Tag Archives: Direct Mail

Direct Mail – DOs and DON’Ts

Direct Mail image

I received a direct mail piece the other day. Yes – People are still doing it!!  It was a very nondescript piece of mail.  I only opened it because I am intrigued by all types of marketing, both good and bad.  This one was bad.  It always amazes me that people spend good money on such bad efforts.  Perhaps it is becoming a lost art, because I do notice a significant amount of “bad” direct mail.  Also noticeable is the decline in the volume of direct mail pieces I receive. The US Post Office is experiencing this same phenomenon.  There is an article about it in the New York Times today.  An excerpt appears below:

. . .mail volume, particularly first-class mail, has dropped sharply, to 168 billion pieces in 2011 from a peak of 213 billion in 2006, because of vast changes in the way Americans communicate, move money and even buy books and music.”

Despite this decline, direct mail can still be an effective marketing tool – if you do it wisely.  In fact – since mail volume is down 21% as mentioned in the article, there is less clutter for you to fight thru in your DM efforts.  So what should you do and not do with direct mail?


  • DO add some dimension to your mailer.  ANYTHING that moves from a flat letter to something that makes people wonder “what is in here” will increase your chances of getting it opened.
  • DO hand sign the letters if at all possible.  People can tell if a letter is hand signed.
  • DO have the envelope hand-written.  This makes the effort tougher – but has a GIANT impact on getting it opened.
  • DO send the mailers first class.  When you send them bulk, it suggests you don’t care about the recipient and you are going for cheap.
  • DO include an offer.  Free sample, free trial, coupon, etc.  Something that compels the recipient to action.


  • DON’T use white envelopes.  very BLAH
  • DON’T mail cheap collateral.  The mailer I received that prompted this post had very cheap paper and a poorly written “brochure”.  Remember, you are trying to impress people!
  • DON’T use a postage meter.  Use a stamp – it makes it more personal.
  • DON’T even think about sending the mailer en masse without testing.  Remember the “genius” formula:  Test, measure, refine, retest, retest.

If you follow these basics, you can dramatically improve your direct mail efforts with some simple tweaking.  Think of yourself as the recipient of the mailer:  Would you open it?