Components, Types of Mail Providers, and Pricing for Direct Mail as a Service

There is no way to survive in the modern business world alone. The ability to connect with other businesses, delegate tasks, and build relationships is essential for success. This is especially true when it comes to direct mail marketing services. According to the most recent statistics provided by Clutch, marketing campaigns are outsourced by 34% of companies, and around 52% of small businesses have prepared to outsource some of their processes this year. So why is it so popular to outsource marketing – especially, direct mail marketing, including mail printing, mailing, and design?

Effective marketing is a complex system, comprising many elements and channels. An average-size company usually cannot hire specialists and purchase equipment to fulfill all the necessary tasks. Even if it could, it would be a total waste of a marketing budget. Direct mail marketing services are particularly often transferred to a third-party mail company. It is much easier to pay someone who can design and deliver a piece of mail than to do everything manually, take mailing to a post office, and so on. Also, direct mail outsourcing allows cutting down expenditures thanks to the professional expertise of direct mail services and the use of automation tools.

These and other benefits of hiring third-party mailing providers spawned the emergence of direct mail as a service. Now direct mail marketing services are a separate field with broad capabilities for both small businesses and large enterprises. Read on to learn more about direct mail services, in particular:

  • What does direct mail as a service include?
  • What types of direct mail companies are available on the market?
  • How much does direct mail as a service cost?

What Are Direct Mail Services?

Direct mail services comprise all design, printing, delivery, and tracking processes provided by third-party mail companies. They allow you to smoothly incorporate a mail campaign into your marketing strategy with maximum results. Since mail marketing materials boast a 5 times higher response rate than paid search, email, and social media, direct mail services are one of the quickest ways to connect with your customers. They make marketing campaigns more personalized and help to go beyond the limitations of digital marketing.

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The actual scope of direct mail marketing services depends on the provider and its specialization. Some companies only offer design or printing services, whereas others can do everything. We will talk about this in more detail below.

What Does Direct Mail as a Service Include?

Before discussing direct mail as a service, let’s clarify how direct mail marketing looks.

Although a postcard is probably the most traditional piece of mail, there are many other options. You can use direct mail services to deliver flyers, catalogs, yellow letters, business cards, gift boxes, vouchers, and more. A suitable design depends on your budget and marketing goals. For example, postcards are an excellent way to greet someone with holidays or promote a special offer. Vouchers are preferred to spread the word about discounts or sales. Gift boxes, despite being quite costly, are a wonderful sign of loyalty to your beloved customers or business partners.

To please recipients with any of these mail pieces, you will need to complete several production and delivery stages. Companies that provide direct mail as a service can cover some or all of them. Generally, direct mail as a service consists of:

  • Direct Mail Service Component #1: Design Services

Design is the first inherent component of direct mail as a service. To ensure the expected reaction to mailing, you need to include the right call-to-action and eye-catching branding elements. If you have in house-designers, you can delegate this task to them and provide a third-party mail company with ready mock-ups. If you don’t, make sure to hire direct mail marketing services that offer templates or professional design help. There is also another option, in case you decide to use direct mail automation. For example, Inkit’s toolkit incorporates a custom postcard builder in which subscribers can easily create and customize ready-made templates to their liking. It’s one of the most in-demand features that can significantly simplify print marketing campaigns and accelerate your time to launch.

  • Direct Mail Service Component #2: Piece of Mail Printing

Once the design is ready and you know the exact number of copies you need, the hired direct mail services can start printing. There are several benefits of using direct mail as a service instead of going to a printing house. First, full-service mail companies cooperate with post offices and know postal standards. Every direct mail type has different sizing, which defines the final printing and mailing cost (Learn more about direct mail dimensions here). Secondly, you can find a single provider for all direct mail marketing services, and don’t waste time on coordinating every process on your own.

  • Direct Mail Service Component #3: Mail Delivery

Regardless of the direct mail service you choose, there are basically two ways to organize the delivery. You can either use mailing lists to target every recipient personally or launch location-based mailing. Every door direct mail (EDDM) is one of the most popular mailing programs based on a mailing route or a zipcode. Launched by the United States Postal Service, it doesn’t require the addresses of recipients. In this case, a direct mail as a service company just has to fill out the necessary paperwork as well as, pack, load, and deliver the mail to the post office.

For more personalized direct mail delivery, you will need to use available mailing lists offered by direct mail services or, ideally, create your own ones. Tailored mailing lists increase your chances to hit the target by sending the right marketing materials to the right people. To run such marketing campaigns, you will need to integrate a CRM system and a mail automation tool (e.g., Inkit). The tool will automatically cast customer data from the CRM to print personalized mail, launch the delivery, and track the results. Note that data-driven personalization generates a five times higher return on investment and increases sales by 10%.

These are the main components of direct mail as a service, but in practice, it includes much more. Third-party direct mail services can handle all mailing chores. Your main responsibility is to choose the most suitable mail company.

Types of Direct Mail Service Providers

There is no clear categorization of direct mail service providers. Although most of them offer design, printing, and delivery, the actual service packages and approach differ. Therefore, before hiring a mail company, you need to clearly understand your needs and expectations. Once you define what you want, it will be easier to make your choice. In some cases, you may only need help with some processes, whereas in others the full scope of printing, mailing, and design services is required.

Roughly speaking, direct mail marketing services split into the USPS, traditional, and tech-savvy direct mail services. The United States Postal Service needs no detailed introduction. It’s an independent agency of the US federal government with 617,000 workers that provide postal services in the United States. They specialize solely in mail delivery, so you will need to do everything else on your own. Traditional direct mail services, conversely, hire professional designers and own printing equipment to create mail pieces ready for mailing. They organize the delivery process based on the provided mailing lists, every door direct mail program, and so on. Such a mail company works best if you need a simple mail campaign without advanced personalization.

There is also a third category, which may be defined as tech-savvy direct mail marketing services. In this case, direct mail as a service is heavily based on automation. As you may have already guessed, Inkit is one of them. Such mail companies design specialized software that can be integrated with CRMs and other marketing platforms. This allows minimizing your role in direct mail design, printing, mailing, and tracking. In addition, you get a unique opportunity to include mail marketing in your omni-channel marketing strategy and boost your promotions. It was found that customers that interact with three marketing channels buy 2,5 times more frequently than those who use only one. Apart from sales increase, omni-channel marketing also improves customer satisfaction and cuts expenditures.

How Much Does a Direct Mail Service Cost?

The cost of direct mail marketing services ranges from $0.2 to $1 or more per piece of mail. Yet this is only the postage price. In reality, you will also need to invest in marketing copywriting, design, and printing. Besides, if you don’t have mailing lists, you will be forced to buy or rent them. As a result, according to estimations, the final direct mail marketing costs will start from $1200 for 1,000 recipients. The more recipients, the higher the price.

Hence, if your direct mail campaign isn’t a one-time whim, you should consider optimizing the process with mail automation. This will help you spend less time and effort. As a result, the cost of a piece of mail will also lower. Moreover, your mail marketing will become data-driven, allowing you to make more informed decisions and reach the target audience with a tailored message.

Want to benefit from advanced personalization and all-in-one direct mail marketing? Start using Inkit right now.

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