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What Is Direct Mail and Is It Right for Your Business?

Kent Moon
Kent Moon

Direct mail has significant advantages for the right business. Could it become a complementary part of your marketing strategy?

Businesses of all sizes are always searching for innovative marketing strategies to elevate their business and to beat out their competitors.  Recent growth trends have been linked to online marketing methods including SEO, Google Ads and email marketing. However, businesses often look past a solution that has always existed in the marketing universe, direct mail. Direct mail is far from outdated as businesses rely on direct mail to drive a constant flow of new leads, educate and inform recipients, and to offer new services and products. Don't make the mistake of overlooking the potential of direct mail!

Don't take my word for it. Statistics show that advertisers spent $38.5 billion in direct mail last year, making this method the largest expenditure for U.S. local advertising. If you aren't marketing with direct mail, it is very likely your competitors are already doing so. In addition, similar studies have shown that direct mail open rates can rise up to 90% with the average response rate of 4.9% last year for direct mail marketing campaigns.

 

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If you need more convincing, a recent study demonstrated that physical advertisements were proven to have more influence than digital ads. For instance, participants of this study spent more time, more easily remembered them and had a stronger emotional response toward physical ads. Furthermore, this same study showed participants showed a stronger valuation and longing for products and services that were physically advertised. 

However, not every business is right for direct mail marketing. Through this article, I hope I can help you decipher whether your business should be taking advantage of direct mail for your next marketing campaign. 

Do you have a new or established local business looking to build brand awareness?

Whether you are operating a pizzeria, dentistry or orthodontistry practice, after-school program, auto body, or other business, direct mail is an excellent marketing tool to build brand awareness and to educate your community about your services.

Direct mail companies offer services such as every door direct mail (EDDM), which allows you to distribute your postcard to certain postal carrier routes for a fraction of the cost without a name or address on each mailer. Another great service is saturation mailing, which mimics EDDM by blanketing a postal carrier route with your mailing, but saturation mailing adds a hint of personalization by including the name and address on each mailer. 

For example, you recently opened a beauty salon and would like to advertise a grand opening. EDDM would be a fantastic solution to send out postcards with a discounted offer and inform neighboring communities. With EDDM, you can determine the amount you'd like to send and the radius of recipients from your beauty salon.

Do you have a substantial database of existing customers? 

The ideal situation for direct mail advertising is when you have a list of recipients that are aware of your company and may have previously purchased your products and services. With familiar recipients, a direct mail campaign would not only boost your response rates but also it can serve as a friendly reminder of "Hey, remember our business? We are offering this new service or coupon! Come check us out again!"

If this is not the case for your business, direct mail companies often offer a fantastic alternative to purchase targeted mailing lists that you can customize to mirror past customers. Targeted mailing lists are customizable by demographics such as age, household size, income and any industry you'd like to reach, such as automotive mailing lists, mortgage mailing lists, and more. The scope of specificity for data drive mailing lists is impressive and accurate, but unfortunately, this will be an additional cost that can range from 5 to 30 cents per recipient. 

Is your business looking to target a specific and niche audience?

One of the most well-known fundamentals of a marketing campaign is the more targeted your campaign is to your audience, the better success it will have. In other words, would you rather send your direct mail to random recipients or to prospects that are highly likely to be interested in your products/services. 

Thankfully, direct mail and mailing lists can help you reach that niche audience that most marketing channels have difficulty accessing. The specificity of mailing lists gets your company directly in the hands of prospects that are most likely to purchase your products and services.

If your business does not look for a particular audience, sending direct mail at random could be a waste of your company's valuable time and money. Better results could be achieved through other channels such as online marketing. 

Do you sell high-priced or big-ticket products and services? 

Direct mail is not free. In fact, the cost per sale for direct mail can range between $100 to $1,000. In order to produce a convincing return on investment, you need to sell big-ticket items such as a car, house, tech products and more. Big-ticket services include roofing, remodeling, mortgage plans, to name a few. Because response rates for direct mail average around 4.9%, it is very difficult to determine the effectiveness of direct mail by just sending a hundred postcards, so a company's first direct mail budget should average around $2,000 to $5,000 in order to generate a direct mail test and to plan out a successful campaign. 

However, businesses that sell small ticket or low-priced items and services can still actively send out direct mail campaigns to generate awareness and establish lifetime, repeat customers. For instance, if you opened up a pizzeria in a neighborhood, offer a coupon on a postcard to convince recipients to try your restaurant. Offering this discount, you convince new prospects to try your pizza in hopes that they will return again, creating a lifetime customer. In addition, satisfied customers can go on to tell others about the experience. Lifetime customers are valuable for any business, and direct mail is a tremendous method to attract lifetime customers and to let others know your pizza company exists. 

What are the advantages of direct mail?

Mentioned above, $38.5 billion was spent in one year on direct mail advertising alone, and there are reasons why companies of all sizes spend their entire marketing budget on direct mail campaigns. To begin with, direct mail has one of the highest response rates at 4.9% amongst marketing channels, because it is customizable and personalized. Furthermore, it is a highly targeted strategy that gets your company straight to potential customers. Direct mail is trackable, educational, and demonstrates importance and value to receivers. With the growth of online marketing prices and competition, diversification is necessary, and direct mail provides an alternative, effective marketing channel. 

The final advantage of direct mail that will be discussed is the existence of full-service direct mail companies. From the initial design to the final send-off of your marketing campaign, the best direct mail companies in the industry can seamlessly do it all at the lowest prices.

As an expert in the direct mail industry for over 30 years, I believe direct mail is an efficient marketing opportunity that most companies should take full advantage of. Thankfully, there are direct mail companies that will walk you through your first successful direct mail campaign and get you ahead of your competitors!

Kent Moon
Kent Moon,
business.com Writer
See Kent Moon's Profile
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.