8 Ways to Make Your Catalogs Stand Out

Even though online buying is becoming an everyday practice, shoppers and retailers alike are proving that paper is still highly effective for marketing. While consumers are regularly bombarded with fleeting online ads, physical mail allows consumers to interact with your messaging on their own time.

Print marketing might require more time and money than digital, but catalogs that excite and engage are worth the investment. Follow these eight best practices when creating your next catalog campaign.

  1. 1

    Inspire Your Customers

    First and foremost, your catalogs should inspire the consumer. Gone are the days of catalogs serving as simple product lists. Now—through thoughtful design, photography and copy—you can tell the story of your brand and create meaningful connections with customers.

    In an age where people are curating their lives through social media, brand images can now be aspirational rather than just advertisements. While providing useful information is paramount, it’s also crucial to emotionally connect with consumers through your catalogs.

  2. 2

    Personalize It

    Always keep your target audience in mind when designing a catalog. Visuals can go a long way and, from start to finish, should reflect the tastes of your customer. A catalog for young professionals will look much different than a catalog aimed at retirees.

    Consider customizing your catalogs, highlighting specific items based on customers’ previous purchases or showing products available in nearby stores. This level of personalization will help set you apart.

  3. 3

    Present a Strong Brand Identity

    Catalogs are always competing for space in consumers’ minds. However, many catalogs look so similar, it can be difficult to differentiate between the different companies releasing them. In order to create brand loyalty, you need to stand out among the crowd, and you can do that by forging a strong identity.

    A catalog should be an extension of your brand and should support whatever messages you stand for. A successful catalog will display products in a clear, informative way while still showcasing individuality. Don’t let your catalog get bogged down by overly lengthy product details. Use the unique voice of the brand to carry your products forward.

  4. 4

    Focus on Quality

    Quality must go hand in hand with a strong brand presence. This means quality in design, size, and type of paper; everything that goes into a catalog should be purposeful and should represent your business in the best way possible.

    These small details can enhance the overall appearance of your catalog and ultimately say a lot about your brand.

  5. 5

    Make It Easy to Navigate

    Catalogs should have a user-friendly layout and be designed in a way that naturally leads from page to page. Readability and scannability are both essential.

    There should be a clear hierarchy to each page, with one or two items standing out and other elements lending support. Remember: Using different fonts can be confusing, white space is your friend and important information should always be clear and up‑front.

  6. 6

    Use Impactful Photos

    Image-heavy catalogs give a sense of brand personality and allow customers to browse with minimal effort. In general, environmental photography—showing products in their natural surroundings—is most effective, especially when the people in the photos are interacting with your products.

    However, don’t group too many products in one photo. This can be distracting to the viewer. It’s best to show items individually or in very small, related groups. Make great photos the centerpiece in your catalog. They’ll do the work to keep your reader engaged.

  7. 7

    Make Ordering Easy

    Think beyond aesthetics, as well. If a reader can’t figure out how to place an order or what items they want to purchase, then you stand to lose out on sales. This is why it’s essential to organize your catalog to make ordering as easy as possible. Often top‑selling products are lost among similar items. Focus on top sellers and position them with products that complement them rather than items that could replace them.

    As a customer browses the catalog, it should be clear how they can place an order. In addition to providing an easily typeable URL, consider including QR Codes® that lead people directly to your website or app.1 Finally, be sure to clearly highlight promotions and time-sensitive offers.

  8. 8

    Test Frequency

    Successful catalogs will help lead your customers to your digital channels to make purchases, but should only be sent with controlled frequency so as to not inundate or annoy your audience. While 44% of households read catalogs—leading all other categories of direct mail—receiving too many can be overwhelming.2

    To determine the optimal frequency for sending catalogs, try running some tests. For example, you may start out sending catalogs on a quarterly basis, then change to a monthly basis. No matter what frequencies you choose, you can adjust as needed based on consumer engagement.

In Conclusion

Catalog marketing is a proven method of boosting online sales. By following these simple best practices, you can provide your customers with a memorable experience that makes them feel inspired, connects them to your brand and drives them to shop.

Unlock the Marketing Power of First‑Class Mail® Service

Many companies send First‑Class Mail to their customers in the form of bills, invoices, receipts, statements, renewal forms or purchase confirmations. This is known as transactional mail.

With USPS®, up to 3.5 ounces of material can be included in the envelope for these types of mailpieces.1 On average, though, businesses are utilizing only 1 ounce while still paying the price for 3.5 ounces.2 This is like leaving money on the table—but with a little creativity, transactional mail can be turned into a powerful marketing tool.

See how you can turn standard transactional mailpieces into engaging revenue-boosters, and how you can get started simply by coordinating your company’s billing and marketing efforts.

Syncing Your Company’s Billing and Marketing Efforts

Incorporating marketing materials into your First‑Class™ mailpieces can be an effective way to achieve key business goals, and transactional mail presents a great opportunity to experiment with different tactics.

But before you start brainstorming ways to incorporate marketing into your statements or bills, take some time to assess the state of your company’s billing and marketing functions. Are they siloed? Because marketing is often disconnected from billing, your company may not have even considered the opportunities inherent in transactional mail.

Syncing your business’s marketing and billing efforts is the first step to unlocking the marketing power of First‑Class Mail service.

Making the Most of First‑Class Mail Service

Explore the examples below for some ideas on how to make the most of your transactional mail, allowing you to achieve important company goals.

Goal: Connect with your customers in a way that resonates.
Solution: Create personalized messaging.

When sending out First‑Class™ mailpieces, don’t waste the opportunity to connect with your customers in a way that sets your company apart.

With transactional mail, you already know what kinds of services or products your customers are purchasing. Try including marketing messaging that speaks to their needs and makes them feel special.

Including customized information and helpful tips relating to customers’ purchases and interests can be an effective way to make people feel seen. For example, if a customer is enrolled in your eco-friendly electricity program, you could include details on switching from heating oil to natural gas. This provides relevant information to the customer while showing that you value them as an individual.

Goal: Grab customers’ attention with a unique mail experience.
Solution: Include omni-channel experiences that excite and engage.

Even when a transaction itself is digital, physical bills are still valued: Despite the prevalence of electronic transactions, 27% of households that pay their bills online still choose to actually receive them by mail.3 Furthermore, over half of customers prefer mail for sensitive or confidential account information—and because consumers expect bills, invoices and other statements to arrive, they tend to have very high open rates.4

Consider using digitally enhanced mail to make bills more than a chore for your customer by including QR Codes®, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) or near field communication (NFC) in your mailpieces.5 All of these can help make your mail more exciting, memorable and actionable.

Say a dental practice sends a patient an invoice for a cleaning appointment, during which the patient expressed interest in teeth whitening. The office might include an NFC chip on the mailpiece that launches a short video on the customer’s smartphone, showing how the procedure works and highlighting some enticing before-and-after photos. At the end of the experience, an exclusive discount may be provided.

Goal: Lead customers to your website, app or other digital channels.
Solution: Include messaging that seamlessly connects print and digital.

Try linking your transactional mail to your digital channels, encouraging customers to further explore and engage with your brand.

You may wish to simply include a URL to your website, list the benefits of joining your email newsletter or urge customers to download your app. Taking it one step further with the digital enhancements discussed above can make your mailpiece even more enticing.

For example, if a landscaping company is sending out bills to customers toward the end of summer, the business may opt to include marketing messaging that reminds customers to schedule leaf-clearing services. An included QR Code® could lead customers to a special seasonal discount.

Goal: Attract new customers.
Solution: Include referral bonus offers.

Even though transactional mail is sent to existing customers, there’s still the potential to reach new ones by incorporating savvy marketing tactics into your mailpieces. People are 90% more likely to trust and buy from a brand recommended by a friend.6 Use this to your advantage by turning solely transactional mail into a responsive marketing tool.

To help garner new customers, try including incentives for referrals and shareworthy content that will make your customers want to spread the word.

For example, a subscription-based magazine could include marketing messaging in their quarterly bills, offering a free month of subscription in exchange for every new customer referred. Not only does this help bring in new customers, but it also builds loyalty among existing ones.

Incorporating Marketing into First‑Class™ Mailpieces

First‑Class™ mailpieces can be much more than standard bills and statements—they can also be a powerful marketing tool, inspiring action and engagement from your customers and opening up new possibilities for your business.

Take the first step by syncing your company’s billing and marketing efforts, and consider the examples above as you move into the future with marketing-forward transactional mail.

Use Technology to Enhance Your Reverse Logistics Process

Today’s customers want to return items quickly, easily and for free. These demands put a strain on logistics teams at e-commerce companies of all sizes.

To create a positive return experience for the customer in a way that is effective and efficient for the company, businesses need to tackle the challenges that come with processing returns.

USPS® recently commissioned Provoke Insights to conduct a proprietary study into the e-commerce reverse logistics landscape.

32%of surveyed companies cited manual labor tasks, including reworking, repacking and relabeling, as the biggest challenge to returns.1

After identifying what isn’t working in the returns process, turn to technology. Implementing the right hardware and software can relieve time-consuming manual tasks that slow down the productivity and efficiency of fulfillment employees. More than two-thirds (67%) of companies are already improving their logistics processes with technology.2

Research indicates that these four technologies provide opportunities to enhance and optimize your returns process.

  1. 1

    Automatic Data Capture

    Identify a returned object and gather important data about it without ever opening a package by using scannable barcodes or RFID tags.

    44%of surveyed companies use
    automatic data capture.3

    Primarily, automatic data capture cuts down the amount of valuable employee time spent opening a package, identifying an item, logging the reason for return and deciding where that package goes next.

    When a customer initiates a return online, they can note why they are returning the item. Then, a specific barcode is generated for their return label. Back in the warehouse, a team member can simply scan that code to see if the item is damaged and ineligible for resale or if it was simply the wrong fit for the customer.

  2. 2

    Cloud Computing

    Log and store valuable information about each return—such as the type of return, status, and more—in an accessible shared space.

    37%of surveyed companies
    use cloud computing.4

    The cloud is, in short, internet storage. Rather than managing reports and data on a local computer or server, which requires timely back-and-forth between a network of internal and external stakeholders, businesses can use the cloud for faster and more efficient visibility.

    Most cloud-based management applications also incorporate some level of live editing, meaning stakeholders can see logged updates in near-real time. It also opens the door to better collaboration with partners and broader visibility across the supply chain.

  3. 3

    Predictive Analytics and Big Data

    Discover insightful patterns through data analysis that can forecast and help get ahead of future returns.

    25%of surveyed companies use
    predictive analytics with big data.5

    Using all the data collected from the returns process—including the reasons for returns, as well as their frequency and volume—predictive analytics technology can identify and flag issues that might otherwise have gone undetected.

    For example, if there is a large volume of returns on one item that arrived damaged, the instance would be flagged. Then, a fulfillment team could pre-empt future returns by changing the packaging for that item to prevent issues going forward.

    Predictive analytics informed by big data are time- and money-savers for logistics teams.

  4. 4


    Track and verify returns against the original transactions to scale back the time and labor of manually checking returns against receipts.

    14%of surveyed companies
    use blockchain.6

    While blockchain technology is still in the early stages of development and use, it is quickly gaining traction and offers a lot of value. The digital ledger of blockchain, which allows information to be digitally distributed but not manipulated or copied, creates a transparent record of a shipment. With this true record, it’s easy to see whether what is in the package when returned matches what was in the package when originally shipped.

    Implementing digital ledger technology scales back the manual labor needed for fulfillment employees to verify returns, allowing them to return focus to their primary roles.

Key Takeaway

These four technologies have been embraced by a number of companies as the keys to an optimal returns process. Leverage one or all of these options and see how technology can help streamline reverse logistics for your business.

While technology offers value for a modern e-commerce business dealing with returns, the landscape of reverse logistics is vast. Discover actionable insights from top companies to tackle seamless product returns head-on: Our full report is an insider guide, rich with proprietary research from Provoke Insights, that can help any business create a sustainable and competitive returns process.

The 5 Steps to Implementing Marketing AI

Artificial intelligence (AI), a form of computer science that uses machine intelligence to perform complex analyses, has started to make waves in the marketing industry, yet brands have been slow to adopt it. According to a recent study by USPS, marketers face a number of hurdles when it comes to AI adoption:

57% of respondents said allocating budget was a challenge1
48% of respondents said getting upper management on board was a challenge1
43% of respondents said training and recruiting staff with the right skills was a challenge1
39% of respondents said knowing where to start was a challenge1

Industry experts said the latter was the most important hurdle to cross. With so many different AI applications, marketers need help jump-starting the process of experimenting and implementing AI.

“It’s not like AI is this awesome hammer and all you need to do is find a bunch of nails. It comes down to what business problems you want to solve.” – Machine learning expert1,2

To overcome barriers, experts recommended five simple steps to help your company get in the game.

  1. 1

    Start with a use case that isn’t business-critical.

    This gives you room to experiment. Choose a part of your marketing strategy that’s less essential to overall success. The less important it is to your business, the easier it’ll be to try new AI solutions.

  2. 2

    Pick an application within your area of expertise.

    Are you an expert at social media? Do you have a solid grasp of direct mail? Focus on the channels you know and pick AI solutions that could help improve metrics and increase efficiencies. For help deciding how to include AI in your marketing, try our AI Marketing Idea Generator.

  3. 3

    Buy a Software as a Service (SaaS) model to test different AI tools.

    Instead of using one software or technology that will quickly depreciate, turn to SaaS models, which continuously improve their software. This will allow you to avoid paying for every technology update and test different tools as your business changes.

  4. 4

    Lean on solution providers for training.

    Providers that offer AI marketing solutions—like SaaS or social media companies—are happy to help you start implementing. Turn to their support teams for proper training on their products.

  5. 5

    Have clear goals and success metrics to prove value.

    No experiment can function without a goal in mind. Decide what KPIs are most important for your AI test. AI solutions have been proven to help free up personnel for other tasks, lower the cost of customer acquisition, generate more leads, improve click-through rates and boost social media reach.

Key Takeaway

With the majority of companies still warming to AI, the time is ripe for capitalizing on this untapped market. Companies that get a head start stand to reap the benefits in the future. Begin small and scale as your applications start showing business-driving results.

Every Door Direct Mail® 101: An Introduction for Businesses

At any size or stage, customer acquisition is a top priority for businesses. With a myriad of ways to find and convert potential customers, establishing the most efficient and effective marketing method is vital to success.

For businesses trying to reach a specific audience, especially one in their proximity, Every Door Direct Mail® (EDDM®) may be the answer.

What is EDDM?

This service from USPS® lets businesses send geographically and demographically targeted direct mail to households across the U.S.

EDDM Search

Using an online mapping tool, businesses may choose postal routes within specific ZIP Codes™ and leverage U.S. Census data on age, household income and household size to hyper-target their audience. Any household on the route that fits the targeted profile will receive the mailpiece.

The process eliminates the need for a customer list, whether compiled or purchased, which saves businesses from extra costs and potential inaccuracies. Plus, it opens up a business’s reach: Any household that fits the filters comes into reach with EDDM.

EDDM is built for businesses with a local pool of prospective customers and is especially effective for businesses working to:

  • Acquire new customers, especially within a specific local area
  • Build awareness for a location
  • Drive traffic to a location, on foot or online
  • Spend efficiently on marketing

Direct mail is a simple way to reach high-potential customers in a way that works.


of survey respondents said that they almost always read advertisements that come in the mail.1


response rates, compared to the 1% or less response rate for email, paid search, online display ads and social media.2

Explore how the EDDM tool works, then read on for benefits and best practices of using this direct mail service.

The Benefit to Businesses

EDDM helps businesses drive awareness and traffic within their community to build a strong network of local customers.

It is a method that works for new and established local businesses. While new businesses can use EDDM to introduce themselves and share their story with the community, established businesses can expand to other populations or spread the word about new offerings.

For any business, EDDM may deliver a valuable boost in key areas:

  1. 1. More Customers

    For an existing business looking to attract more customers and drum up sales, or a new business in search of an early audience, it pays to spread the message locally. Here are two successful case studies:

    • A car wash franchise with eight locations in Virginia used EDDM to find new customers and encourage them to visit the nearest location. The campaign produced a 20 percent increase in sales.
    • A remodeled fast-food location in Colorado saw a 7 percent increase in sales after using EDDM in conjunction with digital advertising.

    Sending targeted messages to potential customers in your community may help solidify your market share.

  2. 2. Stronger Returns

    Rather than investing in a mailing list that may be expensive and out of date, EDDM allows businesses to affordably connect with consumers in an area using data-driven tactics.

    Targeting the right demographics within a set geographic area means that the message reaches the most potential customers. By using data analytics, the chances for a high ROI are stronger. Here’s how one business did just that:

    • A real estate agent’s office used EDDM to reach high-net-worth households for their luxury real estate business. They earned a listing for a $2.5 million lakefront home from an EDDM mailing that cost them less than $500.
  3. When you’re able to reach your target business audience, your investment will go far.

  4. 3. Increased Consumer Interest

    Awareness and interest are two prime drivers for many businesses using EDDM. Using demographic and geographic data may help a business reach its ideal audience.

    • A manufacturer of packaging solutions used EDDM to find entry-level talent for one of their facilities. They targeted a pool of people by location, age and household income, and found that 90% of candidates interviewed were recruited via the mailpiece.

    Isolating a business need and using the demographic and geographic filters may help a business find the right population of people to fulfill its goal.

Considerations and Tips for Using EDDM

EDDM delivers significant benefits for many businesses. Use this checklist to help optimize mail mix decisions to meet your business’s marketing needs.

First, determine if EDDM is the right direct mail option:

  • Do you know who your exact target audience is?
  • Do you need to reach your target audience in a specific geographic area?

If not, EDDM might not be the best solution. Explore other direct mail solutions instead.

With these questions answered, use this advice from USPS printing and mailing partners to start creating an effective direct mail campaign with EDDM.

  • Pick your message wisely. While a direct mailpiece may target only one person in a household specifically, ensure that the messaging (both written and visual) won’t alienate or isolate other members.
  • Include an offer or call to action. Direct mail is sent to drive action—don’t forget to communicate what that action should be. Use a strong CTA and include a timely offer. This can also help when measuring the return and effectiveness of a piece.
  • Work with a designer or creative team. It’s important for the direct mailpiece to look professional and represent the business well. Bring on a designer or creative team to communicate your vision and message clearly and in a way that will entice right out of the mailbox.
  • Measure the results to determine success. Metrics of success—like visits, referrals, code redemptions or sales increases—are vital for any marketing campaign. Before mailing, set up a way to track the results of the campaign and determine success.
  • Consider creating a campaign with multiple touch points. Depending on the business and outcomes a campaign is created to drive, it could be beneficial to think about the bigger picture. Develop a long-term campaign by sending mail several times over a few months.

Build a Campaign With These USPS Authorized EDDM Affiliates

Deploying a successful EDDM campaign starts with finding a USPS authorized affiliate. Working with a company that specializes in EDDM targeting, printing and mailing saves time and helps to ensure that your campaign goes out successfully.

Explore these six USPS authorized EDDM affiliates and the option of a USPS authorized EDDM affiliate helping your business target, create and send an EDDM campaign.


Amazingmail Screenshot

Amazingmail® helps create and execute an EDDM campaign in full, from design to mailing. Businesses create a mailpiece using Amazingmail’s free online editor and basic design templates, or upload their own. From there, Amazingmail prints and mails custom-designed postcards in one business day.

Try Amazingmail

AMPlified Mail

AMPlified Screenshot

AMPlified Mail℠ provides design, printing and EDDM mailing services for postcards and bifolds. Businesses may create a mailpiece using AMPlified Mail’s free online editor and design templates, or upload their own. The company also offers response and ROI reporting, in addition to USPS delivery tracking information.

Try AMPlified Mail


Click2Mail Screenshot

Click2Mail™ offers creation, printing and mailing services for businesses sending an EDDM campaign. Businesses connect with Click2Mail’s creative team for graphic design services, or download guides for designing and creating direct mailpieces on their own. Once the mailpiece is designed, Click2Mail can print and mail the postcards in one business day.

Try Click2Mail

Grow Mail

GrowMail Screenshot

Grow Mail provides full-service EDDM campaign solutions, including creation, printing and mailing services. Businesses connect with Grow Mail’s creative team for mailpiece design (as well as other branding and graphic services), or download generic templates for different business types to create their own designs.

Try Grow Mail

PrintingForLess.com (PFL)

PFL Screenshot

PFL is a one-stop shop for a business’s EDDM campaign needs, including printing, mailing and creation guidelines. Businesses download templated guides for a large variety of mail types, from postcards to catalogs to table tents and more, to assist in the design process.

Try Printing For Less


Taradel Screenshot

Taradel is a full-service direct mail preparation service, specializing in creating, printing and mailing EDDM campaigns. Businesses create a mailpiece using Taradel’s free design templates, uploading their own or working with a professional.

Try Taradel

Key Takeaways

Every Door Direct Mail provides businesses with a cost-efficient way to spread targeted messages to potential customers in focus areas. In leveraging ZIP Codes™ and U.S. Census data, businesses gain access to a precise, hyper-targeted audience without having to compile, update or buy mailing lists.

Not only does this service help marketers avoid the extra costs and potential inaccuracies of old data, but an EDDM campaign done right may drive an increase in sales, a boost in awareness and a powerful ROI.

Ready to get started on an EDDM campaign?
Choose an Affiliate

Need more information before diving in?
Connect With USPS

Top Tips to Design an Effective Direct Mailpiece from Amplified Mail’s Creative Director

Designing a direct mailpiece presents a different challenge than creating an email design or a social media post: it’s a single printed piece that has to tell enough of a story to drive a consumer online or in-store without a clickable direct link. So it’s vital that a piece captivates quickly with a professional look and standout messaging.

We spoke with Rene Bonin, Creative Director at Amplified Mail, about the basic principles of designing a mailpiece. He shared six standout tips for creating a piece that delivers results.

1. Understand Your Audience

Direct mail is a unique form of advertising that comes with a captive audience—from the mailbox to the front door. Before you start designing your piece, Bonin suggests taking time to understand who you are targeting and what emotion you want to evoke from them.

“Consider what an entire audience may gravitate toward, not just what you like.”

For example, a luxury car brand may send a sleek postcard with limited copy to convey an aspirational feeling to potential customers. A local veterinarian might use cute pictures of puppies and kittens to encourage pet owners to bring theirs in for a checkup.

2. Less Is More

According to Bonin, you have only a few seconds to grab a person’s attention, so avoid clutter. If you try to say too much or include too many different images, it becomes difficult for consumers to know what to respond to. Instead, have a primary message and let the entire piece drive that home.

“Don’t feel compelled to fill every corner to get your money’s worth. You can be heard a lot louder by whispering than by shouting.”

As you’re designing, Bonin suggests that you think aesthetically. Experiment with drop shadow to set primary text apart from the rest. Make background images lighter or more transparent so that your copy isn’t lost in dark colors or harsh lines. Keep messages short and to the point.

Drop Shadow Pro Tip: Add a darker, more transparent shape (like a shadow) behind text or an object to make it look like it is raised from the background.

3. Make It Flow

In addition to keeping messages concise and decluttered, make sure that things flow visually. Using standard grid lines to keep items aligned and well-spaced goes a long way toward creating a highly readable piece.

A consistent visual flow stops people’s eyes from bouncing around. Use a clean hierarchy of weights (such as light, regular and bold) and font sizes—rather than using many fonts in different weights and styles—to guide a reader through your message. Rather than cluttering space with photos and graphics that have varying treatments, choose one or two that convey emotion best and are cleanly lined up.

4. Have a Strong (But Simple) Message

Once you know the reason you’re sending a direct mailpiece and the emotion you want it to evoke, you can start thinking about messaging. Keep it short and punchy, Bonin suggests.

“Nothing works better than when an image and a strong headline come together and become one.”

Rather than telling your entire brand story in the space of a postcard, find a few captivating lines that focus on the campaign at hand and encourage some kind of action, like coming into the store or making an order.

Bonin also cautions against overused, punny lines (think “Patty-O-Furniture” sales around St. Patrick’s Day) or spending too much time highlighting accolades. If it doesn’t show a consumer how your product or service can improve their life, keep it off the mailpiece.

5. Stay Relevant

Keep the imagery and messages on your mailpiece relevant to the campaign. You want people to see your piece and know, almost immediately, what your business does—so putting a family pet on a piece for an electronics retailer would be counterintuitive. Similarly, stay away from graphic elements like icons and emojis that don’t serve your message.

“Using irrelevant images puts too much attention on the wrong thing.”

Design your campaigns around relevant events or times of year to appeal to your audience’s current needs. Use a strong call to action to create a sense of urgency and drive response rates.

Get your mystery offer Pro Tip: Write a CTA that makes people want to do something. Tell them what they get out of it, what it might cost them and if it’s only available for a limited time.

6. Know Your Limitations

If you feel like you’re biting off more than you can chew, you probably are, according to Bonin. Before you start developing your campaign and creating a design, do the research into what type of mail format works for what you’re doing. A multi-panel mailpiece, for instance, requires more effort than a standard postcard. Then, acknowledge if you truly feel comfortable creating the piece yourself.

“If layout and design aren’t your strengths, leave it to a professional—the results will speak for themselves.”

Direct mail, like any marketing, is an investment, so you want to make sure it pays off. Whether doing it yourself, in-house or with a freelance designer, gather samples and develop a clear direction for the piece. If your materials are well prepared, designing a simple and effective postcard shouldn’t take more than a few hours, Bonin says.

Key Takeaway

When you’re ready to create your mailpiece, let these principles guide the way. With concise messaging and relevant images, you’ll make a piece that flows and attracts attention. Even better, your piece could convert prospects into customers.

The 9 Essential Steps for Executing an Effective Direct Mail Campaign

Direct mail is a proven way to reach and engage with customers. Each campaign has many vital moving parts—from mailing lists to mailpiece design to postage—that can seem intimidating to uninitiated businesses.

Before you run a direct mail campaign, take a step back and look at the process step by step. Use this checklist to guide you painlessly through building and executing a campaign that works.

  1. 1

    Establish Goals and Objectives

    Decide what you want to accomplish with this campaign. Do you want to acquire new customers? Increase customer loyalty? It’s also important to think about how a successful direct mail campaign will bring you closer to your long-term business goals, like opening a brick-and-mortar store or expanding into new cities and neighborhoods. Use these goals to guide the following decisions.

  2. 2

    Set a Budget

    Consider what portion of your marketing budget you want to allot to this direct mail campaign to achieve your goals. Direct mail can be an option whether you have a small budget or a large one. Setting a budget will help you decide the size of your mailing list as well as the form and design of your mailpiece.

  3. 3

    Understand the Audience

    Nail down the exact audience you’re trying to reach with your campaign. If you’re mailing to existing customers, you may already know what causes them to take action. If your goal is to reach new potential customers, it may be helpful to run a survey or gather data (including age, gender, income, hobbies, etc.) on your target audience before you prepare a mailpiece.

  4. 4

    Create a Mailing List

    Mailing lists can connect you to customers you want to reach. Use a house list, which is created with the addresses of existing customers, to engage current customers. You can also buy or rent, through a broker, a list that aggregates names based on demographic and psychographic targets.

  5. 5

    Craft Your Message

    Create a message or an offer that will catch customers’ attention and direct them to take an action, like sharing with friends or making a purchase. The messaging should include bold headlines that clearly communicate the point of the mailpiece. If more copy is needed, keep your sentences simple and easy to understand.

  6. 6

    Design Your Piece

    This step incorporates a few different points:

    • Which format will work best for your message and budget? Postcards and self-mailers are simple and affordable, while catalogs result in higher engagement.
    • What will your piece look like? Use online DIY design tools or a professional designer, and state your offer to the recipient clearly.
    • How will you send your mail? First-Class Mail® service is faster and trackable but costs more, while Standard Mail® service offers basic mail delivery and costs less.
  7. 7

    Print Your Mail Piece

    Do your research and select a reputable printer. Use this white paper to help you narrow down considerations and ask for bids from vendors.

    Before your piece is printed, make sure to proofread it to avoid expensive and embarrassing mistakes.

  8. 8

    Make Your Piece Postal-ready

    Are you sending more than 500 mailpieces? If so, consider bulk mail, which could lower costs but requires presorting of addresses and a business mailing permit. If you’re mailing fewer pieces, you’ll pay single-piece prices but have less upfront labor.

  9. 9

    Track and Fine-tune

    Use tracking tools—such as unique URLs and QR Codes®, referrals and social media interactions in a given time period—to help measure ROI.1 If you estimate your ROI through tests before your campaign begins, you can measure it again during and after the campaign to see if it’s effective.

Key Takeaways

A successful direct mail campaign is within reach for businesses of any size or caliber. This checklist is a basic guide for each step in the process. Use it in conjunction with our free direct mail white paper to master your next direct mail campaign.

5 Best Practices for E-Commerce and Retail Inventory Management

While strong sales are the backbone of a retail or ecommerce business, inventory management can mean the difference between success or failure. Mismanaging your inventory can lead to errors in stock levels, poor quality control and wasted storage space. These problems can quickly percolate and affect your shipping operations; they can slow picking and packing, even allow you to ship incorrect or damaged goods. Keep your business on track by implementing a few important practices.

  1. 1

    Categorize Your Inventory

    Bring order to your warehouse and add efficiency to your picking process by choosing a way to categorize your products. This will make it easier and faster for you to locate and pull items from your shelves. There are a few common systems companies use. One is called ABC, which groups products by their value, with A being the most valuable items and C being the least valuable. A numerical system takes a different approach by allotting numbers for product classes, individual products and their location in the storage facility.

  2. 2

    Establish Minimum Stock Threshold Limits

    The minimum stock threshold is the least amount of inventory you need on your shelves at all times. By determining your threshold limits, you can ensure you have safety stock ready to answer a sudden influx of sales. This allows you to meet demand and curb lengthy fulfillment times, which would only upset customers. Use this formula to calculate your limits:

    Minimum stock threshold = (Average daily product sales/# working days in the month) x average product delivery time1

    Please note: average product delivery time should be calculated in days.

  3. 3

    Implement Frequent Quality Control Checks

    Keeping an eye on your product quality can help prevent customer satisfaction issues and lower return rates. By keeping returns down, your company can maintain its margins. Do routine checks of your inventory to search for signs of damage. Look for discrepancies in prices and product descriptions; products sizes, colors and styles should be accurate. That way you catch any issues before they hit your customer’s front step.

  4. 4

    Implement Stock Check Cycles

    Cycle counting programs help you gauge the accuracy of your inventory levels by auditing a small sample of products on a routine basis. That way, you don’t need to spend time checking all your inventory all the time. Decide how often you’d like to do cycle counts. Some businesses take a periodic weekly or monthly approach, others do it at random throughout the year. Stay vigilant about your inventory counts to maintain stock visibility. Without accurate stock information, your customers could place orders that can’t be filled.

  5. 5

    Liquidate Slow-Moving Stock

    By doing routine checks of your inventory, you can stay abreast of product sell-through rates. Save your company dollars and storage space, by liquidating the products that aren’t moving off the shelves. Bring new products into the fold that share similar characteristics with your biggest sellers.

In Conclusion

With a few simple steps, any size business can elevate its inventory process. By categorizing your inventory, deciding minimum threshold limits, keeping an eye on quality control and more, your business could see a wide range of positive effects. With a well-run management process, you could add efficiencies to your shipping operations, shorten fulfillment times, lower return rates, improve your customer service, and, of course, boost your bottom line.

Marketing Strategies That Will Modernize Your Mail Campaigns

The next big thing in marketing may be sitting in your mailbox.

Year after year, companies seek out the freshest ideas to build brand awareness, launch products and convert new customers. To choose the right one, they need the facts. Get a big-picture view of the newest innovations in direct mail—from AR to QR and everything in between.


5 Tips to Gear Up for the Retail Holiday Season

The holidays present countless opportunities for businesses to meet their bottom lines. They also present countless opportunities for pitfalls. Inefficient warehouse systems, confusing communications and incorrect packaging can prevent companies, both small and large, from making their year-end fiscal goals. Read on for tips to help you tackle the lucrative days ahead.

Quick Tip 1: Talk to Your Supplier

It’s critical for your business to have stock going in and out in a timely manner. Work with your shipping provider to confirm pick-up schedules, communicate changes in business hours and identify peak volume days. That way, your warehouse will know what to expect.

Quick Tip 2: Evaluate Your Warehouse Systems

Make sure your warehouse is logically organized. Place “bundle” items in the same area for easy picking and packing, and set aside room for dramatic influxes of shipments. Finally, inspect your technology so that it’s running smoothly.

Quick Tip 3: Simplify Your New Hire Onboarding Process

The more confusing the training process, the less productive your workers will be. Talk to permanent and returning staff to tweak your onboarding process for clarity and effectiveness.

Quick Tip 4: Use the Right Size Packaging

With dimensional weight pricing, both the weight and size of the packaging affects the ultimate shipping price. As more transportation companies use this pricing method, businesses should diversify the types of packaging they use. Consider Padded Paks, Poly mailers or other packaging in lieu of boxes. In most cases, the smaller the package, the lower the shipping cost.

Quick Tip 5: Communicate with Your Customers Clearly

Take your holiday communications to task. Look through last year’s customer complaints to fix the wording of return policies, shipping timelines and Christmas cut-off dates. Your language should be uniform across every channel.