Research shows direct mail to be a cost-effective means of promoting a business and generating revenue. Direct mail strikes a balance between effectiveness and cost—it is significantly less expensive than methods such as direct-response television ads and telephone solicitation, while it generates more responses than e-mail, magazine, newspaper, and radio ads. It is also more effective than e-mail, newspaper, and radio ads when it comes to generating traffic at a business establishment or even a website.

Direct mail can be thought of as an alternative communication tool, but for real increases in effectiveness, direct mail should coordinate with and enhance your existing marketing strategies. Direct mail can point a recipient to your website, or it can introduce or reinforce a message the contact might see on your website or in an e-mail. Using a multi-channel approach increases the effectiveness of all your messages or marketing efforts.

What direct mail does best is offer a lot of return on your investment. It may be more expensive than e-mail, but when used efficiently, and especially when integrated with other communication strategies, it can bring a good return on your investment.

If you’re going to employ mailing services effectively, you need to make sure you’re getting the maximum impact for a minimal cost. That means making sure your mailing goes to a specifically targeted audience and getting any available discounts to reduce your postage costs. It means finding a partner who can help produce and send your mailing, and it means learning what questions to ask your partner to make sure your relationship starts on the right foot.

The communications world is always evolving and new strategies are constantly being developed, and through all these changes direct mail has remained an important communications tool. Direct mail offers a better cost per response ratio than other forms of advertising and communication, and it can be a powerful way to help you enhance your brand. If you are considering integrating direct mail into your communications strategy, here are some of the questions you should consider in designing your mailing and finding the right mailing services partner. Answering these questions will give you the information you need to easily obtain an estimate of what you will pay for the mailing services you want.

What Can I Send Through Direct Mail?

While direct mail is an efficient advertising tool, it can serve purposes beyond that. Among other options, your business could employ direct mail to do the following:

  • Send out a newsletter informing your customers, members, or constituents about your activities;
  • Keep your members informed when new members join your organization;
  • Mail invoices to large groups.
  • Send bulletins or notices about changes at your organization, such as rate changes.

A business’s first job is to decide what it wants to communicate. Maybe it’s the announcement of a new product or service, or news of a special promotional offer, or a calendar of upcoming events. It could be as brief as an image with a few sentences attached, or it could be a multi-page full color brochure with plenty of text.

Once you’ve decided on your message, you then need to select the right format for your mailing. Direct mail can take different forms:

  • Postcards that can quickly deliver a concise amount of information;
  • Envelopes containing letters, brochures, return envelopes, or any other content you feel is appropriate;
  • Folded brochures in a variety of sizes with the recipient’s address printed directly on the brochure (“self-mailers”);
  • Posters or other materials sent in tube mailers;
  • Or whatever form fits your needs!

Your decision should be based on your strategy. A postcard (an option that can save you money) is good for making a quick impact and can be used to refer your contacts to places where they can get more information, like websites or business locations. Envelopes can contain a whole packet of information, with individual letters and brochures summarizing your message, addressing your contact in a personal, customized way, and offering more detail about the message you wish to communicate. Brochures more commonly known as self-mailers can be used for any number of approaches, from informational brochures to newsletters to calendars of events