Direct Mail Marketing

5-Step Direct Mail Guide

March 5, 2020
Autor
Inkit Team

Mail marketing is renowned for its high response rate and extensive personalization capabilities.  According to the DMA, an average response rate of mailing campaigns is 4.9% for prospect lists and 9% for house lists. As you see, the main types of direct mail are still alive and kicking.

Needless to say that the promising mailings response rate encourages marketers to incorporate mail marketing into their strategies. Especially, given that with the latest mail automation innovations, launching a mail campaign has become much easier. Automated mailings outperform traditional postal services with advanced personalization, high-accuracy targeting, and, most importantly, the direct mail marketing success rate.

Still, in case you have never had dealings with mail marketing-related processes, it may be a bit challenging at first. The USPS has specific direct mail design requirements. Direct mail printing is also governed by a set of rules. Mail tracking may seem impossible if you don’t know how to do this.

To save you from the mailing road bumps, Inkit prepared a simple 5-step direct mail guide. It covers the main stages required to start a mail campaign with maximum direct mail marketing success rate.

In this direct mail guide, you will learn about:

  • Direct mail design requirements
  • Direct mail printing tips and tricks
  • Direct mail shipment options
  • Direct mail tracking options
  • Ways to maximize the direct mail marketing success rate

Step #1. Direct Mail Design Requirements: What You Should Include and How

Before you start creating direct mail design, you need to analyze various types of direct mail. Postcards, brochures, catalogs, flyers, and other mail pieces have differing functions and roles. Whereas a postcard is a great way to greet someone or engage a recipient with a strong call-to-action, a catalog is an optimum way to present your assortment. Thus, make sure to clearly define your target audience and the purpose of the mail campaign. This will help to make the mailing more efficient and increase the direct mail marketing success rate.

Once you made your mind on the type of direct mail design, clarify the size of the future mailpiece. Inkit has already published a direct mail guide on sizes, so you may use it for reference.

After you know your size limits and direct mail design type, it’s time to continue with the creative part. Consider these recommendations, working on your direct mail design:

  • Use a grid layout to plan the location of critical elements on the direct mail design. This will also allow you to easily swap them around to find the best position.
  • Select one leading call-to-action depending on what you want from your customers (e.g., subscribe to your social media marketing channels, dial your phone number, visit your offline/online store).
  • Make sure the chosen fonts are easy to read and match your overall style. If there are several text segments on the direct mail design, arrange the font size based on the importance of the information. The key marketing message should be in focus.
  • Avoid using a solid background if you particularly care about postcard damage. Scuffs and smudges are more visible on dark solid black or blue.
  • Utilize online postcard builders, including Inkit’s postcard design tool, to speed up the direct mail design process. Such services provide templates you can customize and tailor to your needs.

In case you use Inkit for direct mail automation, remember to follow some general system requirements for direct mail design. All images should have at least 300 DPI resolution and be uploaded in PNG or JPG formats. When you upload a background image, keep in mind that it must be 0.25″ larger because of the bleed size. For direct mail design templates and additional direct mail guide recommendations go here.

(Source: Inkit. Postcard Templates)

Step #2. Direct Mail Printing and the Ways to Optimize it

The complexity of the printing stage depends on two main factors: a printing vendor and mail content. Basically, you will need to choose whether to automate mail production or not and what content (static/dynamic) to use.

Printing vendor. The thing is that both small businesses and large enterprises rarely have printing equipment at premises. It’s expensive, bulky, and requires continuous maintenance. As a result, most companies hire a third-party printing services provider to organize printing. The search of a vendor, negotiations, and logistics take time and effort. Let alone the cases when printing services disregard deadlines or create other unexpected troubles.

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Direct mail automation is the simplest way to entrust your printing to an external vendor without the need to arrange everything. When you launch a mailing campaign in the mail automation tool, it will automatically start printing and initiate delivery when necessary. This approach allows you to minimize your role in mail production and significantly reduce the manufacturing time.

Content. At the mail printing step, the variability of content is another critical thing to consider. Owing to modern technology, now you can tailor the marketing message and text on every postcard. Hence, if you plan to deliver the same postcards to all customers, it’s very easy. You just print them, use a zip code or mailing list for shipment, and that’s that. Yet if you aim for ultimate personalization and maximum direct mail marketing success rate, identical content won’t work. You will need to utilize the direct mail automation software that supports variable data printing and integrates with your CRM or database (Learn about Inkit’s integrations here).

Have your mail printing arranged? Great! Now let’s talk about the most suitable ways to deliver it.

Step #3. Direct Mail Shipment Options

The conditions and time of mail delivery vary depending on the country, its local regulations, and the postal system. In the US, all mailings are provided by the United States Postal Service, which has a set of programs to choose from. If you cooperate with a mail automation vendor, they will help you to pick the most favorable option.

Regardless of whether you take mail to the post office on your own or have a reliable backup for that, the USPS’s direct mail guide on the shipment is a must-read. The main mail shipment plans include Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, First-Class Mail, First-Class Package Service – Retail, USPS Retail Ground, Media Mail.

* Except off-shore locations**Not available for international shipping(Source: USPS.Choosing a Service for Mailing)


Inkit partners with the USPS to provide automated mail delivery services to our customers. Such cooperation allows us to have no batch size limitations and offer beneficial prices.

Step #4. Direct Mail Guide: Mail Tracking Options

To find out your direct mail marketing success rate, you should know whether people receive your mailing and how they react to it. Thus, you will need to use a marketing platform to record user behavior and interactions. You can also power it with Inkit to always have the history of all mail campaigns and delivery details at hand.

Here are some mail tracking top picks of our direct mail guide:

  • QR codes. Include a QR code on a mail piece and record an interaction each time a new device scans the code.
  • Unique customer codes. Use the power of variable data printing to include custom codes on every mail piece. Ask customers to provide this code when they contact you.
  • PURL. Use personalized URLs or microsites to customize your online display and record user interactions with direct mail.
  • Trackable phone number. Use a separate phone number for customers from the target audience of your mail marketing campaign.
  • Surveying leads. Talk to your leads and ask them what made them interested in your offer.
QR code

In addition to the listed options, you can also track your website traffic to compare the number of visitors before and after the mail campaign. This approach is less accurate but in some cases, can still be effective.

Step #5. How to Maximize the Direct Mail Marketing Success Rate and Make Customers Convert

Now, when you have mastered the subtleties of direct mail design, printing, delivery, and tracking, let’s talk about efficiency. The high average direct mail marketing success rate doesn’t guarantee that any mail you send will yield stunning results.

Of course, an appealing design, quality printing, and fast delivery make a difference, but there is more to it. If you want to achieve the highest direct mail marketing success rate possible, make sure to:

  • Align direct mail with other marketing channels to boost its conversion rate with omni-channel marketing
  • Test your mail pieces before investing in large-volume printing and delivery (e.g., measure response rate)
  • Personalize your mailing based on the needs and preferences of your target audience
  • Analyze the results of your mail campaigns and adapt the mailing strategy if necessary
  • Use direct mail automation capabilities to optimize the mailing process in general and transfer mailing routines to a third-party

Our direct mail guide will surely make your mail work. Sign up for Inkit to facilitate all mailing stages with advanced automation.

Ready to captivate your customers?

Let us show you how automating direct mail can increase your offline conversions.
Schedule a Demo