Does Direct Mail Make Sense for Your Small Business?

When it comes to reaching your audience, the bigger the bang you can create — while spending as little as possible — the better your ROI. And while there are plenty of newer, trendier marketing strategies out there, there’s one that remains tried and true for many businesses:

Direct mail.

Other tactics may come and go, but direct mail has had long-lasting impact on marketing to consumers for decades. Ask yourself the following questions to see if it’s a good fit for your small business.

Are We Trying to Reach a Younger Audience?

You might assume that Millennials would prefer to hear from brands via social media or mobile, but 94% of the younger generation prefer direct mail to guide them in purchase decisions. Knowing the preferred method of communication of your audience is imperative, if you hope to make an impact.

Is Our Response Rate on Other Marketing Channels Lacking?

Again, direct mail doesn’t get the spotlight often, but it’s actually a rock star when it comes to results. The response rate for direct mail is 3.7%, whereas it’s lower for other marketing channels:

  • Mobile: 2%

  • Email: 1%

  • Social Media: 1%

  • Internet display ads: 0.2%

The response rate will, of course, depend in part on the offer that you mail out. Make sure it’s relevant to your audience, and that you segment based on user preferences. For example: don’t send a New Customer special to existing customers!

Are We Trying to Drive In-Store Sales?

If your primary sales channel is in-store rather than online, it can be challenging to translate online marketing efforts into warm bodies in your stores. But direct mail can do just that: 56% of consumers who responded to direct mail went online or visited the physical store.

Sending out a coupon with an approaching expiration date is a great strategy to create a sense of urgency and get people into your physical location. Make the coupon high-value (buy one, get one free or 50% are good examples), and make sure to include any fine print on the specifics.

Tips for Successful Direct Mail Campaigns

If you’re ready to give direct mail a try, take these suggestions into consideration for best results.

Segment, Segment, Segment: The smaller the audience you can target with your campaigns, the better the results. Yes, mailing to everyone in a given zip code can work for a restaurant, but if you sell, for example, women’s clothing, you may be better off only sending mail to those who have signed up for your mailing list. That way you are assured of their interest, and you’ll see better conversion for your investment.

Make the Offer Irresistible: People are prone to quickly sifting through their mail, so your direct mail must stand out and capture their attention. Use bright colors and bold lettering, and make your promotion jump out at them. Make it a great one, too; anything less than 20% off might not make it to the “keep” pile.

Invest in Professional Design Services: Just because you can design a flyer doesn’t mean you should. This piece of mail will be the first point of contact with your brand for many recipients. Don’t you want to put your best foot forward? Hire a professional design expert to help you come up with a look that will knock the socks off of your audience.

Don’t Skimp on Printing: Just as important as the design of your direct mail is the paper you choose in the printing process. Don’t go with the cheapest option just to save some money. A heavier card stock and premium printing can have a bigger and better impact, and you may see a higher ROI with just that little effort.

Test out direct mail in your next marketing campaign, then measure results to see if it’s a winner for your overall strategy. Are you ready to build your own direct mail campaign? Get started with help from a Staples® Print & Marketing Associate at any one of our 300+ locations or visit

By Michelle Janzso

October 19, 2017

Staples Canada