25 Best Direct Mail Ideas For Your Business With Examples
Direct mail is one of the oldest forms of marketing and yet, businesses across different spectrums still love using direct mail campaigns. On the other hand, there are also marketers and business owners who rely entirely on digital marketing campaigns. The latter can’t seem to understand the true potential of creative direct mail advertising.
Maybe these stats can help you understand the potential of direct mail for marketing your business.
“Direct mail achieves a 4.4% response rate, compared to 0.12% for email.” – Forbes
But since you are here, reading an article on best direct mail ideas, it is safe to assume that you are at least intrigued by direct mail. And if you are a marketer, you would also know that no marketing effort is ever as easy as you think.
No marketing effort can succeed without the right tools and effective strategy. We have created a list of the most creative direct mail advertising strategies to help you reach your marketing goals.
Here are 25 of the best direct mail ideas you can use to boost engagement and conversion rates for your business.
#1 Benefits Over Features
Hello Fresh’s self-mailer is one of the best direct mail ideas that prove you don’t need to get flashy or complex material for successful marketing. They used the basic idea of giving the audience what they want in their marketing self-mailer.
Instead of going on and on about their features, Hello Fresh highlighted the customer’s benefits on their mailer. Such a piece of creative direct mail advertising appeals to the customer’s needs and forms an instant connection with the right audience.
#2 Use BIG Images
Another surprisingly simple yet effective direct mail format you can use for your business is BIG images. We say BIG and not big to emphasize the extra large image size. Take a look at this example of this self-mailer from United Healthcare.
There is a reason why we say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And United Healthcare does just that with this self-mailer for their virtual visits. The picture is big and hence, easily understandable. As you can see, it quickly conveys what the mailer is about and does not keep the audience guessing.
#3 Involve The Audience With Product Samples
Sending product samples may seem like an old-school marketing method. However, it is still the best advertising mail format to involve the audience in your campaign and introduce your product/brand. It is a perfect way for companies in the cosmetic industry to harness a wider audience.
Function Of Beauty is a company that used this strategy for marketing its customizable hair care products. Scent strips, sachet packets, etc., are easy and convenient ways to send product samples to your audience.
Similarly, we had helped a few clients implement product sample-based direct mail campaigns even when they did not have a physical product. We used a simple QR Code in the direct mail to help our client’s audience to demo their digital product. Similarly, you can employ the same direct mail format to provide a “sample” of subscription-based products.
#4 Use Checklists As Involvement Device
Another great way to convey what your business organization has to offer the customers is to include a checklist in your direct mail. Take a look at this creative direct mail advertising mailer from PNC investments, for example.
As you can see from the image above, PNC Investments gives a checklist of everything an investor requires. It effectively explains what the company can do for its clients and provides a fair idea of what the client can expect from PNC Investments.
#5 Use Quiz As Involvement Device
Besides checklists, you can also use interactive quizzes as an effective tool to boost involvement with your direct mail. Try placing the quiz on the outer envelope as seen in this Harvard Heart Letter newsletter, a Grand Control. It is a surprisingly efficient advertising mail format for your business mailers.
As you can see, the quiz gives the reader something to think about and practically intrigues them into opening the envelope. As long as you can target your marketing efforts accurately, this direct mail format will yield positive results.
#6 Use a Question As The Headline
You can try using a direct mail format that includes a question as the heading like the one you see below. Unlike what you may think, questions work better when you place them in the title than anywhere else.
Relax The Back – a bed retailer does a stellar job in attracting their audience with a hooking question in the above direct mail. The best direct mail ideas use simple and inexpensive strategies like this to get the desired results.
#7 Establish Your Online Expertise
Although direct mail itself is an offline tool, the truth is that your business can’t grow without a solid online presence. The typical customer expects your business to be accessible through different online channels. Hence, you must establish your online presence in your direct mail format.
Look at this advertising mail format Wine.com used on their marketing postcard. You can see how the mailer informs the reader about their app and its availability in Apple App Store and Google Play store. Similarly, you can also provide links to your social media handles, website URL, etc.
Here is something our CEO told us about QR codes in direct marketing during an open discussion:
“We have helped numerous clients to boost their online engagements like QR codes. Think about it, would you rather scan a QR code in the direct mail, or would go to the trouble of opening a browser and typing in a URL? Yes, with the right offer the latter is possible but our goal is to maximize engagements. And if there is one thing I have learned it is that the easiest way to drive action is to make the action easier!”
#8 Use Familiar Branding
Another one of the best direct mail ideas you can use for your business is branding the target audience is familiar with. Companies often use their branding images from TV or other media to make their marketing mail stand out.
Take the direct mail format above, for example. Using a branding image that your target audience is already familiar with helps you make a more substantial impact on the audience. Your brand is easier to identify if the customer is already aware of the image on direct mail.
#9 Use Direct Mail To Welcome Customers
You may also consider using a direct mail format to welcome a new customer. Of course, you could do the same with an email or even a text message, but they are not very personal. On the other hand, a personalized and feasible welcome letter helps your customers feel valued.
The welcome letter from Asurion is one of the best direct mail marketing examples which welcomes new customers. Even here, you can see that the company first highlights the customer’s benefits. Besides that, the mailer walks the reader through the significant services and capabilities of the company.
#10 Feature Positive Customer Testimonials
There is nothing and no one a prospective customer trusts more than a stranger posting a review for a product/service. We are all guilty of doing it at some point. But the key takeaway here is that using customer testimonials could be one of the best direct mail ideas for your company.
Consider this direct mail format from The Florida Gulf Coast University, for instance. The mailer does an excellent job of showcasing the organization’s role in the lives of individuals. Like in this case, the mailer conveys how the donations received by the university helped their students.
And in our experience, including testimonials in the direct mail format is highly efficient, especially for non-profits. Of course, that is just one of the many strategies we implement for non-profits.
#11 Offer FREE Products And Service
Offering free products and services in your direct mail campaigns is not a new concept in marketing. Business organizations have used this strategy forever. And let us tell you something, business organizations will continue to use this advertising mail format for the years to come.
In the example above, you can see Estee Lauder offering gifts free of cost to their customers. Similarly, you can provide free online services to your customers too. You must include a QR Code that the customer can scan to access FREE gifts or rewards.
#12 Tap Into The Customer's Emotion
Did you ever wonder why creative direct mail campaigns are still in high demand despite it being an age-old marketing strategy? The primary reason direct mail campaigns still enjoy a high open and response rate is their ability to create an emotional effect.
Humans are emotional beings, and we often tend to put feelings over facts. It is the basic concept you need to understand to tap into the customer’s emotions. Of course, as humans, we go through a spectrum of emotions in our lives, but driving action only requires targeting 7 of them.
Successfully tapping into any of these emotions will allow you to intrigue your customer regardless of your direct mail format.
#13 Use Magnets As Promotional Product
Several of our clients come to us looking for ways to make their marketing message last longer in the customer’s mind. There are several direct mail examples you can refer to for accomplishing this. But, our favourite solution is to use magnets as a promotional product.
Some of you may find this hard to believe. But, including a small magnetic marketing piece in your mailer can help you acquire new customers and retain existing ones. Organizations like the American Psychological Association use a magnet for membership renewals in their direct mail format.
Every home uses its refrigerator door to house all sorts of things, such as recipes, to-do lists, etc. And the customer can use the magnetic piece you send to hand all of them. In other words, the customer ends up interacting with your brand daily. What more can you ask from creative direct mail advertising?
#14 Use Handwritten Direct Mail Format
Using a handwritten mailer is one of the best direct mail ideas you can use for your business. However, it comes with its fair share of challenges. Imagine manually writing or even signing hundreds or thousands of direct mail. But luckily for you, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Our advanced direct mail solution provides you with advanced capabilities, including various handwriting fonts. PostGrid implements the best direct mail ideas for your business by offering custom-made direct mail solutions.
Take a look at this handwritten direct mail from City Union Mission, for example. It immediately stands out from the rest of the mailer and shows the customer that you put thought into the letter. Furthermore, you can use special printers that use software solutions to guide the pen plotter to create more authentic-looking handwritten notes and letters.
#15 Use Referral Programs
Referral programs are one of the best direct mail ideas for your business if you want to use direct mail to expand your customer base. You may know referral programs by the name friend-get-a-friend or member-get-a-member.
It is a marketing strategy that leverages your good relationship with your customers to target their friends and family. Referral programs are not new, and their primary challenge is getting the customer to open and read your offer. The direct mail format comes into the picture here.
“Direct mail open rates can reach up to 90%.” – Fundera
With such a high open rate, more of your customers are likely to know about your referral program. As a result, participation also increases significantly. Energy provider Reliant’s direct mail format should give you an idea of what your referral mail should look like.
#16 Use Headline in Johnson Box
For those new to direct mail campaigns, a Johnson Box is a common practice in marketing mailers. It contains the key message of your direct mail and highlights it separately to draw the reader’s attention. Using this direct mail format increases the likelihood of the audience reading the rest of the mail.
Consider the business letter from BJ’s Wholesale Club, for example. Here, you can notice that your attention directly goes to the headline. With accurate targeting and a relevant headline, you can intrigue the reader to check the rest of the mail.
#17 Use The Word "You"
Using the word “You” and personally addressing the audience is one of the best direct mail ideas to enhance your interaction with customers. You may not know this, but simply using the word “You” appropriately in your communications can help you significantly on your sales pitch.
Direct mail itself is a personal communication channel. And addressing your customer as “you” enhances the unique nature of your mail. So, the next time you want to create a template for one of your business mail, make sure to use this direct mail format.
#18 Use Personalized Maps
Another interactive way to boost your direct mail engagements is using personalized maps in them. There are several advantages to printing customized maps in your direct mail format. One advantage is that maps are more interactive, and the reader will likely check them out of curiosity.
Companies prefer to use Variable Data Printing or VDP for printing customized maps in direct mail. It makes the whole process much more straightforward and eliminates errors. Marketers and business owners from the retail and eCommerce industry often use customized maps in their direct mail format.
We have helped several clients set up a VDP process using our fully automated direct mail solution. PostGrid for eCommerce offers advanced solutions that let companies send fully personalized mailers, including customized maps. The example above lets you get a comprehensive picture of the direct mail format containing a personalized map.
#19 Extra BIG Font
The simplest way to grab your target audience’s attention with a direct mail format is to use the extra big font. Using different large fonts could mean less space for your content. In other words, you got to make use of the best use of the limited space you have when you use extra large fonts.
Take the direct mail example of Healthy Directions. You can also use extra big fonts that cover a significant portion of your envelope. However, you should ensure that the big font you use is relevant to the offer you are pitching in your mailer.
#20 Use Infographics
If you want to make your direct mail seem more attractive and convey your message effectively, using infographics is an option you should consider. Infographics are easy to understand and communicate the most information to your audience, making them one of the best direct mail ideas for your business.
You can use attractive colours to make your direct mail look brighter or use your brand’s colour scheme. Infographics simplify complex ideas and explain statistical data in a way that all your audience can understand.
Take a look at this infographic from an American Express campaign in 2020. You can see how they skillfully placed the relevant numbers and illustrations to drive their point. Using similar creative direct mail advertising, you can convey more data without making your mailer look dull.
#21 Use Jokes And Puns
Who doesn’t like some light-hearted jokes and puns to brighten up their day? It is high time businesses stop sticking to the same old routines and patterns. Incorporating some jokes or puns in your advertising mail format is an excellent way to enhance the quality of your correspondence with the customer.
Take the example of this advertising mail format of a direct mail from Neopost. Here, you can see that they used a simple pun about matches. While such jokes probably won’t have your customer laughing without a breath, they can still bring a smile to their faces. And if you can accomplish that much, you will at least create a good impression on your prospects.
#22 Get Creative With Your Envelopes
Businesses often get so caught up in their direct mail that they often forget or overlook the envelopes they come inside. It doesn’t matter if you have the world’s best direct mail inside an envelope if it never gets opened. Hence, you must factor in the envelope when deciding on your advertising mail format.
This direct mail envelope from Logies Junior is a perfect example of creative direct mail advertising. Logies Junior is a window cleaning company. The company used a window envelope and added an image of a person cleaning the “window!”
It is also worth mentioning that printing on envelopes is also ideal for your other communication. For example, a hospital should print envelopes with the brand logo or colours so the recipient can quickly identify them. Doing so ensures that your mailer does not get thrown away without opening.
#23 Use Pop-Up Cards/Books
As kids, we all enjoyed turning the pages of a pop-up book, and we’d spend hours just looking at them. If you think about it, we still want them as adults. We may not spend hours marvelling over the pop-up and examining its detail. But it is one of the cool direct mail formats that everyone loves.
IKEA is famous for some of the most creative and best direct mail ideas, and they have some beautiful pop-up cards/books. You can also use a similar approach for your business marketing. However, it is worth noting that the finishing process involved in such mailers is complex. Hence, our best bet is to pick a printer specializing in pop-up printing materials.
#24 Postcards For Birthdays And Special Occasions
You know how important a direct mail message is and how it can influence how a customer responds. However, direct mail is not all about the marketing message. The timing of your creative direct mail campaigns is just as important as the message.
The best time to send a personalized postcard to the customer is for their birthday or other special occasions. Sending a customized postcard on your customer’s birthday is not merely a nice gesture. It shows thoughtfulness and how you value your customers. Hence, it is one of the best direct mail ideas for retaining customers and boosting brand loyalty.
#25 Use Loyalty Rewards
Using direct mail to keep your loyal customers engaged using new offers is one of the best direct mail ideas for your business. Direct mail has a high open and response rate, and people love getting freebies and discounts.
So, it should be easy to understand why direct mail and loyalty rewards are a good match for each other. Consider the following direct mail from 1-800-PetMeds for a minute. It offers a 30% discount and free shipping for all future orders. And to top it all off, it is personalized with the customer’s name and their pet.
Several of our clients come to us seeking help in implementing postcard marketing campaigns for their businesses. And most of them are concerned about how we plan on implementing postcard personalization and here is what our Sales Head tells our clients
“Sending a similar postcard for your business is easy if you have PostGrid’s direct mail system. Our direct mail solution allows you to use a template and personalize your mailers. And we can promise you a zero-error direct mail process because you can connect PostGrid directly to your CRM. Our automated system uses the data directly from the CRM so there is no scope of error in PostGrid’s direct mail personalization.”
In other words, PostGrid can your best direct mail ideas to life using our automated solution.
Above we saw 25 of the best direct mail ideas for your business. The market size of the Direct Mail Advertising industry in Canada is $1.3bn, and it is still growing. It means grabbing the customer’s attention is no longer an easy game, even when using a highly efficient channel like direct mail.
The strategies we discussed above show how vital it is to implement creative direct mail advertising ideas for your business. However, every direct mail idea we discussed requires you to have an advanced direct mail system like PostGrid to back it up.
It doesn’t matter if you want to send a personalized birthday card or the QR codes to a personal discount coupon. You will need an automated direct mail tool like PostGrid to implement your business’s best direct mail ideas.
PostGrid offers a quick and easy direct mail process for companies saving them valuable time and resources. The automated system takes care of everything from personalizing your letters to delivering them to your target audience. Hence, companies must ensure they have a tool like PostGrid to support their creative direct mail campaigns.