Direct Mail Marketing Beginner’s Guide, Part 1: What Is Direct Mail?

By: Andrew Glover
February 18, 2020

Direct mail is a popular marketing technique that allows any organization to mail content to their prospects and members through the USPS or other delivery services. Most marketing is digital now, but when done right, direct mail marketing can work with your other channels and make your organization stand out.

Direct mail is interactive, memorable, and it has a more significant reach than social media and email. It offers many ways to get creative, and there’s not as much competition. Let’s learn more about direct mail and discover how it can help your organization grow and expand its mission.

What is Direct Mail?

Direct mail is a marketing technique involving making and sending advertising materials through physical mail. It involves audience research and list building. Direct mail advertising comes in a variety of formats and should include a call to action (CTA) that inspires the recipient to take some kind of desired action. This type of marketing encompasses a wide range of printed materials, including postcards, brochures, and newsletters. Direct mail is a very effective way for you to reach out to new and existing members.

Who Uses Direct Mail Marketing?

Organizations and businesses from many industries use direct mail marketing. Auto repair shops, restaurants, and grocery stores send menus, coupons, and promotions. Politicians, charities, and non-profit groups send donation letters, brochures, and campaign postcards. Technology companies even use direct mail marketing to reach their prospects. Any organization that sells a product or service is the right candidate for a direct mail campaign.

Does Direct Mail Work?

Direct mail works! There’s been an upward trend in response rates over the years, which shows the effectiveness of direct mail. According to the 2018 DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail received an impressive 9% response rate to house lists and 5% to prospect lists. The direct mail response rates are higher than all forms of digital advertising, combined.

Direct mail works even better when you carefully select your target audience. You can focus your marketing on gender, age, income level, education level, homeownership, family dynamic, or even employment status. Building your message and offer around a selected audience helps your message reach the right people each time.

The Types of Direct Mail

There are several mail material choices you can make, depending on the size you want for your project.

  • Postcards are great for thank you cards, prospecting, and promotions
  • Direct mail letters are a great choice if you’re going to protect the contents of your letters from prying eyes
  • Brochures are excellent choices when you are explaining products and services in-depth, and when you are offering lots of coupons
  • Catalogs and booklets are fantastic when you are showcasing many products and marketing content

You can also use letter packaging for confidential mail or for mail that contains more than one component (letter, brochure, order forms, etc.).

The wide variety of mail materials ensures you can always find something that will work for your next marketing campaign.

Direct Mail Techniques

Many direct mail techniques help you build a relationship with your prospects and members. Here are a few methods you should become familiar with before your next direct mail project.


You have many ways to personalize content when using direct mail. Personalization increases your return on investment, improves your member relationships, and increases your organization’s support.

Variable Data Printing

Variable data printing allows your marketing materials to have quite a bit of flexibility. VDP gives you a choice to change the graphics, texts, or images piece by piece. This flexibility helps enhance the personalization options available to you with a direct mail campaign.


You can use geo-targeting techniques when segmenting your audience for a direct mail campaign. Geo-targeting allows you to pinpoint high-value regions before mailing campaign materials. This is an excellent option if you are trying to reach out to people in a particular area.

Direct Mail with Valtim

Valtim can help your organization with all its direct mail needs. We offer creative services that can help your organization with every aspect of your marketing campaign. Our print services include state-of-the-art digital web presses. We can provide you with postcards, letters, statements, mail inserts, or specialty print needs. Our virtually unlimited personalization opportunities give you the ability to create and produce any marketing materials you need. We also offer mail services, contact center services, and fulfillment services.

Contact Valtim to see how we can help you with your direct mail needs.

Subscribe for the latest blog posts:

Have an inquiry?

Subscribe for the latest blog posts:

Who is Valtim
Marketing Solutions?

With 30 years of experience, our blog shares information we have learned that are essential to anyone working in the business of marketing, print, campaigns, and all things mail.

We hope you comment, share, and are able to glean helpful information. Feel free to reach out, we would be happy to hear from you.

Relevant Posts

5 Considerations for a Successful Direct Mail Campaign

Direct mail is a fantastic way to win more members and encourage existing members to continue supporting your mission. It is crucial to consider your design and what your message says when preparing your mail piece. A successfully administered direct mail campaign can boost your brand awareness and spread your mission. Unlike other forms of marketing, sending direct mail to a physical address ensures that your message and branding reach your target audience’s hands.

5 High-Impact Direct Mail Marketing Strategies for Non-Profits

In a time with extremely saturated digital media, direct mail allows modern non-profit organizations to add unique and personal components to their marketing campaigns. Let’s explore the ways your non-profit can expand its reach and improve the effectiveness of your marketing strategies with direct mail.

How to Define Direct Mail Target Market

Your organization must first identify your typical member and tailor your marketing to build a solid foundation. Targeting a specific market doesn’t mean you are excluding people who don’t fit your criteria. Target marketing empowers you to direct your marketing budget and brand message on a pinpointed market that is more likely to interact with you than other markets. A direct mail target market effort is an affordable, efficient, and effective way to reach prospects and grow your membership.