These days, everyone is bombarded with advertisements on TV, radio, websites, social media, and email. With everyone being so inundated with technology, direct mail can actually be a great way to stand out from the crowd.

When most people hear “direct-mail marketing,” they groan and picture all those white envelopes and postcards that fill up their mailboxes and then get dumped directly in the trash (don’t they care about all the trees that paper was made from?). Despite the negativity surrounding it, direct mail has proven to be a very powerful and successful tool. Recent studies have shown that organic mailing lists generate a 3.7% response rate. Compare that to email at a 0.1% response rate, and direct mail begins to show its power. But, it’s not about just sticking postcards in the mail, addressed to everyone in the country, and hoping for a return.

Key #1 – Execute Small, Targeted, Personalized Campaigns.

Don’t send a blanket mailer. Send your marketing piece to a mailing list that you have developed organically or to a well-vetted list from a publisher. Know your market, keep it small, and segment those lists by information that you have about them. Does half of the list have children? A message about raising a family may appeal to them more than the other half. Does one-third of the audience enjoy running recreationally? Perhaps an ad pertaining to fitness will engage them.

Key #2 – Create a Custom Look.

Don’t send a white envelope or a postcard. EVER. If you want to make an impression and see that 3.7% response rate, your mailer needs to get attention and be engaging. Invest in a custom, dye-cut postcard or a custom-printed box so your mailer doesn’t go directly into the trash. TIP: Think theme and timing—is it winter? Consider something like a snow globe with a perforated tear-away coupon to “reveal your deal.”

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Key #3 – Give Them a Real Incentive.

Offering 10% off doesn’t count; 15% doesn’t either. If you want someone to be motivated to take action, give them a reason to take action. A recent direct-mail piece we did for a client gave away a FREE Apple Watch. Yes, free. The reason? Who doesn’t want an Apple Watch? People responded. And, when our client closed a sale because of the mailer, their profit from that sale far outweighed the cost. Now, we aren’t saying you have to give away an Apple Watch. What we are saying is think about your audience and what they care about (not what you think they care about, what they actually care about). Then, choose an incentive that will motivate them to take action.

Bonus Key #4 – Add a Personal Touch.

Direct mail has a personal feel to it, which can endear a customer or client to your company. It encourages relationship and interaction. Even the term “direct mail” implies the personal touch: connecting you directly to your clientele, getting your message directly into their hands. In an impersonal, technology-filled world, the feeling of being known and important can go a long way.

Don’t underestimate the power of direct-mail marketing. It’s not as antiquated or pointless as you might think!