The Ultimate Guide to Direct Mail Marketing 2023

Direct Mail is still a potent element of effective marketing strategy.

Direct-mail advertising is the process of promoting your business by mail. Historically, direct mail was the primary way to effectively reach customers with a targeted, personalized message. Today, it remains a powerful tool, especially when combined with online marketing.

According to“With many knowledge workers continuing to work from home, direct mail will have a banner year in 2021 and will be the most powerful tool for getting on the radar of prospects who have become digitally overwhelmed with an onslaught of sales email and Linkedin messages.”

Direct mail marketing has many benefits:
  • Personalized – each piece can be addressed to an individual and, using variable data, can focus on their specific needs
  • Highly Targeted – you can purchase mailing lists of potential customers based on demographics and geography.
  • Highly Measurable – by using a coupon offer, the success of your campaign can be easily tracked
  • Cost-Effective – with its higher return on investment, direct mail ranks as one of the most effective means to drive customer action 
  • Flexible – there are many ways to mail your offer, from letters to postcards to packages containing free samples
  • It’s More Fun – according to Epsilon, 59% of US respondents say they enjoy getting mail from brands about new products 

90 percent of direct mail gets opened

(According to statistics from Data & Marketing Association)


NOW is the time to take advantage of direct mail advertising and start planning your next campaign!

But if you’ve never used direct mail to promote your business, you may not know where to begin. 


Where to Begin

When planning your direct mail campaign, take into consideration the timeline for execution. Direct mail campaigns usually take 6-12 weeks to plan, create and produce, plus mail delivery time. The length of the timeline is dependent on several factors:

  • your mailing quantity
  • your willingness to pay rush charges
  • the size of your mailing piece
  • your approval process
  • whether the mailing is integrated with other marketing components, such as online ads or email marketing

You should spend the first 1-2 weeks on budget planning, mailing list research, developing the marketing message or offer, format selection, and identification of vendors. 

Weeks 2-4 will be the development of creative concept and strategy, copywriting and design, plus approval feedback and revisions.

During weeks 4-6, you will finalize the mailing lists, personalize and print the materials, insert (if required), and other mail preparation.

The time between mailing and delivery will depend on the postage rate you are using and how far the mail has to travel. First-class is the fastest, but most expensive.

Once you have mailed your campaign, don’t forget to measure your results. You should have identified the time frame you expect your offer to be redeemed during the initial planning. 


Choosing a Format

When designing your mail piece, you will have to choose a format. This will be a strategic decision based on your marketing objective, audience, offer, and budget.

While postcards are the most popular format because of their low cost and simplicity, they aren’t always appropriate. Below are some additional popular options for direct mail.

Traditional Envelope with Insert

Envelope mailings are known by a variety of names: solo inserted mailings, classic mail packages, or envelope packages. They can carry as many components as needed to deliver your message and reach your marketing objectives – as long as it meets postal guidelines.

An envelope mailing may typically include:

  • An outer envelope (called a carrier envelope)
  • Letter (often called a “form” or “form letter”)
  • Brochure
  • Optional lift note
  • Reply vehicle

Envelope mailings have the flexibility to include other inserts, as well, such as a product sample or a coupon. This option gives you the opportunity to tell your sales story using an assortment of components.

42 percent read direct mail
(According to statistics from Data & Marketing Association)

Simple Self-Mailers/Postcards

Postcards, often referred to as self-mailers or flats, are the most popular and cost-effective direct mail option. Because of their popularity though, yours may arrive in a stack of other postcards. So they may not always be the best choice.

Postcards can be any size that meets the USPS mailing standards for machine processing. The size will determine the postage amount. They are usually used for simple offers and notifications because of their lower perceived value. They can be highly scannable and easy to read.

20 percent direct mail more motivating

(According to research from Canada Post.)


Expanded Self-Mailers

An expanded self-mailer does not use an envelope. It is a self-contained piece of mail folded so that it is envelope size, which opens to become a brochure or letter. Without the envelope, these mailers may look less personal and more like advertising, so may not be appropriate of some offers and audiences.


A catalog is a multi-page format with binding. These days, the catalog is a tool to drive traffic to stores and websites. Catalogs are expensive to produce, but their content and size give them staying power. They may be used as a buying reference for months or even years.

60 percent catalog recipients visit website

(According to a study by the United States Postal Service.)


The multi-mailer has multiple product inserts mailed in an envelope. They can be a cost-effective way to test prices and products. Multi-mailers don’t have the same staying power as a catalog, however, because you are competing with other businesses’ inserts in the multi-mailer.

Peel and Reveal

This mail piece features an interactive device to engage the mail recipient. It looks just like a standard self-mailer or postcard but has a peel-back layer that reveals a second message or additional information about your company or products.

73 percent prefer direct mail brands

According to statistics from Epsilon

Getting Creative With Direct Mail

Direct mail is a great way to create fun, exciting experiences for your prospects and customers that will help your message stand out and generate increased responses. You can take your campaign even further with some of these innovative ideas:

  • QR Code – make it easy to track scans and follow through with potential customers
  • EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) – a service from USPS that lets you blanket an entire mail carrier route with your postcards for a discounted postage rate (restrictions apply)
  • Texture – create emotional appeal with fur, rubber, plastic, and more
  • Format – use special folds, die cuts, or odd sizes to grab attention
  • Variable Data Printing (VDP) – personalize your mail out for each customer or prospect with unique images, text, or offers
  •  Near-Field Communication (NFC) – embed a chip in your mail piece that launches content on the recipient’s mobile device
  • Augmented Reality (AR) – prospective clients can scan your mail on a mobile device and enjoy an interactive experience (here’s a great example)

Get Results

Direct mail marketing is alive and well – and it gets results, especially when combined with online marketing. What was once a staid print medium has evolved into a hyper-targeted marketing tool powered by digital intelligence. Thanks to the latest innovations, companies can now achieve their marketing goals from awareness through purchase and beyond.

C&B would be happy to help you out with your next direct mail campaign. Give us a call for a free quote today!

(806) 374-6262








Posted on Nov 7, 2022