Welcome to the fourth part of our 2015 Effective Marketing blog series – the Direct Mail Marketing Plan! So far, we have covered social media marketing plans, content marketing plans, and why it is important for businesses to have them.

Any good marketing campaign should start with a plan. The great American writer Elbert Hubbard once said, “A goal without a plan is just a dream.” Marketing is one of the single most important places you should focus your attention on when planning for your business. Marketing equals profit for your business when it is done right, and most businesses do not put as much effort into their marketing plans as they really should. In today’s blog post, we are going to review what you need to consider when planning your direct mail marketing campaigns.

Although direct mail usually results in a high ROI, it does require a bigger up-front investment than many other marketing strategies, so planning and scheduling your direct mail initiatives is even more important. Like any other marketing plan, you should start off by setting your marketing goals, defining your target audience, and figuring out how best to reach them. Once those are in place, you can move forward with planning your offers, scheduling and budgeting for them, and determining how you will evaluate the success of your direct mail campaigns.

Before you start your direct mail campaign, it is important to note that the direct mail process takes much longer than many other marketing strategies. It can take 5-10 weeks on average to plan, create and execute. If you do not plan your mailings, there may not be enough time to make it happen, so make sure you schedule all the different components of your campaign in advance to make sure you hit your deadline.


It is easy to overlook this step because you may already know what you want to do, but it is the most crucial step.

  • Budget Planning

Direct mail marketing is a cost-effective way to market your business. According to research by the CMO Council, the cost per order for direct mail campaigns stood at $51.40 for direct mail in 2014. It also has the highest rate of success in new customer acquisition at 34% compared with other marketing channels. They say it takes money to make money. How much should you spend in direct mail marketing? The answer depends on how much you can spend and the profit and/or benefit you expect to get out of it.

Once you have worked out how much you might invest in direct mail marketing, the campaign can be broken down into a few components:

  1. Targeted mailing lists
  2. Graphic design
  3. Paper, Envelopes, Supplies
  4. Printing & Production
  5. Mail processing & Fulfillmeny
  6. Postage
  • Mailing List Planning

Having a good mailing list is one of the most important parts of successful direct mail marketing. No matter how pretty your mailing piece is or how enticing your promotion is, if you are not reaching out to the right people, you are not going to succeed. The most helpful and convenient source for finding the right mailing list is by using a list company. A good list company will provide you with list recommendations that match your business goals.

  • Offer Planning

You should plan on what you are going to offer your audience in your direct mail campaigns throughout the year. Options such as discounts, incentives, free trials, holiday specials, and more can you help you move your campaign toward its goal of helping you increase revenue or prospects. Once you know what you want to offer the audience, you can start planning the format and design of the direct mail creative.

  • Format Selection

A direct mail campaign generally comprises of printed material, which needs to be copy-written, designed and produced. It is a good idea to have your piece written and laid out before scheduling the rest of your direct mail campaign. This way you are prepared and have something available for the creative team to work with. You will also have to meet with your graphic designer and find out how long it will take them to get the job done, including updated proofs. There are many different formats and designs to choose from when planning for direct mail marketing. Formats include postcards, letters, flyers, and brochures. Finding the right mail piece for your offer, industry, and budget is critical to the success of your campaign. If your goal is to get the reader to respond to the offer, graphics that do not contribute to your goal should not be included because they are probably not worth the design and printing costs. If your direct mail budget is tight, don’t forget that you can create a professional-looking creative in-house and save a quite a bit of money, rather than outsourcing the entire job from start to finish.

  • Production

Postcards can be printed in a few days, but other direct mail pieces can take longer. Get price quotes from a couple of different printers and an estimated turn-around time. Remember some formats have multiple components like envelopes, letters, and reply cards, so they may take longer to print. There may be a whole chain of people to coordinate with before you actually have your mailing ready to go.

  • Mailing Process:

The delivery time depends on the postage rate you pay, but also on the distance the mailing needs to travel. If the destination is nearby, first class postage can arrive the next day. If it needs to travel cross-country, it could take 3-4 days. Standard postage takes longer than first class, but is of course a cheaper option. If you plan and schedule your direct mail campaign ahead of time, you should not have a problem being able to mail out using standard postage and getting it out on time.

A direct mail campaign can be ready and mailed within a week to a few months depending on its size and complexity. If you are sending a simple letter to your audience, then it is only a matter of writing the letter, printing it and delivering it. If you are intending on a more elaborate direct mail piece, leave yourself more time for crafting your offer, graphics, printing, and distribution. Timing is everything. Choose the best possible timing for your campaign. Consider holidays and special events in the year and plan accordingly. If you plan, create deadlines, and stick to them, you will not have trouble executing direct mail campaigns for the future! A direct mail marketing plan can help guide you through the year, help you stay focused on marketing and support your business’s growth. If you are thinking about running a direct mail marketing campaign, or have any questions about mailing lists for you business, please give US Data Corporation a call at (888) 578-3282!