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Choosing a Direct Mail Strategy: EDDM vs. Targeted Mailing

Kent Moon
Kent Moon

Direct mail is still an effective marketing method, but it's important to decide which mailing strategy is best for your business.

These days, it's difficult to browse the digital world without being bombarded with advertisements. From emails to promoted links on search engines and targeted advertisements on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms, you can find a flurry of companies hawking their services anywhere you go. Every company has its own digital marketing strategy, seeking any way to get a slight edge over its competitors.            

While the internet does provide a valuable avenue for accessing a massive customer base, it's also important to consider other marketing channels, in order to diversify your advertising strategies and maximize the effectiveness of your marketing. Though many people say that direct mail marketing is becoming an obsolete strategy, the statistics show that it is still an effective way to advertise. To cite just one number, the Data and Marketing Association showed that direct mail advertisements produced a response rate of roughly 4.4%, while email advertising campaigns garnered a response rate of just 0.1%. 

However, for your direct mail marketing campaign to be successful, it is important to first decide which mailing strategy is best for you. The two most common ones are every door direct mailing (EDDM) and targeted mailing. Here is a breakdown of both strategies, including some pros and cons of each, to help you decide which one is best for you and your business. 

Every door direct mailing

EDDM is exactly what it sounds like: a cheap, effective way to disperse your business's advertisements within a certain region or postal code by dropping them off at every door. These advertisements do not require a name or address because they are given to each home, saving you the trouble of compiling mailing lists or keeping track of customers. Instead, your mail will simply follow the mail carrier's route, ensuring that you reach every single household and apartment building in a specific area. You determine the number you'd like to send out for a specific postal route for your business and the carrier route you'd like to follow.  

The EDDM strategy has a host of benefits. Perhaps most importantly, it's cheaper than many other direct mail strategies. EDDM doesn't require you to obtain a mailing permit, which must be renewed and also requires an application fee. Without mailing lists, you can save money on postage. Finally, because EDDM doesn't require you to address mail, dispersing your mail is faster and easier than it would be with a mailing list.  

Such a strategy also has its drawbacks, though they are outnumbered by the benefits. The biggest one is perhaps the lack of personalization associated with targeting every household in a certain region. Without a name and address on your mailing, the advertisement can certainly lack a personal touch, and we know that a personalized advertisement, whether it is done with tricks like pen machine addressing or variable data printing, can increase response rates and positive emotional responses to your marketing campaign.  


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If you want a personalized version of an EDDM campaign, then saturation mailing is also a viable option. Saturation mailing works in much the same way as traditional EDDM – your mailing will be distributed along mail carrier route lists – but names and addresses will be included on your advertisements. Saturation mailing is slightly more expensive than standard EDDM, but the marginal increase in costs also leads to greater response rates, and by using saturation mailing, you can target the same set of households multiple times to amplify the effect of your advertising campaign.  

Both saturation mailing and normal EDDM are especially useful for businesses that appeal to the vast majority of residents and businesses in the target area. For example, a new restaurant would likely want to utilize an EDDM or saturation mailing campaign targeted to its surrounding area to attract potential customers. Gyms, retail stores, churches and new medical facilities are other fantastic examples of businesses that benefit from EDDM. You could use it to inform nearby neighborhoods of a new monthly pass for a gym or an Easter service at a church. On the other hand, companies that offer more specialized, niche products and services, with consumers who are similar in demographics or characteristics, would likely be better off using targeted mailing campaigns that utilize data-driven mailing lists. 

Targeted mailing  

If you are looking to tailor your marketing campaign to a specific segment of consumers, a targeted mailing campaign is the strategy you should utilize. Rather than send your advertisements to everyone in a specific geographical area, you purchase one or more mailing lists to maximize response rates and ensure you are reaching the correct people. The contents of these lists can vary (e.g., businesses in a certain sector, or owners of specific automotive vehicles), but there are various ways to target the best potential customers for your business, nonprofit or organization. 

A targeted mailing campaign is fantastic for businesses that promote niche services or are geared toward a specific user base. A luxury car dealership, for example, would want to advertise to people in specific income brackets, while a moving company would target new movers or pre-movers, and a private school would target a slightly different segment of customers who have multiple children in their households. This strategy also allows you to give your messages a personal touch.  

Of course, the downside to this is that any targeted mailing will be more expensive than a simple EDDM campaign. You must find a reputable mailing list provider and purchase a data-driven mailing list. Generally, full-service direct mail companies have access to targeted mailing lists that they can customize for you. Nevertheless, targeted mailing has tangible benefits that seem to far outweigh the cons, especially if your business is only trying to appeal to a certain group of people or doesn't require you to advertise to everyone. 

The bottom line on direct mailing strategies 

It's clear that direct mail marketing is still a viable advertising strategy that all companies should try to utilize. Digital marketing, with all of its bells and whistles, might appear to be slightly more versatile than direct mail marketing, but we've just outlined some direct mail strategies that you can still use to get ahead of competitors and successfully expand your business. These are just two of many productive ways to successfully implement a direct mail marketing campaign. There are many other tactics to use it to its full potential.  

As an expert in the direct mail industry for over 30 years, I believe the advantages of strategized direct mail marketing campaigns are often underestimated. A well-designed campaign does not come easily, but there are direct mail companies that will handle the entire operation for your business, educating you in the process. Full-service mailing companies are generally preferable because they can operate mailing campaigns at the lowest costs and with the quickest turnaround, because their services are performed in-house with their own equipment. 

Image Credit: jacoblund / Getty Images
Kent Moon
Kent Moon Member
I have 30+ years of experience in direct mail industry. For first 10 years, I worked for several national direct mail companies. Since 2002, I owned and operated, Addressers, a direct mail and fulfillment company located in Southern California. Even in declining direct industry, Addressers had been growing steadily since the beginning. Currently, Addressers have 50+ employee and mail about 50 millions pieces per year.