This method of advertising uses postal and other delivery services to ship advertising materials (e.g., postcards, letters, brochures, catalogs, flyers) to a physical address of targeted customers. Direct mail is most effective when it is designed in a way that makes it appear to be special to the customer. For instance, a marketer using direct mail can personalize mailings by including a message recipient’s name on the address label or by inserting their name within the content of marketer’s message.
Direct mail can be a highly cost-effective method of advertising, especially if mailings contain printed material. This is due to cost advantages obtained by printing in high volume since the majority of printing costs are realized when a printing machine is initially setup to run a print job and not the because of the quantity of material printed. Consequently, the total cost of printing 50,000 postcards is only slightly higher than printing 20,000 postcards but when the total cost is divided by the number of cards printed the cost per-card drops dramatically as more pieces are printed. Obviously, there are other costs involved in direct mail, primarily postage expense.
While direct mail offers the benefit of a low-cost-production for each distributed piece, the actual cost-per-exposure can be quite high as large numbers of customers may discard the mailing before reading. This has led many to refer to direct mail as junk mail and, due to the name, some marketers view the approach as ineffective. However, direct mail, when well-targeted, can be an extremely effective promotional tool.