What costs are involed in direct mail you ask?

As with any business proposition, the cost associated in a direct mail campaign is usually an important factor that is considered by advertisers before they opt for it. The cost that a direct mail advertising campaign might incur depends on a lot of variable factors ranging from the kind target list of addressees that is to be procured to the quality of paper that is used to print the advertising on.

Some of the main variables on which the cost of a direct mail campaign depends on are:

1. The list of recipients that is procured from a direct mailing list broker – The cost of such a list could vary from 20 USD per thousand addresses to around 200 USD. This is a very important factor on which corners shouldn’t be cut for the sake of reducing costs as the success of the campaign is directly linked to the kind of audience which is targeted. If the targeted recipients have no use for the particular product that the advertiser seeks to sell, then the whole purpose of the direct mail campaign is lost. For example, it won’t be a successful investment to procure a list of recipients who are singles without issues for a campaign intending to sell baby food, and baby products as most of these singles would not be interested in the product.

2. Quality of the direct mail campaign – If you intend to send out letters or catalogs that are printed on glossy paper with colorful designs and pictures on them, the cost might be much greater than a simple paper mail with printed words on cheap paper. Since most postal services charge on the basis of the size of the mail or its weight, with the costs increasing corresponding to the increase in size and weight of the mail package, it would be prudent to go in for sleek and to the point direct mail ad campaigns, that can reduce the costs considerably.

3. Postage – Postage makes up the bulk of the campaign cost but can be as low as 12.7 cents.

Direct mail marketing is a costly form of advertising campaign that can be embarked upon and yet is the most successful. The cost incurred from start to finish after considering the above factors would be anywhere between fifty cents to a dollar per direct mail. The thing to look out for is the return on the investment that you could get, even if you end up spending a lot of money on the campaign.

If on an average, a thousand mails would generate 20 leads and each of the leads significantly covers the cost of the campaign as well as generates the envisioned profit margin, then it is worth going for such a mode of advertisement. Most postal services offer reduced rates for direct mail campaign permits that allow the advertiser to cut costs on this front. The US postal service offers many direct mailing packages that a prospective advertiser could choose from, depending on his needs.


Frequency of Direct Mail

Direct mail frequency.
How often should you mail prospects?


One of my favorite quotes comes from John D. Rockefeller.
It’s on my wall and reminds me to keep planning my work
and working my plan.

Rockefeller wrote:

“I do not think there is any quality so essential to
success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It
overcomes almost anything, even nature.”

Over the years, successful direct mailers have learned
this lesson well. They know that they can’t mail just
once and pray for great results. They have to create
multiple-mailings that make money over time.

A perfect example: magazine subscription campaigns. As
you know from personal experience, these folks just never

It seems as if the day you subscribe, the subscription
renewal campaign begins.

Never mind that they’re decimating forests in the process
.. . . they go on and on, begging, hounding, cajoling,
until the eighty-sixth letter that says, “O.K. We give
up. You’ll never hear from us again.” (At which point, of
course, a lot of the renewals flow in!)

Now I’m not suggesting that you go to extremes (the way
the magazine publishers do), but for goodness sakes,
don’t throw in the towel after you mail just once!

Why don’t companies keep those cards and letters coming?
Because printing costs are high and postage these days is
murder. But that shouldn’t stop you from mailing
aggressively IF you’ve got a well-targeted list and a
compelling offer.

OK. So you’ve bought into the idea of mailing prospects
or customers more than once. How should you go about
handling your remailing efforts? Here are just four
ideas for you to consider:

#1. Remail the original package to the same target

There’s no reason why you can’t do this. Timing is
everything. You never know when your mailing will catch
prospects just when they need your product or service.
A simple, cost-effective remailing is well worth trying.
#2. If you have the time, energy, and resources, you can
send a campaign of new letters to non-responders.

Each letter can stress a unique product or service benefit.
The theory is, if one approach doesn’t work, you go back to
the prospect with a different pitch. Again, this is a
very reasonable way to go.

#3. If your offer is good for a limited time only, be
sure to play that up. In your final letter you can say
things like:

“We will not contact you again about this special offer.”
“You must act immediately since this offer will not be
extended under any conditions.”
“Your eligibility for this final offer expires on
December 31, 2004.”
“This is the last time you will hear from us concerning
this special offer. Call 800-123-1234 while you are still

You get the idea.

#4. The last contact with the prospect can be a post

It is inexpensive and your “Last Chance!” message is
instantly visible. Show a clock ticking. Say: “Time Is
Running Out!” Corny? Of course . . . but it works!

For more of my thinking on using post cards, see The Levison
Letter issue titled “How to make big profits from small
mailers — Eight tips for using postcards the RIGHT way”
at: http://www.levison.com/march_2004.html

The take-away message this month?

Keep on mailing until you stop making money. Unless you
keep getting back to your prospects and customers, you
may be leaving money on the table. A LOT of money!

National Change of Address (NCOA) The Upmost Importance to Direct Mail

Over 40 million Americans change their address annually, which creates formidable obstacles in maintaining a high-quality mailing list. The NCOALink product makes change-of-address information available to mailers to help reduce undeliverable mailpieces before mail enters the mailstream.

The NCOALink process consists of computer software purchased, leased or developed by the licensee to access the NCOALink data. The Postal Service certifies the process and licenses the NCOALink product to private sector companies for commercial mail list processing or internal mail list management. Updated, computerized change-of-address information is provided on a regular basis to the NCOALink licensees by the Postal Service. The NCOALink process improves mail deliverability by providing mailers with current, standardized, delivery point coded addresses for individual, family, and business moves.

Input address information must first be standardized to conform to USPS® requirements, including the ZIP + 4® code. An attempt is made to match each name and address against the NCOALink product. Address change information is derived from the PS Form 3575, Change-of-Address Order, filed by relocating postal customers. If a match is made with the name and old address information in the NCOALink file, then the NCOALink licensee is permitted to provide the current move information (new address or undeliverable status) to update the mailing list.

The full NCOALink Product contains approximately 160 million records or 48 months of permanent address changes and is available to Full Service Provider Licensees. The limited NCOALink product contains approximately 60 million records or 18 months of permanent address changes and is available to Limited Service Provider and End User Licensees.

NCOALink helps reduce undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) mail by correcting input addresses prior to mailing. Since 1986, Move Update predecessors such as ACSTM Service, National Change of Address (NCOA) and the FASTforward® system have saved mailers millions of dollars that otherwise would have been wasted in materials and postage. NCOALink continues this trend and, like its predecessors, provides the following benefits to mailers:

Reduces undeliverable mail by providing the most current address information for matches made to the NCOALink file
Prevents re-mailings after address corrections are received because the address correction is applied prior to the mailing
Reduces mailer costs by reducing the number of undeliverable mailpieces by using most current address information
Provides the opportunity for faster product/service marketing through accurate mail delivery
In addition to change-of-address information, NCOALink also utilizes Return Codes to provide explanation of match and non-match status. Return Codes which indicate that a match was obtained are accompanied by a new address or undeliverable status. Return Codes which indicate a match was not obtained provide the reason a match could not be made to the NCOALink file. The analysis of Return Codes can help the mailer determine the deliverability of specific address records.