Direct mail marketing has recently come back into style, and it’s not hard to see why.
The U.S. Postal Service, Canada Post, and the United Kingdom’s Royal Mail have found that direct mail is more valuable, memorable and persuasive to consumers than digital messages like email. But that’s always been true.
Getting started with direct mail marketing
What’s different about the direct mail marketing of today is that teams are getting more creative about what they can send: dimensional boxes, video mailers, handwritten notes, personalized gifts, branded wine, sweet treats, desk plants, and more.
We know that direct mail marketing may be new to some modern marketers, so here are a few quick tips for getting started.
Direct mail marketing ideas: from bottom to top
Start by picking out your goal for the campaign. Do you want to drive event attendance? Push website form fills? Book sales meetings?
Outline your desired outcome and what success would look like. Determine your budget for this campaign (don’t forget to take postage, shipping, and fulfillment into account). Then, pick out the audience you’d like to receive your direct mail piece.
If you want to take a more account-based approach, we recommend tiering out your recipients into three different audiences based on their priority to your company, engagement levels, or potential fit as customers. Many companies choose to look at firmographic or technographic data to determine which prospects or accounts are the most important for them to target. Then, you can allocate more funds to your top-tier audience.
See the chart below for an example of how much budget to consider allocating for each audience.
Avg. Price per send
# of sends
Keep reading for 15 direct mail marketing ideas.
Bottom tier direct mail marketing ideas
The following are ideas for direct mail marketing to your bottom tier audience.
3D pop-up cards
Two-dimensional mailers are a thing of the past. Stand out when your audience flips through their mail with informational 3D pop-up cards. You can use services to design your own mailers that make your marketing message pop or purchase pre-designed ones and write a thoughtful, handwritten note.
Even if you’ve seen these at trade shows, they’re still rarely distributed outside of events. We love this direct mail marketing idea because you can put your brand on the cover and then send 10 or so to each recipient because they are so inexpensive. Not only will the cover be in front of your buyer’s face whenever they use their computer, but they’ll be able to share the other webcam cover with coworkers and colleagues.
This direct mail piece tickles the senses. In addition to traveling with your recipient during their daily commute, it can offer a sweet or soothing scent along the way. You have the option to design it however you’d like and select the fragrance. This is another inexpensive send, so you can include a few of them in the package to your recipient along with a note about wanting to “add some relaxation” to their commute.
eBooks can be sent in bulk by themselves or added to any campaign. Laminate and bind the pages to make them more high-quality, and package them in something unique for a special touch.
Branded mint tins
Gum and mints are great for direct mail because they’re a refreshing treat that lasts for a long time. You can put your logo, brand style, or even a short message on the tin they come in (which could be used for paperclips or thumbtacks after the mints run out). Add a note saying your goal was to help them “freshen up” for their next big meeting or event for an extra human touch.
Mid-tier direct mail marketing ideas
For some clients that are a little more valuable to your organization, consider using these direct mail tactics.
Donation to charity
Not every direct mail piece needs to involve a physical item. A good send for middle-tier audiences is a $50 donation to a local charity or national organization that is relevant to the recipient. All you need is receipt of the donation and notecards to write a simple message explaining why you made a donation in their honor—don’t forget envelopes and stamps!
Create both an offline and online experience in a single direct mail send with a custom video mailer. These come in all shapes and sizes, utilizing cell phone technology to play a digital video inside a beautiful 3D box (which you get to design). You can even add each recipient’s name to the beginning of the video for extra personalization.
Custom chia pet
Remember Chia Pets? This direct mail item can inspire laughter and nostalgia among your recipients. The best part is that you can choose from hundreds of characters or even get a custom Chia Pet in the shape of your company’s logo or even your recipient’s company logos.
Popcorn is a great source of creative direct mail because it’s a savory treat that can engage multiple recipients at one office (as opposed to sending yet another “Reply All” email).
Branded toys for pets and kids
Another delightful way to get on your recipient’s radar is to send toys for their children or furry friends to enjoy. Baby onesies, dog leashes, blankets, and frisbees can all show your audience that you care about them and the people (and animals) that are important to them. Include one item for each in the direct mail package since you may not know whether or not all of your recipients have pets or kids. Even if not, they likely won’t mind sharing the items with one of their colleagues that does.
Top-tier direct mail marketing ideas
For your most important clients, check out these direct mail ideas.
If there was a hall of fame for direct mail sends, cupcakes would be in them. Send mini cupcakes with unique and fun flavors or regular-sized cupcakes with your recipient’s logo on them. This sweet surprise always brightens people’s day and gets consumed quickly—but not before people often snap a picture and tag the sender on social media to thank them!
Custom coffee bundle
Is there anything more quintessential to office culture than coffee? The bundle should include a branded package of coffee and a coffee mug with your company logo and be sent in a custom box filled with crinkle paper. This as a fun and energizing treat, especially during the holiday season.
Frequent traveler kit
We know that many decision-makers in the businesses we try to connect with hold high-level positions and that often means they have to travel for work. This direct mail send is a custom “kit” for the frequent traveler complete with a neck pillow, book of puzzles, earplugs, Airborne, hand lotion, and gum. You can swap out any of those items for something more high-end, like a travel cocktail kit.
This direct mail idea is better suited for audiences you’ve already had high engagement with, such as those who have attended your events, participated in your programs, or are already in talks with your sales team. You can customize the bottle with your recipient’s company logo and add a meaningful handwritten message about how you’re celebrating the fact that they are a part of your community.
Massage seat cushion
Top-tier audiences deserve time and attention. Send your priority prospects their very own massage seat cushion to use at work or at home. Include a message that says you’d like to have their back and that a member of your team will be following up in a few days. With important recipients, don’t assume they’ll merely follow up because you sent them something.
Last minute direct mail marketing tips
To get the most of our your direct mail marketing campaign efforts, we recommend using a detailed package tracking software. Be sure to collect the tracking numbers for each of the packages you send. Create a spreadsheet with each recipient, their tracking number, and the name of the person responsible for following up. Check package status daily.
Once the package is delivered, mark in the spreadsheet and alert the appropriate person to follow up. Check back with them a few days later to make sure follow up was sent, then mark the recipient as being followed up within your spreadsheet. Then you can measure the ROI of your direct mail by creating a campaign in your CRM software.
Add each contact in your audience to that campaign and be sure to mark their status as “shipped” or “delivered” per your tracking spreadsheet. Depending on your sales cycle (and stated goal), run the report after 30, 60, 90 days to see how relationships with those contacts evolved (based on the goal you set for the campaign).
Brianna Valleskey is the Sr. Content Marketing Manager at Sendoso. In addition to being the company storyteller and resident grammar nerd, she runs all content operations— including SEO and public relations—for Sendoso. Her articles have appeared on Yahoo Finance, Eventbrite, and G2. Brianna has previously held content roles at HYP3R, LevelEleven, and Benzinga.