Marketing - Article | 3-min. read

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.

1QR Code® is a registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED.

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