Effective Direct Mail Campaigns

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One survey showed that direct mail campaigns actually had a higher ROI than both paid search and online display ads. In fact, direct mail was only 1 percentage point behind social media, the second highest ROI medium. Other recent results also showed that direct mail’s response rate of 5.3% is higher than the 0.6% response rate for email.

  • Tips for Effective Direct Mail Marketing. After deciding how you’re going to use direct mail, make sure to follow these 5 steps: Use a clean list. Your list is the most important component of your direct mail campaign. Incorrect addresses or old contacts create a wasted investment. Make sure that your names and addresses are accurate.
  • The best kind of direct mail campaigns are the ones that are frequent and consistent. This means you have to send your marketing promotional materials to your customers analysis on time and you need to know when you should be sending them.

Here are 47 creative direct mail examples to inspire your next marketing campaign.

Firstly, Mercedes cleverly use the flap of the envelope to demonstrate the convertible to stand out in the mail.

The shock and empathy used in this example is a questionable strategy, but consider using an emotional hook (fear, guilt, jealousy, greed etc.) to get the audience’s attention and keep them engaged.

KitKat created a fake mail slip for forgotten post to emulate the royal mail missed delivery letter which is left in the letterbox when you miss deliveries. This is funny but also effective in grabbing the attention of the reader people’s brains have been wired to associate these slips as being important.

Skoda added a penny to their postcard which invokes curiosity and draws attention because of how unusually it is. There are many ways to invoke curiosity effectively.


This hilarious marketing postcard for dental implants combines natural human impulse and comedy gold to get the attention of the reader. Using humour is a great way to build your brand and have your message retained and shared on social media.

Use jokes, puns, and try to come up with something original and clever like Neopost.

Use cut-outs to stand out and show off your brand

This borders on gorilla marketing, but what kind of materials could you be using, what ways can you use physical materials for people to engage with you in person?

The economist balloons send through the post grow the brain when inflated. A metaphor for subscribing to their magazine.

This Greenpeace glove demonstrates cleaning the waste with the iconic Greenpeace coloured glove. This example shows how being different and standing out will create a huge and lasting impression on whoever receives this.

Often marketers will use size to send oversized or large post. For the smart car the opposite was used, to show how small and nimble the car is for cities, being smaller can also help you stand out.

It’s not just the message which matters, the timing is important too. Send postcards on people’s birthdays or special occasions.

Create direct mail as an experience. BMW does a fantastic job with their mailers and create a luxury experience.

Make your marketing useful, one of the advantages of physical post is you have a much bigger range of things you can offer your audience to provide value beyond information.

Get creative with your envelopes. Try combining the exterior with the interior of the mailer.

What gets people attention more than cold hard cash? This has been done many times with a lot of success. Even including a peak of a fake 1 dollar note inside an envelope always gets the reader’s attention. Just make sure you can relate it to your messaging or brand. Otherwise the reader will feel tricked.

Fold outs and cute animals.

When people receive letters, they are often important. Make sure you give something of value in your message.

Effective Direct Mail Marketing

When people interact with your mail, they are more likely to remember your message and act on it longer. It’s also more likely to be shared within the household or on social media.

Direct mail doesn’t have to be paper, you can send anything.

Even an emergency box. Would you pay attention if you saw this in the post?

This in an old one, but the technique is good. Verizon cut holes in their mailer to demonstrate how you’d use their phone.

The interactive fish postcard.

The receiver of the gingerbread mailbox, is first delighted, and then curious as to why the foot is missing.

Google maps printed on the envelope to show directions or relay information.

Another incredibly creative example of humour in direct mail.

Send a balloon in a box.

Use origami on your mailing will make your post much more fun and interactive, especially if your product is aimed at households with children.

You’ll notice that interactivity is a common theme in some of these examples. That’s because it’s effective at drawing attention and being retained in memory.

HelloFresh personalise the messages to each person. Think about how you can use personalisation in your post.

The matchbox mailer:

Use fold outs to create a journey and tell a story.

Humans react more to things which are unusual and haven’t been seen before. Think about how you can do the same.

This example is to promote Macbeth at a Theatre.

Funny “miss-fortune” cookies 😂

Having your message retained in the household means it will increase the chance of it being auctioned. Create something of value to your audience and encourage them to keep it, as was done well with these discount tickets.

If you send products to your customers, think about how you can incorporate direct mail principals into your packaging.

This one plays on the expression “Peanut butter and jelly”

There is no limit to the number of shapes you can use for your mailings.

Origami is an effective way to be different and fun.

Remember when you were a kid, and in school you’d have popup books that you’d spend hours reading and experiencing. They would literally bring your stories to life. Well the same thing works for your mail, look at how Ikea have taken this principal for their marketing.

Bright coloured postcards stand out on the doormat

Check out this DIY Cycle helmet

Papa john – masters of direct mail, have send physical paper versions of their pizzas

Make your mail seem personal and direct. People don’t receive as much mail as they used to and get excited and look favourably on mail which is humanised.

If you can send it in the post, it’s direct mail.

This postcard has instructions to run it under water, and when you do the message shows.

Running a direct mail campaign can be time consuming, but there is a lot of opportunity in marketing with physical post because it’s much easier to stand out and be noticed compared to digital clutter.

With Postary sending physical post to your customers is now as easy as sending emails. You can design and send beautiful personalised postcards directly to your contacts. Visit https://postary.com to get started today.

For tips on designing postcard marketing campaigns with direct mail, read the essential tips: Essential postcard marketing tips

There are dozens of variables that factor into a direct mail campaign. Trying to figure out which ones will have the most impact can be overwhelming. But direct mail doesn’t have to be complicated. We’ve boiled direct mail success down to four key components: the list, the offer, the creative, and tracking methods. Whether you’re just starting out with direct mail or struggling to find success, concentrating on these four keys will put you on the right track.

The 40/40/20 Rule

No article on the keys to direct mail success would be complete without mentioning the 40/40/20 rule. In the 1960’s, direct marketing pioneer, Ed Mayer, developed this simple rule for direct marketing campaigns.

The 40/40/20 rule argues that 40% of your success depends on the list (who you’re sending your mail to), 40% on the offer (what’s in it for your audience), and 20% on everything else (format, design, copy, etc.). You should base the time and money you spend on each of these areas according to its percentage.

Let’s take a closer look at these three parts to learn why they’re essential to successful direct mail campaigns. We’ll then discuss tracking methods, which are how marketers determine the effectiveness of their mailings.

Key # 1: The Mailing List

If you’re not presenting your product or service to the people who want and need it most, your campaign isn’t going to be successful. In fact, the list is so important to the success of your campaign that modern marketers argue the 40/40/20 rule is more like 60/30/10.

Finding the right list doesn’t have to be complicated. Many businesses already have an in-house list with the names of their existing customers and prospects. You’ve already put time, money, and effort into compiling these types of lists, and as long as you keep them up-to-date and accurate, they’ll serve you well.

If you need to drum up new business, there’s also the option of renting or buying a list. As long as you have a good understanding of who your ideal customers are, you can reach out to a list broker or full-service direct mail company. They can help you analyze available lists and acquire one that fits your needs. For more on this topic, check out our guide to learn how to get a mailing list.

Building a mailing list of well-qualified customers and prospects is the single most important aspect of any direct mail campaign. Reaching the right people will maximize your response rates and keep your costs manageable.

Key # 2: The Offer

You may have the most fine-tuned list ever, but all the time and money spent on your list will be a waste if nobody responds to your direct mail. We’re talking about the offer, and you’d better have a strong one if you plan on having any success with direct mail.

Essentially, the offer is something of value that you provide to your audience in exchange for their response. Think of it as the bait you use to catch the fish. It has to be attractive enough that recipients will feel compelled to respond. An offer so good, they can’t refuse.

Make sure your offer clearly tells customers what you’re giving away and how it will benefit them. You’ll also want to include a strong call to action (CTA), which tells consumers how to get your offer. Always consider the customer’s point of view. What do they need right now? How can you meet that need at an affordable price point while doing it better than everyone else?

Crafting an offer that works for your business and sending it to the right people almost guarantees you’ll get responses.

Direct Mail Offer Examples

While an offer can really be anything of value, here are a few examples of common offers you’ve probably seen in your own mailbox:

Key # 3: The Creative

While the list and offer are by far the most important components to focus on, the creative elements of your direct mail campaign also matter. After all, the creative is what ultimately ends up in your audience’s hands. So, you need to make sure you at least understand the basics of good design, copy, imagery, and format selection.

Most Effective Direct Mail Campaigns

Use eye-catching colors that are on-brand and don’t clash with one another. Keep your copy concise, and always use legible, attractive fonts. Ultimately, your mailpiece should be simple, easy to read, and have a clear offer and call to action (i.e. “call now” or “visit a store today”).

Many direct mail users are quick to blame the design or format of their mailing if the results are worse than expected. And while the creative elements of your mailer are important, understand that the list and offer are far more impactful. Make sure you nail down the perfect list and a solid offer before worrying about your creative.

Successful Direct Mail Campaigns

Key # 4: Tracking Methods

One component that’s often overlooked but is extremely important is having a tracking method. If you don’t track the response to your direct mail, it’s impossible to measure your results. Plus, you’ll never know how well your campaigns are performing beyond obvious increases in sales or leads. If you don’t have insight into the successes and failures of your direct mail, you won’t be able to improve your results in a meaningful way.

Make sure every point of contact listed on your direct mail piece is unique and trackable. This helps you attribute sales and leads generated to the right campaign. Some of the most popular direct mail tracking methods include:

Best Direct Mail Campaigns 2020

  • Trackable phone number
  • Trackable URL (website address)
  • Campaign-specific email
  • Coupon codes
  • QR codes

If you’re not sure how to set up tracking methods or measure the results of your direct mail, check out our guide on how to track and measure direct mail campaigns.


The list and the offer are the most important parts of any direct mail campaign. If you can reach motivated customers with a product or service that clearly benefits them, you’re likely to succeed. But that’s not to say you should discount all other factors.

Best Direct Mail Ideas

A well-designed mail piece will help catch potential customers’ eyes, while clear and compelling copy will help push your audience to take action. And tracking the response to your direct mail helps you accurately gauge your success, making it easier to prove ROI and tweak future campaigns.

Direct Mail Piece Examples

While there are many variables to consider in any direct mail campaign, focusing on these four keys – the list, the offer, the creative, and tracking methods – will drastically improve your direct mail results.