Direct mail marketing is making a comeback in a big way. No longer viewed as an old school approach to direct response, e-commerce brands are embracing direct mail and seeing huge returns. Mail advertising boasts a much higher response rate than social media, email marketing, and other digital channels. It is also more memorable and, in some cases, beautiful enough to make people keep it for decades. You’ve probably seen old holiday postcards that prove this.
However, marketers who are new to direct mail marketing strategies can get hung up on a few of the negatives. And the chief among them is — direct mail cost.
Many companies think that they cannot afford to allocate money for a direct mail budget. Postage rates offered by the post office, printing and mailing price, and design cost intimidate and discourage.
What these businesses don’t know is that a tech-savvy approach and a decent mail provider can significantly lower a direct mail cost. With the right approach, even small businesses can afford a mail marketing campaign. How is that possible? Discover in this article.
Direct Mail Cost. Is Direct Mail Truly Expensive?
Direct mail isn’t outrageously expensive but if you come from the digital marketing world, you might have a bit of sticker shock when shopping direct mail providers. The very thing that makes mail so effective comes at a direct mail cost. It’s tangible. It isn’t cheap to print and mail physical postcards or letters—at least not as cheap as it is to send a digital marketing message through cyberspace. Nonetheless, if you’re doing direct mail right, the investment is well worth it.
Direct mail nets response rates 10 to 30 times that of all digital channels combined, according to the Data & Marketing Association. As for ROI, US marketers sell $2,095 in goods for every $167 spent on direct mail (that’s a 1,255% return on investment).
And, with a few tricks up your sleeve you can reduce your direct mail budget.
What Is a Direct Mail Budget Made of?
The mail marketing budget depends on a series of factors, which can be manipulated to adjust it. Although some of them, such as postage rates, are less flexible, the rest allow for regulating the direct mail cost to meet your needs. Therefore, if you consider launching a direct mail campaign, keep in mind that the price is usually comprised of:
- Design services
- Copywriting cost
- Size and volume of a mail piece
- Mailing list volume
- List selection (purchased from third-parties or custom built)
- Printing quality (paper, ink, equipment, etc.)
- Chosen mail postage rate (the cost of standard and first class mailing significantly differ)
Some of these stages, such as design or copywriting, you can complete on your own. Yet remember that you shouldn’t get obsessed with cutting expenditures. The key intent of optimizing your mailing campaign is to make it more effective and, hence, profitable. This way you will increase the return on investment and get additional funds for your future marketing or direct mail budget. Check out some win-win ways to reduce direct mail cost described below.
Four Ways to Save Direct Mail Budget
Direct mail costs more than email and other digital channels, but there are many ways to keep mailing campaign costs down.
Here are 4 of our top tips to control direct mail costs.
Direct Mail Budget Tip #1: Use Built-In Direct Mail Audiences instead of Buying Lists.
You do not need to buy or rent direct mail lists anymore. They swallow a large part of your direct mail budget and aren’t tailored to your products or services. With modern direct mail marketing and mail automation, you have far superior (and much less expensive) options. Before you contact a listbroker, try these free direct mail audiences already built into your customer database. You can also check out free ways to build a direct mail list here. Besides, if you opt for Inkit’s automation tool, you will be able to cast mailing lists from an integrated CRM for automated printing and mailing. This considerably saves time and allows focusing on the managerial processes instead of taking care of the mailing hassle.
Direct Mail Budget Tip #2. Print Less to Use Direct Mail Budget More Wisely.
Without a doubt, strong targeting is the best way to control your direct mail costs and ensure success. So, make sure you aren’t paying for the production or postage of direct mail postcards for anyone who has no need or interest in what you’re offering. There is generally no benefit for casting too wide of a net.
Traditional direct mail vendors might require you to mail unnecessarily large batch sizes, but Inkit enforces no minimum on its customers. You can use our mail automation platform to mail a single postcard—in fact, many of our customers sync Inkit with their CRMs and mail based on events and direct mail triggers. As such, their mailings are highly targeted and may even mail on a one-off basis. No ready-made lists can offer the same level of personalization and quick real-time response. Find out if your CRM has a direct mail integration with us here.
Direct Mail Budget Tip #3. Test Concepts Before Jumping on Direct Mail Trends.
This tip holds true for any marketing channel. Before you invest a significant amount of money in a direct mail campaign, make sure you’ve developed proof of concept.
You don’t have to jump on the latest trends—such as colors that supposedly convert or larger (read: more expensive) postcards for higher impact—without testing them first. With a sophisticated direct mail CRM tool like Inkit, you can run A/B tests so you know what works before you go all in. Inkit also supports a custom postcard builder with a user-friendly interface. Even a person without experience in design can easily customize the look of postcards, experiment with fonts, colors, and images. Thanks to this, you won’t need to hire a designer to create convincing mail pieces, which will additionality help you save.
We also recommend that just like with email and social, you continually track your campaigns and refine them over time as audience preferences evolve.
Direct Mail Budget Tip #4. Choose a MarTech Mail Service to Optimize Direct Mail Cost
To save money, you’ve got to save time. In the traditional offline direct mail process, it takes weeks if not months to go from concept to mailbox. To significantly shorten the production timeline and get mail out in a timely manner (while still relevant), you need direct mail software that plays well with marketing automation platforms. With Inkit, we print and mail your postcards almost as soon as you hit send. There is no extensive set-up and proofing process. It is truly as easy as sending or triggering an email on your side of things. This quick production allows you to send mail to the customer at the right moment, which can greatly improve your conversion rate and ROI.
Ready to Save Money on Direct Mail?
As you can see, when done well, direct mail is actually a very cost-effective channel to reach your customers. You can lower direct mail costs and maximize your ROI by using built-in direct mail audiences, refined targeting, a/b testing, and having the right direct mail partner.
To learn more about how Inkit can help you save money on direct mail, demo our direct mail software here.