Published August 16, 2023
11 min read

Direct mail marketing involves physically delivering promotional materials such as postcards, flyers, and brochures to a potential customer’s mailbox. By placing marketing materials directly into the hands of your organisation’s target audience, direct mail marketing successfully captures attention, engages potential customers, and boosts sales.

Businesses can use direct mail marketing to accomplish a whole range of objectives, including:

  • Building brand awareness
  • Acquiring new customers
  • Advertising offers and discounts
  • Advertising products and services
  • Generating interest
  • Engaging with existing customers
  • Asking for information/feedback
  • Promoting upcoming events
  • Getting key messages out to residents
  • And more!

What is direct mail?

Direct mail marketing involves physically delivering materials such as postcards, flyers, and brochures to potential and existing customer’s mailboxes.

The main goal of direct mail is to generate a response from the recipient, which may be acquisition, requesting more information or visiting a website.

The effectiveness of direct mail marketing depends heavily on the quality of the content, the level of targeting, and the overall marketing strategy. As such, savvy businesses are honing their campaigns with a combination of exceptional design, on-point messaging and intelligent demographics.

In this helpful guide, we explain more about direct mail marketing and how it can help your business. Taking a look at the benefits of direct mail, the stats that show how well it works, and what it takes to create a successful leaflet advertising campaign, we give you everything you need to succeed.

Advantages of direct mail

Advertising mail delivers £14 ROI for every £1 spent (PostGrid).
79% of consumers will act on direct mail immediately (DMA)
30% of mail prompted commercial actions from consumers (JICMAIL)
95% of mail was engaged with and had some form of physical interaction (JICMAIL)
Mail has a 35% higher brand recall than social media (Royal Mail)

The benefits of direct mail

Direct mail is an excellent way to communicate with potential customers – not least because it helps businesses to foster person-to-person connections. Providing a uniquely physical marketing experience, by placing printed material directly into the intended recipients’ hands, direct mail captures our natural inclination to read and engage with physical mail. In short, it commands attention.

But that’s not the only benefit of direct mail. It can also be highly cost-effective compared to digital marketing and offers impressive engagement rates. This blend of affordability and ROI makes direct mail an extremely compelling option for businesses that want to keep a tight rein on spending. What’s more, when you do direct mail marketing well, and use data to inform your campaign and appeal directly to your target market, you can boost ROI even further. So, to succeed, it pays to spend your money where it is likely to deliver the best results.

Of course, as direct mail specialists, you would expect us to shout about how great this marketing tool is. But you don’t have to take our word for it. The stats show that direct mail packs a powerful punch. And the stats don’t lie.

  • In Q1 2023, a whopping 95% of mail was engaged with and had some form of physical interaction from
  • Over the same period, 30% of mail prompted commercial actions from consumers such as purchases, voucher
    redemption, website visits and store footfall.(JICMAIL)
  • 79% of consumers will act on direct mail immediately, compared to only 45% who say they deal with emails
    immediately.(Direct Marketing Association)
  • 90% of campaigns that included physical mail saw an increase in new customers, compared to 59% of those
    without.(Royal Mail Group)
  • On average, advertising mail delivers £14 ROI for every £1 spent.(PostGrid)

When you take all this into account, it should come as no surprise that even tech giants like Google send out direct-mail campaigns!

Types of direct mail marketing


Businesses of all sizes, and across all sectors, are using direct mail marketing to communicate with their target audiences. And they are using it to support a whole range of campaigns. For example, direct mail is a tried and tested way to generate excitement and interest when launching a new product or service. It’s also the perfect tool to let potential customers know about your latest offers and discounts.

Combining eye-catching design, clever copy, and a clear call-to-action, with direct mail you can get your messages across, arouse interest, and encourage recipients to take action. Some of the most popular types of direct mail marketing include:

  • Leaflets/Flyers. A firm favourite due to their cost-effectiveness and simplicity, leaflets and flyers punch well above their weight when it comes to results.
  • Postcards. Compact and attention-grabbing, marketing postcards are a fantastic way to communicate promotional offers/discounts.
  • Letters. You can use letters in your direct marketing campaigns to provide a more personal form of communication.
  • Gifts/Samples. Including free gifts such as samples alongside offers, coupons and vouchers is a great way to encourage potential customers to try a product.
  • Brochures/Pamphlets. Sometimes you need to give potential customers a bit more detail about your products or services. Brochures and pamphlets are a terrific way to do this – especially in B2B direct mail marketing campaigns.
  • Catalogues. This format is most suited to businesses that want to showcase their products and services to a specific industry or sector.
  • 3D Mail. Sending promotional material in a unique format creates a sense of intrigue and anticipation. As well as using distinctive designs such as boxes, you can even send VR or AR components to create an immersive experience. However, if you do want to use dimensional mail, you need to pay careful consideration to the logistics. Nobody wants to have to go to the post office to collect marketing materials that wouldn’t fit through the letterbox!

Does direct mail still work?

Research suggests direct mail provides the highest ROI of all media. And despite what you might think, all generations react positively to direct mail.

Direct mail is one of the best-kept secrets in marketing. And when you add new technological developments such as advanced demographic targeting into the mix, this tried, tested, and trusted form of advertising is only becoming more powerful.

Today, if you attend a marketing conference or follow advertising experts on social media, you’ll undoubtedly be immersed in a world of digital marketing, social media influencers, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). And, while these all have value, it pays to remember that other options are available.

Research shows that the number of emails sent and received per day in 2023 is a staggering 347.3 billion Radicati Group, Inc.. And with people receiving up to 10,000 brand messages every single day {The IE School of Human Sciences & Technology), it’s no wonder we feel bombarded. In response, many of us are using all the tools at our disposal to digitally declutter and block the marketing ‘spam’.

Direct mail provides organisations with the means to penetrate this clutter. Forming a personal connection between businesses and their potential customers, receiving something in the post cuts through the noise of online channels. What’s more, unlike email marketing, there is no filter determining whether or not your prospect will see the marketing you have carefully crafted.

Direct mail might be perceived by some as old-school, but it works. And it works really, really, well. Put simply, direct mail provides the highest ROI of all media ANA Response Rate Report. And despite what you might think, all generations react positively to direct mail.

  • 50% of consumers 35+ say that direct mail feels more important than email communication from a brand.(Lob)
  • 57% of millennials act on direct mail offers.(UPS)
  • 72% of Gen Z look forward to discovering mail with excitement.(UPS)

If that isn’t compelling enough, many companies have simply forgotten about direct mail as they clamour to excel in their digital marketing efforts. So, fewer businesses are operating in the direct mail space, and less competition means it’s easier to get noticed.

“Direct Marketing is evolving every day; in some cases, it seems that we have come full circle. A few years ago, there was the rush to telemarketing, and then came the rush to the Internet. Now marketers are starting to understand that all of these – telephone, mail, internet, e-mail, so-called ‘new media’ – are simply alternative channels that enable direct contact with a customer.”
Audrey Price-Dix

Direct mail is one of the best-kept secrets in marketing. And when you add new technological developments such as advanced demographic targeting into the mix, this tried, tested, and trusted form of advertising is only becoming more powerful.

Direct mail complements an integrated marketing strategy

Direct mail doesn’t have to stand alone, and this exceptionally potent marketing tool becomes even more formidable when integrated into a more comprehensive marketing strategy. Indeed, according to the Royal Mail Group, integrated campaigns that included door drops achieved +18% more frequency, and +7% more reach. And the proportion of direct mail that is driving web visits is growing 50% year-on-year DMA.

Direct mail – especially when backed by pinpoint targeting – can be a highly personalised form of advertising. And we all know that personalisation enhances the overall customer experience and fosters stronger connections with a brand. Here are just some ways that direct mail can enrich the effectiveness of your wider marketing efforts:

  • When used in tandem with digital channels such as email, social media, and websites, direct mail helps to increase visibility and engagement while reinforcing key brand messages across various touchpoints.
  • Direct mail can boost the take up of digital offers and incentives. For example, sending a coupon or promotional code through the post can encourage recipients to visit a businesses’ website to use the code online.
  • By adding QR codes and URLs to your leaflets, you can drive traffic to your digital channels and encourage recipients to explore your online offerings.
  • You can use data gleaned from digital campaigns to inform the geographic areas or demographics for your next direct mail distribution.
  • By incorporating bespoke URLs and landing pages into your direct mailers, you can better measure the response and effectiveness of your marketing endeavours.

10 steps to creating a successful direct mail campaign

1 Define your messaging
2 Define your target audience
3 Offer something of value
4 Set your budget
5 Update your mailing list
6 Create eye-catching designs
7 Include a call-to-action
8 Test your campaigns
9 Analyse your results
10 Final results

If you want to get your key business messages into people’s hands, direct mail marketing could be the best approach for your business. But, to deliver results, you must do more than just pop a leaflet through a letterbox.

Careful planning is essential to ensure you have all the building bricks to run a successful direct mail marketing campaign. And it guarantees that your efforts are focused, targeted, and aligned with your overall business objectives.

1. Figure out what you want to say

Today’s businesses have a variety of messages they wish to convey to the wider world. But saying everything to everybody rarely works.

Your direct mail marketing campaign needs a clear purpose. Whether that’s to communicate a new product, share news about a seasonal offer, or launch a store in a new area.

So, before you do anything else, decide exactly what you want your direct mail campaign to achieve. For inspiration, we recommend you read our blog on direct mail ideas.

2. Define your target audience

Once you’ve decided what you want to say, it’s equally important to establish who you want to say it to. A well-planned direct mail campaign should have an identified target audience and an understanding of your recipients’ specific needs and preferences. Once you have this, you can ensure that your marketing messages are relevant and resonate, increasing the chances of engagement and conversion.

3. Offer something of value

It’s essential that your direct mailer offers value to your audience. Think about what your potential customers would like to hear from you, and what you can do to meet this need. By putting yourself into the shoes of your target audience, you will establish a more personal connection and ensure that your mailings are warmly received.

4. Set your budget

As with any marketing activity, it can be easy to overspend. So, establish your intended budget early on in your campaign. How much does direct mail marketing cost? Well, prices will vary by campaign. As well as design and print, you also need to factor postage costs into your budget.

And, despite the affordability of direct mail, costs can mount up. A trusted direct mail marketing agency will advise you on price and offer some simple ways to make the process more cost-effective.

5. Personalise your mail

When it comes to results, 78% of consumers are more likely to make repeat purchases from brands that personalise their advertising (Mckinsey & Company). Accordingly, adding something as simple as a first name to a direct mailer could make a difference to how a potential customer feels. What’s more, according to the same study:

  • 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personal interactions
  • 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.

However, personalisation isn’t just about adding someone’s details to your marketing material. It’s also about what you know about them and how targeted your messages are. Creating direct mail that appeals directly to the recipients’ demographics, wants, and needs is a great way to generate interest and have people respond favourably to your business. In other words, finding your niche and targeting your campaign is one of the keys to success.

Factors to consider when personalising your campaigns include:

  • Age and gender
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Employment status
  • Household/family structure
  • Homeowner status
  • Car owner status.

A quick word of warning!

In the GDPR-era, your marketing campaigns must be compliant with the latest data protection laws. You can still send direct mail campaigns, but if using personal data, you must make it easy for customers to opt-out. You must also ensure that, should you process data in your direct mail campaigns, you do this in a way that complies with the broader requirements of the GDPR.

The Information Commissioner’s Office – which is the UK’s data protection watchdog – has provided some helpful guidance and information to support your direct marketing activities.

6. Create/update your mailing list

Your mailing list is one of your most important assets when it comes to direct mail marketing. But you can’t just create it and forget it. Whether you are using your own data or purchasing addresses from a third party, you must check, refine and update your mailing list before every direct mail distribution to ensure you do not waste your efforts and budget.

“A business without a mailing list is not a business.”
Dan S. Kennedy

If you do not have access to personal data, or if you are concerned about GDPR, it is possible to create door-to-door leaflet distribution campaigns that do not rely on an individual’s information. But what’s the difference?

  • Direct mail marketing sees material addressed to an individual
  • Door-drop campaigns send material to an address rather than a person.

By strategically targeting specific postcodes where your target audience resides, door drops can help you boost awareness and acquire new business, without using any personal information.

7. Create an eye-catching design

Good design is essential if you want your direct mail campaign to be effective. An eye-catching design won’t just capture attention; it will also make a positive brand impression, reflecting your business’s credibility. Successful design should also ensure that your messages are conveyed clearly and concisely, with persuasive and easy-to-read text positioned to improve readability and flow.

8. Add a call-to-action

Don’t forget to add clear call-to-actions to you advertising collateral. Whatever your objective, your direct mail should make the user want to do something and take action to satisfy that want. So, decide what you want the recipients to do and show them how to do it. Once done, and you are happy with the design, remember to proofread your mailers and check your links!

9. Test your campaigns

Once you have everything in place, it is a good idea to test your direct marketing on a smaller audience, rather than printing and sending out all your mailers in one go. Testing the success of your material will let you know what works, and what doesn’t, before you commit to a larger run. In some cases, it is worth using A/B testing to try out different designs and see what delivers the best ROI.

10. Analyse your results

There are a few different ways to track the success of your direct mail campaigns. And what can be measured should be measured. You can adopt a manual approach to monitor things like links clicked, landing page conversions, etc. In addition, if you appoint a specialist direct mail marketing agency, they should be able to offer detailed distribution reporting and analysis for your campaigns.

Use an experienced direct mail agency

At Blue Market Media, we are a veteran direct mail agency. And we have everything it takes to ensure a successful campaign that delivers results for your business. Providing a complete turnkey service, we can help with the strategy, design, copy, print and distribution of your direct mail campaigns. And, with a commitment to customer excellence, you can trust us to deliver exceptional service and premium results.

Whether you want to send out 10k or 500k+ leaflets, our comprehensive, all-in-one direct mail service is backed by experience and expertise that our competitors can’t match.

  • Turnkey Service – we manage design, print and distribution.
  • National Reach – of up to 30 million properties across all UK postcodes.
  • Customer Profiling – maximise ROI by only reaching your target audience.
  • Fast Turnaround – quick and efficient turnaround for all leaflet campaigns.
  • Campaign Reporting – detailed leaflet distribution reporting and analysis.

Book your free direct mail marketing consultation by calling us today on 020 3538 9753 or complete our website enquiry form.

Conclusion: Is direct mail dead?

While direct mail is still being used as a marketing strategy by many businesses, its effectiveness has been challenged due to the rise of digital advertising channels, paid social and email marketing. But, despite its critics, a well-executed direct mail campaign can still yield impressive results.

Nevertheless, to cement direct mail’s status in the marketing landscape, it has to be done correctly. And the effectiveness of direct mail depends on various factors, including the target audience, the relevance of the content, the quality of the print, the timing of the campaign, and the integration with other marketing channels. This is why it is critical to hire direct mail specialists who know what they are doing.

When you do get it right, direct mail can generate real marketing magic. So much so that you could see your phone ring off the hook, your website receive hundreds of clicks, and your sales team dealing with an overflow of orders!

Across the globe, industry experts are showing us that, time and time again, direct mail is continuing to deliver impressive results and outperforming other marketing channels. So, far from being dead, direct mail is raising brand awareness, creating leads, and boosting sales for those businesses savvy enough to use it as part of their integrated marketing campaigns.

In fact, according to one study “at a time when the inflation rate has remained in the double-digits and consumers’ wallets are feeling more stretched than ever, mail has again proven itself to be an effective channel to communicate with households when times are tough.” (JICMAIL)

In short, direct mail is very much alive, well, and flourishing. Even in our digital age.

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