Mail flying down hole - Prevent by reducing direct mail costs

You may want to sit down for what I’m about to tell you …

Direct mail response rates still outperform digital channels by a long shot.

Maybe you already know that direct mail is still king, especially if you regularly read our blog or follow us on Twitter. Or maybe because digital communications have changed your day-to-day life, you believe that direct mail is dead. Dead it is not — the DMA reported that marketers planned to use the same amount or more direct mail in 2015. And retailer use of direct mail is leveling off after years of decline, with investment in personalized, targeted direct mail edging out mobile.

Here are some direct mail facts and stats you need to know:

Direct Mail Facts & Statistics You Need to Know [Infographic]

Despite these facts, there is one challenge that often stands in the way of direct mail marketing: the costs to print and mail a direct mail campaign are generally higher than digital campaigns. And when you work with a tight marketing budget, cost can’t be taken lightly.

You can close the ROI gap by reducing your direct mail overhead. Here are six simple ways to reduce direct mail costs and make your marketing campaigns more effective.


Plan Ahead

While it’s always a smart idea to plan your marketing tactics for the year well ahead of time, it can make a substantial difference in the cost effectiveness of direct mail. For example, producing envelopes in larger quantities to use over the course of several months reduces cost per piece for your campaigns. But when you haven’t planned ahead, it can be difficult to predict what you may use down the road.

Another creative way to reduce direct mail costs is to produce sheetfed or web press color “shells” — static design elements of a letter, for example — and then run variable content in black only on a digital press. But once again, creating shells requires you to work ahead on your direct mail campaigns since this static design can’t be changed once produced.

Design for Direct Mail

It’s true that unique direct mail formats stand out in the mailbox. However, some formats, such as die-cuts and unusual sizes, can increase production and delivery costs. The same can be said for glossy, colorful pieces.

A simple format and design with a compelling message can be just as effective as something distinctly different. For example, a costly element like spot color can be used sparingly to highlight an offer or headline. Or you could use standardized templates with personalization in pre-defined areas to increase relevancy yet keep costs low.

Clean Up Your Mailing List

The average mailing list is made up of 10 percent duplicate records. Obviously, sending duplicate mailings to customers is a waste of money on top of being an embarrassing mistake. Inaccurate address data is just as bad. Your data can be garbage as a result of user entry errors and data decay, which some estimates place at a rate of 2 percent per month or 25 percent per year.

Cleaning up your mailing list can save you from unnecessary production and postage expenses. There are a couple of steps in this process:

1. De-dupe your list. You have several options for removing duplicate records from your list. Read our data lesson on de-duping and suppression.

2. Verify and correct mail records. NCOA and CASS certification are both standard services that help you save. Read our post on where to start with cleaning your data.

Segment and Personalize

Mailing to a small group of the “right” people is more effective than the tactic known as “spray and pray” — sending your mailing to everyone and anyone in hopes of a good response. Go for quality over quantity by not wasting money on people who don’t want your mailing. You can mail fewer pieces and get better results.

Segment your list to target an audience and personalize your message so it’s relevant to that audience. Here are some ways to personalize your direct mail campaigns:

  • Include the name. Go beyond the address block — use the recipient’s name elsewhere in your message. Using names is the quickest and easiest ways to start personalizing your direct mail.
  • Segment by gender. If your offer appeals differently to men and women, use targeted offers to each gender segment. For example, a Valentine’s Day offer should be tailored uniquely to the men and women on your list.
  • Use location. Entice people to join their neighbors — to buy the same things or use the same services. Play off of FOMO — Fear of Missing Out — or the “Keeping Up With the Jones'” mentality.

With any personalization, you must ensure your data is accurate. Using the wrong name or gender can make people angry and hurt your business more than help it. And the more customer/prospect data you collect over time, the better your direct mail offers can be.

Commingle When Possible

Commingling is a process of combining mail projects from multiple organizations into a larger group for delivery. It allows your business to benefit from postal discounts even on small mailings, real savings for small and medium-sized businesses and nonprofits that aren’t mailing a large number of pieces to the same neighborhood.

Watch for USPS Deals

Did you know that the USPS offers promotions that lower postage costs? Offered seasonally, the USPS promotions often support the integration of direct mail with new technologies, like mobile. The promotions can be tricky to understand, however. But by working with a direct mail expert, you can take advantage of innovative mailing techniques and cutting-edge tactics for integrated communications.


It’s not impossible to reduce direct mail costs. Our Badger team helps customers save on direct mail every day. When you don’t overpay to send a direct mail campaign and use strategies to increase your campaign’s effectiveness, you close the ROI gap and grow your business. We’d say that’s a direct mail fact you’d love to know!


Want to learn more ways to reduce your direct mail costs and increase the ROI of your next project? Connect with one of our Business Development Managers by completing the form below.