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

What Are Direct Mail Services: A Comprehensive Guide

Explore direct mail services and learn how to choose the right vendor for your business, with options tailored to your specific needs and use cases.

Manually handling your direct mail campaigns and workflows can be a difficult and time-consuming task. Whether you are sending secure, compliant mail to your medical patients, checks to your employees, or marketing collateral to your prospects, it can be a lot to handle for a small team. Luckily, there are a great number of direct mail services available to you and your business to meet your needs.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

What is a direct mail service?How do you choose the right direct mail service?Types of direct mail servicesDirect marketing printing servicesDirect marketing agencyDirect mail automation solutionsThe right direct mail service for you

What is a direct mail service?

That's one of the first questions marketers looking to level up offline marketing ask. What are direct mail services? An add-on to that question is often: And who offers direct mail services?

A direct mail service is an all-encompassing term for providing support and workflow optimizations to your mail channels. This can take shape in a multitude of ways, from printing services, gifts and swag, or fully automated direct mail solutions. As you know, direct mail is an effective means of communication with your customers or for sourcing potential prospects. Sticking to manual processes has its benefits, but the amount of time and risk for error makes it difficult to keep everything in-house. That is why most businesses turn to companies offering direct mail services.

Who offers direct mail services? There are many vendors out there to help businesses of all sizes with their direct mail needs, but some common ones include:

  • Lob
  • Postalytics
  • PostGrid
  • Postal.io
  • PostcardMania
  • Postie
  • Modern Postcard

How do you choose the right direct mail service?

With a wealth of options available to the modern business owner, it can be difficult to discern which type of service is right for your needs. Direct mail services depend on the use case you have and are not one-size-fits-all. For example, a local restaurant might only want to send out a batch of marketing mail postcards to their city. A large hospital might need a quick way to send out secure, HIPAA-compliant mail to their patients. Your direct mail service needs are going to be based on your immediate business needs.

On top of that, you’re most likely going to need a lot of variety in your mailers, so you’ll want to choose a direct mail service that gives you plenty of options. One option you should heavily consider is a direct mail marketing company with strong design tooling. Whether you handle design in-house or pass it off, a great service will provide a transparent look at your design so that it is clear what your customers are receiving.

Lastly, always make sure you know the turnaround time on each piece of mail and have a way of tracking it. This can be crucial for marketing campaigns, but even more extreme for mail with personally identifiable information (PII). Time-sensitive mail should always be delivered between 4-6 business days, so a direct mail service should always be clear and concise about their delivery times and methods.

Types of direct mail services

Considering all of the above, selecting a direct mail service might seem a daunting task, but as long as you know the intended result of your direct mail marketing campaign, it can be pretty easy. Luckily, we’ve listed out a quick reference guide for typical direct mail services:

Direct marketing printing services

Whether you are planning to send a small amount of postcards to your local neighborhood or are planning to send it state-wide, there are postcard printing services ready to help out. Printing services provide you with the tools and resources needed to design your ideal postcard or import your designs into easy-to-use browser applications, adjusting how your mail piece will look before sending it out to your audience.

It’s an excellent opportunity for both new and established businesses to reach new consumers who otherwise may not see a company’s digital presence. Certain services will also provide multi-channel marketing supplements, which give the benefit of mail tracking, follow-up digital advertising, and call tracking.

The biggest pro when it comes to the direct mail printing services is the lower cost, with some starting pricing off at $0.05 / postcard, provided you buy at the bulk rate. Where it falls short, however, is if you are looking for a more targeted, personalized mail campaign. Marketing Mail is not recommended for personal, time-sensitive mail pieces, so the scope of this service is severely limited to marketing campaigns.

Direct marketing agency

If you want to completely pass off your mail efforts in order to focus on other marketing goals, a full-service direct marketing agency is a great option. Direct marketing agencies will work to understand your business and your target market and build a direct mail campaign specifically for your business needs. What’s helpful with an agency over other services is that they are completely dedicated to the channel, setting up testing and experimentation, data management, and design work.

However, as most marketers know, it can be difficult to find the right marketing agency to fit your business. This is equally true for direct marketing agencies. The ramp-up time, including understanding your business model and how to speak to your target audience, can impact the turnaround time and effectiveness of your direct mail marketing campaigns. However, it is a great direct mail service for those who need a dedicated team or who have never run a mail campaign before.

Direct mail automation solutions

If you are looking for a solution to optimize your existing direct mail workflow and provide all the tooling of similar digital programs, direct mail automation is a great option. These direct mail companies work by utilizing software to streamline your campaigns, allowing you to import contact lists and addresses and easily create the right mail pieces for your business. Most SaaS and API direct mail services provide real-time mail tracking, analytics dashboards, and 24/7 support to help you get the most out of your campaigns. Furthermore, their advanced tooling allows for hyper-personalized mail pieces that are also secure and compliant with USPS regulations.

While direct mail automation is great for most businesses across multiple industries, smaller businesses might struggle to find the value in it. Most direct mail automation services are for businesses sending large volumes of mail, or looking to scale their mail sending.

The right direct mail service for you

As you are selecting your direct mail service, make sure you are selecting the one that allows you and your business to succeed. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for this channel, and it matters what stage your company is at and what your goals are with your direct mail marketing. Not sure what those goals are? Talk to one of our direct mail experts today and see how we can help with direct mail services from Lob!

Ready to Get Started with Direct Mail?

Contact us for a personalized direct mail demo.