Direct mail marketing is a tried and true strategy that businesses have used to correspond with their customers for decades. While a “snail-mail” campaign may seem counterintuitive in the current age of email and social media, direct mail marketing can be an extremely valuable tool for eCommerce brands in particular. It’s a low-cost solution that can help you get your brand in front of a target audience to make a lasting impression. 


What is direct mail marketing? 

Marketing with direct mail essentially involves sending messages to your clients and customers through paper mail. Similar to the modern-day email marketing campaign, the materials you send should include your company’s name and unique branding elements with the goal of gaining new business.

For eCommerce businesses specifically, direct mail can act as an exchange of information between you and your customers. The materials you send in your marketing mailers should ultimately lead the recipient to your website to make a purchase.

Direct mail, packages, and letters stacked inside mailbox with cloudy sky in background

Is direct mail marketing still effective?

Direct mail marketing is still alive and well in the current day. It can help you increase sales and give yourself a competitive edge against competing eCommerce brands.

  • There’s not as much competition – It’s easier than ever to reach your target audience with the click of a button, but best believe your competitors enjoy the same advantage. When you send direct mail, you can take over a space that most businesses aren’t even thinking about.
  • It offers many ways to get creative – When you promote your business through direct mail, there is an opportunity to customize your content and leave a positive lasting impression on unsuspecting clients.
  • It’s memorable – Think about how many emails you receive in a day. It’s safe to assume that your target audience is in the same boat, which can make it hard to get noticed in a sea of competitors trying to market their products to the same customers.
  • It can have a wider reach – Along with the ability to send mail around the world, direct mail marketing offers cost advantages that can help you reach more customers without paying for expensive online ad channels.
  • Direct mail is interactive – When you send an email or create a social media post, it’s easy for your audience to keep scrolling without giving it much thought. Paper mail requires opening and holding the materials, giving you a better chance of engagement.
  • It has a wide demographic – You can reach almost anyone with a direct mail campaign. This includes people in an older age demographic or those who may not use the internet for communication.

How much does direct mail advertising cost?

Depending on how much of a budget you have to allocate to materials and designs, a direct mail campaign can start as low as about $0.30 per piece, and range to upwards to even as much as $10 per piece.

The actual cost of your direct mail advertising campaign will be determined by your material costs and the number of customers you plan to reach. While the upfront cost can seem questionable, the average ROI for direct mail marketing makes it worthwhile. Businesses have seen a 29% increase in sales on average after sending mail to their prospects. 


Can you use direct mail for new customer acquisition?

Direct mail is not only effective for customer acquisition but can be used for re-engagement as well.

A case study performed by Inkit on direct mail for customer retention campaigns revealed a 5.1% response rate. Compare that with email marketing campaigns that have only a 2.6% click-through rate (CTR) of the emails that are even opened, and you can already see that direct mail could lead to a higher ROI when managed correctly.


Messy pile of direct mail offers and letters

How to Target Direct Mail Marketing Campaigns

Targeting your customer base accurately is vital to the success of your direct mail campaign. You can increase your ROI by sending mail to specific groups with interest in your products. Direct mail companies are able to pinpoint these audiences using the following strategies. 

Keys to Effective Direct Mail Marketing:

  • Know your target audience well
  • Create (or obtain) a mailing list
  • Define your goals + KPIs
  • Decide on a CTA
  • Decide on a format
  • Design your mail

Direct Mail 101: Pre-Approved Credit Cards

One of the best ways to access the audience you’re targeting is to leverage pre-approved credit card offer recipients. Obtaining prescreened lists can give you access to the most qualified and interested customers for a higher return on investment. 


Direct Mail 101: Designed for Engagement

There is much more to a successful direct mail marketing campaign than just locating your target audience and compiling a list of names and addresses. Who you send your mail to is important, but what you are sending is vital for a positive ROI. 

When creating your direct mail pieces, there are a number of design factors to consider that can engage your audience, from sizing, colors, and imagery to branding and textures. 

The most effective strategy for customer engagement, however, is the customization of your design. Tailoring your direct mail pieces for each customer can boost your return significantly. The simple addition of the recipient’s name can actually increase response rates by 135%

Some other features you can include in your mail pieces for customization include QR codes and personalized offers.


Direct Mail 101: Promotions

Discounts and sales are a great way to re-engage your customers and expand into new audiences. When provided with a coupon code, customers are 80-89% more likely to shop with a new brand, making this strategy an excellent tool for advertising current promotions. 

In addition to obtaining and retaining customers at a higher rate with special offers, discount links and codes can help you track the effectiveness of your campaign. When new customers make a purchase using your mailed offer, you can quantify how many sales came from your direct mail marketing efforts directly. 


Potential Drawbacks of Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail marketing offers plenty of benefits to eCommerce business owners. However, there are some potential drawbacks to consider before utilizing this strategy.

  1. Up Front Costs: Although the entry cost of $0.30 per person is fairly low for direct mail marketing, your campaign can end up being costly without proper management. Common advertising mistakes, including sending out the wrong materials to the wrong audience, can hurt your pockets when it’s all said and done. Without a precise marketing strategy, you can lose a lot of money sending direct mail. 
  2. Attribution: While it’s true that you can attempt to track conversions with customized discount codes, not all direct mail marketing pieces will share the same conversion goals. For this reason, it can be more difficult to track the success rate of your campaign in comparison to online channels. In a world where we have become accustomed to instant gratification, slow results can be discouraging.

Direct Mail FAQ

What is the average ROI direct mail marketing?

Direct mail marketing effectiveness depends largely on your strategy. With a concise plan, you can reach your target audience for an average ROI of 29%. 

Does direct mail marketing work for B2B companies?

Business-to-business direct mail is just as effective as B2C direct mail. When targeting another business, be sure to customize your direct mailers and be clear with what you’re offering. 

What is an example of direct mail?

An example of direct mail is a postcard with a coupon code or a catalog of products. 

Is direct mail marketing still useful?

Direct mail marketing can give you an edge up on the competition with creative campaigns that stand out. 


Several direct mail credit card offers stacked on red background

Ready to Launch Your Direct Mail Marketing Campaign?

In summary, marketing by mail is still an effective strategy for customer acquisition and retention. Getting started with your campaign will involve identifying your audience and defining a message. With distinct goals in mind, eCommerce brands can take advantage of low-competition advertising space and leave a lasting impression on their customers. 

Contact us to get started with our industry experts today. You can reach us via our contact form, or email our co-founders, Tucker Matheson and Chris Jones

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