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Best Direct Mail Marketing Ideas

Email might have gotten bigger over the past twenty years, but direct mail is still a force to be reckoned with. The U.S. Postal Service reports the average household receives almost a dozen pieces of mail in their mailbox every day, and that number is only going up. More than thirty-four billion pieces of direct mail are delivered to homes around the country every year, and an additional ninety million pieces reach businesses. That’s an awful lot of marketing materials!

Direct mail may not be the newest marketing medium in town, but it’s still an effective channel that can help expand your business. Unlike online strategies like email marketing and PPC ads, direct mail gives you a unique opportunity to create something tangible for your audience. At the same time, direct mail is one of the most expensive mediums to employ on its own – which begs the question: How do you get the best ROI possible out of every piece of mail?

 Send a Simple Postcard

One of the easiest direct mail marketing ideas is to send a simple postcard with bold colors, clean design, and a clear call to action. Be sure to include contact information. If you have a brick-and-mortar shop, list your address (maybe a small map to show your location) and phone number, at a minimum. If you’re online, include a short URL made specifically for the campaign so you can track the response rate.

Although your customers’ email inboxes have far more clutter than their physical mailboxes, we’re all still getting a lot of mail every day. To make sure your marketing materials stand out among the others, try using oversized mailers. A standard postcard is usually 4” x 6” and oversized postcards usually run 6” x 11”—the difference in size might make someone notice.

To easily design your own postcard without any graphic design skills, use Canva. It’s a free, drag-and-drop graphic design tool that offers hundreds of postcard templates to easily design your own postcard. Use these postcard examples to help you customize your campaign.

Visit CanvaCanva Postcard Template

(Source: Canva)

Consider Sending Unusually Sized Mail

Just like an oversized postcard could draw one’s attention, a piece of mail that someone doesn’t usually receive could spark interest. Consider starting a brochure direct mail campaign, instead of the typical postcard. A brochure gives you more room for more information. You still want to keep it clean and simple so you don’t overwhelm your recipient with information overload. One of the best brochure examples is for restaurants to send their menu, along with a coupon for first-time customers.

Freepik Brochure Template

Use Short URLs or Promo Codes on All Direct Mail

If your goal is to drive traffic to your site, you need to provide a URL for people to enter. Avoid using a long address, or people might type it incorrectly and give up, or never even bother. A promo code can help you track the success of your campaign—provide a landing page or pop-up with a box for the promo code. It’s easy for your new lead and easy for you.

Website builder Wix offers a free QR code tool so you can make your own QR code images. Just follow the instructions to add the page you want the QR code to point to, and then download the image to use on your printed materials.

 Include Objects Inside Envelopes to Pique Curiosity

As a person sifts through mail, they’re using a few of their senses to determine what they keep and give a closer look, and what they’ll recycle immediately. If you add a small object inside an otherwise flat piece of mail, it can make a person pause. Some successful direct mail marketing campaigns have included a penny, gift card, fake credit card, a USB drive, and other direct mail inserts, to name a few.Web Key Brochure

(Source: Red Paper Plane)

 New product promotion

People receive over 150 emails a day. Think your new product promotion will stand out from all the digital noise? Maybe. Maybe not. Increase your chances of getting noticed by complimenting your digital new product promotion strategy with direct mail.

Who: Kit Kat

What: The well-loved candy brand promoted their new Kit Kat Chunky bar with a personalized postcard that looked like a “package could not be delivered” delivery notice claiming the candy was “too chunky” for their mailbox.


Why: This campaign likely stood out from other postcards their audience received at the time. Along with being noticeable, the mail boosted brand awareness by encouraging recipients to collect their free chocolate bar from a local news station. According to G2, even though it involved giving away free products, the campaign ultimately created a spike in sales.

Best practice: Marketing doesn’t have to be serious. In fact, being outrageous might be the very thing that gets your audience’s attention. Combine a funny or outlandish idea with personalization (like adding the recipient’s name, as Kit Kat did) to make sure your direct mail is impossible to ignore.

 Identity verification

Scammers can cause a lot of problems in a variety of industries. Add identity verification to your direct mail marketing ideas to help circumvent costly issues.


What:, an online travel agency, used direct mail to verify that property listings (and the people who owned them) were real by mailing verification codes to property owners, who then logged in using unique information to authenticate their address and verify their identity.

Why: This allowed them to eliminate scammers and fake listings that had previously been causing disastrous problems for travelers—no more getting stranded in the middle of nowhere at a place that doesn’t exist!

Best practice: Manually checking that every single person is who they say they are is a time-consuming process. To save time (and therefore money), find a platform like Lob that can integrate into your current tech to automate the identity verification process and provide address verification.

 Give Away On-brand Items

There are plenty of direct mail ideas and examples for branded items that could work in your small business’ favor. The best tip is to send customers and potential leads items that are memorable. Anything that makes sense for your business that you can slap your logo on will work. A toy store could send paper planes with their logo on the paper, an office supply store might consider sending a branded red stapler (bonus points for millennials who might recognize the “Office Space” reference), or anything else that fits your brand.

Product samples

A big barrier when people are purchasing physical products online is not being able to taste, smell, or experience the product. Use direct mail to send the experience to customers’ doors, so they feel more confident buying.

Who: Function of Beauty

What: The hair product company used this tactic when they mailed samples of their three newest shampoo scents straight to their audience’s mailboxes.


Why: This campaign allowed their audience to experience their product, giving them the confidence they need to go from “add to cart” to “purchase complete.” This kind of campaign could be used to send not just scent samples but samples for products you need to taste, feel, or use before buying, too, like food, fabric, or beauty product samples.

Best practice: When adding this campaign to your list of direct mail marketing ideas, consider sending samples to those who have already shown interest in your brand by visiting your site or adding a product to their cart. That way, you won’t spend money sending samples to people who have no intention of buying your product yet.

Benefits, Not Features

Hello Fresh, a start-up meal kit provider, has used direct mail extensively as part of its marketing plan. In this February 2020 effort, on one panel of a self-mailer, icons and short copy work together to describe 3 big benefits of the service.

hello fresh direct mail example

 Send Existing Customers Birthday & Anniversary Savings

Timing is important in any advertising campaign, and direct mail marketing campaigns are no different. Birthdays and anniversaries are when people often look for extra savings. To keep your business top of mind for customers, send them special savings coupons or promo codes to celebrate their big day.

Why not just send an email campaign? Send both email and direct mail birthday savings coupons, and then compare the results. You may get better response from an email campaign, but often promotional emails get lost in the inbox noise. Direct mail usually gets higher response rates.

 Give New Customers Something They’ll Keep

For local businesses, magnets have always been popular. They’re lightweight, so it doesn’t cost much to ship. You can add your contact information on them, and they’re useful. Consider sending something that just keeps your brand in their mind, such as a stress ball (Design Pickle sent new customers stress pickles, which is unique).

Design Pickle

Sell Customers on What They Get, Not What You Have

One of the best tips for any marketing campaign is to tap into what customers want and how they’ll benefit from using your business. Rather than focus on what your business has, focus on what customers will gain from you. An air conditioner repair service can fix your A/C, but a good direct mail idea is to send a postcard campaign that focuses on being available 24/7 (“Get your A/C working—yes, even at 3 a.m.”).


Direct mail marketing is a way to send your message directly to the target audience in an efficient way. These messages (which are sometimes known as direct mail, physical mail, or direct marketing) can be sent by mail or email. To succeed, you must choose the right marketing strategy and create a great campaign that will reach your ideal customers.

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