Add Direct Mail to your Marketing Plan in 12 Steps

Add Direct Mail to your Marketing Plan in 12 Steps

Direct Mail is an essential part of the marketing mix and it’s even more relevant for printers. What better way to showcase your products to new customers, or remind your current customers of your service than by sending it to them!

Plus, InfoTrends conducted research which found that 66% of direct mail is opened and 82% of those are read for a minute or more. Compare those results to your other marketing channels and it’s easy to see why direct mail is worth the investment.

While creating and sending direct mail takes a lot of planning, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow our 12-step guide below to ensure your next direct mail campaign runs effortlessly!

1. Craft your message

Craft Message

The most important part of any direct mail campaign is deciding what you want to say and who you want to tell. Research by Proactive Marketing found people prefer to receive brochures and catalogues, welcome packs, bills or statements, loyalty reminders and communications regarding an issue or complaint by mail over email. When you’ve identified your message, consider whether direct mail is the best medium before you get started.

2. Goal setting

Goal Setting

What is the purpose of this communication? Would you like to gain more sales from existing customers, raise awareness of your company or a new product, or gain new customers? Whatever the purpose, you should create SMART goals so you can track whether the campaign was successful which will help you evaluate whether you should do more or less direct mail campaigns in the future.


What are SMART Goals?

Specific: Outline exactly what you want to achieve and by when. Instead of simply growing brand awareness, grow it by 15%!

Measurable: Do you have something to measure? Putting a number on your goal helps to effectively measure your results.

Achievable: Are you aiming to do something that you can achieve? As a business owner, aim to increase sales, and not to score a goal in the World Cup!

Realistic: Don’t set your sights too high otherwise you’ll never reach your goal. Instead think smaller and keep setting new goals when you hit them. You’ll feel even more motivated when you start ticking off those achievements.

Timely: Add a timescale to your goal so you know when to stop and evaluate your progress. If your goal is working well but you fell just short, increase your deadline.

An example of a SMART goal is:

  • To increase Facebook page likes by 50% within 6 months.
  • To grow sales by 25% in 2 months.

3. Budget


You probably have a budget in mind, so remember the cost of this campaign goes beyond just the printing of the item you’re sending. Incorporate the cost of envelopes, labels, design and postage to get a full idea of the costs involved. If you’re over budget, consider reducing the number you send, sending a less expensive item, or sending a lighter item to save on postage.

4. Project Management

Project Manage

While planning your direct mail campaign, you may have a rough idea of when you want the item to arrive. For example, when promoting a new product you’ll want to let your customers know as the product is launching, and not a month later. We recommend you work backwards from your intended deadline to keep your project on track.

An example of a timeline is as follows:
1 November 2017: your preferred arrival date
27 October 2017: post DM by second class (3 working days)
25 October: Stuff envelopes (2 working days)
18 October 2017: Send item for print (for example, 1000 A6 flyers on saver: one week)
16 October 2017: Send envelopes to print (for example, 1000 CMYK C5 envelopes on standard: 8 working days)
2 October 2017: Start designing item (2 weeks lead time)

If you are running out of time, you can speed things up by upgrading your print from saver to standard or express delivery, or posting first class. Alternatively, if you’re running over budget you can opt for longer delivery times to help reduce the costs.

5. Choose a product

Choose a product

Now that you have your message prepared and you understand any time and budget restrictions, you can decide which is the most suitable item to send. Depending on your message, you might choose a perfect bound product catalogue, a greeting card, a fridge magnet, a deskpad or wallplanner. Remember to adjust your budget and timeframe accordingly!


6. Design


Whether you design your item yourself or outsource to a freelancer or design agency, you should factor in both the time and costs associated with this.

To make your DM really stand out, consider sending in a printed envelope, now available from Tradeprint. This new addition to our range can be used to mirror the design of the enclosed DM, to raise brand awareness or to print a tempting message to encourage an even higher open rate.

7. Create your Mailing List

Mailing List

If you don’t already hold a mailing list, this is the perfect time to set one up. Create an excel file and list all the relevant details you hold on your customers, such as first name, surname, company name, address, town, postcode, telephone number and email address.

If you already hold a mailing list, this is the perfect time to clean the data. You can ensure you send only to relevant people for whom you hold all the necessary information.

NOTE: the same rules apply to direct mail as to email. You must obtain the appropriate permission to contact everyone on your mailing list. Ensure you have an opt in procedure, such as adding a clause to your contract that customers are automatically subscribed to your mailing list, and take sign-up sheets to events you attend. You must always act within the law, so ensure you give these people the opportunity to opt out and never pass contact details on to a third party.

8. Print


With your mailing list organised, you now know the quantity of print required. Similarly to the design stage, you have to factor in the time and cost, whether you print these yourself or outsource to another printer.

9. Labels


While your items are in the print queue, double check your mailing list data is accurate and clean. You can start printing your addresses onto labels so you have all the components ready to go while you wait on your print to help speed up the process.

10. Envelope Stuffing


Nearly there! You have all the individual components ready so now you have to put them together. Put your direct mail into the envelope, put a label on the envelope and finish with a stamp. If you have a franking machine you can save even more time and money by printing the postage directly onto the envelope.

11. Post


Head to your local post office with your direct mail, all ready to go!

12. Evaluate


Look back at your SMART goals and measure whether you achieved them. If you were successful, consider what else you can achieve with DM. If you just missed your goal, consider what you can change to make it more successful next time. Or if you completely missed your goal, consider whether the message was suitable for this channel.

Also, remember to remove any opt outs from your mailing list to keep your data clean.



Outsourcing can save you time and a lot of headaches. Although there will be higher costs involved, sometimes your time is better spent elsewhere, such as helping your customers or growing your business.

There are direct mail companies where you can send your printed items and mailing list, and they take care of the labels, envelope stuffing and postage.

You can outsource your direct mail printing to Tradeprint, and we’ll happily send your printed items directly to a direct mail company or to yourself. We can even take on your design work too, so your only concern is proving a mailing list and design brief. By outsourcing your print to us, you don’t risk clogging up your capacity with your own work, and instead can keep your customers work running on time. You can also try some new products without the risk. Try a new finish or fold, and if popular with your customers, simply send any orders to us.

These 12 easy steps should help you become a master of direct mail. So what are you waiting for? Showcase your best work to your customers and inspire them to create their own direct mail campaigns too!

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