Direct Mail Best Practice Guide

February 2021


What is Direct Mail or Direct Mail Marketing?

Direct mail is delivered physically to your current and possible future customer’s address. Flyers, Postcards, and magazines are a couple of examples.

Marketing and advertising over the last two decades have shifted more towards digital, but the tangibility of post and direct mail has many benefits to consider including within your marketing campaign mix.

Create a physical connection

Having a physical item creates great brand engagement and this can make a difference, especially to messages that might need more consideration. When a direct mail campaign is planned and executed correctly you can a create a strong response, as a standalone channel or in combination with your other marketing channels, as an integrated campaign. Integrated campaigns create further awareness and opportunities for a response, from your target audience.

Because your customers can physically handle postal items, you have a great opportunity to create standout for your message and offer. Allowing the recipient to make a considered choice of what to do with that direct mail item next.

The campaign offers or exclusive deals

If your campaign contains a promotional offer that requires them to do something with it such as go online to your website or call you, your customers are much more likely to keep it.

Because direct mail can be targeted to specific individuals, homes or target groups, as a business you have a great opportunity to engage with new customers and deals or offers to entice action, depending on what kind of services you provide. With direct mail you can, if your budget and strategy allow, create tailored or exclusive offers for each segment of mailing data. By tailoring the message and/or offer can create a more personalised approach and improved relevance to your campaign.

With a postal mailing campaign, you may have more options for creativity within your budget, than some other media channels. Personalised touches such as a signature, handwritten elements, different colours, textures or images can create strong connections to your audience and be more memorable.

Of course, no matter how good your campaign is, you need to send it to the right people

Direct mail data and target audience planning

The best way to gain the best results is to send it to the right people, therefore you need to understand or create research for your target audience. These are the people you want to engage with your postal campaign.

You may already have an existing database of customers or prospects, ensure that this data is both up to date and relevant. Posthub can help with this process with our free data health check.

If you don’t have an existing database, you may need to carry out research to understand more about the people you wish to reach or purchase relevant data to create your mailing list.

Once you have set your campaign audience and have your database of customers, you must ensure that the other elements in the direct mail campaign creation will encourage the required action from them.

Segmentation targeting and relevance.

This means focusing on your audience. What are their needs/problems, and what can you offer to resolve them. Below are some examples of what you could look at to improve your campaign response rates:

  • Geographical locations: Country, county, region, district, town or city.

By understanding the geographical makeup of your database, may allow clear segmentation by areas which could allow your message to be targeted to these homes and also called out in the creative to be more relevant and impactful.

  • Demographics or life stage: examples can include gender, age, family composition, life-stage, income or occupation
  • Attitudes or behaviour: This option looks at grouping data by characteristics such as attitudes, hobbies or values. Dependent on your message you could be looking to raise awareness of how your business has created better green credentials, therefore segmenting your audience by those that have a strong affinity to environmental changes could show strong synergies and improved responses.
  • Sale stage: What does your target audience already know about your business, service or products? There may be differences in their awareness or purchase cycle allowing segmentation to be created for each level for example awareness, consideration, action.  

Direct mail data health

With a direct mail postal campaign, you have the opportunity to speak directly to your target audience. To ensure your campaign has the impact you are planning for, your data must be clean and relevant. Any discrepancies in data or incorrect elements will impact your open rates and return on investment.

95% of direct mail is engaged with (not discarded immediately) and 67% is read or looked at. Correct and accurate data is key to your campaign's success.

Speak to Posthub to find out more about our free data health check to ensure your campaign data supports the most positive response.

Creativity and mailing standout 

With a physical item, a direct mail campaign has more opportunities to stand out and create needed interactions. This can be using different sizes, paperweights, textures, formats. The creativity doesn’t need to stop with the main enclosure, the envelope can be used to create a creative impression.

Read some examples of how this can be achieved in our articles Pushing the envelope and Creative direct mail ideas.

Create a call to action

If you want your audience to act upon the delivery of the direct mail piece, make it as easy as possible for them to do the required action. The easier it is the more likely you are to get a response.

If your campaign mailing is to improve traffic to your website or a specific webpage. Add a short and trackable URL to the required page. A shorter URL is easier for your user to type directly into their web browser and if you create the right tracking measurements, you will be able to see how effective the campaign has been against the KPI set.

If you want the recipient to visit a location or buy a product, ensure they understand exactly what they need to do and where they need to go, to fulfil the required action. Check and check again that all of the links work as they should and any actions outlined are easy to see, understand and act upon. 

Integrated campaign planning

As direct mail is a physical item, you can create a halo approach using other media channels or ensure that the direct mail is integrated within your wider campaign planning. This could be as simple as using your social media platforms to ‘boost’ related content to an audience with interests matching those of your mailings audience e.g. location, interests, demographics.

Direct mail can even be used as the warm-up piece to other digital channels. If you have marketing consent from your audience, your direct mail campaign could be followed up with a direct email to amplify the message or if sent after a given time lag as a reminder to ‘get in touch’ or ‘buy now’.

Demonstrate Trust

Within your campaign creative, you have the opportunity to support your message and demonstrate trust and authority.

  • Case studies and customer quotes to show success and feedback.
  • Exclusive offers to attract or respond to the audience segments needs or wants

Whatever you are communicating, your audience is more likely to respond if they understand the likely benefits the item or service will give them and how well the item or service has worked for others.

Measure and test

Once you have established what you want your campaign recipients to do when they receive your direct mail campaign, the campaign’s performance metrics should be set. These are the intend results of your postal campaign. This could be how many people visited the given website or webpage, how many people purchased the advertised product or redeemed their exclusive offer.

Whatever the set metrics are, the success of the campaign should be measured against these. With many advertising channels, direct mail may have a number of elements that influences the responsiveness to the campaign. Therefore it may be pertinent to create tests within the direct mail campaign, so you can see what elements create stronger responses within each target segment.

Test variables could include:

  • Target audience
  • Envelope or mailing format
  • Headlines
  • Offers
  • Colours or creative imagery

Test segments should be robust with regards to the size of recipients and equal in terms of the audience and timescale of receipt. This is to ensure that the tests are as fair as possible.

Direct Mail Legal responsibilities

With direct mail, there are a number of compliance elements that should be reviewed, this is to ensure that your campaign complies with the relevant guidelines and laws. 

Useful links for compliance support include:

Information Commissioner's Office, Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations for direct marketing  

DMA Advertising Mail Guide

Gov.uk Marketing and advertising the law

Mailing Preference Service  

How Posthub can help

We are here to help. At Posthub we offer hands-on support, for direct mail campaigns, with nearly 100 years of combined experience, our team take the complexity out of everything giving you quick and easy support across all your mailing campaigns. We do this by providing you with a dedicated account manager to be your one point of contact who will be able to painlessly support you and all your needs

We are fully committed to each and every one of our customers and will help you through the process of planning Direct mail right through to the management of the postal delivery.

Find out how we can help you create strong direct mail campaigns.

Enquire Now

Share this article



We're here to help!

Here at Posthub, you will be allocated a personal Postal Manager. Speak to us to find out how we can help. 

07572115602

Or let us give you some ideas on how we can help you drive your business forward.