The Power Of Direct Mail -- And How To Get It Right

Gen Z, whose members have grown up attached to their smartphones, are now taking a step back from social media.

According to an Origin survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers aged between 18 to 24, 58% of respondents said they were taking a break from social media, while 34% said they have now left or deleted an account entirely. This doesn’t mean marketers should disregard social, but instead think about how they can incorporate other media into their overall marketing mix.

Direct mail (DM) is now being used in new and exciting ways to reach audiences and make a lasting impact on the recipient. This is partly due to the fact that a smartphone screen is limited by size and so offers less reading space than direct mail.

It’s also the power of the tangible, where recipients are encouraged to pick it up, put it back down and return to it time and again.

Consider these techniques when designing and producing DM to achieve the best results.

The perfect copy



The choice of words used in DM copy is extremely powerful. Customers don’t make the decision to buy based on a product or service alone. They buy because of a promise that the product will make their life better in some way.

This must be clear in your copy, which should tell a story, rather than just listing benefits. With a narrative, you encourage readers to imagine themselves in the situation you describe — which may include using your product or service.

One age-old technique to achieve this is by using the word “you” — that focuses on recipients and what your offering can do for them, rather than shouting about the brand.  


How you choose to present information can significantly influence its impact. It’s vital that readers grasp whatever key message it is you want them to take away in a matter of seconds.  

Angling is a great way to achieve this: placing images or graphics on either side of the page in a diagonal pattern, encouraging readers to move fluently from one piece of information to the next until they reach the bottom of the page. This is where marketers place the call to action and key information that encourages the recipient to respond.

Partial reveal

Just as the layout of the copy is important, how you choose to present DM is crucial in piquing interest and encouraging someone to engage with it in the first place. For example, delivering DM in an envelope with only a portion of a promotional deal visible through the envelope window intrigues recipients, who’ll want to know what is inside. They will instinctively open it. It’s the reason why trailers for movies work so well. It’s in our nature to want to find out more.

Partial reveal is an old-school trick when it comes to DM, but marketers are now looking at new ways of executing this. Sending a piece of DM in an envelope that appears as though it has already been torn open will make the recipient look twice and instinctively inspect it closer.

Abandoning one channel in favor of another can be destructive to any marketing campaign. Printed media shouldn’t replace digital components — and vice versa. Rather, different channels and touchpoints can be harnessed to achieve different objectives.

Direct mail is an effective way to gain and maintain the recipient’s attention, creating a lasting impact and encouraging people to act.  

1 comment about "The Power Of Direct Mail -- And How To Get It Right".
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  1. Ron Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, October 18, 2018 at 3:48 p.m.

    Direct mail is probably the most cost effective and efficient way to target a very specific market segment, e.g. wealthy, single females age 30 to 45. A strong message on good stationary can persuade the target to visit a website, where a comprehensive and compelling story can be told with audio and video.

    Consumers want to do online research anyway, especially before they reveal themselves to someone who may become a pest trying to sell them something.

    The effectiveness of each direct mail piece can be tested by tracking the traffic it produces for the website. 

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