Direct Mail vs. Junk Mail: How To Use Your Mailings Effectively

junk mail vs direct mail


junk mail vs direct mail

Once a week everyone receives the not so worthwhile junk mail full of overlapping advertisements addressed to “Our Valued Customer.” If you want your customer to feel valued and you want to get a good return on your money, you need to take a few minutes and think about a few key factors that will keep your direct mail efforts from becoming junk mail.

As part of the brainstorming process, consider some of the following tips and come up with a game plan before spending money on your next direct mailer.

1. Audience

Who are you marketing to with this mailer? Without a defined audience, you might as well be throwing your money out of a moving car. Your audience will determine 90% of your marketing strategy. They determine your message, purpose, design, and much more.

2. Message

You have always heard that it’s not what you say, but how you say it. This is even more true when it comes to a direct mail campaign. Depending on your design and medium, you may be limited on space, therefore you must be concise. Think about the junk mail you get. If it has too much reading and no attention grabbing visuals, are you likely to read it? Probably not.

Before printing your materials, proofread your draft over and over again. In the world of auto-correcting technology, you have to pay extra close attention to your draft. Typos can ruin your reputation as a business or confuse your customer. There is a difference between “Prescription Delivery for Fee” and “Prescription Delivery for Free”.

3. What are you trying to accomplish?

An important part of any marketing is to determine what goal you are looking to accomplish. Is this mailer for customer retention, attracting new customers, or advertising your new location?

4. Design

Looking back at your audience and your message, what is going to be the most engaging way to design this mailer. Maybe you can create a theme based on your product or service. For example: You run a tanning salon, and you’re looking to capitalize on the upcoming spring breakers. Theme your mailer around a trip to the beach. It will help relate your message to the customer and convince them that they need what you offer.

5. Printed Incentives

Whether you’re attracting new customers or retaining loyal customers, printed incentives can help make your direct mailer an effective piece of marketing. When considering incentives, first think about what your customer is worth. Can you afford to give a free large pizza to 10,000 people if they all take you up on your offer?

6. How will you follow up?

So you are about to spend a pretty penny on your well designed, well planned out mailer. How will you determine whether or not it was effective and worth that shiny penny? Before dropping off the postcards at the post office, have a plan for follow up.

One way for follow up is keeping track of your coupons. You may have offered 10% off your new service if the customer brings in the postcard you just sent. When they bring in the coupon, keep tabs on it. At the end of your promotion, tally up the results and evaluate the value of doing this promotion again.

You can also give a call to action in your mailer. Include in your message things like, “Like us on Facebook” or “Share your thoughts on Yelp!” to see the results of your mailing efforts.

7. What can you afford?

Unfortunately money is a large, sometimes limiting, factor in any form of marketing. I always recommend thinking large first and then scaling it back to fit your budget. Brainstorm what you would like to do, given you have the money, and then make it happen with what you can afford.

8. Involve the customer

Use this mailer to drive increased traffic on your website, Facebook, or Twitter page. The more people you have viewing your website or Facebook page, the more FREE marketing you can do. It’s much more cost effective to update your Facebook status with your new

While augmented reality is ever-growing and absolutely the next big thing, QR codes are still a great way to utilize space and generate customer response.

special than to send 3,000 newsletters at $0.45 a piece.

The newest and most relevant way to immediately involve the reader (while simultaneously getting traffic) is by adding a call-to-action through the implementation of a augmented reality, which encourages the reader to pull out their ever-present mobile device, scan the page, and be redirected to your site or  social media platform of choice for bonus content. (Think videos, contests, promotions and more.) This not only is an excellent and easy to get web traffic, but it also allows you to incorporate content that you couldn’t include on the mailer alone and ensures that the reader is directed to precisely the right part of your website.

Or alternately, you can still incorporate an older form of technology, the  QR code, on your mailer. Much like augmented reality, QR codes allow your customer to connect with you using their smart phone, linking them directly to a particular part of your website or straight to your Facebook page.

9. Timing is everything

When you buy clothes, you buy them according to the season- jackets in the winter, shorts in the summer. This is relevant to your company too. Selling frozen yogurt during the summer may be a walk in the park, but may be more difficult when it’s cold outside. Therefore, it would make sense for a frozen yogurt shop to develop a strong customer base through a direct mailer during the summer time and not in the winter months.

10. What are the comps doing?

To gain a competitive advantage, consider what your competitors are doing. Another store may offer a similar product or service for $5 more than your current price. Seize this opportunity to advertise your potential for saving their customer money.

Similarly, if you’re looking to host a grand opening or new store location, you want to make sure that your business isn’t doing it so close to another competitor.s grand opening. You want the customers’ full and undivided attention.

11. Format

The layout and overall format of your direct mail is critical. This can often be determined by several factors. For example, what can you afford to do, how much space do you need, what is your purpose?

If you’re a new start up and your budget is tight, a smaller publication is probably best. One, it will save you money on printing, but it will also save you on postage- it adds up quickly when mailing thousands of people. You can consider sending a postcard, flyer, or newsletter-type mailer. It all depends on your needs and budget.


Although there isn’t a fail-safe way to guarantee that everyone will read your mailer and in turn purchase your product, it helps to consider a lot of the small details to make it as effective as possible.

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