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

Demystifying Direct Mail Advertising: A Comprehensive Guide

Direct mail advertising delivers your message straight to potential customers. Discover this effective and time-tested marketing strategy.

Direct mail advertising offers a unique way to engage potential customers and clients, as it allows businesses to create tangible and personalized marketing materials. In this guide, we'll explore its benefits and how it can be effectively integrated into modern marketing strategies.

Table of Contents

What is direct mail advertising?

Direct mail advertising is a form of marketing where businesses send promotional materials to a carefully selected audience via postal mail. It aims to capture the recipient's attention, communicate a message, and prompt a desired action.

Types of direct mail advertising:

  • Postcards: Brief, impactful, and cost-effective.
  • Letters: Personalized and ideal for more detailed messages.
  • Brochures & Self-mailers: Information-rich and versatile.
  • Catalogs: Comprehensive product showcases.

Key components of a direct mail advertising campaign:

  • Target Audience: Identifying and segmenting the right recipients.
  • Creative Content: Crafting compelling messaging.
  • Design and Layout: Creating visually appealing materials.
  • Printing and Production: Ensuring high-quality materials.
  • Mailing Lists: Building accurate and updated recipient lists.
  • Call to Action: Encouraging a response or conversion.

Benefits of direct mail advertising

In an ever-evolving marketing landscape, marketers are complementing their digital-only strategies by incorporating direct mail advertising. This multifaceted, omnichannel approach enables marketers to effectively engage their audiences and drive results by harnessing the power of both digital and physical marketing tactics that offer personalization, customization, precision targeting, scalability, and in-depth tracking capabilities.

Let's explore the power of direct mail advertising and how it can improve your marketing campaign results.

The endurance of direct mail advertising

While digital channels offer the allure of instantaneous marketing messages at the push of a button, the synergy between digital and direct mail can deliver exceptional results. Direct mail advertising doesn't compete with digital marketing; it complements it. Combining these strategies can positively impact your response, conversion rates, and ROI. 74% of marketers agree that direct mail advertising delivers the best response, conversion, and ROI rates of any channel they use. But you might be thinking that consumers might view direct mail advertising as junk, but that's not the case.

Direct mail advertising boasts a significant advantage over its digital counterpart: reduced competition. Nearly two-thirds of consumers say they receive the right amount of direct mail. The average person may receive over 100 daily emails, but a typical household receives around two direct mail pieces. This stark contrast implies that your direct mail advertising can enter a mailbox with minimal competition for the recipient's attention.

Consumers read and take action on direct mail advertising 

Data from the State of Direct Mail Consumer Insights shows that 71% reported they read direct mail the same day they bring it inside their residence, and 64% of consumers say that direct mail has inspired them to take action, including exploring websites and reviews or making a purchase. These statistics underscore the significance of physical mail in consumers' eyes and their eagerness to engage with it. 

Benefits of direct mail advertising

Direct mail advertising offers many advantages, making it an invaluable addition to the modern marketer's toolkit.

In an era where consumers are bombarded with digital noise, direct mail advertising stands out as a trusted, personal, and data-driven means of communication that complements and enhances the effectiveness of omnichannel marketing strategies.

Direct mail advertising delivers impressive ROI

74% of marketers say that direct mail delivers the highest ROI, response, and conversion rates of any channel they use. 

Direct mail advertising provides a tangible and personalized touchpoint, creating a lasting impression in an increasingly digital world. The tactile nature of direct mail advertising can evoke a sense of trust and credibility in the eyes of recipients, contributing to higher engagement and response rates.

Direct mail advertising is highly scalable, adapting to campaigns of all sizes. Whether you're reaching out to a select group or a broader audience, the flexibility of this channel allows for cost-effective campaigns, making it suitable for businesses of varying sizes and budgets.

Direct mail advertising provides a targeted approach that reduces waste and increases response

One of the key advantages of direct mail advertising lies in its ability to reach a precisely targeted audience. Marketers can create highly customized mailing lists based on demographics, interests, buying behavior, and other criteria. This means that your message is delivered directly to individuals who are more likely to be interested in your product or service, increasing the chances of conversion.

You can precisely target your audience, tailoring your message to their needs and interests. By mailing smarter, not more, you reduce waste and gain better response rates. Plus, ever mailer sent through Lob is carbon neutral across the entire lifecycle.

Direct mail advertising can increase conversion rates

Response rates for direct mail campaigns can reach up to 9%, significantly higher than those of digital channels. As we mentioned above, nearly three-quarters of marketers agree that direct mail delivers the best conversion rate of any channel they use.

Direct mail advertising has minimal competition

Direct mail advertising stands out as a highly effective strategy due to its limited competition compared to its digital counterparts. Unlike email marketing, which inundates inboxes on a daily basis, direct mail advertisements arrive in the mailbox with significantly less competition. In today's digital age, people's email inboxes are often overflowing with promotional messages, making it increasingly challenging for any single email to capture attention. In contrast, when a physical piece of direct mail arrives, it has the unique advantage of not being buried beneath a mountain of other messages. This reduced competition allows your direct mail piece to shine, as it has a better chance of being noticed and considered by the recipient. Consequently, your message can enjoy a more focused and uninterrupted engagement with your target audience, ultimately leading to higher conversion rates and a more effective marketing campaign.

Direct mail advertising has a tangible, physical presence

Direct mail advertising's ability to provide a tangible, physical presence is a compelling aspect that sets it apart from digital marketing channels. When a direct mail piece arrives in a recipient's mailbox, it becomes a physical object that they can hold, touch, and interact with. This tactile experience creates a unique and memorable connection with your brand. Recipients often associate physical mail with credibility and legitimacy, as it requires effort and cost to produce and deliver. This sense of authenticity can enhance trust in your message and brand, which is particularly valuable in industries where trust is paramount, such as finance or healthcare. The physical nature of direct mail also allows for creative and eye-catching designs, including textured materials, special folds, and personalized elements, all of which can leave a lasting impression and make your message more memorable. In a digital world saturated with virtual experiences, the physicality of direct mail can significantly contribute to increased conversion rates by making your marketing efforts stand out and resonate with your target audience.

80% of consumers report that they share direct mail with family and friends, especially coupons and free offers.

Get more direct mail advertising resources in our Resource Center

Actionable tips for successful direct mail advertising campaigns

In order to harness the power of direct mail advertising, it's important to use it strategically. Follow the actionable tips below to create successful direct mail marketing advertising campaigns.

Segment your audience for increased response

What works for a part of your audience may not work as well for another. And even if you have a decent approach to messaging your entire audience as a whole, segmenting lets you dig deeper into what specific people might need or want from you. Understanding a customer's past behavior can offer valuable insights into their preferences and interests. You have access to abundant customer data that can be leveraged to create tailor-made experiences that are integrated with your omnichannel touchpoints.

Direct mail advertising segmentation

Divide your audience into segments or cohorts to deliver tailored messages that resonate. With programmatic triggers, you can send customers direct mail advertisements based on their online behaviors and other engagements with your brand. You can increase your response and conversion rates by providing more relevant messaging and offers. 

Increase response and conversion using data-driven personalization

Data-driven personalization isn't  a fleeting trend; it's an approach that consumers expect, and it's here to stay. 68% of consumers are more likely to engage with a brand’s message when it’s personalized.

Personalized direct mail advertisement

You can establish deeper connections by harnessing customer data to create customized holiday experiences, drive engagement, and boost sales.  Go beyond addressing recipients by name and customize content using data about past purchases, buying and browsing behavior, age, gender, and other demographic details to increase engagement. Whether it's mapping the nearest location from a consumer's home address or integrating QR codes and PURLs, the possibilities for personalization are endless. As technology continues to evolve, so will the potential to create memorable moments through personalized direct mail advertisements.

Craft compelling copy and offers to motivate consumers to take action

65% of consumers say an offer or promotion caught their attention on a direct mail advertisement.  Your direct mail piece needs to include:

  • A “hook” that catches the eye and gets the recipient to read
  • Something relatable that helps your recipient identify with
  • A clear call to action
  • Instructions on where to go next. Whether it’s your website or physical location, your interaction doesn’t stop with direct mail

Integrate digital and direct marketing channels for an omnichannel approach

Seamlessly integrate direct mail with your digital marketing efforts for a cohesive brand experience. 72% of marketers use email marketing alongside direct mail, and about half use it with paid social and SMS/MMS. 

Include strong calls to action in your direct mail advertising to guide consumers to the next step

A clear, concise, and persuasive call to action guides recipients on the next steps, whether purchasing, visiting a website, or contacting your business. A compelling call to action motivates recipients to take action, resulting in higher conversion rates and, ultimately, a successful direct mail campaign.

Essential read: Guide to Direct Mail CTAs: Campaign Types and Best Practices

Design direct mail advertisements for conversion

Design your direct mail pieces to be visually appealing and easy to take action on. Include visually compelling images, copy, QR codes, and short URLs. Images personalized to the recipient stand out, especially from businesses close to the recipient or images related to recent purchases.

Direct mail advertisement personalized for conversion

Measuring and analyzing direct mail advertising campaigns

Measuring the success of your direct mail advertising is crucial for improvement. Did you know that nearly half of marketers measure conversion using tactics like customer activity within a time period and QR codes? Data analysis is key to understanding your campaign's performance and refining future strategies. Conduct small-scale tests before full-scale campaigns and use tracking and attribution mechanisms to measure performance and make data-driven improvements. The ability to send direct mail on-demand with Lob makes it easy to send test campaigns before launching mailers to your entire list.

Direct mail advertisement analytics

See how Marley Spoon drove results by testing and iterating. 

To run tests or understand whether efforts are successful, you need a way to track and analyze performance. Lob offers unparalleled access to insights about your direct mail campaigns, but you also need to plan to capture information. Here are a few ideas:

Use custom links and landing pages

Use unique URLs to track online conversions from your direct mail pieces.

Use unique phone numbers

Assign specific phone numbers to measure response rates from your mailers.

See an example from VentureStack.

Use coupons or promo codes

Monitor your campaign's effectiveness by tracking exclusive codes' usage.

Use QR codes

Using QR codes in your direct mail pieces allows you to track the piece's results and create an experience for the recipient. 39% of consumers are likely to scan a QR code on a piece of direct mail and take action. This figure rises to 44% for those aged 35-54 and over half (51%) for those aged 18-34. 

Read: How to track direct mail results using QR codes

How much does direct mail advertising cost?

Direct mail advertising costs vary depending on a wide variety of factors including the mail piece format, the number of pieces you print, to the printer you use. Some of the advantages of using an automated direct mail platform include access to a nationwide print delivery network which comes with a plethora of benefits including:

  • Reduce costs by up to 85% by eliminating repetitive, manual processes
  •  Worry-free production; from scheduling conflicts to paper shortages to equipment failures, we have you covered, so your project will send on time, and at the high quality you expect
  • No scale or frequency limits: Send as much or as often as you need

An automated direct mail company can also offer significant pricing benefits including being able to predict costs and maximize ROI with flat-rate pricing. Lob's aggregated mail volume allows us to negotiate excellent rates - savings we pass on to you. Flat-rate pricing means you can better predict, plan, and budget to maximize your ROI.

Direct mail advertising examples

We all need some creative inspiration once in a while so we've curated a gallery of inspiring direct mail advertisements. The direct mail advertisement examples hail from a variety of different industries and direct mail formats including postcards, letters, and self-mailers. You'll see examples from brands including Chewy, Sephora, the USPS, Amazon, VenureStack, Mabel, and many more.

Check out all the examples on our best direct mail campaigns page.

Direct mail advertising is worth the investment

Direct mail advertising is a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal, offering high conversion, response, ROI, and a tangible presence in a digital world. That's why 58% of marketers have more marketing budget allocated to direct mail than in 2022.

As you explore the possibilities of direct mail advertising, remember that combining it with your digital efforts can lead to even greater success. It's time to harness the power of direct mail advertising for your business. 

Request a Lob demo and put automated direct mail advertising to work for you. 

Ready to Get Started with Direct Mail?

Contact us for a personalized direct mail demo.