What is Direct Mail?


We breakdown every angle of Direct Mail to show all. What it is, why and how it can help your business and everything in between.

Cost Overview

How much does Direct Mail cost?…

This is a common and fairly broad question… However if we take a few steps back first and ask ourselves the following we should be in a far better place with getting to the bottom of this conundrum!

You should consider;

  • What is the ultimate target of the campaign?
  • How many people do I want to reach?
  • Delivery format (e.g. 1st class, signed for…)
  • Delivery timescale
  • Location?
  • Mechanics of the campaign (e.g. envelope with name printed, flyer and coupon created, everything packed into the envelopes and boxed up)

So what do you do now? Very daunting isn’t it? Well the team here at Mail Shot International can take the stress away. Unlike other mail companies we give you that extra edge from the offset, our quality support means you will have a dedicated account manger who will build and deliver your campaign effectively and efficiently. If that wasn’t enough our various offers and discounts make it that little bit easier in deciding what route to go down. Such as free envelopes on your first direct mail campaign order!

How to make sure your direct mail campaign is cost effective

Every business realises at some point that marketing can take up a large chunk of your budget. Unfortunately, if you don’t market your business properly, then chances are that it will never grow and expand.

When it comes to direct mail, those companies who may have a slightly stricter budget, may be pleased to know that there are ways that you can keep the costs down as much as possible. All without having too much of an impact on the success of your campaign.

To help you along the way, here at Mailshot International, we have put together some of the ways that you can make sure that your direct mail campaign is completely cost effective.

Have a clean out of your contacts

The thing to remember with direct mail marketing is that you are sending out physical pieces of marketing. Therefore, the more you send out, the more it will cost you. This means that it is a good idea to give your database of contacts a once over before you send any correspondence out. Checking for duplicates is key, as well as validating all the records that you have, making sure that any which do not appear are removed from the list.

Remove the manual work

Having a staff member dedicated to arranging your mail shot can cost you money as a business. Thankfully, there are plenty of more automated approaches that you can take now to still have the same impact, but cost you less money. One of these ways is by using an electronic data scanning system in order to input the customer data, rather than asking a member of staff to do it for you.

Try to work out a discount

A direct mail company is a business trying to succeed, just like you. But they too recognise the importance of attracting customers and giving them a fair deal. It is always worthwhile speaking to the direct mail company and finding out whether they are able to offer any discounts for you. This could be a bulk discount, or perhaps a large delivery schedule that allows you to pay a little less.

The trick with direct mail is that you want it to make a great impression on your customers, but you don’t want it to cost the Earth. If you can manage to get this balance right then you are onto a sure fire winner.

How to create a mail campaign

Despite the popularity of digital advertising, people still remember and understand better what they see and read on paper. Touch allows the brain to reach a deeper level of engagement, and strategies built around touch should be a part of your marketing campaign.

Direct mail pieces are not a thing of the past. In fact, according to the Data and Marketing Association, the current response rate for household direct mail is just over 5%, which is the highest the DMA has reported, and the median return on investment (ROI) comes in at 29%.

While it is true that mailboxes are less cluttered now than they were 10 years ago, you still need a strategic plan to generate responses. Our customers who take the time to plan out campaigns based on goals and objectives see the best results. Once you have the details of your offer and promotional material determined, here are some tips for effective ways to grab your readers’ attention.

  1. Be Quick 

You have about eight seconds to grab the attention of the person looking through their mail. Your graphics and message are very important. To gain attention, you can use larger mailers, bright colours and unique images. Your headline should be in a large and easy-to-read font that builds curiosity.

  1. Add Graphics 

Use images to convey your message. Your brain processes images much faster than reading text. Choose unique images that build curiosity. The standard stock images are boring, so get creative. Don’t go crazy and fill up your mail piece with images, though. Depending on your format and what you are selling, the general rule is two to three.

  1. Keep It Simple 

A mailer with limited, easy-to-understand copy and images works best. You want people to easily understand what you are selling and why they need it. Too much text is a distraction and can drive people away from reading it. Use bullet points to make your benefits stand out and keep the list short. Pick the top three or four points and use only them.

  1. Find Ways To Stand Out 

Your prospects and customers are looking for unique pieces in the mail and there are some really fun and creative ways to engage your audience. Consider using the following elements:

  • Folds: Draw attention to your mail with special folds. There are many varieties out there that can give your piece a unique look. You don’t have to invent your own; many customers of ours use special folds they have researched or received themselves. One we really like is the endless fold. These are folds that just keep going, from panel to panel. They are really interesting and most people flip through them at least twice, prompting more opportunities to read your messages.
  • Die Cuts: Using special die-cut shapes is a great way to grab attention. Some of our customers have used a snowflake look or a shape of a product they are selling. We have even seen ones that take on a whole new shape with each panel when opened. This is fun for recipients — it draws them into the mailer and remains memorable afterward.
  • Scratch and Sniff: You can create a unique experience for your prospects and customers by adding scent to your mail piece. You may need time to get creative to find the right scent. This strategy may not be a good fit for every company, but if it is, it can leave a lasting impression.
  • Technology: Believe it or not, you can add technology to your direct mail pieces, too. You could consider adding sound bites to your mailer so that when prospects or customers open it, they get to hear your message. This works really well when your audience recognises and connects with the voice. Augmented reality is a great way to get prospects and customers to interact with their phones. And a video screen can even be activated right inside the mailer when opened. Not too many companies are utilising video mailers right now, so they really stand out. However, this option is on the pricier side, so make sure it’s a good fit for your budget.
  1. Consider Size 

According to the DMA, flats have the best response rates at 6.6%, followed by postcards at 5.7% and letters at 4.3%. However, you should consider all formats to see which one is the best fit for your campaign.

If you want to design a mail piece that generates a response and a good ROI, you also need to consider the U.S. Postal Service requirements so that you do not end up paying extra postage for what you thought was a fun design element. It is always best to consult with a mail service provider before you finalise your mailer since there are many postal regulations that, if not followed, can cost you a lot of money. They will help you navigate the rules so you can produce an awesome mail piece to drive results for your business.


Direct mail is relatively easy, especially when compared to other forms of marketing for your business. However, this doesn’t mean that you can become complacent about your direct mail efforts.

There are still some things that you can forget or do wrong, which could have an impact on how successful the campaign is. With this in mind, we have put together a checklist which is ideal to use for your direct mail efforts.

Do you know your objective?

Before you even start it is a good idea to know what you want from the direct mail campaign. Do you want to maintain existing relationships? Release a new product or service, or perhaps attracting some new customers. If you don’t know this, then you may not get the end result that you seek.

What is your budget?

Budget is always an important consideration. The last thing that you will want to do is to spend more than you have. But equally, you will want to make sure that you make the most of your investment. This is a difficult balance to achieve, but once you have a budget in mind you can start to get to work.

What is your Target Audience?

This is really the customers or clients your product or service will appeal to whether it is by brand preferences or personal interests, this ensures you are getting your message to the right people.

What Size of Direct Mail Campaign?

You may want to consider running a small direct mail campaign or several types of direct mail campaigns to see what produces the best results for you and your business.

What Promotions and Offers?

When operating a direct mail campaign, you may want to provide an introductory offer or a special discount to acquire new customers with the goal of creating repeat purchases of your products or services.


If you are a local business that doesn’t provide UK or International delivery you may want to target a specific area local to you. Indeed you may have an offer that is particularly suited for an area that you may wish to target

Is your mailing list up to date?

Sending out direct mail to an out of date mailing list is essentially a waste of money. Before you begin to put together your mail ready to post, it is worthwhile making sure that your mailing list is all up to date and that these are the recipients who are most likely to respond.

Is your message clear?

There is no point sending out a confusing piece of mail that the customer won’t understand. Make sure that it contains everything that you want to say, without it bombarding the recipient with too much information that they won’t be able to take in.

Does it have a call to action?

A call to action is one of the most important things to have in your direct mail campaign, this is where you give you potential customer a clear next step. Whether that is calling you, emailing or perhaps visiting your website. This will ensure that they know what they need to do.

Is it the right time to send?

If you want to make sure that your direct mail marketing campaign is going to have the maximum impact then you need to time it properly. Plan the timing to avoid any major holiday periods, or that they arrive in good time of a special event or special time of the year.

Make sure that you have the right facility to deal with the response

We all want a direct mail campaign that is going to work well for our business, but have you realistically thought about how you will deal with all these responses? You may need to train employees, or simply ensure that you have enough staff on hand to deal with all these interested people.

That’s it. Some of the things to think about when it comes to making sure that your direct mail campaign works best for you. Once you have answered all the questions on the direct mail checklist, then you will be ready to send out your Direct Mail Campaign!

Benefits of Direct Mail Campaigns

As many companies search for new ways to reach customers and prospects, traditional marketing approaches like direct mail campaigns are often replaced with online advertisements and other technology-based techniques. But direct mail still offers one of the most consistently effective forms of advertising.

Despite the attention currently paid to other forms of marketing, direct mailings still occupy a well-deserved place in thoughtful, comprehensive marketing campaigns. The flexibility, affordability, and user-friendliness of direct mail make it an excellent option for any company that wishes to create a cohesive and effective marketing program.

How a Direct Mail Campaign can help your Business

A successful business is usually based on customers, retaining those customers and keeping new and old ones informed of promotions, new products or services and special offers. There are several methods of keeping both potential and existing customers abreast of your offers, products and services and these include both online and offline promotions.

Online campaigns can include advertising through Google, using social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Email marketing and of course through your company website to name but a few. Offline campaigns can include TV advertising, newspaper adverts and direct mailing. We look at the benefits of the latter, direct mailing and how a direct mail campaign can help your company.

With a direct mail campaign, unlike email marketing, letterboxes do not have a spam folder, so you know that your mail is going to end up in the hands of the targeted customer. With the use of direct mail companies, direct mail campaigns can not only be really effective but also extremely affordable with costs of only a few pence per customer, and with much higher rates of your customers reading your promotion this can produce a much higher conversion that other campaigns such as TV, newspaper and certainly online campaigns.

With a direct mail campaign, you are not sending to “dead addresses” where with an online mail campaign, so many people scrap email addresses, ignore them or simply don’t use them anymore, with direct mail campaigns you know your mail is going to bricks and mortar addresses.

Taking all this into consideration a direct mail campaign could be the most affordable and effective method of getting out your company’s message.

Using a Direct Mail Company

As a leading company providing direct mail in the UK, when we meet people, we are often asked “What are the benefits of using direct mailing companies?”, and the next question we are asked is “Why would I use a direct mailing company?”

These frequently asked questions can easily be answered in a few short sentences, but we will expand on this a little for you below. Let’s start with the first question:

What are the benefits of using direct mail companies?

As a business offering products and services, most of us would agree that it is more simple and often more cost effective to let the professionals do what they do and then we can focus on our own business.

This is no different with Direct Mail.

Using a company who has many years of Direct Mailing experience, we know what works by industry sector and can give advice and guidance on the perfect mailshot for your business.

Using a Direct Mailing company means that they handle everything, from start to finish:

– Advice and guidance

– Design

– Print

– Database

– Mail

– Returned mail

Why would I use a direct mailing company?

Because we handle everything from start to finish, we take away the pain associated with Direct Mail Shots. No more envelope stuffing in the office, no more frustrated employees when the label printing runs out of ink, and the printer gets jammed for the umpteenth time, no more handwriting envelopes, no more design faux pas and spelling errors that you only spot when the item has been sent.

In addition to this, because we never forget to add our own return address, we manage the returned mail and update your database accordingly, saving you all that valuable time to run your own business and handle all the new enquiries that arrive as a result of our hard work on your behalf.

Using Direct Mail Services
An integral part of many businesses is the ability to generate repeat orders, whether it is for a product or a service, what is equally important is generating new customers. One such way of dealing with both these aspects is to use a direct mail provider who can get your promotions, updates and news delivered direct to your customers or potential clients.

Direct Mail Services – A Professional Approach
The beauty of using a direct mail services provider is that they carry the experience and know-how of running a successful direct mail campaign. Just as anything in business, if you need a task completing then you use a professional or someone who is most suited to getting that task done and with a direct mail provider, your direct mail campaign will be in safe hands. Not only will it take the guesswork out of running a direct mail campaign but also free your time and manpower to get on with other important aspects of your business.

Leaving Your Direct Mail Campaign to The Professionals
Many companies and businesses try and take on this responsibility and in a lot of cases they would have been not only financially but also time management-wise better off leaving this to the professionals. One of the other key factors with using a direct mail provider is that you can easily oversee everything and manage your campaign without any of the time sucking aspects that would be present if you were to take on a direct mail campaign yourself. The bottom line is it is all about working smarter, not harder, so when considering running a direct mail campaign in the future, take out the guesswork and get in the professionals.

How we can help you

No matter the size of your mail campaign we can help you. From design to printing to fulfilment to delivering.

Here at Mail Shot International we are your one stop Direct Mail solution.

Many Direct Mail companies in the UK will only offer fulfilment and postage services, but here at Mail Shot, we offer the full solution. You are welcome to pick and choose our services as you may already have an in-house design team or use your preferred printer, but if you want us to handle the whole campaign, we are here to help!

Step 1: Design

We will help you design your letter, flyer or brochure, focusing on the message you are tying to get across to your customers.

Step 2: Printing

The next stage is the print of your material. We use the latest technology in litho and digital printing to give you the best possible quality images to bring your campaign to life.

Step 3: Fulfilment

When your letters, flyers or brochures have been printed they are passed on to our fulfilment team who will enclose them into a wide range of envelopes or polythene with quality control procedures at every step.

Step 4: Postage

The final part of the process is the postage. We have a wide range of postal providers including The Royal Mail, that we can choose from to give you the correct service your require, at the right price.

We will help you identify if your mailing qualifies for extra discounts available from services like advertising mail (read more about advertising mail here).

From design and print to fulfilment and postage, we can take care of it all, to give you a stress free marketing campaign.

Getting results

The beauty of using a direct mail provider who offers direct mail services is that everything is handled for you, this saves you both time and money making this a very efficient form of marketing, and with most direct mail providers they can also provide you with potential customer lists based on your market requirements, of course they can also handle your existing mailing lists and allow you to follow up with existing clients and customers to promote new services, increase sales and make them aware of new products.

Tips to Get The Best Return On Direct Mail

If a direct mail campaign produces zero response it’s usually because of poor customer targeting and a poor market to message match. Before you send out a campaign you need to make sure the prospects are highly targeted first. Then you can make sure that you write a marketing message that resonates with them.

This is the first step to achieving a positive ROI with direct mail. Without an effective list targeting first and a marketing message to match that list then you won’t produce a positive ROI.

How can Mail Shot International help?

We can offer bulk discounts on postage, saving you heavily on your campaign.

Our dedicated Direct Mail page gives you a little food for thought. Get in touch with us to see what we can do for you.

Contact Mail Shot International


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