The A-Z of direct mail

By Isla Munro

5 minute Read


  • Insight

The ultimate A – Z of direct mail marketing, brought to you by Dragonfly!

A is for artwork – First impressions count! The look and feel of a direct marketing piece will grab your audience’s attention in the first millisecond. Make sure to follow brand guidelines and keep creative online and offline consistent.

B is for budget - Direct marketing can be a cost-effective way to communicate with your customers and target customers. When plan a budget, take data processing, postage and production costs into consideration. Don’t think a one-off mailing will do the trick. DM is like a club, once you have paid the membership fee you must keep paying your monthly subscription, so keep mailing! 

C is for copy – Keep copy simple. Use language that resonates with the audience you are speaking to. If it doesn’t make sense to you, will it make sense to them?

D is for data – Your database is at the heart of all good marketing activity. The information you hold is gold dust that can tell you about trends and habits. Make sure you invest in keeping your data in good health – run health checks to remove duplicates, moved or deceased contacts. Why would you send mail to people to who are no longer there?

E is for engagement - Different audiences engage in direct mail in different ways. Older generations think a brown envelope means a bill, whereas digitally savvy younger audiences who aren’t used to receiving mail appreciate quality paper stocks and high-quality designs brightly displayed on the outside of an envelope.

F is for formats – There are many different direct marketing formats including direct mail shots, door drops, press inserts, email marketing, SMS and social media. The method most appropriate for your business will depend on who you are targeting, the message you want get across and the response you want to generate.

G is for GDPR – It’s well over a year since GDPR came into force. And what a great thing it is! The ICO allow you to mail cold data under the Legitimate Interest Act, so you can still grow your database and speak to new and existing customers.

H is for housemovers – Did you know there is a whole host of data sets available to target the 66 million people in the UK? Have you recently moved to a new house and been sent flyers from utility companies, tradesmen, or your local council? It’s not a fluke! This has all been planned based on data!

I is for insight – In the world of marketing, finding good insights is vital to the success of campaigns. Any insight you gather is a true revelation of your consumer. If you know what they think, how they behave or what they feel, then you can target them in the way they want.

J is for journey – What do you want your customer to do once they receive your direct mail piece? The conversation doesn’t end once an action has been completed. All good marketing campaigns are planned with a beginning, middle and end. Have you mapped your journey?

K is for knowledge – Knowledge is king! What ways can you test and learn from your direct marketing? Keep a control pack and introduce a test element to each campaign to learn what your audience react to best. It could be changing the envelope shape, colour, adding personalisation or a specific picture.

L is for learnings – Log all your learnings so you can track what works and what doesn’t. There are loads of great CRM and marketing systems out there that can help!

M is for message - A direct marketing campaign with a clear call to action can help you boost your sales to existing customers, increase customer loyalty, recapture old customers and generate new business. Make sure the message is clear and relevant!

N is for new business – How do you acquire new customers, new business, new contacts, new suppliers? Writing a letter, sending a brochure or mailing an offer are all great ways to engage a new audience.

O is for omni channel – What’s the first thing people do when they receive direct mail? Go online! So, make sure your campaign message, creative and journey carries across omni marketing channels.

P is for personalised – You get much more engagement and a better response when you add personalisation to mail. Think about it: if you were to send your friend John a card, would you just write ‘Hi!’ Or would you write ‘Hi John!’?   

Q is for quality – The standard of marketing materials reflects your business. Quality can be created from formats, paper, foiling, design, die cutting, fonts, colours and texture. Or, from adding testimonials, Trust Pilot logos, pictures of ambassadors or the recycle logo.  

R is for reading – Can your recipient clearly read your mail pack? And the call to action within it? Royal Mail have guidelines on fonts and sizes that can help your mail deliver. 

S is for sales – Always include a call to action. What are you selling and how do you want the customer to buy that service or product? Make it stand out – a dark circle on a lighter background gets the best results.

T is for targeting – A poorly planned or targeted campaign can be a total waste of money. Take time before you hit print to make sure you have considered who you are mailing and when it will land in their letterbox.

U is for USP – What makes you stand out from your competitors? Use this unique selling point in your direct marketing as it will make you stand out from the crowd.

V is for validation – Why should a consumer pick you? Validate your offer or service with pictures, case studies, examples, or welcome copy. There is plenty of space on a direct marketing piece to validate yourself. 

W is for warehouse – Data warehouses, production warehouses, fulfilment warehouses, Royal Mail warehouses, paper warehouses… It all has to be stored somewhere. Mail is the third largest media channel in the UK by spend (after internet and TV)

X is for xxxx – kisses! That’s it!

Y is for YES! Yes, you can use direct marketing as part of your marketing plan! It’s easy and efficient and has worked for many brands for many years.

Z is for zig zag – Zig zag fold also known as the concertina fold. There are hundreds of creative formats you can use in direct marketing. Being quirky can help you stand out.

Isla Munro image

About the author

Isla is an experienced Managing Director, marketeer and leader. Driven by creative data led solutions, she takes pride in providing the best direct marketing campaigns and strategies. As Dragonfly’s Managing Director, her goals include delivering growth not just for her clients, but her team too. Isla sits on the Royal Mail Strategic Mailing Partnership board and the DMA Scotland committee and has spoken at many industry events on topics including GDPR and direct marketing.