Direct mail is a form of marketing that involves sending a physical piece of promotional material through the U.S. Postal Service, or other courier service, to a home or business.
Some recipients refer to it as “junk mail” because direct mail generally arrives uninvited.
Types of direct mail
Some of the most common forms of direct mail include:
- Coupon envelopes
Besides the item being mailed, the other essential component of a successful direct mail campaign is your list—who you’re going to mail to.
Creating a mailing list for a direct mail campaign
Direct mail can work extremely well when an appropriate message lands on the doorstep of someone who wants or needs the product or service being promoted.
Unlike less-targeted advertising (e.g., national TV spots, billboards), which speaks to everyone in the hopes that those who are in the target market will receive the message, direct mail speaks only to those buyers most likely to want or need what’s being promoted. For that reason, direct mail is considered more efficient.
The key is in the list.
Defining your target market
So who are the right customers? That depends entirely on your business and what you’re selling.
When you think about your ideal customers, how would you describe them? Do any of the following factors matter?
- Income level
- Education level
- Homeowner or not
- Car owner or not
- Kids at home
- Employed or not
These are basic demographic questions you should be able to answer about your customer if you’re planning on using direct mail, but the more specific you get, the better your results.
For example, would it be helpful to know if those on your list have hardwood floors, have pets, own stocks, or have asthma? What would you most like to know?
Where to find your list
Once you know who your ideal customer is, it’s time to find them. Mailing list brokers allow you to rent lists of people who meet your criteria, or you can rent lists from other sources, such as:
- Colleges and universities
- Credit card companies
- Cellular companies
The ROI for direct mail, according to the ANA Response Rate Report, 2021, is 112%—more than any other channel surveyed. With the right mailer and the right list, it’s possible to make direct mail one of your most successful channels.