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12 Steps to a Successful Direct Mail Campaign – Step 4: Choose Your Mailer

Jan 12, 2010

Once you’ve made your plan (step 1), crafted your offer (step 2), and built a good list (step 3), you’re ready for step 4 on your path to a successful direct mail campaign; now it’s time to choose your mailer.  There are a number of decisions you’ll have to make: what type of mailer you’ll use, what size, what paper, and what postage class.

What type of mailer?  With Click2Mail, you can choose from six types of mailers (in a range of sizes and paper types): postcards, letters and flyers, booklets, Priority Mail Plus, Certified Mail, and reply mail.  Let’s take a look at the advantages of each:
•    Postcards
o    Easy; postcards are the least complex format to write and design
o    Inexpensive; for example, printing and mailing 100 double-sided, full-color, 5 x 8 in. postcards is just 70 cents per piece (42 cents in black and white) – including address cleansing and standardization
o    Grab attention; the images and headlines on postcards are almost certain to be seen
•    Letters and flyers
o    Versatile; send exactly the number of pages you need – from 1 to 96 – in a variety of formats
o    Private; letters are mailed in your choice of conventional business-sized or booklet, dual-window envelopes
o    Professional; a well-designed letter with a compelling message can move people to action
•    Booklets
o    Efficient; booklets allow you to deliver a lot of information in a single package
o    Expansive; space is not an issue, with booklets you have room to describe and demonstrate complex ideas and/or a large numbers of items
o    Substantial, so your customers and prospects will keep them around – keeping you top-of-mind
•    Priority Mail Plus letters
o    Urgent; your letter can be printed and delivered in the U.S. in one to three business days
o    Eye-catching; Click2Mail's distinctive customized USPS envelope really stands out in the mailbox
   Traceable; free real-time, electronic delivery confirmation is included (or choose the signature-required option)
o    Economical; ship anywhere in the U.S. for low, discounted flat rates
•    Certified Mail self-mailers and letters
o    Urgent; the need for someone to officially sign for your mail piece adds a sense of urgency – these mail pieces don’t get thrown in the trash
o    Secure; Certified Mail is a widely-recognized way to deliver legal documents and notices
o    Traceable; someone at the delivery address must sign for your mail piece (or, with Restricted Delivery, a specific person or their agent must sign for it)
•    Reply mail postcards and letters
o    Convenient; the recipient has everything they need to respond on the spot
o    Secure; the letter reply is sealed and returned in same ecoEnvelope it was delivered in
o    Smart; using Reply Mail as your first line of interaction with customers and prospects saves you time and money

The type of mailer you choose should depend most heavily on the goals you want to achieve.  If, for example, your goal is to get 15 new customers, you might start by sending a reply mail postcard asking your prospect for some personal information (which you use to personalize future mailings) in exchange for a chance to win one of your products or services.  Then you might follow up with prospects who responded by sending a booklet describing your products or services.  You might also send a large postcard announcing the contest winner and encouraging your prospects to visit your store or office for a special discount.

What size?  In direct mail, size matters.  Generally speaking, the bigger the better.  But, because we all live in a world of budgets where every dollar counts, you should balance the extra bang you might get from a larger mailer with its higher cost.  For example, a certified letter in a 9 x 12 in. Certified Mail flat envelope will definitely get noticed – and opened, and read – but it’s probably too expensive to send on your first mailing to a list of 1,000 new prospects. 

What colors?  UV-coated or uncoated?  When thinking about color versus black and white, the decision again rests on the balance between noticeability and cost.  Color mail, generally speaking, is more noticeable (especially in a graphics-intensive piece), but more expensive, too.  Consider the type of mailer when deciding color versus black-and-white; a postcard is probably best done in color, but a letter may be just fine in black-and-white.

For postcards you’ll also have the choice of adding a glossy UV coating.  It’s a bit more expensive, but it makes your colors shine brighter – and last longer.

What postage class?  When it comes to postage, you’ll have to balance delivery speed, security, and noticeability.  Priority Mail is  the quickest and will get your mail piece noticed – but it is also the most expensive.  The least expensive postage class is Standard (including non-profit), which is $0.27 through Click2Mail (compared to $0.38 for First-Class).  Delivery times can vary widely with Standard Mail, though with Click2Mail’s new Delivery Estimator you can estimate delivery of Standard Mail within a 5-day window (for the same low $0.27 per-piece price).  Of course, no matter what postage class you choose, you’ll save with Click2Mail – you’ll see a discount off retail postage rates on all Click2Mail products.

Whatever choices you make about the type of mailer, size, color, coating, and postage class, remember one important key to a successful direct mail campaign: test, measure, and repeat.  Test each mailing to determine how well your recipients respond.  If the response isn’t as high as you’d like, tweak your strategy, test again, and measure those results.  And remember, Click2Mail is here to help.