In the age of online communications, direct mailing is far from antiquated. According to statistics supplied by the Data and Marketing Association (DMA), more than 100 million sales were made in 2016 using catalogs received as part of direct mailing campaigns. Overall, the response rate for direct mailings during the same year was 5.3%.

Given the affordable cost of this type of campaign, it makes sense to include direct mailing in your advertising and marketing strategy. Here are 10 tips that will help you structure the campaign and maximize the returns.

1. Create a Profile of the Perfect Customer

Who is most likely to be interested in your product or service? Come up with a descriptive profile of the perfect customer. Consider factors such as age, gender, location, and economic status. Focusing the campaign on consumers who have the right key demographics will have a positive impact on your response rate.

2. Obtain a Qualified Mailing List
Not any old mailing list will do. You want one that is qualified. Qualified simply means the names and addresses are up to date and those consumers have indicated they are interested in receiving information about products like the ones you offer. A qualified mailing list improves the odds that your direct mail pieces will be read by recipients rather than tossed in the trash as junk mail.

3. Choose the Medium Carefully
What medium will resonate with your target audience? Would a postcard capture their interest? Perhaps a business envelope with a cover letter and a brochure would work best. Maybe a catalog will generate interest and motivate recipients to place an order. Based on what you know about your target audience, one of these mediums will be a better choice than the rest.

4. Only the Best Copy Will Do
Whatever medium you choose, the text used for the mailing pieces must be concise, easy to read, and informative. Not everyone can write engaging copy. It’s worth the expense to hire someone who knows how to write promotional and informational content. The results will engage your audience and enhance the image of your company.

5. The Format Matters
Whether you go with a brochure, catalog, or letter with inserts, the formatting makes a difference. Find the right balance of graphics, colors, fonts, and other essentials. The goal is to create a piece that is attractive, easy to scan, and motivates the recipient to keep reading to the very end.

6. Always Offer Something of Value
Include incentives for the recipient to respond to. Perhaps including a discount coupon or code will resonate with your audience. Bonus points or reward programs are worth the effort. Referral programs might motivate recipients to share what you send out with friends and neighbors. When you offer incentives the recipient sees as valuable in addition to great products, you boost your sales potential.

7. Make It Easy for Recipients to Reach You

Your copy must include opportunities for recipients to reach you without having to go through too many steps. Include a contact phone number, an email address, and a website URL. If they can reach you quickly and with little effort, the odds of making a sale are much higher.

8. Don’t Skimp When Hiring a Printer

You can have the best copy and a great layout, but it all comes crashing to the ground if the printing is poor. Go for quality and pay less attention to price. In the long run, the investment in higher quality paper and superior ink will make a better impression on the recipients.

9. Always Review the Proofs Before Authorizing the Printing
Some business owners turn in all the direct mail information to a printer and never look at the proofs. Go over them carefully and make sure everything is spaced properly, there are no spelling errors, and the included graphics convey the message you want recipients to receive. Only authorize the final printing when you are sure everything is to your liking.

10. Let the Printer Handle the Mailing
If your printer offers addressing and mailing services, make use of them. The printer has access to a bulk rate and can also manage addressing each mailing much faster than you and your employees can manage. Overall, doing so will save a lot of time, money,
and effort that you can use for other essential tasks.

Direct mailing is still one of the most cost-effective ways of reaching out to prospective customers and retaining current ones. Structure the campaign properly and make use of the resources the right printer has to offer. Doing so will ensure the returns are sufficient to cover the costs, enhance your brand, and generate net profit sooner rather than later.

Caryl Anne Crowne is a contributing writer and media specialist for Allegra Network. She often produces content for a variety of marketing and advertising blogs.