How to create direct mail that gets results

mail vs email

You’ve probably heard about this little thing called CASL. If not, you should really read up on it over here. It has created stricter rules on who businesses can email and for what purposes. The flip side is: there’s always the old reliable direct mail approach. Think of how much more exciting it is to get actual mail in your mailbox these days. It’s time to get smart with your direct mail marketing and get results!

First up: you’ll need to know the difference between addressed and unaddressed mail

There are various things that you can send in the mail. A letter, a postcard, a greeting card, a receipt or invoice, a self-mailer, an annual report just to name a few.

  • Addressed mail allows you to send a personalized message and you can tailor your piece to the contact. For quantities under 1000, this is known as lettermail.
  • Unaddressed mail is good for sending the same message to a large group of people and is also known as a mail drop. Because it’s unaddressed, there’s no room for personalization. However, the area that you’re doing the mail drop in may feature a lot of people within a certain demographic which is important to consider when you’re creating the piece.

When it comes to mailing within Canada, here are some size and weight restrictions to keep in mind:

Size and weight restrictions
Length 140mm (5.6in) – 245 mm (9.6in)
Width 90mm (3.6in) – 156mm (6.1in)
Weight 3 – 30 grams

Consider what you already know about your customer and aim to amaze.

Think about the information that you already know about the customers that you plan on sending the piece to. Does it make sense to personalize the piece? You’ve seen personalized mail messages before: “[Your name here], check out this great offer!” Personalized direct mail can stand out when done well and that little personal touch can help grab someone’s attention. Considering demographics such as age, income, region, sex and more will help you to tailor the piece so that it speaks to your general audience. Take the time to impress your customer and then you’ll see better results.

Be clear about your call to action.

When a potential customer receives your mail piece, what do you want them to do to follow up? Make sure that you’ve planned out your call to action and that customers can determine what the next step is if they want to take it. You’ll also want to make sure that the right tools are in place to help measure your ROI by how many people follow up based on your call to action. For more information on how to measure the success of your marketing, check out this post.



Neither will a string of exclamation marks (!!!!!!) or combining bold with italics. Talk to your customers and tell them a story with your marketing. It’s more likely to catch their attention if your mail piece takes a creative approach instead of simply spelling out what you do. Using humour to draw in your audience is also helpful. Get clever and make your audience think about what they’re looking at.

Know your timeline so you’re not scrambling.

If your piece is time sensitive, will it arrive in time? Keep in mind that addressed mail takes slightly longer for delivery. Unaddressed mail also requires presorting before it’s sent out.

Generally, delivery expectations in Canada are:

Unaddressed Addressed
Local 2 business days 3 business days
Within province 3-4 business days 4-5 business days
National 3-13 business days 4-13 business days

Choose your colours carefully

When it comes to the design and colours of your piece, keep in mind everything you’ve heard about colour psychology. For more information, check out this infographic on how to target your print marketing using colour. For example, blue appeals to people of all ages and genders, while green appeals to younger people. Men prefer shades (black added to a colour) and women prefer tints (white added).

What catches your attention?

Go through the mail that you receive. Pick out the things that stand out to you and determine what makes them stick out. Learn from that and think about your own audience and what you think they’d enjoy based on what you know. Chances are what stands out to you will also stand out to other people too!

Some further reading:


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