Tips on How to Run a Direct Mail Campaign

thinking about mail

Beginning any new advertising venture for your brand or business can be intimidating. After all, you’re putting a lot of planning, effort, and energy into designing and implementing your campaign, and you want to see those efforts pay off in results.

Among advertising options, direct mail marketing campaigns are popular, time-tested, and can be a boost to your business. They’re relatively simple, they yield results, raise brand awareness, and they’re compatible with any modern, digital marketing strategy.

Although direct mail campaigns can seem like simple endeavors, it can nevertheless be tricky to know where to begin. If you’ve recently started a direct mail advertising campaign or are thinking about beginning one, you may have many questions. Luckily, we’re here to provide you with all the information you need to run a successful and lucrative targeted direct mail campaign. 

Read on to find out how to create a direct mail campaign.

How Does a Direct Mail Campaign Work?

Direct mail marketing is an advertising method that sends materials directly to consumers through a mail service like the United States Postal Service. Postcards, catalogs, foldouts, coupons, and business postcards are just a few of the most common direct mailing campaign materials.

But how does it work exactly? 

Generally speaking, the process is fairly straightforward and relatively simple. To start, digital marketers begin with a target list of new and/or existing customers and send out the mailers. These mailers can take a variety of forms, from simple to extravagant, but it’s standard for them to include at least the following elements:

Running a Direct Mail Campaign: A Step-By-Step Guide

Beyond the basic elements, direct mail campaigns can contain as much or as little information as you want. They can also be as elaborately or simply designed as you choose. In fact, their versatility and options for creativity are some of their most appealing benefits. 

That said, there are still some things you should know about direct mail marketing before embarking on your own campaign. Here’s how to run a direct mail campaign.

Step 1: Audience is Everything 

The critical first step to planning your direct mail campaign is identifying your target audience. These are the names and addresses you’ll add to your mailing list, the consumers who will end up receiving your direct mail piece. 

Having a clear idea of your target audience is absolutely key. Once you factor in the potential return on your investment offered by direct mail campaigns and their ability to reach consumers, direct mail campaigns can be often more cost-effective than other advertising methods. By devising a sound mailing list, you can further maximize your profits and cut down on lost investments. 

To do so, make sure you do the following:

Step 2: Test Your Campaign

Before diving headfirst into launching your campaign, it’s a good idea to perform a few test runs. Not only can this help you get a read on any creative or offer tests you’re running, but it can also give you insight into how successful your campaign will be at converting consumers to customers at a higher scale and investment

It’s important to know how many recipients of your campaigns are looking at your mailers. The best way to implement such a test is to make sure that your campaign includes a way to track performance in terms of engagement and response rate. 

This can be:

Once you’ve done an initial test run (or two!), you’ll have a better idea of how you can expect your campaign to perform. You can also identify areas that could use refinement and plan a more effective campaign.

Step 3: Craft a Call To Action (CTA)

After the logistical considerations of devising a direct mail campaign strategy, the most important facet of the project is the Call to Action or CTA. This is where you let the customer know what action you want them to take, whether that’s calling a number, visiting a website, or placing an order. 

When it comes to your direct mail campaign’s CTA, simplicity is key. You want to make it as easy as possible for customers to both understand what you’re asking them to do and to then do it. 

This means you don’t have to overthink your CTA. Common—and effective—CTAs can be something like:

The specific CTA that’s right for your campaign will depend upon your brand, product, and target audience, so be sure to keep this in mind when doing your preliminary research. You should also learn how to write direct mail copy that sells.

Step 4: Provide an Incentive

To encourage your customer to actually take the action you’re presenting, providing some sort of incentive can go a long way. It can also help to set you apart from other businesses that might be fighting for your audience’s attention. 

While well-written copy and engaging visuals are a must, leading with a strong offer can make your call to action more difficult for them to resist. Consider incorporating one or more of the following:

At the end of the day, these tactics can help you to make a good impression on your prospective customer and give them a compelling reason to make a purchase, join your mailing list, or simply follow your brand. Because even if they don’t bite right away, they won’t be able to resist that good deal forever. 

Step 5: Proofread

As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. When putting together your direct mail campaign, keep in mind that the mailer a consumer pulls out of their mailbox is that impression. It could be the first time the customer has heard of your company or the first time they’ve received something from your business. 

That’s why proofreading every piece of your mail campaign is so crucial. Spelling errors, unnecessary typos, confusing directions, and the like can diminish the reputation you’re trying to build and send the wrong message to consumers. It can also make customers question not only the quality of your brand but also the validity of the materials you’ve sent them in the first place.

If proofreading your marketing materials seems daunting, consider enlisting a copy editor to help with the task.

Step 6: Always Follow Up

Although the ease and simplicity of these types of campaigns are some of the most enticing benefits of direct mail marketing, it isn’t always enough to merely drop the materials in the mail and wait for your customers to act. Instead, to get the most out of your campaign, be sure to follow up.

Like digital advertising options, direct mail campaigns provide you with great ways of tracking the effectiveness of your campaign. Popular options for doing so include:

Learning how to measure direct mail effectiveness is an integral part of any campaign. Tracking the success of your mail campaign enables you to gain valuable insight into how your campaign is performing, allowing you to make necessary adjustments or improve future campaigns. 

Find Your Audience with Poplar

A direct mail marketing campaign can be an easy, effective, and profitable way of reaching new customers and maintaining your business relationship with old ones. When it comes to advertising, direct mail is easy, cost-effective, and proven to work, checking all the most desirable boxes.

That said, Poplar understands how intimidating it can be to launch a new advertising campaign of any sort—especially if you’ve never done it before. From devising your mailing list to testing your campaign to tracking the results, there are a lot of details to consider.

That’s why we’ve made it our mission to help businesses devise useful, effective ad campaigns that get results. With Poplar, it takes only minutes to plan and create a direct mail marketing campaign that works for you and your business. With Poplar, you can:

You’ve worked hard to grow your business, and you deserve to see your efforts rewarded. With Poplar’s direct mail solutions, there’s nothing to keep you from planning and executing a successful direct mail marketing campaign. Let Poplar show you how. Get in touch with our experts today.


1. What is Direct Mail Marketing?

2. What is Direct Mail?