Shutterfly Business Solutions

The 8 best direct mail marketing ideas for 2023

New marketing channels frequently emerge, yet, direct mail remains a bedrock of success. It’s time-proven, affordable, measurable, and highly adaptable. 

Like other mediums, direct mail keeps evolving in possibilities and uses. In this post, Shutterfly Business Solutions will take you through the latest strategies, opportunities, and innovative trends for direct mail marketing in 2023. 

Shutterfly Business Solutions knows direct mail inside and out. We’ve sent billions of mail pieces, have one of the world’s largest digital printing platforms, and provide rapid fulfillment of the highest-quality mail pieces in the industry. More than a printer — we’re direct mail strategists. We don’t just produce and ship your direct mail — we optimize it using data, technology, and consulting.

The magic formula for direct mail marketing campaigns

First, we should establish the fundamentals of direct mail marketing. Shutterfly Business Solutions strategizes your direct mail campaigns around our magic formula for direct mail success.

Do you have the right audience? Do you have the right offer/incentive? Do you have the right creative? Is this the right time?

If a direct mail marketing campaign missed expectations, the answer to one or more of these questions was wrong. That’s why partnering with a direct mail strategist like Shutterfly Business Solutions is valuable. We help you do direct mail right. We evaluate your program using the magic formula and other factors, including your budget, business objective, additional marketing resources and internal capabilities. Our priority is creating your success.

1: Creating postal efficiency for direct mail marketing

How do you lower direct mail costs? It’s not by comparing printing costs. We’ll show you why. 

A relatively standard marketing class mailer can cost .48¢ per piece. Approximately .08¢ of that price is printing. The lion’s share goes to postage. Negotiating printing rates only saves a penny or so per piece. A partner like Shutterfly Business Solutions creates more significant savings. We’ve built a platform that reduces postage costs to protect your marketing budget.

How does Shutterfly Business Solutions reduce direct mail postage costs?

  • Nationwide Facilities: We divide your list among our four production facilities to print closer to your recipients 
  • Zone Skipping: We deliver your mail directly to key postal hubs
  • Co-Mingled Mail: Using a USPS work-share partner to reach bulk incentives
  • USPS Promotions & Incentive Program: Aligning your strategies to savings opportunities

2: Adding gifting to boost direct mail response rates

The quickest way to improve direct mail conversions is by offering a gift — ideally, personalized gifts. 

According to a study by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI), including a promotional product or gift with a direct mail piece can increase response rates by up to 50% compared to a direct mail piece without a gift. The study also found that recipients were more likely to open and read the direct mail piece when a gift was included. 

Another study by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that adding a promotional product or gift to a direct mail campaign increased response rates by an average of 17%, compared to a direct mail campaign without a gift. 

Different studies, different numbers, but the same story. Adding a gift to direct mail dramatically elevates performance. 

Regarding gifting, few partners have a larger or more innovative program than Shutterfly Business Solutions. It puts a large portion of the Shutterfly product catalog at your disposal, plus full personalization opportunities and fulfillment. We can also advise on what products deliver the best conversion results. 

Gifting is among the best strategies for impacting response rates — but it’s not the only way. See how different response mechanisms can further impact your direct mail conversions.

3: Expanding call to action response mechanisms in your direct mail

What’s the best response mechanism for direct mail? The one your customer uses. That’s not a cop-out; it’s a business truth. 

Shutterfly Business Solutions advises customers that providing multiple CTA options is the best course of action. The methods could include phone, SMS, email, webpage, QR code, or the classic business reply card (BRC). We’re not suggesting you use all methods, but a variety. We can help you select the right ones based on your budget and our historical user data.

As your direct mail program matures, we’ll look at the response rates and identify what performs and what could be dropped. We look beyond raw numbers to identify the value of generated leads. For example, a QR code may generate a tiny fraction of your leads — but account for the highest close rate. Always remember that channels are not equal in terms of cost, leads, and close rate. The details of each pathway matter.

#4: Personalized direct mail messaging

Highly effective direct mail is sent to a person — not a “resident.” Your ROI will continue increasing as your direct mail personalization gets deeper. McKinsey reports that personalization can deliver five to eight times the ROI on your marketing spend and lift sales by 10% or more. You accomplish that by using a customer relationship management tool. With it, you can identify needs, interests, wants, habits, and more. All of which should be ported into your direct mail content. Doing so creates communication that is beneficial to the reader — and effective for your company.

#5: Phishing-free direct mail communications

Email is the most commonly used alternative to direct mail. It’s affordable and fast. It’s also a massive security threat. Now more than ever, unscrupulous scammers are exploiting email campaigns. 

The threat of malicious email has become so great that some industries mandate phishing and penetration stress testing. Even industries that don’t are hiring cybersecurity companies to train employees and then conduct phishing tests. But no amount of expenditure, training, blocking, filtering, or testing will prevent all phishing scams, data thefts, and network penetrations via email attacks. All it takes is one employee, with only the best intentions, to click a misrepresented email link. The damage is done instantly, and the fix is expensive.

Conversely, direct mail is 100% safe for digital networks, devices and databases. It poses zero threats to the user, their company, or personal data. Best of all for marketers is that there are no screening or spam blockers to filter direct mail. You know every message you send reaches the intended person at their address.

6: Deploying programmatic campaigns with triggered direct mail

Campaign automation based on customer journey triggers is game-changing for conversions. It’s also something Shutterfly Business Solutions architects and integrates with increasing frequency for our partners. 

What makes automated marketing campaigns so hot? 

Referring to our magic formula for direct mail, step four asks, “is this the right time?” Deploying a programmatic direct mail program — or using direct mail as part of an automated omnichannel campaign — means your timing is always perfect. There’s never a missed opportunity or delay.

The triggers for a programmatic campaign can include a purchase, web page visit, phone call, enrollment, and more. Once the event happens, the right communication, with the right opportunity, is automatically dispatched. These are done one at a time and unique to each recipient for a totally personalized experience.

7: Pre-optimized formats for direct mail marketing

Direct mail can be any size or shape. If you have the budget, Shutterfly Business Solutions will make it happen. But not everyone has that kind of budget. That makes optimized mailing formats a popular trend for marketers.

The just-launched Flymats program from Shutterfly Business Solutions offers the most popular direct mail format. They’re all ready to print and ship fast with our best pricing. 

There are eleven categories, plus handy variations to fit your direct mail content needs. 

  • Postcards
  • Self-mailers
  • Letters
  • Greeting Cards
  • Booklet Self-Mailers
  • Stitched Books
  • Soft Cover Books
  • Hard Cover Books
  • Coiled Bound Books
  • Flyers
  • Posters

#8: Optimizing for USPS Informed Delivery

Recipients who sign up for Informed Delivery from the United States Postal Service (USPS) get an email each morning showing a photo of the address side of their mail. That means they see your direct mail in their email box before receiving it at their physical address. 

Informed delivery also has what the USPS calls “ride-along” content. Its content appears in the daily email beneath the image of your mailpiece. Ride-along content can include links to an engaging video or conversion goals such as following your company on social media.

Improve your direct mail with Shutterfly Business Solutions

Direct Mail presents a powerful opportunity for your brand. When optimized, it creates a marketable edge that builds customer loyalty, creates interaction, nurtures journeys, and generates conversions. 

Powerful as it is, direct mail is just one solution. Shutterfly Business Solutions has thousands ready to share. Using our expertise, scalability, nationwide presence, and massive Shutterfly platform will maximize your communications. Let’s discuss how Shutterfly Business Solutions can improve your omnichannel communications in business gifting, direct mail, transactional mail, greeting cards, and books

Capitalize on Shutterfly Business Solution resources and workflows to solve your communication challenges.

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Ask us how Shutterfly Business Solutions can improve your messaging channels. You’ll get the resources to solve any communication challenge. 

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Let’s discuss how Shutterfly Business Solutions can improve your communications. It’s incredible how many resources we’ll draw upon to solve complex challenges.