Is Direct Mail Dead?

The USPS has been raising postage rates consistently for the last few decades. Email is quick and (almost) free. So, should you still include snail mail marketing in your marketing plan? Yes!

But. Like all marketing efforts, direct mail marketing is only effective when it is:

  1. Targeted
  2. Personalized
  3. Well-executed
  4. Part of a complete campaign


Effective marketing starts with a clearly defined target audience, with distinct definitions and qualifiers. If you’re buying a list for your direct mail effort, make sure the list is shaped by your ideal customer, rather than letting the list define your customer for you. Lists can be extremely specific, so however you acquire a new list, be sure to ask what characteristics can be customized and be clear on which markers are important to you. Some examples might include:


    • Zip+4:  if you’re trying BJG Consuto reach a geographic audience (ie: you have a local store or shop and want to drive traffic, or you want to bring people to a local event)
    • Length of home ownership and home equity can tell you quite a bit about the homeowners, including whether they’re likely to consider selling, it they have children (and potentially the age of any kids), and a general idea of income
    • Income: depending on the source of the list, you may be able to get actual estimated or reported income numbers
    • Age, etc.


Any good print shop can do a serialized run of postcards, letters or envelopes so each piece of mail is addressed to the homeowner(s). If you’re using a zip code-based list, this may not apply, but you can still appeal to “Parents of Forest Hills!” or “Dog Lovers of Sammamish” if you don’t have the recipients’ names.



Quality matters when it comes to print collateral like direct mail. The design, copy (written content), call to action (CTA), and print quality all influence response to the mail piece–but you have almost no way of knowing if one aspect did not resonate with the recipient. Avoid pre-designed options from big, cheap online shops. Chances are, your target audience has seen them before and the print quality is rarely as high as it should be. More importantly, those designs are generalized, rather than created specifically to support your business, content, and CTA.


Complete Campaign

Say you send out 1,000 direct mailers. How will you know if they were effective? Unless you’ve built a complete campaign around the mailers, you won’t know. Most people don’t remember exactly how they found out about a business, service or product–often because they’ve actually encountered it in more than one way. Directing people to a landing page with a custom URL is one way to track your direct mail reach. Integrating a social media or SEO campaign to reach the same geographic or demographic audience is another excellent way to increase the effectiveness of direct mail, as well as to potentially get an answer to “How did you hear about us?”

Direct mail is far from dead. If you’d like to learn more about using direct mail as an effective piece of your marketing outreach strategy, let’s talk!