Direct Mail Success – 8 Direct Mail Experts Reveal Their #1 Tip

Direct Mail Success Tips - 8 Experts

Digital tools have revolutionized marketing. Today’s marketers have more data, more tools, and more channels to connect with prospects. SEO, inbound, email marketing, and social media have all left an indelible mark on the marketing landscape.

Marketers now have the tools to create multi-channel digital campaigns in minutes and gather prospect intelligence like website visits and email clicks. Digital marketing can also be measured much more accurately than traditional non-digital methods. Because of the obvious benefits of digital marketing, companies have focused their efforts in the digital sphere. As a result, email inboxes have grown progressively more crowded and content marketing noise levels are at an all time high.

This set of circumstances has reignited interest in direct mail marketing. Savvy marketers are incorporating direct mail into their marketing strategy once again in a bid to cut through the noise and get their message in front of prospects.

As the popularity of direct mail marketing grows once again, we decided to reach out to some of the leading thinkers in the space and ask them one question:

What is the single most important tip for direct mail success?

Read on for some valuable direct mail tips.

Pat McGrew

Pat is Director of Production Workflow Services at Keypoint Intelligence. Leveraging more than three decades as an evangelist for technology in communication, Pat McGrew uses her technical and marketing background to lead the industry toward optimized business process and information workflows. She has worked with companies to help them define their five-year plans, audited workflow processes, and developed sales team interventions and education programs. Working with customers and their clients, she works as an industry educator in production workflows to promote communication effectiveness.

What is the single most important direct mail tip for success?

Direct mail marketing is a bit of art and a bit of science. One without the other tends to produce results, but not the same level of response that results from well-designed marketing infused with smart use of geolocation, digital linking, and use of data that is insightful, but not intrusive.

For those charged with developing a direct mail campaign, take the time to look at your own post box. What intrigues you? What do you set aside to look at and what goes immediately into the recycle? Think about format sizes, paper weights and feel, and color. Consider your message and match your message to a design plan. Never tried a map? You should! Communicating regulatory information or business offers? That design is likely different from a retailer enticing customers into a store or to an online portal.

For those charged with approving campaigns, take fear off the table. “We’ve never done that before” is not a reason to keep doing the same thing. In direct mail marketing risks generally pay off. If you haven’t tried mining your own data to learn who buys what, and when, or tried to use your data to resurrect lapse relationships, these are all investments that can payoff with direct mail as the communication device. When you can, try new ways to communicate in print, link to your online presence, and use your own data to inform how you communicate to your customers and prospects. It generally pays off.

The path to direct mail success is to be fearless. Try pilot campaigns. Test ideas with small cohorts. And most of all, remember that your mail services provider is often your best resource for ideas.  

Holly Gerberich

Holly is a marketing consultant and owner of Gerberich Growth Strategies. She is a smart, passionate, and creative marketing professional with more than 15 years of marketing experience in agencies, associations, and nonprofit groups both in the United States and abroad.

Her specializations include the development of strategic marketing strategies, branding, digital strategies, market positioning, brand management, asset management and marketing analytics. She excels at taking on the role of Marketing Director and running seamless online and offline programs that incorporate a variety of channels – each client is slightly different.

One of her most unique and valuable skills comes from her background in direct marketing – metrics. Holly insists on tracking and measuring marketing efforts whenever possible so her clients can tell if they are getting a return on their investment. Using statistics and other modes of measurement, she applies her expertise in analytics and uses these learnings to inform ongoing strategies.

Holly is exceptional at creative concepting and ideating, writing for both print and web, developing seamless online and offline marketing strategies, managing all aspects of your marketing program, and becoming a passionate advocate for your organization.

In her spare time, Holly can be found scuba diving all over the world, horseback riding, camping, or simply hanging out with her two dogs and cat at her home in Washington DC.

What is the single most important direct mail tip for success?

Any direct mail endeavor should always be done with consultation with someone who knows what their doing. Sure, you may think that you just want to send a simple postcard or solicitation, but I can think of a dozen questions off the top of my head to consider before even starting. For instance, what list are you using? How are you segmenting that list? What does the creative look or sound like? Is it on brand? Is there an opportunity to test something? What is the call to action? How are you measuring your results? What will make this campaign successful to your organization? I could go on. If you’re going to spend the money on direct mail, why not go the extra step and REALLY think it through with an expert in order to get the most return on your investment.

Craig Simpson

Craig Simpson is the nations leading direct mail consultant and coach. He sends out over 300 mail campaigns per year for his private clients. You can contact Craig at or you can find his books, The Direct Mail Solution and The Advertising Solution, on Amazon.

What is the single most important direct mail tip for success?

The most important tip for direct mail success is to be as targeted as possible in every aspect of your campaigns. You must have a carefully targeted mailing list; even the best sales piece, most enticing offer, or lowest pricing, can’t overcome a recipient who just isn’t interested in what you’re selling. Once you have that down, you have to craft a message that is targeted and specific to your prospects. You need to fill a burning desire that they already have and present it in a way they can’t resist. I can’t emphasize this enough: You truly need laser-focus to give your campaign its best chance at success.

Nancy Harhut

World renowned Creative Director and Consultant. Nancy has held leadership positions at Mullen, Hill Holliday. Nancy has worked with leading brands including Google, Adobe, McGraw-Hill, Nationwide Insurance, Eaton Vance, Great-West Financial, HP, TripAdvisor,, and UnitedHealthcare.

What is the single most important direct mail tip for success?

Today’s marketer has more options than ever to reach target audiences. Yet it has never been harder to earn attention and engagement.  When it comes to direct mail Remember the 40/40/20 Rule: 40% of a mailer’s success will come from the list (targeting the right prospects at the right time); 40% from the offer (compelling and relevant offers are the best); and 20% from the creative (the copy and artwork must be attention-getting and motivating).

Drayton Bird

Chairman of Drayton Bird Associates, Drayton is the ex-Worldwide Creative Director and Vice Chairman, Ogilvy & Mather Direct. He can help you get better marketing results. Described in 2003 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of the 50 living individuals who have shaped modern marketing. Drayton has trained companies and at business schools all over the world from Shanghai to New York to Moscow.

What is the single most important direct mail tip for success?

By far the greatest challenge in direct mail is: how the hell do I get people to start reading? After all if you can’t do that everything else is a waste of time and money.

This leads to asking who is the ideal prospect – and what would you say to that person if you were sitting in front of them?

I believe Irving Wunderman – Lester’s copywriter brother – summed it up best with one question. That is: to whom are you offering what ultimate advantage?

I think that is the most important question not just in direct mail or direct marketing but in business.

Gavin Wheeler

Gavin is a graduate in Business and holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He has spent over 25 years building performance marketing channels whilst both client side and at his own agency.

Before setting up WDMP in 2002, Gavin’s client-side experience included five years in Brand Management at Toyota and Lexus, followed by six years within telecoms as Marketing Director at what is now Virgin Media. Here he built direct marketing as the lead sales channel and launched Broadband and Digital TV.  He then moved to as European Head of CRM, where he launched its Pan-European eCRM operations and was also responsible for UK Marketing.

Gavin is an active member of the UK Marketing industry, he has served on ISBA Action Groups, DMA Councils and regularly judges at industry awards. He has just been elected a Board member of the UK DMA (Direct Marketing Association) and also serves as a trustee for the Bikeability Trust.   

Gavin brings to the agency world a keen insight into what clients really want and need. He manages key client relationships and also provides strategic counsel and guidance to WDMP’s clients. These include; Wyevale Garden Centres, Neilson Holidays, Vonage, The Carbon Trust, Hiscox Insurance, Wonga, Funding Circle, World First, The Gym Group, Countrywide and Just Eat

What is the single most important direct mail tip for success?

In this day of multimedia, diminishing attention rates, ad blocking, unsubscribes and the sheer relentless volume of digital messages – effectiveness rates of these channels has plummeted with attribution becoming more and more difficult. There has been a huge increase in the rates of bot responses, fraudulent responses and digital activity appearing in undesirable online media. It is therefore becoming harder and harder to truly cut through, hold consumers’ attention and measure the true success of your digital campaign. Maybe this is why we believe that Direct mail has a rosy future. We are seeing a resurgence in demand and in its effectiveness.

The fundamentals of direct mail have not changed though, be well targeted, with strong offer, encapsulated in an engaging creative manner will still drive the best results. The key benefit of direct mail remains in its ability to fine target and be truly measurable. Fallow cells, match backs as well as engagement rates all allow you to measure true incremental benefit.

New technology is also helping, you can now deliver direct mail in a programmatic and trigger based manner, linking online behaviours to offline channels and then adding digital engagement techniques such as Blippar as a response mechanism to get people back online, so closing the loop.

There is also a unique tangible nature of the medium, the ability to deliver a physical item and a brand message on a one to one basis and of course without ad blocking or being answered by a bot! Perhaps direct mail practitioners have been guilty of never measuring the additional brand befit direct mail can deliver.

Ruth P. Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens, president of eMarketing Strategy, a B2B marketing consulting company based in NYC.

What is the single most important direct mail tip for success?

Most important: the offer.  I see too much direct mail that is well targeted, and well written, but lacks a compelling offer to motivate action.  A strong offer can improve response by 300% or more.   Offers don’t have to be about price or even a gift.  Some great offer ideas: 1. Free trial, and 2. Useful educational content, in such formats as research report, case study or infographic, that help your target audience do their jobs or improve their lives.

Dennis Kelly

Dennis Kelly is CEO of Postalytics  – the leading all-in-one direct mail automation tool. Dennis builds companies, typically having something to do with technology. His roles span product development, sales, marketing, finance and HR. Dennis started off life as a sales guy, spent time building products, running data centers, and has been a 3X CEO of angel and venture backed startups.

What is the single most important direct mail tip for success?

Use direct mail and email together in automated workflows

Let’s face it: We’ve all been running the same marketing playbook for years. We create content. We set up landing pages for capturing leads and we buy lead lists. Then we dump all those names into marketing automation or CRM or both. Then we “nurture” those leads with automated emails and do this until people buy, unsubscribe — or just do nothing, forever. And in the end most people still haven’t seen our great content.

Marketers are in a constant battle with spam filters, bounces and unsubscribes and as such are probably thrilled with 20% open rates and 2% click thru. You are also probably finding it really difficult to get your message in front of prospects.

If you need a better way to standout and be noticed. I encourage you to start thinking using direct mail in your email workflows and sequences. The following list should help you with a “direct mail like email” mindset:

  • Marketers need to be able to program direct mail into their CRM marketing automation workflows and triggers
  • Postcards, letters, catalogs, you name it, all need to be highly targeted; as tailored and targeted and dynamic as you are used to in email marketing.
  • The direct mail UI needs to be easy to use. Non designers need to be able to drag and drop powerful imagery
  • Printing needs to be high quality, from experienced Direct mail printers and mailers that can programmatically process transactional, small or large batch direct mail campaigns.
  • Mail needs to be tracked, from printer to mailbox, and all this data needs to be available in the Hubspot, Marketo, Salesforce, reports marketers are used to using today.