Despite some people believing that direct mail is no longer relevant, market trends say otherwise. In 2022, the compound annual growth rate of the global direct mail advertising segment will reach 1.5%. The number of mailing brands also keeps increasing. New providers come into play and offer more versatile services than the biggest direct mail companies remaining loyal to standard mail.

What best mailing service should you choose? There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and you will need to carry out the research. This article covers the main types of direct mailer companies to simplify your choice.

Does Direct Mail Still Work?

If you want a short answer, then YES, direct mail still works. Moreover, marketers have started to use it more frequently as an alternative to online channels. Offline communications give the feeling of uniqueness that digital marketing interactions cannot offer. You send them right to the customer’s doorstep and may even tailor the content to a specific recipient.

The channel effectiveness chart provided by Marketing Charts lists personalized direct mail as the second most effective customer reach channel.

So why is a mail marketing campaign effective?

59% of consumers enjoy getting print ads from brands about new products. At the same time, they usually ignore identical messages delivered online. So what is the secret of direct mail, and why does the response rate reach up to 9%?

  • Mail feels more personal than social media and digital communications 
  • People are tired of online content and miss offline interactions
  • Consumers have to regularly check their post boxes while online ads are easy to ignore
  • Mail looks familiar to older generations while being untrite for the youth

Besides marketing communications, many businesses use direct mail to deliver official messages. These are utilities that send bills; financial institutions mailing financial records; eCommerce businesses providing print proofs-of-delivery, etc. These companies rely on direct mail as one of their core communication channels and require mailing and printing services.

7 Types of Direct Mailing Companies: What They Offer

This section lists the main categories of direct mailing companies singled out based on the services they offer. Such segmentation should help you understand what mailing provider can cover your needs best.

#1. Printing only

Some direct mailing companies don’t arrange mail delivery but can print any mail piece you’d like to send. They have on-site printing equipment and produce the necessary number of mailing items once you share the design. You may even ask them to create a design for you if they hire a graphic designer.

Recommended if:

  • You have a limited budget and cannot afford to hire someone to take complete care of mail printing and delivery
  • You have an internal team to manage mail delivery and prefer to do it yourself
  • You only need to send several mail pieces

#2. Business card delivery

These companies take a narrow niche but offer everything a business person or brand may need to distribute their business cards. More advanced providers usually have an online builder with various templates you can use to create a custom card. Once you are done, the service prints the necessary number of business cards to deliver them using your mailing list. Some providers even offer mailing lists for sale.

Recommended if:

  • You are a business owner or brand marketer looking for a quick way to redistribute business cards. This marketing approach is popular in B2B

#3. Mail marketing companies

These direct mailer companies focus on marketing services. They cooperate with large and small businesses to help them include promotional mail into a marketing strategy. 

The range of services available with such providers is extensive. A marketing team usually consists of designers, printing specialists, and marketers that can cover every aspect of your advertising campaign. It offers design services to create a postcard, flyer, catalog, or another mail piece suitable for your business case. The specialists can also develop a custom promotional strategy, organize printing, manage delivery, and even estimate the effectiveness of the launched campaign.

Recommended if:

  • You don’t have an internal marketing team, or it’s too busy to launch a full-fledged mail marketing campaign
  • You’d like to delegate mail marketing to a third party to focus on more critical business activities
  • You have no experience in launching mail campaigns and need someone to do it for you.
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#4. Business mail

While some biggest direct mail companies dedicate themselves to marketing, there are also those who focus on business mail. These companies can assist you in sending invoices, bills, official notices, and other formal communications. In the case of business mail, an appealing design is less critical than the affordable cost of bulk mailing. Hence, this category of companies usually provides batch printing and discounts on large orders.

Recommended if:

  • You send lots of official communications and need someone to manage these mailings cost-effectively

#5. Direct mail catalog companies

Catalogs are the most effective type of marketing mail, yet challenging to produce. They require professional designers, high-quality materials, and specialized printing equipment. The demand for catalog production has led to the appearance of mailing brands that concentrate on catalog marketing. They hire a team of designers that can take pictures of products or create their 3D models for you. The overall catalog design, printing, and mailing are also covered.

Recommended if:

  • You run an eCommerce business or sell something offline and want to promote your products with catalogs

#6. Web-based mailing and printing tools

As direct mail becomes more digitized, so do mailing brands. Many direct mailer companies invest in web solutions, enabling their clients to create and order mailing campaigns online. Using such software, you can design a custom mail postcard with a drag-and-drop builder, plan printing and delivery, and track the results. The dirty work happens behind the scenes while you only orchestrate the process.

The use of web software is more affordable than hiring a separate team of marketers to launch a direct mail campaign. The only drawback is that it still requires the manual management of many processes.

Recommended if:

  • You have a team of marketers and want to optimize their marketing effort
  • You are looking for a convenient tool to track delivery times and success
  • You want to control the mailing campaign but outsource routine tasks to a third-party provider

#7. Full direct mail automation providers

The last category of mailing providers listed offers the most advanced services. They support mail printing and automation software you can integrate with your existing systems for comprehensive automation. These solutions connect to your CRM through an API to work as a part of your system and automatically initiate mail printing and delivery. You only need to configure triggers to indicate when to send which mail. For example, you can choose to deliver tailored postcard designs to users once they join your loyalty program; or automatically send official notices when someone gets late with paying bills. API-based mail automation software can handle any mail.

Such providers are a perfect fit for large and medium organizations that seek complete automation of their internal processes. You may have to put more effort into integration and setting up such software, but later on, it will let you sit back and only monitor mailings from time to time.

Recommended if:

  • You already have a CRM and other marketing tools you want to power with automated direct mail
  • You want to automate mail fulfillment fully
  • You plan to implement omnichannel campaigns that include trigger-based direct mail

How to Choose the Best Mailing Service

As you can see, the choice of providers is vast. How to know which of them is right for you? Here are the tips that should help you narrow down your needs and find a perfect mailing partner.

Estimate Your On-Site Resources

Partnership with a direct mail company considerably changes your business operations and requires investment. Therefore, before choosing a subcontractor, you must know how much you can spend on business and marketing mail. You should also figure out if someone from your existing team can handle mail design, printing, and delivery.

These estimates will allow you to understand the scope of third-party assistance you need and how much you can pay.

Think About Your Current And Future Mailing Needs

Hiring a direct mail company is usually long-lasting cooperation, so plan ahead. Be sure to know what printing services you currently need but also keep in mind your plans for the future. If, for example, your company delivers only business mailing but will launch a mail marketing campaign soon, it’s better to pick a provider that can handle both business and marketing mail. Similarly, if you realize your mail volume will grow fast, we recommend choosing a mailing company that offers tools for automation.

Decide on the Extent of Automation

Not all mailing providers offer automation, and the software capabilities vary significantly. Some mailers still work without tech solutions, manually arranging mail printing and delivery. That’s why you should know whether you need automation from the start or partial mailing support if enough. If you decide that your company can considerably benefit from automation software, focus on providers that have it.

Choose Between Short- and Long-Term Goals

If you need to send postcards asap, you should hire someone to help you arrange printing and delivery. Yet, if you view direct mail as an essential part of your business operations, we recommend mail automation software. It will give you long-term benefits by optimizing expenses and managing direct mail at scale.

Once you complete these steps, you will understand what company best meets your needs. Then, you can go through several providers and their services offered to pick the one you like most. Inkit Send is one option to consider if you want comprehensive direct mail printing and delivery automation.

Why Inkit Send for Mail Marketing Campaigns

Inkit Send is a direct mail automation API offered within the Inkit reach enablement platform. Integrate it with marketing and CRM software to automate all mailing processes and make them trigger-based. After a quick configuration, Send will automatically initiate custom mail printing and delivery based on real-time user activity across channels. As a result, every customer will receive tailored and time-sensitive communications at the right moment.

Start for free now to test how Send works and partner with the leading mailing provider.

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