Direct Mail Marketing – Modern and Effective – How to?

by Maximilian Claessens
Direct Mail Marketing - Modern and Effective

Direct mail marketing is one of the most profitable and effective ways to communicate directly with your customers and potential clients. But how to do effective direct mail marketing today?

Direct mail marketing is defined as a marketing effort that uses a mail service to deliver a promotional printed piece to your target audience (

Traditionally, this has been postal mail, but how do we do it effectively in today’s business world? Is e-mail the solution?

It involves a wide array of marketing materials, such as brochures, catalogs, sales letters and newsletters.  The main advantage of direct mail marketing: it allows you to communicate directly  with your target audience! More advantages of effective direct mail marketing.

But how do you create an effective direct mail marketing campaign?

Effective Direct Mail Marketing Campaigns

Step one: Understanding your target customers

The first step in creating effective direct mail marketing campaigns is to know and understand your customers or prospects. The reason is that direct mail marketing does only make sense if it is precisely targeted. In order to target, you need to know who your customer is. That means knowing the customers’ basic demographics, such as males between 18 to 25 years or females with more than 2 children, is a good start. But for really effective direct mail marketing campaigns, it is not sufficient. You need a more complete understanding of your customer’s profile, including aspects such as their shopping and purchasing behavior, their attitudes toward trends, products, marketing and media; or their lifestyle habits. Knowing this will help you selecting appropriate target audiences and creating relevant messages.

Step two: Target the ideal customers

Once you know and understand your target customers, you need to actually target them in order to create the most effective direct mail marketing campaigns. For this, you can of course use the information collected in step one. So, create a list of potential new leads. Of course, it might be much easier to do untargeted direct mail marketing. You just send out as many mails as possible to as many people as possible. You try to get every mailing list and end up in as many mailboxes as possible. But where will you eventually end up? Most likely in the trash or spam, because you have directed your direct mail marketing campaign to people who are not interested in what you are telling them. Indeed, the old formula of direct mail marketing was mass marketing: “Mail to as many people as you can; someone has to be interested”. But ending up in the trash cannot be your goal – it will only result in waste of money and negatively affect your image.

In other words, targeted direct mail marketing may be expensive, true. But it is much more likely to result in the best response rate and generate future customers that are loyal to your business.

Step three: Select the suitable mailing list

Of course, your direct mail marketing campaign will require you to eventually get a mailing list. A mailing list is a list with potential customers, containing their contact details. It might include postal addresses, but also e-mail addresses. Traditionally, direct mail marketing meant: postal mail. However, in today’s world, it might be more suitable to go for e-mail. Certainly, this depends on your target audience. How can you best reach them? In the end, e-mail offers the advantage of being available for free!

Anyway, for your direct mail marketing campaign you will need a mailing list. There are several different categories of mailing lists you can buy, with differences in cost and of course appropriateness for your target market. The three most important types of mailing lists are:

  • Speciality lists. These allow you to identify your target audience based on pre-made lists.
  • Custom mailing lists. These allow you to select the customers based on criteria that meet your needs.
  • Cloned lists. These allow you to find potential customers similar to your current customers.

As we have targeted our ideal customers in step two, selecting a custom mailing list makes most sense.

 Step four: Create a mailing

Finally, you arrive at creating a mailing. This may be a letter or an e-mail, but the content is rather based on your target audience and your objectives than on the communication medium. The medium and the message of course represent you and reflect what you are. You should make this consistent with what you are trying to sell. If your offering is a high-prices, professional service, let your medium and your message indicate the same.


Following these steps, you should be able to create an effective direct mail marketing campaign.

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