Breaking Down Direct Mail Marketing and Why It’s Relevant Again

Filed in Direct Mail Marketing on December 4, 2018 by

Once advertising on the internet went from new-fangled to mainstream, most marketers shifted their focus toward new media channels like Facebook, Google Display ads, and content marketing to get the word out about their products and services.

But direct mail is making a comeback.

Let’s break down direct mail marketing and why it’s relevant again. Below are ten reasons you should be incorporate direct mail into your marketing mix.


The United States Postal Service (USPS) processes 391,000 pieces of mail a minute and processed 41.5 millions address changes in 2010. It has been named the Most Trusted Federal Agency six consecutive times, and is the fifth most trusted company in the nation.

Homes and organizations of all sizes use the USPS. Direct mail can help increase the response and ROI of your campaigns. In fact, according to the USPS® 2011 Revenue, Pieces, and Weight Report, businesses sent over 84 billion pieces of direct mail, and 51% of all mail sent was direct mail.

Access to USPS’s EDDM Service

Remember the Facebook ads craze? Today, local businesses are still finding tons of success with local Facebook advertising. But direct mail can be even more powerful on a local level with EDDM.

At, you can use their Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) tool to send mail to customers in specific geographic locations.

Here’s how EDDM works. You create mailers for your target audience. The post office delivers these mailers to everyone in a single carrier route, which is usually around 100 or 200 mailboxes. You choose the carrier routes and delivery date, and the USPS delivers your direct mail marketing asset to every address on the route.

USPS EDDM is affordable. You don’t need any permits, and you also don’t need to develop, maintain, or purchase a mailing list — they do it all for you.

Note that if you go the EDDM route (rather than purchasing a list from a third-party or mailing to your existing address list) you’ll be limited to a specific size of mailer. Their sizing can be a bit confusing, but broadly speaking, your mailer has to be a rectangle and fall within minimum and maximum requirements for length, height, and thickness. Having that said, you aren’t limited to the basic postcard: you can send brochures (as long as they fold down to the right dimensions), letters, and custom designs.


personalized direct mail

With direct mail marketing, it’s common to add a human touch and address your customers by name. People are more likely to respond to offers that are addressed to their personal needs.

But this means more than just printing the recipient’s name on a postcard or mailing to an entire ZIP code. You also want to ensure you are targeting demographic information such as age, gender, income, marital status, and ethnic background.

Consider your ideal customers’ interests, values, lifestyle, behaviors, and hobbies. Use this information to find where your potential customers spend their time and money, and personalize your campaigns accordingly to create a compelling offer.

Campaign Tracking

Although tracking is not as fast or intuitive with direct mail as it is with digital campaigns, you can absolutely track your direct marketing campaigns.

Create contact information on the postcard’s call to action — such as phone number, email address, or URL — that’s specific to your direct mail campaign. Tracking and analyzing the results gives you insights into what works and what doesn’t, and can help inform which changes need to be made.

Widespread Impact

PFL meeting maker

Because direct mail advertising can reach so many people, it has a better response rate than email marketing. Over four percent of direct mail campaigns receive responses, compared to only 0.12% online.

And while four percent may not sound like much, but here’s how it breaks down. If your campaign is delivered to 1,000 people online and 1,000 offline, you’d get about 43 responses to every one you get online.

Campaign Integration

stacked business cards

Direct Mail can easily be integrated with web, mass media (TV/Radio) and social media to create a winning combination. Many small businesses include direct mail marketing alongside social media and other digital campaigns, linking them with custom URLs or UTC codes.

Integrating direct mail into your overall marketing strategy can help you not only get the right message to your target audience, but also encourage customers to meet your brand where they’re already hanging out.

Automation (Just Like Digital)

Automation isn’t just a fancy word reserved for tech-savvy digital marketers. It can be part of direct mail, too.

This one makes the most sense in real-world terms, so here are a couple of examples. A business-to-business company has been courting a prospect for several months, and it seems like the sale is stalling out. Using PFL’s Tactile Marketing Automation, the business sets up an automation that goes like this:

Trigger: Customer hasn’t responded to emails in 30 days

Automation: Send customer a personalized gift in the mail

Direct mail automation doesn’t just apply to big B2B deals, either. When combined with a custom print effect called “variable data printing”, here’s what a direct mail automation for B2C might look like:

Trigger: Customer spends $100 on a specific kind of merchandise

Automation: Send customer a personalized brochure with a gift card to cross-promote a related product

Just like with digital marketing, you can set up triggers — a customer putting an item in a cart, calling a member of your sales team, or requesting more information — that result in a direct mailing.

Sensory Engagement

PFL direct mail packages

As the term suggests, direct mail marketing is the only media channel that physically puts your marketing message into your customers’ hands. Until Smell-O-Vision goes mainstream, digital campaigns can only reach audiences through visual and auditory means. But direct mail can take advantage of all five senses.

The possibilities are immense with today’s printing technology. Customers can’t help but linger on a printed piece with custom tactile effects like embossing and debossing, foil stamping, or luxuriously soft coatings. You can also get creative with glow-in-the-dark ink, content that folds and bends into 3D objects, scratch-and-sniff panels, and unique cuts and folds.

Excellent Reach

Most people bring their mail in the same day it’s delivered. And, most of those people sort through their mail right away. People sort through their mail to ensure they don’t miss out on something important and don’t discard their mail without first seeing what it is. When you consider that the United States Postal Service delivers to more than 149 million residences, businesses and PO Boxes in every state and territory, that’s a lot of potential customers.

Less Competition

With everyone’s eyes focused on email rather than snail mail, there’s a good chance your competitors aren’t prioritizing direct mail at the moment. This could be a huge advantage to you, especially when you consider how many people are realizing the pitfalls of being connecting to their devices 24/7.

But even if your audience is completely plugged-in, they’re still checking their mailboxes– and a trip to the trash can takes far more time than it takes to click “delete” in an inbox.

More Memorable

Which ad are you more likely to remember? A scratch and sniff postcard that lets the recipient experience a fragrance, or a TV ad with glamorous actors and actresses? A sample of the cookies with a coupon, or just the digital coupon? Mailing something to your audience can evoke strong emotional responses beyond pixels and soundwaves.

But don’t take our word for it. Think about your mail the next time you open the mailbox. You’ll pull everything out, and you likely won’t throw anything away without at least taking a look. And, when you receive mail, you’re likely already at home — without all the distractions and pressing demands of your email inbox.

If you’re looking at your mail, your customers are, too.

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