How to Get the Most Out of Direct Mail 

Plan for success with these battle-tested direct marketing best practices.

Planning & Preparation
Every good marketing campaign starts with planning and preparation. Before you invest into marketing, you must understand the path to success, and have a viable gameplan to achieve a positive ROI. Here are 5 ways to start planning for success.

1. Verify that advertising is required. Why are you planning to use direct mail? Do you need more sales, awareness, or market share? Make sure that your direct mail campaign has a clear purpose.

2. Create a targeted message. Your direct mail campaign must resonante with your target audience. The content, images, and offers featured in your marketing piece should be of great interest to recipients. 

3. Confirm that people want/need your product or service. Does your offer fill a need in the market or solve a problem? Have past marketing efforts verified the viability of your product or service? Look at your business, and the competition, to verify that a fundamental need exists.

4. Do not try to create a market. If a market for your product or service does not currently exist, it is unlikely that you will be able to quickly create a market -- especially with one marketing campaign. Instead, use direct mail to penetrate existing markets and generate revenue quickly.

5. Be prepared to test everything. With direct mail marketing, you should not plan a "one and done" campaign strategy. Sure, direct mail is known to generate quick results, however, decades worth of research highlights the importance of multiple impressions in acquiring new customers and growing revenue. With each campaign, you can test and optimize the headline, offer, layout, etc.
Creative Design & Formats
Direct mail can take on many forms. From coupons to advertorials, to newsletters and brochures, be prepared to test multiple formats over the long-term. Additionally, there are many different ad sizes, communication voices, and other strategies to test.

1. Use the AIDA formula. AIDA is an acronym which stands for Attention Interest Desire Action. Use this marketing formula to guide your creative process. Attract the attention of prospective customers, gain their interest, convince them that they need or want your product immediately, and tell them precisely how they can "get it" (ie: Call Now!).

2. Agitate emotions. Direct mail is most effective when it highlights a current problem or pain point, and delivers a simple solution with emotional benefits. For example, if you provide a service that repairs cracked bricks and home foundations, your direct mail may perform better by selling the idea of a "happy, solid home" to the consumer. (ie: "Protect your home, family, and happiness. Don't let it crumble on your watch.)

3. Test different ad sizes and formats. There are many options you should consider, such as postcards, brochures, and coupons. You'll never know which format is most-effective until you have completed and compared multiple tests. Plan a long-term strategy which enables you to gain data with each subsequent direct mail campaign.

4. Use positivity. People seek out good experiences, positivity, and results from their spending. Unlike political ads which use scare tactics and exaggerations, your marketing should focus on benefits, convenience, affordability, and happiness. These positive "triggers" result in more sales.

5. Communicate with an appropriate voice. For example, if your target audience consists of middle-class homeowners, your communication voice should resonante with them. Where possible, present your business as subject matter experts with good intentions, as opposed to using an insincere sales pitch. Remember, trust and credibility is key when consumers make their purchasing decisions.
Headlines & Offers
Your headline is your first impression. According to a recent study, 8 out of 10 people will read the headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of your offer. Your headline should be benefit-oriented and provide a solution to the consumer's needs, wants, fears, and/or problems

1. Use Clear Benefits. What is the key benefit of your product or service. Once you identify this item, you can begin to craft your headline. For example, "Relieve Joint Pain Instantly, Without Painful Surgery!"

2. Use Questions. An alternative to a benefit-priented headline (when appropriate) is to ask the consumer a question. For example, "Did You Know a New Pizzeria Just Opened?"

3. Use multiple coupon offers instead of one coupon. Cast a wider net with multiple offers and be sure to include something for everyone. In doing so, you will increase the potential response rate to your offer.

4. Research competing offers. Give yourself a leg up on the competition by creating offers that are positioned to outsell your competitors. Add value, lower prices, and use other tactics that will render your competition obsolete.

5. Use keywords. Words like "FREE", "LIMITED", and "SALE" are highly-visible and generate more activity than alternatives such as "LEARN MORE". Get folks excited with battle-tested advertising keywords.
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Bonus Offers
If you've ever watched an infomercial you've heard the phrase, "But wait... there's more!" The reason is quite simple, it works. Add bonus items and offers to your main Call to Action (CTA) to turbocharge your response rates. 

  1. Use bonuses that enhance the benefit of your main CTA. For example, "Order Any Large 3-Topping Pizza for Only $10.99, and Get FREE Breadsticks!"

  2. Turn your competitor's offer into a FREE bonus item. Is your competitor offering a product or service at a discounted rate? Use this to your advantage by crafting a bonus offer that delivers more value or delivers additional benefits directly to the consumer at the time of purchase.

  3. Add long-term value. Agree to send a bonus item at a later date if the consumer agrees to purchase now. For example, "Purchase Your Season Pass today, Get $20 OFF Next Year!"
A guarantee is a formal promise or assurance (usually in writing) that certain conditions will be fulfilled, especially that a product will be repaired or replaced if not of a specified quality and durability. Include one or more of the following guarantees within your direct mail campaign.

  1. Offer a 100% money-back guarantee
  2. Offer a refund and exchange policy
  3. Offer a free warranty on products and/or services
  4. Offer a 100% customer satisfaction Guarantee
  5. Offer a lowest price (or price match) guarantee

money back guarantee
social proof

Social Proof & Authority Indicators
Are you a member of the BBB? Are you certified, licensed, and insured? Where possible, reference authority and trust indicators in your direct mail campaigns. Additionally, provide social proof by using testimonials, reviews, and feedback from current customers.




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FREE EDDM® Marketing Checklist

Ask yourself a simple question:

"Are my direct mail offers and campaigns optimized -- from top to bottom?"

If not, you are losing business to competitors (and doing them a huge favor).

Download the FREE EDDM® Marketing Checklist and get more out of your direct mail marketing. 

What's Included?

  • Setting Sales/Marketing Goals
  • Campaign Budgets & Timelines
  • Offers and Call-To-Actions
  • Design and Sales Copy
  • Response Tracking
  • and More!


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