Think direct mail doesn’t work? Think again. Direct mail campaigns can be highly effective—if you know how to conduct them correctly. You wouldn’t run a TV commercial or internet ad just one time without supporting the messaging with other compelling marketing touchpoints, and it’s the same with direct mail. Not only does a direct mail campaign require several rounds, but it benefits tremendously from a concerted marketing effort through other integrated media channels.

Direct Mail Works

Direct mail is a direct hit for advertisers. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) tells us that letter-sized mailers generated average ROIs as high as 112% in 2021. Additionally, nearly 75% of consumers prefer direct mail to other forms of advertising because they can read it at their leisure. People respond well to this outreach, especially in our world of cluttered inboxes and overwhelming notifications. The tactile nature and novelty of direct mail is a welcome gesture.

Let's explore best practices you can use to take a direct mail campaign from a one-off no-getter to a multi-faceted go-getter!

Persistence is Powerful

As a rule of thumb, you should plan to send out at least three direct mail pieces to get on your prospect’s radar. That’s just the starting point, since you’re likely battling several forces, including a lack of awareness, lack of time, lack of trust, and possibly even a lack of caring. That’s why it’s so important to follow up. When your sales team reaches out to the recipients of your direct mail campaign, you can:

  • Build both visibility and brand awareness 
  • Boost trust and credibility
  • Keep your sales pipeline moving and producing leads
  • Connect to the customer on an emotional level

So how do you maximize your campaign? The key is in the follow-up. 

Follow up, and Follow Up Some More

Just like with relationships, follow-up matters. For instance, a quick sales meeting that’s not backed by a return call or email doesn’t usually generate the desired results. A Top Performance in Sales Prospecting study found that it takes an average of eight touches with a new prospect to get a meeting or other conversion. You can see why reaching out only two or three times does not elicit a response. When it comes to direct mail campaigns, there are some proven best practices that help boost your returns. With smart follow-up strategies, you can play the numbers game and continue to increase your leads, ultimately increasing your ROI on the campaign.

Here’s how to follow up with prospects after you’ve initiated a direct mail campaign.

Related: How to Slash Direct Mail Costs without Sacrificing Quality.

Best Practices for Best Results

Fortunately, the days of untrackable or unwieldy direct mail results are over. You can easily track results with QR codes and persistent URLS (PURLS), and follow up through customer relationship management (CRM) software like Salesforce, HubSpot, Zoho, and others. These robust platforms allow you to see the entire customer journey from the first touchpoint to the last, with real-time tracking data that informs your next steps, and workflows that help you move the customer through the sales funnel. As you reach out, balance your efforts to keep customers comfortable too. Don’t be too pushy, and make sure that you personalize any communications with their name and other pertinent information whenever you can. You can use a variety of methods, including phone calls, emails, texts, social media, and more—so you can connect with customers via the channels they prefer. 

Calling Works

There’s still nothing quite as powerful as the authentic human connection you get by picking up the phone. You might even include a note in your direct mail piece letting prospects know that you’ll be following up, so they can expect your call. Once you’re sure your piece has reached them, give them a few days to digest it before you reach out. If you dedicate one sales representative to each recipient, you’ll enhance your customer service by giving that recipient one point of contact, especially if they need to call you back. Keep the tone and content light and helpful. Your sales representative can introduce themselves with a greeting like, “Good Morning! I wanted to check to see if you received our postcard. I also wanted to see if you have a minute to talk more about what we can offer you?” This relationship strengthening goes a long way toward building trust and credibility.

Emailing Works

Following up through email is also highly effective. If you have a CRM tool, you can design a drip campaign workflow that sends different email messages depending upon how the customer responds to your last email. You can also have your sales representative send a personal email after their follow-up phone call, either checking back in with someone they spoke with, or letting them know they tried calling and would like to touch base. The combination of tangible direct mail and electronic email is an effective way to add an additional touchpoint that gives the customer his own timeline during which to pursue next steps. It’s important to use a compelling subject line and reiterate a clear and consistent message that builds on the direct mail piece. Also, include a call to action like “Call today for a discount,” or “See our website for more great deals.” Let the prospect know the next step.

Texting Works

Once you’ve called and/or emailed recipients of your direct mail campaign, you can try reaching any hold outs that haven’t responded by sending a text, or deploying an SMS marketing campaign. Your sales representatives can also send texts to those they’ve talked to as another layer of conversation. Many times people are more comfortable with texting than talking on the phone. 

Social Media Works

Another effective and cost-effective way to reach your target group is by connecting with them personally on social media. This form of media partners well with direct mail too. A quick check in like your email is perfect, “Hi [Name], hope you received our postcard. We’re here if you have questions, and would love to see how we can help you [fill in the blank]. Thanks!” Whether or not you get a response, they’ll likely visit your social profile or website to learn more about your business.

Direct Mail Works

And now we’ve come full circle. Going back to the stat that most people need to see messages at least five times before they act on them (conventional advertising wisdom pins that number at nine times!), sending out another direct mail campaign of at least three pieces will help keep your company top-of-mind and encourage greater interest and action. You can simultaneously reach out using the above tools, giving prospects a few days of breathing room after each drop. 

Get It On Your Calendar!

Now that you know the drill, here’s an example of how you might plan these communications. While you don’t necessarily need to follow all of these steps in this exact order, this is a best practices timeline for implementing a follow-up campaign. Start a few days after the direct mail piece has reached the prospect:

  • Day 1: Send an email
  • Day 3: Make a phone call
  • Day 5: Send an email
  • One week later: Send a text
  • One and a half weeks later: Send a LinkedIn message
  • Two weeks later: Send a direct message via Instagram, Facebook, etc.
  • Three weeks to one month later: Place another phone call

You can also add a second direct mail campaign simultaneously for “air cover.”

Related: FAQs for Direct Mail: Optimize Your Campaign.

Even if you don’t get a response after the first email, you can persist. Try to follow up at least three times after that first email within the next two weeks. Also, follow your prospect and their company on Twitter and engage with their posts or support them in other ways. You’re building a relationship over time.

Related: 14 Direct Mail Ideas Your Boss Will Love.

Ready to get going? Direct mail is our thing. We’ve been sending postcards, letters, gifts, and other incredible pieces for over 60 years, and we can help you master the art of getting results, from the moment your prospect receives the first piece until they make the purchase. Call us today to see how you can create a direct mail campaign that delivers every time.


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Written by Scott Kravitz

As a graduate of RIT University and with over 25 years of experience, Scott Kravitz has been bringing his wealth of print knowledge to Ironmark since 2019. Kravitz manages Ironmark's sales representatives and provides alignment and communication between sales, marketing, clients, and production. With his charismatic personality and effective management skills, Kravitz leads strategic partnerships and increasing sales with new, emerging, and enterprise clients for Ironmark.

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