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The Best Direct Mailing Services of 2019

By
Andrew Martins
,
business.com writer
| Updated
Jul 20, 2019
Home
> Marketing
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Whether you're just starting out or simply trying to get more people through the front door, a good direct marketing strategy can increase brand awareness and bolster your business. While it may be tempting to spend your budget on digital marketing campaigns or upping your social media presence, there's one place you're guaranteed to reach people directly – their physical mailboxes.

After an extensive look into the direct mail industry, we found the best direct mail services for different business needs.

Best Picks

Pricing

Editor's note: Looking for the right direct mail services for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

Overview

Although email and SMS may have surpassed physical mail as the most common method to send messages, more than 187 million pieces of first-class mail are delivered by the United States Postal Service each day. Never mind that many Americans still enjoy checking the mail, according to a 2015 Gallup poll.

With a direct mailing service, you can send postcards, brochures and other printed items to hundreds, if not thousands, of existing and potential customers. It differs from other types of snail-mail marketing in that it allows business owners to cater to a certain target audience. If you're looking to reach a specific demographic or zip code, nearly every company will be able to generate a direct mail list for that subset of the population. These lists can then be purchased or rented for use in a future direct mail marketing campaign.

Along with sending out your material, direct mail services generally offer design and printing solutions, which may save you time and money if you don't have a designer on staff and in-house printers that can produce the quantities of printed materials you need.

Pricing

When you look for a direct mailing service that fits your business's needs, it will quickly be apparent that most companies don't share their pricing details online. While that may be frustrating, especially if you're looking to get an idea of the cost before you commit to a direct mail campaign, the omission of a pricing structure is for good reason: No two orders are the same.

Whether you want postcards or brochures, regular cardstock or 100-pound glossy paper, black-and-white or color printing, several factors affect how much orders cost. Printing costs vary by the format of your project, the paper you choose and the type of printing it requires. Shipping costs depend on the number of items you're sending out, and there may be other mailing service fees. Postage rates increase periodically as well. Some companies have quote calculators on their websites that can give you a general idea of how much your project will cost, but most of the time, you will have to call a sales representative to go over the specifications of your project before you can find out pricing.

Along with the design, printing and shipping services direct mail companies offer, some vendors offer add-ons like response rate tracking, which can give you valuable data about your customers and the effectiveness of your campaign. Whether you need those or not is up to you, though they can help you decide if you're getting a good return on investment from your marketing campaign.

Reviews

Our Methodology

To properly evaluate direct mailing services, we dedicated significant time to learning what plans, features and options make a good service. The process began with compiling a list of vendors. In addition to the companies we came across in our independent research, we considered vendor lists and reviews from other sources and requests from companies that wanted to be added to our list.

Once our list was compiled, we visited each company's website, taking note of its direct mail offerings and pricing structures when available. We also sought out customer testimonials and examples of previous campaigns from each company.

After gathering information about each company, we compared services and narrowed our list based on the criteria below. We called each company on our short list and spoke with a customer service or sales representative to get details about their services and pricing, as well as to get a taste of how they treat their customers. During our conversations, we posed as a customer and asked each representative the same batch of questions, noting our experience for each interaction. We compared pricing, availability of features and our experience with company representatives to select our best picks.

Here are the criteria we considered when evaluating each vendor:

  • What design options does the company offer? We looked for direct mail companies that offer a variety of design options, because making a good first impression is important for a small business. As such, direct mailers should be eye-catching and informative. With the right design, your targeted audience could become new customers.
  • What types of mailers can be sent through the service? What a company is willing to print and send via direct mail varies. We looked for companies that offer multiple direct mailer formats, including brochures, newsletters, postcards and menus.
  • Are consultations and product samples available? A good direct mail company will have representatives on hand to help you throughout the process. Similarly, it will provide you with digital or physical examples of your custom design before sending the mailers out, so you can be confident in the quality of the direct mail piece you're sending to your current and potential customers.
  • Are direct mail lists available for purchase? Every direct mail service allows you to buy or rent a mailing list from it or upload your own. If you buy a list, you can use it as much as you want for your future marketing efforts. Renting a list, however, comes with restrictions on how often you can use it and for how long.
  • Does the company offer direct mail response rate tracking? Once your campaign is underway, it's important to find out how it's resonating with people. Some companies have additional services that track customer engagement, whether that's through call monitoring to analyze customer engagement or online impressions.
  • How fast is the turnaround time? Being able to properly plan and time a campaign is important. The last thing you want is for your customers to receive mailers after a promotion ends or too far in advance of a sale. Some of the better companies offer timed or staggered releases to help your reach your customers at the right times.
  • What is the pricing structure? Due to the individual nature of each direct mailing campaign, pricing varies widely by company and the quality of your mailers. Additional services like customer tracking and design services usually cost extra. We looked for companies that offered competitive prices when we called them as part of our testing.

Direct Mailing Services FAQs

What makes direct mail marketing effective?

An effective direct mail campaign relies on a number of factors to get potential customers interested in your product. According to a 2015 neuroscience study from the Canada Post, direct mail campaigns work because they require less effort to understand than digital equivalents. For this reason, the design must be eye-catching and the copy easy to understand. The mailers should also be relevant to the interests or needs of your target market.

What is a good response rate for direct mail?

As with most marketing efforts, an effective direct mail campaign is one that gets consumers through the door. While each direct mail campaign is unique to the business running it, researchers found in recent years that it has a 4.4% response rate versus email's 0.12% response rate.

What is Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM)?

Every Door Direct Mail is a direct mail service that allows you to send mailers to a specific mail route or area. Rather than relying on mailing lists that target certain demographics, EDDM is an indiscriminate method designed to reach as many residents as possible within a specific geographic area.

What is the difference between EDDM and direct mail?

Direct mailing differs from EDDM in that you are paying for the ability to choose who gets your mailer at a granular level. That's important, because it allows you to cater to certain demographics through targeted mailing lists. EDDM, on the other hand, targets homes in a specific area. For this reason, EDDM is generally cheaper than direct mail advertising.

Are mailing restrictions involved?

When it comes to traditional direct mail, there are no size restrictions for the items you send. If you opt to use EDDM, however, there are some guidelines to follow when designing your mailers:

  • Each mailer must be larger than 11.5 x 6.125 inches or more than a quarter-inch thick.
  • Mailers cannot be bigger than 15 x 12 inches or three-quarters of an inch thick.
  • Mailers must be rectangular, with four square corners or finished corners with a radius of one-eighth an inch or less.
  • While the orientation of the address doesn't matter, it must be located in the top half of the mailer.

Common Direct Mailing Service Questions & Answers

Have a direct mailing service question of your own?
Ask an Expert

Is direct mail the "morse code" of advertising?

6 responses
6
Responses
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I wouldn't say that direct mail is dead, it just plays a much less prominent role in an advertiser's portfolio. When used selectively and when targeted to the right demographic, direct mail still is an effective tool. Rather than focusing on the advertising channel, I would spend more effort as an advertiser strategizing on the type of campaign to use. Hard sell is definitely out. Today it's all about relationship building and trust. A direct mail campaign can definitely play a role in this...

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We often receive positive feed back when we send real tangible items in the mail to existing clients as way of thanks for example. There is too much focus for online marketing to the point that some of the tried and tested traditional forms have been forgotten or ignored of late. Many direct marketing techniques (with a little modern day tweak) have stood the test of time. In many cases it is still the most targeted and powerful way to reach a busy prospect. Here is an article we recently...

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In marketing, any time you can differentiate yourself, that's a very good thing. When everyone else is is just pounding the audience with digital, if you send an attractive, well-conceived 4-color printed piece with a compelling message -- something they can hold and study, and perhaps put out on their desk or kitchen counter to look at again later or more likely, several more times -- that can have tremendous selling power. Everyone needs to get over this lemming mentality of chasing after...

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Kyle S is on the right track - find out where your target market hangs out - both online and in the real world - become part of their community by offering useful advice - either by posting on their community forums or by publishing your own "lead bait" articles on a blog - make sure your blog or website has a popup that invites them to join your email list "for helpful boating tips" (not direct marketing material). You should also do what Kyle S suggests and have an offer of some sort and a...

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For small mailings, I've just normally done them by hand. Turn on a movie and fold/stuff/lick. Ok, well...maybe not so much the lick. Gums up the tongue too much. Curious as to why you refer to it as "brief copy". Does that mean it is intentionally short? If so, why? Are you mailing postcards? Is it direct response copy? Is there a captivating headline/subhead, a compelling message/offer, risk reversal, scarcity/time-limit, etc.? Has the mailing been tested for results against a...

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List of the The Best Direct Mailing Services of 2019