Is Direct Mail Marketing Still an Effective Strategy in an Increasingly Digital World?

large envelopes being placed in a mailbox

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This company using a direct mail marketing strategy to generate 35% more orders and a 60% increase in net revenue might surprise you…

NatureBox is an ecommerce business that offers natural snacks delivered to the doors of its subscribers.

This offer is a great idea, but the company struggled to gain initial traction. It wasn’t until they decided to leverage a direct mail marketing campaign that they really moved the needle.

As a result of that direct mail campaign, the company saw an increase of 35% in orders per customer. It also experienced a 60% increase in net revenue.

So, how did they do it?

The company sent out postcards to 50,000 past purchasers. It then compared the results to a different segment of inactive purchasers who didn’t receive any notification.

The process was very simple: an automated direct mailing service sent out a personalized postcard with a promo code. 

How did NatureBox get the addresses? 

From past payment information, stored digitally.

Why did the company take this approach?

Their digital campaigns were delivering disappointing click-through rate numbers… So NatureBox leveraged this “old” form of marketing to their advantage. 

Can direct mail marketing still work in a predominantly digital world?

NatureBox proves that it can… But let’s dig a little deeper into the numbers.

Why Does Direct Mail Still Work?

Small Business Trends statistics show the following numbers:

  • The average US advertiser spends around $167 per person on direct mail 
    • A direct mail marketing campaign can return an average of $2,095 on that investment
  • Open rates can approach 90%, much higher than click-through rates 
  • 70% of customers like the personal approach that direct mail provides
  • 54% of consumers prefer direct mail from the brands they like the most  
  • 62% of these consumers are likely to buy something as a direct result of being part of the direct mail campaign

As you can see, direct mail marketing is far from a relic of the past. The stats speak for themselves. Direct mail offers a targeted and personal approach that is effective for bringing back old customers and bringing in new customers, too.

Your business may benefit from this type of campaign too. Personalized postcards work… As long as you tailor them to your customer base and around your unique brand, services, and products.

In fact, the Small Business Trends survey shows that putting a name on that postcard can increase open rates by up to 135%.

Along with your regular digital marketing campaigns, direct mail campaigns offer temporary boosts. Use the following tips for creating a successful campaign.

Here are four direct mail marketing tips with the power to change the way you acquire new business.

Direct Mail Marketing Tip 1 – Think Like Your Customer

What you want and what your customer wants could be very different. At the end of the day, you want your customer’s attention… And you want them to make a purchase.

So, how do you make that happen?

First, find out what your customers want and what they find pleasing. 

Then ask yourself: 

  • Does it represent my brand well enough? 
  • Is it offering the customer a solution to their problem? 
  • Does it offer a clear and compelling call to action?

Remove the guesswork by split testing at least two different versions of the postcard and let the data do the talking. We’ve been using direct mail for over ten years, and even now, the winning piece often comes as a surprise to us. 

Direct Marketing Tip 2 – Use Graphics to Grab Attention Quickly

Worried about customers losing interest in your offer? It takes them less than eight seconds to do so. Creative graphics are a great way to capture their interest early on. This means no stock images!

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What do they like? Think of images and artwork that emphasize your promotion and best represent your brand.

Don’t overwork the customer’s brain with too many images either – two or three are usually enough. You don’t want to drive attention away from the headline of your postcard… Or the message.

Side note: always end your copy with a call to action. Nothing too forceful, but it’s best if you stress a sense of urgency, such as a limited-time offer.

Direct Marketing Tip 3 – Focus on Benefits (Rather Than Features)

You often hear that copywriting is key during direct-mail campaigns. That’s true. 

What you don’t often hear is why…

It’s because the copy has the power to shape the message.

Use the copy to your advantage. Don’t focus on describing the features of your products or services. Focus on explaining the benefits with few words. You want your readers to quickly understand exactly what you offer.

Some customers are interested in discounts, others in quality services. Still others may want to hear about the convenience of your service or product.

Direct Mail Tip 4 – Understand Your Vertical

Thinking like your customer is not enough. You need an understanding of your entire customer base and what you’re campaigning for. What type of campaign are you running? 

Not all markets respond in the same way. Some customers stay away from envelopes that don’t look official. Anything marked as promotional may remain unopened. Handwritten envelopes are also proven to increase open rates.

What kind of business are you running? An ecommerce customer base tends to wait for a promotional campaign before they take action. If you’re in financial marketing, it’s a different story.

You’ll want your direct mail marketing campaign to look official and trustworthy. It should also deliver important information. In the end, you need a good understanding of your target audience to run a successful direct mail marketing campaign.


A direct mail marketing campaign shouldn’t replace digital marketing, and it shouldn’t tap into the same budget. Remember that direct mail is often best used for occasional boosts in revenue and customer acquisition.

Is direct mail effective? Without a doubt! It’s still great in today’s digital world. However, customizing your campaign is more important than ever. This means always pick a narrow market segment for your campaign.

Create unique, personalized copy and use graphics to your advantage. Most of all, identify your dream audience and show them why you offer more value than your competitors.

If you want some additional help, you can sign up for free daily business coaching lessons at and get more direct mail marketing tips.

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