As marketing has become increasingly digital-focused, some organizations have written off direct mail as a channel of the past. But as our email inboxes become more crowded than our physical ones, direct mail is undergoing a transformation into an entirely new and hyper-targeted resource.


There's no substitute for getting your marketing materials directly into the homes and offices of your potential customers. In fact, according to the USPS, 79 percent of consumers find reading mail more convenient than going online. The potential to yield a new or returning customer base by using direct mail as a key touchpoint is massive.


However, as anyone running a business knows, budgets are limited, and it's critical to get the maximum ROI out of every marketing campaign, especially during the crowded holiday season. And for direct mail, that means getting the best quality materials into the hands of the perfect customers. We are currently experiencing peak mailing season for retailers and catalogues as well as non-profit groups looking to fundraise, so competition for real estate in the mailbox can be tough. However, by following a few simple tips, organizations can ensure they are getting the most bang for their buck!


Based on my experience working with a diverse range of companies utilizing direct mail to drive their businesses, I've identified the top three tips for executing a successful direct mail campaign:


1.      Develop a Plan: Direct mail campaigns cannot be executed on the fly. It's important to identify the end goal before embarking on a direct mail campaign. Keep that goal in mind throughout the process to help align the objective and strategy. You need a plan for design, copy printing, and mailing, as well as for making sure the digital infrastructure is in place to let customers act once they receive your mail.


Additionally, direct mail campaigns can't exist in a vacuum. Over the past decade, as different marketing channels have gone in and out of vogue, it's become increasingly clear that organizations need to adopt a multichannel strategy that use a series of touchpoints to reach each customer. Direct mail is a great way to introduce your business to new targets and has shown major success in engaging consumers.


In fact, the U.S. Postal Service showed a 163 percent revenue lift for websites supported by catalogs, and demonstrated that more than 60 percent of catalog recipients were influenced to visit the featured company's website. It is a natural progression to receive a mailer and then visit the associated website, proving that while direct mail is a great starting point, it has to be a part of a comprehensive marketing mix.


2.      Personalize Everything: Each aspect of a direct mail campaign should be personalized, from the messaging to the infographics. When I meet with clients, I stress this is a crucial element in the success of their campaigns. Customers are far more likely to act on the mail they receive if it is tailored to them. Carefully analyze your customer insights to determine who you should target and why they are a fit for your product or service. Consider what the ideal call-to-action will be for those customers, and what their experience will be from the moment the mail arrives in their mailbox until they make the purchase (or even when they make their next purchase!).


If you can tailor your campaign to a finely-tuned audience, you will not only have a better response and conversion rate, but you will turn those respondents into repeat customers. The time you take in personalizing a campaign provides a significant return on your investment.


3.      Get your Mailing Lists in Order: Once you know who your audience is, put together a top-notch mailing list to make sure your campaign reaches those people. A critical element in any direct mail campaign is getting your materials into the hands and homes of your ideal customer.


The saying "quality over quantity" can easily be applied to direct mail. Focus on your audience rather than optimizing for volume, and leverage automated workflow solutions to pinpoint the right potential customers.  Novitex's Connect solution lets marketers create a target list based on extraordinarily specific data and demographics, and reach potential customers through multiple channels. Use an automated solution like this to simplify the process and help you reach the most relevant people for your product or service.


Not only will streamlined mailing lists ensure your message reaches the right person, it will also limit the amount of return mail received, ultimately cutting costs. Return mail is a major challenge for many businesses across all industries, and as I noted in my last article "The True Economic Impact of Return Mail," Novitex data reveals that return mail costs an average of $3 per piece in operational costs, including postage and printing, handling, research, re-mailing and related processes (which equates to $4.3 billion in operational costs that the mailing industry absorbs each year for First-Class Mail alone!). All the more reason to ensure your mailing list is up to date.

Christine J. Erna, Six Sigma Green Belt, AQS, MDP, is Senior Postal Solutions Architect, Novitex. Contact her at