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Direct Mail- What's Old is New Again

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Direct Mail- What's Old is New Again

According to, the definition of direct mail is “A marketing effort that uses a mail service to deliver a promotional printed piece toMail boxes your target audience.” But what does that really mean?


Direct mail is a type of advertisement sent by companies through traditional mail. When using direct mail your intended audience can be broken down in any way you choose. Segmentation can be determined by geographic, demographic, interest level, or usage factors.


Direct mail is truly diverse and is made up of the following categories:

  • Catalogs
  • Brochures
  • Coupons
  • Postcards
  • Letters
  • Packages


What are the pros and cons of direct mail?

The first advantage of direct mail is that it can be intensely focused on the market segment you are trying to reach.  The key to targeting is to know exactly what group you want to reach. For example, you wouldn’t advertise retirement planning to high school seniors.  However, if you know that you’re advertising to baby boomers, you would have a higher success rate because it is a more appropriate target market for that service.

A second major benefit of direct mail is the warm and personal touch it provides. Receiving a carefully and well executed letter compared to a generic email can be a valuable experience in a consumer’s eyes. Including a handwritten signature makes it look like you personally created this advertisement with the consumer in mind the whole time.

Direct mail provides the ability to track how well your advertisement is performing and calculating your ROI (return on investment). You can check your response rates by including a coupon or order form with the ad. Once you see how many people respond to the coupon, you’re able to calculate your ROI.

Some of the cons to using direct mail include the following:

  • Some people feel it is costly. Requiring creation of advertisement, printing, and mailing it out adds up.
  • You need an enticing design. The artistic design requires a lot of work to utilize the right combination of pleasing fonts, colors, and images.
  • Is the subject matter attractive? The event, offer, or message must be worth the time of the audience.
  • The probability of rejection. Some people will get rid of the mail without even looking at it (44 % according to the CMO Council), but that’s better than the 80% average that delete your email.


Keep in mind that no form of advertisement is perfect. But we believe the advantages of direct mail outweigh the disadvantages, so what’s stopping you from creating a direct mail campaign?

Kendra Corman
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