Direct Mail Campaign Development: Tips for Success

When executed properly, direct mail is a highly effective way to reach target audiences and generate leads. What’s the secret sauce? Careful planning and execution. A successful direct mail campaign is not completed by flying blind, but instead by taking a deep dive into your objectives, data, and creative. 

An effective direct mail plan incorporates thoughtful strategy, data tests, creative tests, and more. To help break down what you need to know, we’ve enlisted the help of some industry experts and have compiled the insights below.  

  1. Build a sustainable campaign platform with measurable results

    Alan Sherman, VP of Marketing Strategy at Nahan, once said “Direct mail is changing. If you still think of direct mail campaigns as a “throw spaghetti at the wall” mass-mailing approach, you’re greatly mistaken.” Today, successful direct mail plans are built on a sustainable campaign platform that allows for measurable results.  

    Marketers must also define their goals and objectives. Determine what you want to achieve with your campaign, whether it’s generating leads, boosting sales, or increasing brand awareness. Then, develop a plan that includes projected metrics for success and a process for measuring and analyzing your results. 

  2. Test your creative and align it with your audience 

A creative audit can help you identify areas where you can improve your mail package format, messaging, offer, personalized copy and images, and integrated digital/direct mail campaign. This audit can provide valuable insights that will help you optimize your mail plan and improve its performance. Use this information to inform your creative tests, such as testing different formats, messaging, and offers. 

“Creative tests allow you to refine your messaging and design and make sure it is resonating with your target audience. Your data and your creative really need to align with each other to make sure the correct message is being spoken to the corresponding audience.”

-Mike Dietz, Executive Creative Director

3. Build predictive targeting models and profiles based on your current customer list, and target those most likely to respond

One of the most effective ways to target your direct mail campaign is by building models and profiles based on your current customer list. 

“Analyzing your customer data allows you to identify the most likely prospects to respond to your mail campaign,” Sherman says. “This can help you build a more targeted and efficient campaign that delivers better results.” 

To do this, data analysts must analyze your customer data to identify common traits and behaviors indicative of response, such as age, income, and purchase history. Depending on the industry, this could include analysis of credit data. Use this information to create targeted models and profiles that can guide your mailing list selection and messaging. 

4. Continual improvement through testing 

“Continual improvement is key to a successful direct mail program,” Krista Black, VP of Marketing and Account Services says. “By continuing to test your data sources and creative, you can refine your campaign over time to ensure it doesn’t fall flat. Regular testing is an investment that puts the long-term odds in your favor. Every test is an opportunity to learn and improve. 

“We really cannot stress enough how vital direct mail testing is to the health of a direct mail campaign. It really is the lifeblood of it. While some marketers have a fear of testing for a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, failing to test is more risky. Every package will eventually face a decline. Testing must be a regular ongoing process. Ideally, that means part of every campaign or at least testing quarterly.”

-Alan Sherman, VP Marketing Strategy

Let’s do a quick recap of the above: 

  1. Define your goals and develop a mail plan with clear metrics for success. 
  2. Incorporate best practices, data and creative tests into your mail plan. 
  3. Build models and profiles based on your current customer list to target most likely to respond. 
  4. Continuously test and refine your campaign to improve results. 


If you’re ready to test smarter and drive ROI for your program, fill out the form below for the full guide to direct mail testing today! 

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