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What Is Direct Mail Marketing?

Direct mail marketing is the process of marketing to customers by sending out flyers, brochures, letters, or other media via the USPS or other shipping services to be delivered to physical addresses. There are plenty of ways to utilize this marketing tool, so in this guide, we’ll take a detailed look at exactly what this mail is, who uses it, and how it works. That way, you’ll have a better understanding of how useful it might be to your business.

Businesses of all kinds use direct mail marketing. They do so by creating mailing lists and then sending out targeted advertisements or marketing mail to people based on various factors. First up, we’ll discuss the types of mailing lists and direct mail options, and then we will look at things like the costs, advantages and disadvantages, and how you can make direct mail marketing easier by partnering with a 3PL solution like ours.

Types Of Mailing Lists

Saturation Mailing List

A saturation mailing list is a list that’s derived from geographic location information. You can send mailings to entire carrier routes or ZIP codes, based on your preference. The cost of this type of list is fairly low because it’s not very targeted. You can even rent these lists from various brokers or providers. If you offer services or goods that a lot of people use, this is a great way to draw a large audience or make a big announcement about new locations, products, or special events.

These lists can be sent via USPS standard marketing mail or Every Door Direct Mail.

Targeted Mailing List

Targeted mailing lists are created with a very specific audience in mind. For example, you might want to target people based on demographics like age if you’re in the business of selling life insurance to senior citizens. There’s not going to be many people in the 20-30 age range that will even notice your mailers, let alone respond to them, so you’ll save your money and focus your efforts where they count.

These lists are going to be more expensive to purchase because they are more targeted and refined. However, you can also cultivate your own in-house mailing list based on various targets and audiences.

These lists can be delivered via USPS marketing mail, First-Class, or Priority Mail.

Types Of Direct Mail

There are several different types of direct mail that you can use, including those explored here. Some are more common than others, but they all have their place and may work differently for each business or brand.

Direct Mail Letters & Envelopes

Direct mail in the form of letters and envelopes is a fairly standard choice. It is a great way to send out mail and more that includes sensitive details, confidential information, or that have multiple pieces that need to be contained. Based on envelope size and what’s inside, you’ll pay more for postage than you would for a flyer or postcard, but it might be worth it.

Direct Mail Postcards

Direct mail postcards are one of the lowest-cost options for this type of marketing. They come in all kinds of sizes and styles and can be great for thank you notes, appointment reminders, coupons and other promotions, and more. Postcards are simple but effective, making them a top choice for direct mail campaigns.

Direct Mail Catalogs

Direct mail catalogs are multi-page booklets and mailers that can be used for information, marketing a lot of products at once, or just providing people with a more detailed look at your business. They come in all shapes and sizes and typically don’t include an envelope.


Also known as self-mailers, these items don’t require an envelope, making them a low-cost choice. They are made from cardstock and designed to be folded or glued when needed. They’re great for menus, in-depth product or service explanations, events calendars, and more.

Circulars & Inserts/Wraps

When the budget is really tight, or if you have the right media, circulars, wraps, and inserts might be just what you’re looking for. These are printed on a lighter weight paper, and they often come along with other newspapers, ads, or mailers. They are ideal for advertisements, sales, printed coupons, and more.

Dimensional Mail

If you have high-value prospects or are trying to get people’s attention, dimensional mailers are a great choice. They are more expensive, but they are multi-dimensional and can be designed in any style that you like. If you are looking to target a smaller audience and need to make an impression, this is a good choice. It’s not cost-effective for broad-reach marketing, though.

Direct Mail Marketing: Advantages And Disadvantages

There are several advantages and disadvantages to consider when it comes to direct mail marketing. It typically proves to be more advantageous than not, but here’s what you need to know.


  • Direct mail has better response rates than e-mail
  • Consumers today enjoy getting mail because it is such a rarity
  • It’s a valuable asset for account-based marketing and targeted campaigns
  • 76% of people say they trust ads received in the mail, as opposed to email


  • Email often has a better ROI because it’s more cost-effective to send emails
  • Direct mail can get expensive with all of the production and mailing costs

How Much Does Direct Mail Marketing Cost?

Several factors influence how much you’ll spend on direct mail marketing. There are a lot of factors that will impact what you spend, including the type of mailings that you choose. If you’re investing in a mailing list, you’ll also have to pay for that unless you cultivate your own. When paying for lists, the more targeted they are, the more expensive they will be.

The mailer itself will also impact the cost. This is where the bulk of the expense comes in. The complexity, quantity, and design of your mail will determine how much you spend. You might be able to print 2,000 coupon inserts inexpensively. A multi-dimensional marketing mailer to a high-value prospect could cost as much as those inserts. There are so many variables involved.

Postage is the final factor that influences the price of your direct mail campaigns. Marketing mail and EDDM rates have lower bulk prices than Priority Mail or First-Class, but the format that you choose and type of mailing list will impact how you can send things too.

Direct Mail Marketing with Mel Printing

The best thing that you can do is to partner with a 3PL provider like Mel Printing. We’ll handle all of your direct mail printing, prepping, and mailing needs to ensure that your campaigns go off without a hitch. Plus, we’ll help you get discounted mailing rates by presorting and standardizing your mailings every single time, guaranteeing that the process is as efficient and affordable as possible.

We can help you get the best direct mail marketing campaigns and execute them flawlessly, no matter what your brand needs. Contact us today to discuss your needs or learn more about direct mail and how it can help you grow your business. We’ll walk you through the benefits and how to get started, and help you get your business on the path to success with direct mail marketing.