Best Practices in Direct Mail Campaigns

Best Direct Mail Practices

Direct mail is not a thing of the past—not in the least. In fact, direct mail campaigns remain a key performer in businesses’ integrated marketing strategies to support overall marketing goals.

At times, direct mail can serve as the primary outreach tool for businesses looking to find new customers. When executed strategically, direct mail campaigns are scalable and deliver a high ROI, drive measurable results, and gain visibility.

However, an effective direct mail campaign requires more thought and planning than slapping together a one-size-fits-all postcard that you drop into the mail, hoping it ends up in the right hands.

Employ the following best practices to optimize the effectiveness of your future direct mail campaigns.


It can be easy to adopt ‘the more the merrier’ mindset when trying to market your business, brand, or products and services. However, this approach does not lend itself to targeted marketing efforts, and mass mailings limit your opportunity to leverage a deeper understanding of your prospects’ needs.

Target your Efforts. The more segmented your intended audience is, the more tailored your communication can become, making it resonate with your targeted recipients and drive an action.

Be Direct. It is a well-known fact that there is a small window of time available to capture your audience’s attention—a handful of seconds if you are lucky. Decide what you want to communicate, and communicate it well. Provide all the necessary information your audience needs, but don’t “save the best for last.” Instead, grab their attention immediately with your strongest selling point. Be concise, use the available space on your direct mail piece strategically, and don’t overwhelm your audience.

Features v. Benefits. When creating the messaging for your direct mail campaign, a good approach is to start with the benefits of the product, not the product and its features. Familiarize yourself with the problems and concerns your recipients have and address how the benefits can ease them right off the bat.

Testimonials. If you choose to include testimonials on your direct mail piece, they need to be authentic and highlight the nuances of your brand delivers. Testimonials are a powerful marketing tool, but they should be tied directly to the benefits and needs of your target audience.

What’s in it for Me? This is the first question your direct mail campaign needs to answer. Your direct mail piece should be customer-centric and incentivize recipients to act. Highlight what they will gain from your product, service, or offering. Knowing their challenges and concerns is a great place to start when answering “what’s in it for me?”


A call-to-action, or CTA, is an instruction meant to generate an immediate response or action from recipients. Common CTAs include requesting contact information or driving visitors to a webpage for further action.

The CTA is a crucial component of direct mail, and it can have a serious impact on the effectiveness of your campaign by raising or reducing response rates—regardless of how strong your messaging or special offer is.

Once you decide what you want your targeted recipients to do, create an appropriate CTA to support that goal. The best CTAs are clear, compelling, and varied.

Clear. Of course you want your direct mail piece to be pretty and memorable, but ultimately you want to drive actions that will grow your business. And if a recipient doesn’t know what to do with your promotion or mail piece, they will most likely do nothing. Do you want them to call you? Request a demo? Make a purchase today or take advantage of a promo? Be clear and direct, and make sure it’s a hassle-free experience for them.

Compelling. A CTA needs to provide enough perceived value for someone to act on it. Create a sense of urgency or scarcity, or consider including an expiration date to encourage recipients to act fast.

Repeated. If you have ever presented information to an audience, chances are you have been advised to “tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.” This advice rings true for your direct mail campaign’s CTA, too. Presenting the same CTA information in multiple ways—within the copy, a visual, or the headline—can boost your chance of catching the eye of a recipient skimming the piece.

Direct mail has more potential to capture a recipients’ attention and leave a strong impression than any other marketing medium, so take advantage of this opportunity and create a powerful call-to-action.


One of the most important pieces of any direct mail campaign is the mailing list.

A direct mail campaign’s success is largely based on the quality of its mailing list, and it can make or break the response rate. It is more than merely a way to reach your market—it is your market.

Mailing lists need regular maintenance because keeping lists up-to-date will help ensure you are sending relevant content to valuable recipients. A powerful mailing list will contain your most valuable prospects, and the more careful you are in determining who this, the better your chances for success.

When you are considering what type of mailing list is most appropriate for your direct mail campaign goal, consider the following options:

EDDM®. EDDM®, or Every Door Direct Mail® delivers to every door or mailbox on a selected carrier route. It’s a good option if you want to penetrate a targeted area.

If you choose to build a list using EDDM®, the every door direct mail solution from Xpressdocs, not only will your mail be delivered to every address on the selected route, but it includes recipient names on mailing addresses and full-service fulfillment.

Radius. Build a list targeting prospects surrounding a specific point—residences, territories, or anywhere you’re looking to expand your business. You pick your center point, desired address type, and quantity.

Street. Build a list targeting prospects on a specific street—great for reaching neighbors of past and current clients.

Demographic. Create a list around demographic filters including gender, income, age, or businesses by employee size, etc.

Mailing lists have a way of shrinking over time. Continue to grow your lists and refine them as you track the performance, determining which audiences and recipients are receptive to your offerings.

When using a list you created on your own, verify the addresses are valid and up-to-date each time you launch a new mailing.

If you don’t have the necessary lists to support your direct mail marketing goals, Xpressdocs offers a range of list building services. Additionally, every list you upload and store in Xpressdocs is CASS certified before each mailing for improved delivery.


There’s always room for improvement, and direct mail campaigns are no different.

Don’t expect to catapult your business’s growth with a single direct marketing campaign, or with the same campaign again and again. Like everything, high-performing direct mail campaigns take time, practice, and improvement. That’s why tracking your campaign’s performance and carving out time to analyze the results are critical.

You should always ensure measures are in place to track the success of your direct mail campaigns. If you don’t, you are destined to operate blindly and repeat minor mistakes that can result in big missed opportunities. Never assume to know what is and isn’t working—test it and find out.

Testing your direct mail campaigns does not have to be a daunting task. Below are some simple ways to start tracking.

Unique Web Addresses. Instead of including your main web address on every direct piece, use a unique URL for each campaign, which will allow you to track the online response generated by your direct mail marketing. Your online presence is also critical to business growth, so don’t miss out on a chance to and drive traffic to your webpage and capitalize on your mailings.

Unique Promo Codes. Special codes can be printed on coupons, forms, and other direct-mail pieces to help you track responses. When you make a special offer, require the recipient redeeming it to provide the associated promotional code, which will instantly tell you the piece—flyer, postcard, etc.—which drove the response.

Split Testing. Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is a way to test the performance of certain components in your direct mail marketing. It involves sending out two variations of your direct mail pieces that test different CTAs, headlines, or even imagery. Compare how the two versions’ performance stack up against one another, and revise as needed.

Take Chances. If your current direct mail campaigns are producing positive results, you should still consider testing a different approach in the future. Don’t be afraid to try something fresh and new. Who knows, it could end up delivering even better results.

Direct mail marketing is an ongoing marketing effort that pays off with time, and you won’t know you campaign’s results or conversion rates until it’s completed and analyzed. So be patient, discover what’s working and what’s not, and adjust accordingly. It will pay off.

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