5 Strategies to improve your direct mail success

There is an intrinsic response consumers experience when they receive tangible mail in their mailbox, especially when the piece offers something new and rewarding. The design, the colour, the feel of the paper, and the personalization all work together to create a significant psychological impact that cannot be replicated by other forms of marketing communication. In a neuromarketing study A Bias for Action, researchers found that direct mail is easier to understand, has a much higher brand recall, is much more persuasive and is more likely to drive behaviour than digital media.

But not all direct mail is created equally. “Unaddressed, generic advertising appeals will not provide the same type of response from consumers that a well crafted, highly targeted, personalized mail piece can”, says John Leonard, V.P. Sales and Marketing, Cover-All Business Communication Management. There are some basic principles that can help you drive the results of your direct mail campaigns.


  1. Create highly targeted strategic campaigns

Identifying the target market that has the highest ROI potential is critical to your direct mail success. When researching demographic considerations, don’t use stereotypes to dive your strategy, get the facts to achieve a true picture of the buying habits and preferences of your target audience. For example, many marketers assume that millennials prefer digital communication, and as a result focus most of their marketing dollars on digital campaigns.  Yet direct mail advertising appeals to 77% of millennials, and this inclination towards direct mail surpasses any other generation. Understanding your audience can expand your reach and provide your brand with a competitive edge.

Timing campaigns means reaching consumers at the right time and place and can help to speed the sales cycle. It’s fairly obvious that consumers start to buy back-to-school supplies in mid August, and Christmas sales can make the difference between a year end profit or loss, but timing is more than just about seasonality. Every consumer is going through life in different stages and the right strategy can boost sales for years to come. Take for example the consumer goods companies that mail expectant parents diaper bags filled with free samples of everything from formula to diapers, and other baby products.  What these companies know is that reaching these consumers at the right time with free samples, through direct mail, gives them an opportunity to try new products with no risk, and can lead to brand loyalty and a significant boost in sales. In fact, 73% of consumers say they are likely to buy a product after sampling it.

  1. Utilize a multi-channel strategy

Multi-channel marketing refers to the use of multiple mediums to get your message across to your audience including direct mail, social media, print or TV advertising, and other forms of digital media. It is widely known that a multi-channel strategy is more effective than single-channel strategy. Ninety-five percent of marketers say they know how important a multi-channel strategy is, yet only 73%  employ a multi-channel strategy. Most consumers use multi-channels to complete a purchase and spend on average 3x more than single channel consumers. In fact, direct mail combined with digital ads increase conversion rates by an impressive 28%.

  1. Get Creative

Not all direct mail is created equally.  Much of the marketing we see is ubiquitous and offers very little reward to the consumer. Direct mail provides the perfect opportunity for your brand to engage all the senses to elicit a memorable experience. Sight, sound, touch, taste and even smell can increase brand recognition and improve response rates. A Harvard Business Review study found that companies who use touch marketing, a strategy that allows consumers to touch and feel products by offering samples, increases brand connection and influences consumer decisions.

“Everything from the images you choose, fonts, paper, colours and other design elements, all have the ability to get your messages noticed in a way that nothing else can”, says Leonard. Creative also becomes part of your strategic messaging by informing your audience that you have something unique to offer.  If the entertainment value in your direct mail is rewarding to your audience, it can cause consumers to engage with your direct mail for a longer period of time. It is hard to argue that the tactile nature of direct mail offers something digital media cannot compete with.

Use compelling copy that is benefit driven

Copy that is clever, funny, memorable, and creates buzz can make or break any campaign.  But don’t get lost in your desire to create buzz over understanding what your audience will find appealing.  Campaigns that focus too much attention on creating buzz can end up with epic marketing failures that could potentially harm a brand. Don’t veer too far away from your brand identity. It is a difficult line to straddle but focusing on the benefits of your products will ensure your brand profits from creativity.

  1. Capitalize on data to create personalized 1:1 messaging

“It is not enough to talk to consumers as a homogeneous group, everyone is an individual and consumers reward brands that make the effort to get to know them”, says Leonard.  Ninety-one percent of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them, and 70% of consumers say direct mail is more personal than online interactions. One-to-one (1:1) marketing is a customer relationship strategy that involves personalized interactions with consumers based on their individual preferences, including consumer behavior, demographics, and economic indicators. Specialized software programs can contribute insights into consumer behaviour by analyzing historical brand interactions. Advanced high-speed digital printers that offer variable imaging have opened a world of possibilities to incorporate consumer data into personalized messages. Variable imaging allows marketers to address audiences as individuals, customizing each printed piece with unique information relevant to each distinct consumer.

  1. Employ a strong call to action

The entire direct mail campaign rests with your Call-To-Action (CTA).  Where the first four strategies were about identifying the right target audience and mediums, creating relevant and interesting content and moving consumers along the sales cycle, the CTA closes the deal.

Provide an incentive for people to respond with compelling offers. These offers can include limited time bonuses, free samples, and offer expiration dates. You can also create a strong call to action by tying your brand into esteem needs of your audience such as, ‘be the first to own’, ‘show your style’, ‘be the envy’, and ‘limited edition’.

Make the CTA easy to understand and take advantage of technology to close the deal. Direct mail is often paired with a digital CTA to make it quick and easy for consumers to act. Setting up a website with a landing page specific to your offer, an e-mail address or even unique URL for your offer are all ways to make a CTA easier and timelier to access. The less time between the offer and their ability to act on the offer, the more successful your campaign will be.


The noise of digital media has left brands struggling to get attention in a sea of information clutter. The mailbox is a place where your brand can create lasting awareness and a connection that other mediums just can’t achieve. By creating compelling and timely direct mail, that is paired with other channels, brands have the opportunity to gain a competitive edge and boost sales.

John Leonard is V.P., Sales & Marketing for Cover-All Business Communication Management.  He works with his team and clients to develop relevant and effective communications by using data and technology. Contact Cover-All Business Communication Management to find out more at (416) 752-8100.

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