Guide

Direct marketing

Direct mail

Direct mail allows you to get information about your products and services directly into the hands of people who may be interested in it. Though it's often dismissed as junk mail, it can be highly effective in both business and consumer markets if it's properly planned and researched.

As well as a mailing letter, you typically include a range of enclosures such as a product brochure, order-form and pre-paid reply envelope. Don't cut corners in preparing your materials - the success of your mailshot depends on it.

The other key ingredient for a successful direct-mail campaign is a high-quality mailing list. The most effective lists are those sourced in-house from a well-managed database - you already know the preferences of the recipients of your mailshot and can tailor your offer accordingly.

There's also a range of commercial list providers you can use to generate lists of both businesses and consumers. Find details of list providers from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).

Tips for a successful direct-mail campaign

The following tips will help you make the most of direct mail:

  • Draw up a budget which sees your business profiting at a realistic level of response.
  • Consider incentives such as prizes or discounts to maximise response - and make sure you have included these in your budget.
  • Source a mailing list that's appropriate to your objectives.
  • Make sure you have the resources to run the campaign, follow it up and cope with the response.
  • When your campaign is over, quantify the costs, returns and rates of response. If you started with clear objectives, you should be able to learn a lot about what you achieved and how.