easy, many marketers are surprised by the complexity of the process. It takes a lot of time and effort to build a targeted list and design material that helps ensure a great ROI.

To supercharge your strategy, you'll want to automate as much of your direct mail and customer acquisition strategy as possible. For example, you can leverage the data stored on your CRM to create effective triggers. 

Additional tips:

  • Be specific in your targeting goals — create or buy a list based on extensive analysis.
  • Grow lists based on existing customer data.
  • Use advanced statistics to improve precision.

Recommended resourceLob Audience

How to ensure address accuracy for direct mail

Failed shipments because of incorrect addresses are expensive. Lob developed its Address Verification API to help reduce direct mail campaign costs and boost efficiency. This API can correct and identify over 156 million domestic addresses and determine whether they're deliverable.

Making this investment is invaluable for a campaign's overall ROI. For example, if only 2% of all users input incorrect data, that would cost over $200 for every 1000 shipments. The redelivery and operation costs are steep. 

For larger enterprises, these costs can skyrocket into the thousands. It's an unnecessary waste of money, especially since there is a solution available. For enterprise customers, we have solutions that offer over 10,000 address verification requests for only $55 a month, and each additional request costs fractions of a cent at $.006 per request.  

When using this API, you can ensure complete, machine-readable addresses accepted by USPS. Once received by Lob, the API breaks down the address to return a detailed deliverability analysis. Five possible outcomes exist — deliverable, deliverable extra secondary, missing secondary, undeliverable, and no-match. 

Discover more: Introduction to Lob's Address Verification API

How do I know my direct mail is being delivered?

Did you know that around 5% of mail is undeliverable? People make mistakes and typos — it happens. However, it is costly. With 5% of mail being undeliverable, the processing costs to the USPS are about $1.3 billion each year. Then there's the cost to your business. When this occurs and mail is returned, postage costs roughly double. 

To address this concern, Lob developed its address verification API. This technology corrects addresses in real time to eliminate mistakes and minimize potential waste from undeliverable mail.

In addition to this API, Lob offers mail tracking. Tracking is included throughout the mailing process, allowing you to check each step as mail pieces travel to their destinations. With end-to-end analytics, you can see where mail is in the cycle and track conversions. 

Know that direct mail isn't perfect, so there is no need to stress when some mail comes back. The best lists have delivery rates of 95% (consumer) and 90% (business).

Is direct mail sustainable?

Not all direct mail is sustainable, so partnering with a platform that prioritizes environmental issues is crucial. 

All Lob mail is carbon neutral, achieved through recycling, reforestation, and carbon offsets. Lob's commitment to sustainable mail helps significantly reduce the carbon footprints of direct mail campaigns. 

If your brand has sustainability goals or requirements, Lob is proud to offer sustainable direct mail campaigns that drive engagement and inspire brand loyalty. In 2020, Lob launched Lob.org, a place for all things related to sustainability and social impact. Current programs are based on racial justice, civic action, and sustainability. For example, Lob plants more trees than it uses and prints on FSC-certified and PCW paper.  

Since 2018, Lob has planted over 500,000 trees, representing more than double the amount used to produce mail. Learn more about how Lob minimizes its footprint

Why does personalization matter for direct mail?

In today's market, personalization is imperative when aiming to engage consumers. The State of Direct Mail Consumer Insights report cites that 52% of consumers expect direct mail to be personalized to them. Direct mail also increases conversion and response rates, which is why it needs to be a priority across all channels — including direct mail. For example, an RIT study found that adding someone's name to mailing increased response rates by 44%. When the mail was printed in color with the recipient's name, plus other personalized information, response rates increased by 500%.

Another 2021 study by McKinsey found that 76% of customers "get frustrated" when companies don't deliver personalized interactions. The same study reported that when businesses get this right, they generate 40% more revenue than competitors who don't invest in personalization. 

Other eye-opening stats include the following:

  • 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with a brand that creates personalized offers.
  • 80% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide personalized experiences.
  • 79% of consumers will only likely engage with offers that include personalization based on previous interactions.

Read more: The Modern Marketer's Guide to Personalization

How can direct mail be personalized?

Personalizing direct mail campaigns doesn't need to be complicated. For example, with Lob, you can leverage automation to personalize mail pieces using one or more elements, such as phone numbers, personalized URLs, or referrals. With Lob's API technology, you can instantly pull relevant customer data from your e-commerce platform or CRM. This process auto-populates your mailers with ease.

Here are examples of how you can personalize mail:

  • Images — The goal of any direct mail campaign is to grab someone's attention. Customers who sort through their mail are much more likely to pick out your flyer or postcard if they relate to the imagery. Kunversion+ is an excellent example of how strategic, personalized images convert. 
  • Thank you notes — Personalized gratitude letters or mailers can help customers feel more connected to your brand. Although this may seem complex and time-consuming, a direct mail automation platform like Lob simplifies the process with address verification and thank you note templates.
  • QR codes — Want to lead a recipient to content curated for them? Want to provide a personalized offer? QR codes are an excellent way to boost engagement. Plus, this strategy lets you track each campaign. 

How effective is direct mail marketing for B2B?

Direct mail is an effective channel whether you operate in a B2C or B2B industry. With B2B marketing, campaigns are typically less focused on converting a single individual and more on winning over an entire buying committee. Direct mail fits in well within an account-based marketing strategy. 

With Lob, marketing for B2B is simple and effective, especially when leveraging one of Lob's integrations. For example, the Marketo integration can significantly improve direct mail management. Clearbit is another tool you can use alongside Lob to find new leads and create more highly targeted marketing campaigns.

What difference does direct mail automation make?

Those not using direct mail often think the channel is slow and inefficient. However, this is a myth. The old way of sending mail wasn't the best approach based on today's standards. It lacked personalization and tracking. Also, the process wasn't quick enough. That has since changed. What once took months now takes less than a week with Lob — that's the power of automation. Companies no longer need to send mail using manual processes prone to errors.

With Lob, the process is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  • Step one: Create a personalized campaign in minutes.
  • Step two: Press send to ship mail to customers so that it shows up on the day you choose.
  • Step three: Optimize campaigns and track conversions using unique URLs and QR codes.

When using Lob, you can cut costs by 85%. Manual workflows can be automated, including printing, postage, campaign creation, sustainability initiatives, and address verification. 

What are some common use cases for automated direct mail? 

  • Customer acquisition — Direct mail can help you build relationships and create loyal customers. Lob integrates with the most popular CRM and marketing automation platforms to create a marketing tech stack to capture prospects' attention.
  • Customer retention — When the goal is to maximize revenue and minimize churn, trigger-based direct mail can help. 
  • Customer reactivation — Want to re-engage and reactivate customers? Direct mail can help.

Recommended resourceMost common direct mail terms

What industries does direct mail work best for?

Direct mail is used across a broad spectrum of industries because it's highly customizable.

Here are some examples of how direct mail supports the unique goals of industry leaders:

  • Insurance — Automated direct mail helps insurance companies streamline compliance and serve customers in a timely, authentic way. Trust is crucial, as fewer than 30% of consumers consider insurers trustworthy. Personalized mail that prioritizes compliance initiatives can help boost conversions. Read more about how CPH uses automated direct mail to create more agile workflows. 
  • Financial services — From accounts receivable and accounts payable to tax operations and KYC compliance, automated direct mail is helping those in the financial services industry scale. Lob's financial services customers often see upwards of a 68% measurable return on investment with flexible form factors, hyper-personalization, attribution, and analytics. Dive deeper into address verification for financial services
  • Healthcare — Automated direct mail is helping those in healthcare improve billing, educate patients, and implement personalized, offline communications. Read more about how VillageCareMAX overcame the challenges associated with HIPAA-compliant communications. 
  • Retail and ecommerce — Lob is helping retailers improve offline engagement for online retention. Customize messaging and feature products while reducing shipping errors. Watch this live demo showcasing how retailers leverage offline marketing via automated direct mail. 

What are some customer stories?

Over 12,000 innovative companies use Lob. Helping customers ranging from startups to Fortune 500s, Lob is a platform trusted by tech-forward businesses. Through direct mail automation, they are achieving growth, as told in their many success stories. 

  • Marley Spoon drive 20% of reactivation conversions in a single quarter. Read their story.
  • thredUp increased ROI by 128% with its reactivation campaign. Read their story.
  • BlueChip Financial leverages Lob's Address Verification API to cut potential mail costs by 50%. Read their story
  • NEXT experienced a 4X increase in performance. Read their story.

Discover more case studies to see how direct mail helps businesses achieve their goals — and where it fits into your current omnichannel strategy. 


These direct mail FAQs are a comprehensive resource designed to address your most pressing questions about direct mail marketing. By providing answers to common inquiries, we aim to empower you to make informed decisions and achieve optimal results for your direct mail marketing campaigns. From understanding the basics of direct mail to exploring advanced targeting strategies, our FAQs cover a wide range of topics to cater to marketers of all levels.

Don't let uncertainties or doubts hinder your direct mail success. Take advantage of the valuable insights and practical tips to unlock the full potential of this powerful marketing channel. By leveraging intelligent direct mail effectively, you can reach your target audience, engage them with personalized and impactful messages, and drive tangible results for your business.

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