4 Components of a Strong Direct Mail Campaign (No, It Isn’t Rocket Science!)


4-Components-of-a-Strong-Direct-Mail-Campaign-No-It-Isnt-Rocket-SciencePutting together a strong direct mail campaign isn’t rocket science, but it takes some thinking about to make sure each vital component meshes neatly with the others. Get one thing out of place and the campaign could crash and burn, or at best not bring the response you wanted.

The Creative Brief

This is where most great direct mail campaigns begin, and they’re informed by a combination of your understanding of the target market and your goals. Being clear on goals goes beyond wanting to increase sales. That might be your ultimate aim but for single campaigns, you need to get more specific. Specific goals could include:

  • Growing your mailing list.
  • Driving traffic to your website.
  • Extending your social media reach.
  • Getting requests for more information.
  • Selling something today.

After getting a firm grasp on the goal, you’ll apply your understanding of your market by crafting the copy so it’s easy to read, speaks their language, and addresses one or more of their pain points by solving a problem.

Format and Print Considerations

Armed with a solid creative brief, the next consideration is the format. Popular formats include postcards, catalogs, letters or self-mailers, but each best suits a different purpose.

  • Postcards – with their limited space, they’re ideal for sending special offers, discount codes, loyalty schemes or thank you notes to those customers who’re already familiar with your company or service.
  • Letters – much more space to expand your offer and more opportunity for highly personalized communications. They’re also more confidential which may appeal to some markets or businesses.
  • Catalogs – great for attracting new business from market sections who’re unfamiliar with your services.
  • Self-mailers – ideal for generating interest for event announcements such as trade shows or sales, or when you want the recipient to share the content with others.

After format comes print and lettershop. Printing involves folding, trimming and packaging if letters or multi-part offers need envelopes. Each step can add costs, which is something to consider when determining format. Following printing, the lettershop process sorts, stamps and mails everything to the correct list.

Mailing Lists

Who you send to determines much of the success or failure of the offer in the campaign. It’s no good, for instance, sending existing customers an offer or discount on new business – unless you’re offering a referral gift and asking customers to share with friends and family. Segmented mailing lists offer the best opportunities for highly targeted direct mail.

The Offer and CTA

If the recipient puts your mail down for later attention they’ll likely forget about it, which is why creating a sense of urgency can produce better results. Ways to increase urgency include making your offer time sensitive. Reduce the benefit the longer they delay, or have the offer expire completely after a given date.

Including a PS in a letter-type communication can be a strong incentive to act. Many recipients will treat direct mail much like they treat webpages: They’ll read the headline then skip to the end to find out the price. Putting a strong PS at the end with a brief summary of the main points in your offer can entice those scanners to go back and read more carefully.

Each component grows from the others, so there is no strict workflow when creating a direct mail campaign. You could start with the offer then craft the brief, or decide on the design and then create the offer. What matters is that all four components are considered, and made to work with each other before you go to print.

Direct Mail Best Practices