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FAQs from Marketers: The Four Basics of Direct Mail



09.20.2021

FAQs from Marketers: Understanding the Basics of Direct Mail

Have you ever opened your mailbox to find a personalized offer from a brand? It might look like a coupon from your local bakery for a free loaf of sourdough, or a letter from your insurance provider offering 10% off for bundling home and auto. It could range from a basic flyer to a comprehensive, personalized piece of oversized mail.

If your answer is yes, then you’ve received direct mail.

For the marketer considering adding direct mail to the mix, let's cover the four most frequently asked questions about direct mail, including:

  1. What is direct mail?
  2. What are the different formats of direct mail?
  3. How do you build a direct mail list?
  4. How much does direct mail cost?

1) What is direct mail?

Direct mail is defined by Canada Post as “physical advertising sent through the mail to find new customers and increase the value of existing ones.” It allows you to carefully target customers with precise messages, customized offers and promotions.

Canada Post Direct Mail Statistics
Statistics from Canada Post

For marketers, direct mail can be a powerful medium to include in your marketing mix. When properly designed, DM campaigns combine physicality, data and connectivity to achieve the best results and produce the highest ROI.

  • Physicality – Research has shown that the physical nature of direct mail is proven to generate a 20% higher response rate than digital messaging.
  • Data – With direct mail, you can target the customers that matter most for your business. Target geographic, demographic and psychographic segments where people are likely to respond to your offer and transform prospects into valued customers.
  • Connectivity – Direct mail complements other marketing media, particularly digital. Incorporate it to get your brand and messaging noticed and remembered, raise brand awareness, and drive customer engagement.

2) What are the different formats of direct mail?

The options are endless when it comes to direct mail formats, shapes and sizes. Each has features and benefits that could work for you, depending on your campaign.

Here are the most common formats of direct mail:

Self Mailers

    Self mailers, including postcards and coupons, are one of the most cost-effective forms of DM. Since your customer address is printed directly on the piece, there is no need for an envelope.

    You can be endlessly creative with self mailers. If you’re a pizza shop, you can design a coupon in the shape of a pizza. If you’re a realtor, a postcard in the shape of a house. While best practice is to use a durable cardstock, your self mailer doesn’t have to be a basic format—it can have multiple folding panes and vary in shape and size like the examples below.

    Self Mailer Samples
    Designed by WCD Creative

    Catalogues

    Catalogues allow you to include more information than other direct mail formats, so you can tell your brand story and describe your products in more detail. Many businesses use catalogues to send look books, gift guides, or seasonal collections to their customers around important dates.

      Mailing a catalogue is more expensive, so you’ll want to make sure to send them to a highly targeted list of customers or prospects that you know want to hear about your products and services.

      Outer Envelope and Letter

      For more detailed or personalized offers, letters are a great way to reach your customers. Plus, using an envelope provides you with extra real estate to print a unique and eye-catching design.

      Personalized Mail Samples
      Designed by WCD Creative

      3) How do you build a direct mail list?

      One of the most important parts of a successful direct mail campaign is targeting the right people with your message. There are three standard targeting methods you can use to build your direct mail list, including Canada Post Neighbourhood Mail™, Postal Code Targeting, and Canada Post Personalized Mail™.

      Canada Post Neighbourhood Mail™

      Neighbourhood Mail targeting is used to reach mailboxes in a specific neighbourhood, region, or even the entire country. It’s ideal for mass awareness campaigns and acquiring new customers. As an example, restaurants often use this type of targeting to reach new customers in the neighbourhoods nearby their physical location.

      Postal Code Targeting

      Postal Code Targeting is a very precise method of reaching customers that match your ideal customer profile. Using demographic, psychographic and geographic data, you can home in on audiences that have certain characteristics—such as household income, age of the residents, pet and car ownership and many other data sets.

      Canada Post Personalized Mail™

      Personalized Mail is used for one-to-one communication, enabling you to personalize the message and creative for your customer. The mailing data for Personalized Mail can either come from your own list of customer contacts, or you can buy/rent a list from Canada Post.

      Personalized Mail is best for helping you acquire new customers, deepen connections with existing ones and build customer loyalty. For example, not-for-profits often rent lists to obtain new donors, and banks often use Personalized Mail to communicate with their customers or send them special promotions.

      Canada Post Targeting
      Image from Canada Post

      For more information on types of targeting, visit Canada Post.

        4) How much does direct mail cost?

        The costs for direct mail can seem ambiguous, but they’re simpler than you might think. There are three key components to consider when pricing out your DM campaign.

        Creative

        The cost of designing your direct mailer depends on whether you’re designing the piece in-house, using an agency, or using a Smartmail Marketing Expert Partner (like WCD Creative) to design your piece.

        Printing

        Factors including the quantity, paper stock, size and finishing of your direct mail piece will impact the price of printing. A basic postcard printed in a bulk quantity could start around $0.15 per piece. For more complex campaigns that involve printing and packaging several pages in personalized envelopes, the cost could be a few dollars per piece.

        Contact us directly for a free, no obligation quote on direct mail design and print >

        Mailing

        Canada Post’s pricing depends on factors like the size, weight and distribution of your piece. To give you an example of what a Neighbourhood Mailer would cost, sending one flyer to every address on a postal route (approximately 500 addresses) would cost as little as $0.17 per piece. You pay: $0.17/flyer x 500 = $85.

          Working with a Canada Post Smartmail Marketing™ Expert Partner like WCD can save you up to 15% on postage rates. Learn more about our direct mail services.


          How can WCD help with your direct mail campaign?

          Our direct mail experts will work closely with you to understand your campaign goals and will recommend a strategic approach that maximizes the effectiveness and ROI of your direct marketing campaign. As Smartmail Marketing™ Expert Partners, we provide creative design, print, preparation and mailing services under a single roof.


          06.10.2024

          Why Aren’t Your Direct Mail Campaigns Successful? Common Pitfalls to Avoid

          Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or a small business owner, crafting a direct mail marketing campaign can be daunting—especially if past attempts haven't yielded the results you expected. Many businesses dip their toes into direct mail with a single postcard campaign and are quick to write it off when the returns don’t immediately materialize. If this sounds familiar, fret not. This article will equip you with the strategic insights needed to create a successful direct mail campaign, moving beyond the basics and diving into the key components that can make or break your marketing efforts. We’ll explore: What is direct mail marketing?The three ingredients for a successful direct mail campaignWhat to look for in a direct mail services provider How to get started with your first direct mail campaign What is Direct Mail Marketing? Direct mail marketing, often referred to as Smartmail Marketing by Canada Post, involves sending physical marketing materials directly to the homes or offices of targeted consumers. Although digital channels have dominated over the past decade, this more traditional form of marketing remains highly relevant, engaging potential customers in a direct and personal way. In fact, over 60% of Canadians feel a strengthened relationship with businesses that reach out via direct mail, proving its potential impact. 3 Ingredients for Successful Direct Mail Marketing 1) Solid Campaign Strategy As with any marketing campaign, direct mail requires a comprehensive strategy that addresses the goals, objectives, key messaging, and other essential elements needed to effectively reach your target audience. If your outreach is focused on acquiring new customers, a single mail drop may not be sufficient to see the results you’re hoping for. Over time, a successful direct mail strategy will create brand familiarity with multiple touchpoints. Consider planning a series of mail drops throughout the year, such as quarterly mailings, to maintain engagement and brand recall with your audience. This approach ensures your message is reinforced over time, allowing you to adjust your strategy based on your audience’s response and market trends. 2) Digital Component to Campaigns Did you know that blending digital marketing with direct mail is proven to enhance the effectiveness of both? Statistics show that direct mail campaigns integrated with digital efforts lead to a 40% higher brand recall and significantly more engagement. By coordinating your direct mail with online campaigns, you can create a cohesive marketing strategy that leverages the strengths of both mediums. Here’s an example of what that might look like in your campaign strategy. Consider you're launching a new product line. You start with an attention-grabbing direct mail piece—perhaps a beautifully designed postcard or a small sample package. This mailer not only announces the product but also includes a unique QR code that directs recipients to a special landing page on your website. The page might offer more detailed information about the product, an introductory discount, or even an invitation to sign up for an exclusive webinar. At the same time, you launch targeted digital ads that echo the design and message of the direct mail piece. These ads would appear on social media platforms and Google, reinforcing the message seen in your audience’s mailbox. As recipients of the direct mail visit the landing page, your digital ads can also employ retargeting techniques to keep your brand and message top of mind, increasing the likelihood of engagement. By integrating these digital and traditional channels, you’ve now created multiple touchpoints with your audience, enhancing their journey from initial curiosity to final purchase. 3) Big-Picture Budget Effective direct mail campaigns are not about one-off attempts but a sustained effort that integrates seamlessly with your overall marketing strategy. Budgeting at minimum $12,000-$15,000 annually for localized direct mail marketing campaigns can provide the necessary funds to craft impactful, creative content and maintain a consistent mailing schedule that will genuinely resonate with your audience. For larger companies with larger audiences, this number can vary widely. This may leave you wondering: how do we track the ROI of our direct mail campaigns? Like most marketing initiatives, there’s no perfect science. However, there are some tried and true methods for tracking the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns that we dive into in this article, including: Using trackable coupons or promo codesLeveraging customized URLs on your mailersDedicated phone numbers and emails to track replies Using QR codes to track scans and form completions If you’re looking for a more low-budget, one-and-done marketing tactic, a digital initiative such as paid advertising may be a better option for your business. What to Look for in a Direct Mail Services Provider When choosing a partner for your direct mail campaigns, look for a provider with a comprehensive suite of services that go beyond just printing and mailing. Partnering with a Canada Post Smartmail Marketing™ Expert like WCD ensures you're working with a team skilled in strategic planning and creative design. These partners can help optimize your campaigns for maximum impact and efficiency. As a Smartmail Marketing™ Expert Partner, we’ll work with your team to create direct mail advertising that uses highly effective messaging and thoughtful creative to build brand awareness, produce quality leads, and attract new customers. Need help with campaign design? Our in-house design agency crafts integrated direct mail campaigns that get results. Jumpstart Your Direct Mail Marketing Ready to switch up your marketing approach? When executed with a thoughtful strategy, direct mail marketing can significantly elevate your brand's visibility and engagement. Download our FREE 6-Step Guide to Direct Mail Marketing to begin crafting campaigns that not only reach but resonate with your audience.

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          11.23.2023

          3 Ways to Integrate Digital and Direct Mail In Your Next Marketing Campaign

          If you’re a marketer, you know firsthand how quickly the marketing landscape shifts. But as algorithms update and trends come and go, there’s one tried and true traditional marketing tactic that has stood the test of time—and that’s direct mail marketing. In a marketplace driven by digital experiences, direct mail alone may not give you the results you’re looking for. However, research shows that integrating direct mail with more modern digital marketing and data-driven strategies can create powerful campaigns. In fact, people pay 39% more attention to integrated direct mail and digital campaigns than they do to single-media digital campaigns. Just imagine the impact that could have on your campaign results and ROI! TL;DR — Integrating digital marketing and data-informed strategies with direct mail can enhance the effectiveness of both. To get your creative marketing gears turning, here are three innovative ways to merge digital and physical for maximum impact, including: Personalized URLs and QR codes Leveraging data for targeted mailing Syncing email marketing with direct mail 1) Personalized URLs and QR Codes One of the most effective ways to integrate digital marketing into direct mail is by using Personalized URLs (PURLs) or QR codes. These tools create a seamless transition from a physical mail piece to a digital platform. Here’s how it works: PURLs: These are unique, personalized web addresses included in your direct mail piece. When a recipient types this URL into their browser, they're taken to a highly personalized landing page that might greet them by name and offer tailored content or special deals based on their preferences or past interactions with your brand. QR Codes: These are scannable codes printed on your mail piece. While QR codes have been overused in some aspects of marketing, print materials are where they really shine. When scanned with a smartphone, they direct the recipient to a specific web page. This could be a promotional video, a sign-up form, or a special offer. Using PURLs or QR codes allows you to track engagement levels and gather data on your audience’s preferences, which couldn’t be achieved without the digital aspects of the campaign. These methods provide real-time insights on landing page visitors and conversions, so you can more accurately measure the ROI of your integrated marketing campaign. That’s a major win! Using QR Codes on Neighbourhood Mail Neighbourhood Mail™ is one of three categories of direct mail marketing offered by Canada Post. Because it targets generalized neighbourhoods or regions, it’s ideal for mass awareness campaigns if you’re looking to acquire new customers. If you live in Canada, you likely receive Neighbourhood Mail™ often because it is the least targeted and most economical option of the three. Whether it’s your local pizza shop or home hardware store, small businesses often send postcards or pamphlets via Neighbourhood Mail™. To streamline the customer experience, they’ll add a QR code to lead the customer back online without having to type in a URL manually. Next time you check the mail, see if you can find a piece of direct mail with a QR code on it and let us know—do you think this tactic is effective? 2) Leveraging Customer Data for Targeting From your social media accounts to past order addresses—your marketing team is sitting on a goldmine of customer data and insights. Leveraging these insights, you can create highly targeted direct mail campaign lists to significantly increase the relevance and impact of your mailer. Here's how: Analyze your audience Dive into your audience insights to better understand their preferences, interests, and buying habits. This could include demographic data including household income, locations, age and marital status. But depending on the nature of your business, you could also go deeper into things like the type of car they own, whether they like to take winter vacations, or whether they live in an older home. How is all this relevant? Well, you’ll have to read on to find out. Find similar customers Say you own a roofing business and you want to send marketing messages only to areas where people live in older homes that may need new roofing. Or perhaps you’re an auto dealer looking to sell more inventory of pre-owned cars. By segmenting your data to give you a list of customers that have previously purchased these things from you, you can use Canada Post’s Postal Code Targeting services to find similar customers. How does it work? Because you likely have your customer’s addresses on file from past order details, you can use Postal Code Targeting to send direct mail campaigns to postal codes that have similar audience attributes to your existing lists. This method of targeting is based on the old adage, “birds of the same feather flock together.” Meaning, people generally live in the same area as similar people. Imagine if you saw a neighbour getting their roof updated, and days later, you received a direct mail piece that says, “Your neighbour just got their roof done. Now it’s your turn!” with a 10% off promo. Could that level of personalization urge you to take action? 3) Synchronizing Email and Direct Mail Combining email marketing with direct mail creates a multi-touchpoint campaign that reinforces your message. Here’s a simple strategy to integrate the two: Begin with an email announcing a special offer or a piece of valuable content.Follow up with a direct mail piece that delivers on the promise made in the email. This could be a detailed brochure, a sample product, or a personalized discount code.Use a subsequent email to follow up on the direct mail piece, perhaps asking for feedback or offering additional related online content. In this type of campaign, Personalized Mail is your go-to method. Personalized Mail is a one-to-one approach that mails a specific recipient and is personally addressed with their name. This works best for marketing to existing customers or to a list of previously engaged prospects who might already be familiar with your brand. Personalized Mail is often used for scenarios like inviting people to events, soliciting donations, reporting financial performance to stakeholders, or supporting loyalty card programs. Can you think of a time a company sent you a marketing message and followed up with a piece of direct mail? Many leading brands use this integrated method to nurture their audience. Sephora uses this method to market their Beauty Insider program and exclusive discounts, while Questrade uses it to send financial statements to their account holders. This synchronized approach ensures that your brand stays top-of-mind, as recipients encounter your message across multiple channels. The opportunities are truly endless! Curious About Creating a Direct Mail Campaign? Integrating digital marketing with direct mail creates a holistic approach that leverages the strengths of both. The key is to ensure that each element of the campaign complements and reinforces the others, creating a unified, multi-channel marketing strategy. With these tactics, your business can enhance engagement, improve response rates, and drive a higher ROI on your marketing campaigns. To dive deeper into the world of direct mail and learn how to build out your very own campaign, access our FREE 6-Step Guide to Direct Mail Marketing. Or if you’d rather not go it alone, learn how WCD can help you create your direct mail campaign—from strategy to design, printing, mailing and beyond.

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          06.16.2023

          5 Powerful Ways to Utilize Direct Mail for Your Business

          Do email and social media dominate your marketing strategy? With today’s screen-time statistics, it's easy to overlook the tried-and-true method of direct mail. Despite what some marketers assume, direct mail remains a highly effective tool for businesses to engage with their target audience in a tangible and personal way. With careful planning and execution, direct mail campaigns can yield impressive results and help your business stand out from the competition. Let’s explore five powerful ways your marketing team can leverage direct mail to drive growth and boost your business, including: Generating New LeadsNurturing Customer RelationshipsShowcasing New Products or ServicesDriving Website TrafficRe-Engaging Dormant CustomersOr, dive into the basics of direct mail > 1) Generate New Leads Direct mail can be an excellent tool for generating new leads and expanding your customer base. By strategically targeting specific demographics or geographic areas, you can reach potential customers who may not be as receptive to online marketing efforts. And the real money maker? Personalization—because 84% of consumers say they’d be more likely to pay attention to mail that speaks directly to them. Consider offering exclusive promotions or incentives to encourage recipients to take action, such as visiting your store, redeeming a coupon, or signing up for a newsletter. And don’t forget to include a compelling call-to-action that entices recipients to engage! 2) Nurture Customer Relationships Have you ever received a personalized reminder that it’s time to take your furry friend to the vet? “How nice!” you think, because it feels personal and caring for them to reach out. Direct mail provides an opportunity to nurture existing customer relationships and keep your brand top-of-mind. Consider sending personalized thank-you cards, birthday greetings, or anniversary offers to show your customers that you value their loyalty. By adding a personal touch and making your customers feel appreciated, you can foster long-term relationships and encourage repeat business. Learn how a local business grew with direct mail > 3) Showcase New Products or Services You’re beaming with pride over your new service offering—so much so, you want to shout it from the rooftops! Direct mail allows you to communicate with the people who matter most [your customers] in a visually appealing and informative way. Use high-quality images, engaging copy, and compelling offers to capture the attention of your target audience. Whether you're launching a new product line, introducing an upgraded service, or announcing a special promotion, direct mail can help you make a memorable impact and generate excitement among your customer base. 4) Drive Website Traffic Direct mail isn’t a one-and-done deal—it can and should be used alongside digital channels to drive the best engagement. A study by Canada Post shows that integrating direct mail with digital tactics in a campaign increases brand recall by 40% and makes consumers 39% more likely to pay attention. Include QR codes, personalized URLs (PURLs), or unique coupon codes in your direct mail pieces to encourage recipients to visit your website for more information, or to make a purchase. This integration of offline and online marketing channels creates a seamless customer journey and enhances the overall effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. 5) Re-engage Dormant Customers Direct mail is a powerful way to re-engage with customers who haven't interacted with your business in a while. How? First, segment your customer database based on their purchase history or engagement levels, and then send targeted direct mail pieces that reignite their interest. Consider offering exclusive discounts, sneak peeks of upcoming products, or personalized recommendations based on your customer’s previous purchases. By showing them that you value their past support and want to rekindle the relationship, you stand a better chance of bringing them back into the fold. While digital channels continue to evolve and play a vital role in your growth strategy, direct mail remains an effective and impactful tool to add to the marketing mix. Remember, the key to success lies in creating targeted, personalized, and visually appealing direct mail campaigns that resonate with your audience. So, don't overlook the power of direct mail—it may just be the missing ingredient in your perfect recipe.

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