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Direct Mail Marketing Campaigns: 3 Different Approaches

A mail carrier placing mail into a mailbox

Direct Mail Marketing

Direct Mail Marketing is a promotional strategy that makes use of the expansive delivery network within our country's postal system. As such, direct mail marketing provides a business or organization with an easy and economical way to send printed promotional materials to any residential or commercial addresses they choose. Even in the digital age of online banner ads, social media platforms, and email marketing, direct mail is still a very effective way for businesses to engage with current and prospective customers.

Like all marketing materials, direct mail pieces are designed to capture attention using colorful images, bold headings, and an attractive offer to encourage the recipient to take a desired action. This action might be buying a product, requesting a service, calling for more information, visiting a website, attending an event, or any other activity that helps foster a mutually beneficial relationship.

A 3-way sign showing different direct mail options

Direct mail pieces can take many forms, with the most common being postcards, folded mailers, brochures, flyers, and catalogs. Depending on the type of direct mail campaign a business or organization elects to pursue, these promotional pieces can be targeted toward specific individuals, groups of people that share certain demographics and/or buying behaviors, or everyone located within a chosen geographic area.

Just as it is more economical to print marketing pieces in bulk, the post office also offers discounted postage rates for bulk mailings. Hence, the majority of direct mail campaigns involve sending out pieces in volume to capitalize on the reduced printing and mailing costs.

Direct mail campaigns generally fall under one of the following three categories:

1. Traditional Direct Mail

2. Direct Mail with Variable Data

3. Every Door Direct Mail

Now let's examine each of these one at a time…

What is Traditional Direct Mail?

Traditional Direct Mail involves the use of a mailing list that contains the names and addresses of people to whom the mailing will be sent. In most cases, this list is either compiled by the company doing the mailing or purchased from a service that generates mailing lists.

A mailing list used for marketing purposes is not merely a list of random people. It is a list of people that, based on past buying behaviors or demographics like age, sex, or income, have a good chance of being receptive to the offer the company plans to present to them via the mailing.

With a traditional direct mail campaign, everyone on the list might get the exact same mail piece or they may be subdivided into groups that will receive different promotional messages. By segmenting mailing lists based on demographics or prior behavior, companies can deliver messages that are more likely to resonate with the recipients, thereby increasing the likelihood of a favorable response rate.

As mentioned, direct mail campaigns are almost always sent out as a bulk mailing. Sending a bulk mailing using First Class mail service requires a minimum of 500 presorted pieces per drop to qualify for a discounted postage rate. A mailing permit is also required. First Class mail will generally reach the recipients within 2-5 days.

A hand removing mail from a silver mailbox

USPS Marketing Mail (formerly known as Standard Mail) is another discounted option for sending direct mail pieces in bulk. This option requires a minimum of 200 presorted pieces (or 50 pounds) per drop to attain the postage discount. Mail sent as USPS Marketing Mail will usually be delivered within 3-10 days. Just like with First Class, a mailing permit is required.

What is Direct Mail with Variable Data?

Direct Mail with Variable Data has the same attributes as traditional direct mail outlined above except each piece within a single production run can be printed differently. Using a digital printing method known as Variable Data Printing (VDP), each piece within a production run can be printed with unique personalization, effectively customizing each individual marketing piece to its intended recipient.

The VDP process begins with a template or layout common to all pieces. Software then feeds the printing press with segments of information from a database. These segments are unique to each recipient and are applied to various places within the layout, allowing every piece in the production run to be printed with different text and/or graphics in certain areas.

For example, the recipient's name could appear in a prominent location and there could be a striking image related to the recipient's interests. Because digital printing presses do not use printing plates, there is no stopping or slowing down of the press to make these changes. Each piece prints with its assigned variable data one after the other in a single press run.

So instead of sending the same marketing message to everyone on a mailing list, variable data printing allows every printed piece to be tailored to the interests and experiences of each recipient. Name fields, headings, body copy, images, offers, and calls to action can all be easily modified to match the prospects or clients being targeted.

Since personalization makes each mail piece more relevant and meaningful to the recipients, this peaks their interest and increases the likelihood the printed message will be read and acted upon.

A mail carrier reaching out of his truck to put mail in a red mailbox

What is Every Door Direct Mail?

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is a special kind of direct mail program offered by the US Postal Service. Instead of a traditional direct mail campaign or VDP campaign that targets individual recipients, mailings sent through the EDDM program are delivered to every address along the mail carrier route(s) that you select.

There is no personalization with mail sent via EDDM. There is also no need for a mailing list since everyone within the chosen geographic area will receive the same mailing. Instead of names and addresses, each mail piece will simply be printed with something like "Residential Customer" or "Local Postal Customer."

Compared to the other direct mail options, EDDM offers lower postage rates. The rates are lower for a couple of reasons. First, the postal service requires EDDM mail to adhere to stricter size and weight limits to streamline the processing and delivery. Second, no sorting is needed since every address on a given postal route receives the exact same mail piece, thus reducing the carrier's prep work.

EDDM mailings are still considered a bulk mailing, with the minimum number of mail pieces being 200 per drop. A nice benefit of EDDM is that no mailing permit is required unless the quantity mailed per day exceeds 5,000 pieces.

Even though EDDM provides a cost-effective way to distribute marketing pieces to specific neighborhoods and zip codes without having to purchase or maintain a mailing list, it is not the ideal fit for every business. Since there is no personalization to increase the response rate, EDDM is better suited for businesses that have a broad appeal. It is also better suited for businesses and storefronts that draw the majority of their customers from the local area, such as pizza parlors, dry cleaners, auto repair shops, and hair salons.

Let Color Vision help with your next Print and Mail Project!

Be sure to get in touch with Color Vision to discuss your next direct mail project. We are a full-service print facility that offers a variety of mailing services, including variable data printing.

Give us a call at 800-543-6299 when you're ready to discuss your printing and mailing needs. Or, use our Quote Request form to send us your project's specifications and we will be happy to email a quote to you.

As always, we look forward to assisting with your printing and mailing needs!

Related Articles:

Direct Mail Marketing: 8 Benefits of Variable Data Printing

US Postal Service EDDM: Is it a Good Fit for Your Business?

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