5 Steps to Putting Together a Successful Direct Mail Campaign


Sometimes, it’s good to get off the bandwagon. In recent years direct mail has fallen somewhat out of favor, with more companies choosing to go digital with their marketing. As the 2015 DMA Response Rate Report says, the fact that fewer companies are using direct mail is actually good news for those that do. It means far fewer pieces of mail clamoring for attention, and more chance of your mail shot getting read and acted upon.

That doesn’t mean you can slack off in the effort involved in putting together a successful campaign, though. There are still vital steps to perform if you’re to achieve the best possible outcome.

Define Your Objectives

What, specifically, do you want to achieve through your direct mail campaign? Planning for success includes understanding your goals and may include such considerations as:

  • Your Budget
  • Your Timescale
  • Integration with other marketing strategies
  • Generation of new leads?
  • More sales to existing customers?
  • Increasing website traffic?

Craft Your Copy

For many businesses, this is the hardest part. It needs to portray your brand, but also be memorable and personalized, attention grabbing and professional. It must also be error free. Nothing irritates like a missing apostrophe or a misspelled word – unless they’re deliberate mistakes and your recipients will appreciate the rule break.

Your copy also needs a clear and simple to follow call to action that stimulates a sense of excitement and eagerness to participate. You could include incentives such as discounts or free samples to encourage recipients to take the desired action.

Choose Your Format

Choosing your format and crafting the copy are two parts of the direct mail puzzle that go hand in hand. You can’t write a lengthy sales letter if you’re mailing a leaflet or postcard, so arguably choosing format could come first. On the other hand, if you have an idea of the kind of copy that would best generate the outcomes you defined in step one, that can help in identifying the best medium and format for the campaign you’re creating.

Use Identifying Codes

Without some way to identify where responses came from, you have little chance of gauging the success of the campaign. Simple coding formats allow you to earmark each mailshot with a batch number. At the very least, your coding should include a way to identify:

  • The month and year of the mailing
  • Which list the campaign went out to
  • What offer the campaign included

Whether you use just numbers or a mixture of numbers and letters is up to you. When responses come in, you can track the codes to figure out what worked best, then put that information to good use in follow up campaigns.

Test on a Small Batch

Testing on a small section of your list makes sense, especially if your list is very large. Depending on the response, you also have the opportunity to make changes if necessary, helping control the budget and therefore maximizing your return on investment.

Direct Mail Best Practices