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You’ve Got (Direct) Mail: How DTC Brands Can Use Old School Marketing in New Ways

You’ve Got (Direct) Mail: How DTC Brands Can Use Old School Marketing in New Ways

Last Updated:  
March 18, 2024

There’s no denying it: our email inboxes are overflowing and cluttered. Even if your marketing message is an exciting offer, your most loyal customers might even miss it in the sea of offers in their mailbox. Once email became popular, snail mail took a nosedive, with the amount of physical mail we receive being relegated to mostly flyers and letters from the government. 

That makes direct mail a great opportunity to stand out, as it’s currently an underutilized way to reach both loyal and new customers alike! 

In this article, we’ll go over what direct mail marketing is and why it’s relevant for ECommerce businesses, the benefits of direct mail marketing, how to set up a direct mail campaign along with tips for success, and how to measure your campaign performance so you ensure all of your efforts to reach your customers are converting to sales! 

What is Direct Mail Marketing?

A type of marketing that’s making a resurgence, that’s what it is! 

Direct mail marketing refers to the delivery of flyers, mail, or promotional materials directly to a customer’s physical address. At first glance, direct mail marketing might seem like an archaic tool, especially in our extremely connected digital world. However, with all of the crowding in the digital space, returning to a more traditional method has certain benefits: 

1. It’s tangible: If I can hold a piece of promotional material, it creates a different cognitive connection. When you can touch and hold something, it can form a lasting memory to help your brand stand out. Some studies have found that 75% of people can recall a brand after receiving direct mail, compared to only 44% who recall a brand after seeing a digital ad. Higher brand recall and recognition can lead to more success!  

2. It can be targeted: While you can use direct mail to broadly reach anybody and everybody, the most successful direct mail campaigns target precise audience segments with offers that resonate with that cohort. This can be mail for customers who’ve made a purchase before but haven’t been back who are often receptive to win-back special promotions. 

3. High open rates: Up to 90% of direct mail pieces are opened by recipients, compared to 20-30% of emails. There’s also less competition than with email, since by 2025 it’s expected that people will be sending over 325 billion emails per day. A simple way to stand out from the crowd is to master the channel that less companies are utilizing.  

4. Integrated campaigns: A piece of mail in someone’s hands doesn’t need to stand alone. You can use it to seamlessly link online and offline marketing strategies. For example, you can time an email to arrive following a piece of direct mail to remind the potential customer of the promotion. This can amplify your digital campaigns and drive traffic to your online store. 

5. It can be personalized: Every DTC business has plenty of information about their customers (and potential customers) available at their fingertips, from demographics, website behavior, purchase history, to social media engagement and beyond. This information can be used to tailor the direct mail campaign to a specific individual, which can drive increased response rates and build stronger customer relationships. 

How to Create a Direct Mail Marketing Campaign

There are lots of different factors to consider when creating a direct mail campaign, but the most basic steps are:

  1. Choose your audience
  2. Create a great offer
  3. Have a Call-to-Action (CTA)
  4. Analyze your results

Choose the Perfect Audience

The first thing you need to do when considering a direct mail campaign is to understand the audience you plan to market to. Since you’re not just using blanket advertising like you might on national TV spots, billboards, or general website ads, you can use a targeted approach to target specific individuals. Direct mail marketing will work the best when it is suited for the individual receiving the message.

There are plenty of basic demographics collected by advertising platforms or your own website such as gender, age, income level, education level, whether they’re a homeowner or parent, and employment status that can be useful in determining who to target with your direct mail promotion. 

With Triple Whale’s Smart Customer Data Platform (SCDP), you can take the data collection to a new level. The SCDP allows you to segment your customers into groups that can be micro-targeted, to show the right message at the right time. 

For example, if you sell cosmetics, you can time your direct mail campaign to hit a cohort that previously purchased a consumable product at the estimated time they may need a restock. By hitting them with a deal right when they might need a refill, you’re able to target a customer that’s more likely to act. 

Make an Offer They Won’t Want to Refuse

Once you’ve nailed down the correct audience, you can move on to crafting the best offer for that cohort of customers. Obvi used direct mail to reach customers who used to be VIP customers and hadn’t purchased in a while and had a 1000% ROI on that campaign. Let’s take a look at this postcard mailer to break down what likely made it a successful one.

1. It’s personalized. When Katherine receives this postcard with her name on it, she’s feeling a personal connection. 63% of marketers have observed that personalization increases customer interactions and ultimately contributes to better conversion rates. One study found that adding a name to direct mail can increase response rates by 135%

2. It has a simple and clear design. The color scheme of the card itself matches Obvi’s branding exactly, and features their best-selling super collagen protein product. Since almost 65% of a company’s business comes from repeat customers, using familiar and recognizable colors and visual elements builds trust and predictability, which in turn triggers positive emotional connections to the brand. The message should be clean, punchy, and match the overall vibe of your company.

3. It has an obvious call-to-action (CTA). Marketing material isn’t complete without a call-to-action (CTA) or request of the brand to the customer. While it’s nice to receive pretty postcards, for a direct mail marketing campaign to work there should be a very clear ask. This one shows that the customer is getting 20% off if they visit the online store and use their specific code. Future cards can include a QR code call-to-action where you can apply the specific discount code to the cart when the code is scanned (this is also great for tracking if a CTA is followed - see below). 

4. It features compelling copy that stirs up feelings. The right words can stir up feelings, and by mentioning the customer is one of their most favorite and loyal people, Obvi is pulling on the heart strings. The customer will likely feel good and honored to support Obvi, and also encouraged to make another purchase to keep that high esteem. If you’re in need of assistance writing compelling copy, give our ChatGPT prompt generator a try! 

Analyzing Your Direct Mail Campaign Performance

Here’s what we’re not going to do, fam. We’re not going to mail a bunch of postcards with no way to track who is actually acting on them. You might get an uptick in sales, but you’ll be armed with a lot more information if you understand which campaigns are contributing to the sales. This is why we exist, remember? Attribution is the key to scaling your brand! 

So, how do you track direct mail conversions? The first thing you need to do is decide which metrics you’ll track. Some options are:

Response rate: Calculated as Responses / Pieces Sent = Response Rate. 

Conversion rate: Number of Orders/Responses = Conversion Rate.

Cost-per-acquisition (CPA): Campaign Cost / Number of Orders = CPA

Return on Investment (ROI): Calculated as (Revenue - Campaign Cost) / Campaign Cost = ROI

The ability to track the above metrics depends on how you set up your direct mail campaign. You can make it easier to measure the customers visiting from your direct mail campaign by integrating the following: 

Discount Codes: You can track who checks out using a specific discount code for the campaign (ie. you only give this code out on the piece of direct mail you send out). This is a great option, but only tracks the final conversion. You may learn more about your campaign by utilizing the options I’ll list next. This option is great for tracking the conversion rate on that specific campaign (the customers who actually use the specific discount code).

Trackable URL: By creating a campaign specific URL, for example, you can track the visits to that specific URL (response rate), which can tell you more information about those who choose to browse to the URL then drop off before purchasing. Google Analytics has a tool for generating a campaign URL called Campaign URL Builder that can help!   

QR Codes: Make it as easy as possible to visit your website by including a QR code the customer can scan versus typing in your URL. If you make your QR code lead to a specific landing page, you can then track how many people visit that specific link during the campaign (response rate). 

With a lot of data surrounding the campaign, it would be wise to use Triple Whale to create custom metrics to track how your campaign is performing. Custom metrics can be added to the Summary or Pixel page so you can track the performance for all of your campaigns in one convenient place!  

How Obvi Succeeded with Direct Mail

Using a partner called PostPilot, Obvi was able to generate a unique coupon code for each card, as well as a dynamic expiration date. With that integration, Obvi was able to track which customers redeemed the code, even if someone else other than the recipient places the order. They also tracked whether a customer buys within subsequent days of sending the card. 

The results were clear and easy to interpret. With over 1100 postcards sent and nearly $6000 in sales attributed to the campaign, the ROI was 1052.8%. Obvi planned to expand on direct mail in the future, using the RFM (recency, frequency, monetary value) audiences that are available in the Triple Whale Smart Customer Data Platform to optimize future campaigns, to make sure they’re incentivizing the right customers at the right time to make a purchase. 


As the digital space becomes more and more crowded, it’s important to market in a way that sets you apart from the crowd. Direct mail is a great way to win back customers who’ve made a purchase from you before, which are a lot less expensive to nurture than attempting to secure a brand new customer. By using tried-and-true marketing copy, attractive and on-brand visuals, and personalization, you can send something special in the mail that will entice the customer to return to your website to make a purchase. As with any marketing attempt, ensuring you’ve got the tracking methods in place to measure the effectiveness of your campaign and maximizing the return on your investment so you can continue to drive sales to your DTC business on multiple channels. 

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