FAQs on Direct Mail Marketing

Here are some of the key questions we get asked about direct mail campaigns. If your question isn’t answered here please get in touch and one of the team will be able to advise you.

I am new to direct mail, can you support me through my campaign?

Yes, all Precision clients have access to their own dedicated account manager who will guide you through your campaign activity. Your account manager will take care of your campaign from start to finish, including support on data selection, print specifications, fulfilment, or response handling.


How can I use direct mail for my customers and new customer acquisition?

direct mail campaign can accurately target specific customers and prospects as part of a retention or acquisition strategy, as well as encourage repeat purchase with previous customers.

Direct mail in its very nature means you are getting your message directly in front of your target audience, where there is less competition for attention and the results are your message cuts through. Royal Mail MarketReach neuroscience FAQs on Direct Mail Marketing. study showed that mail is 35% more remembered than social media and 49% more than email.

Direct mail marketing is commonly used to, raise the profile of a business or brand, encourage purchase and to highlight events or special offers.


Is there a minimum order quantity for a direct mail campaign?

We have no minimum order quantity.

To get the best response rate you can segment your data to target small specific audiences with a personalised message to suit the target audience.

How often and when you use direct mail marketing will depend on the type of business you run and what is most appropriate for your business. For example your business may be seasonal and you may have specific offers for certain times of the year. Analysing the results of each campaign can help you decide what worked well and what to refine or try in a different way.


How much does a direct mailshot cost?

  • The cost of a direct mailshot will include:
  • Purchase cost of a data list or cost to profile an existing list
  • Print costs of the contents of the mailing and packaging
  • Purchase of any promotional items to be included in the mailing
  • Fulfilment and project management costs
  • Postage or delivery charges

Total cost of the mailing will depend on the complexity on the mailing, the number of items to be printed and inserted, as well as the overall weight and size of the overall direct mail piece.

Savings are possible if you consider the following:

  • Limiting the size or weight of the mailshot, by removing unnecessary contents
  • Optimising print runs or reducing the number of colours (without reducing quality)
  • Bulk mailings – reduce the overall cost per item mailed
  • Volume discounts available for postage


Do personalised mailings always get a better response?

Personalised mailings will get a better response than simply mailing to “To whom it may concern” or ‘the householder’. However with concerns around data privacy since GDPR was introduced, you may no longer have permission to mail to a known data list. If this is the case you can still make your message relevant through localisation, targeting at a postcode level with messages such as ‘Sold on your street’, ‘Installed on your street’, ‘Have you seen your neighbours new car’.

Personalisation using customer demographic of behavioural data will make your mailing more relevant and the more relevant and individual you make the message, the more chance you have of cutting through, building a positive brand image and making a sale.

Digital print is capable of a high level of personalisation through variable data printing. This could be by name and address, personalised offers based on previous buying behaviour, segmentation, as well as through cross-selling and upselling to your existing customer base.

Is direct mail more effective for business to consumer campaigns?

A well thought out direct marketing piece can work well for both consumer audiences and business to business sales transactions. The main difference between the two is likely to be the size of the list of potential customers – a business to business audience will most likely be a lot smaller. However the value of each item sold in the B2B environment may be greater, so could warrant more thought and resource allocating to win a sale.

You will of course get the best results if you carefully tailor your campaign to the audience you are targeting. When considering consumer campaigns be mindful that they are likely to respond to more emotional messaging to influence their decision making, whereas a business audience are likely to require more evidence based benefits for them to discuss with colleagues before making a purchase decision.


What should I consider first?

Your first consideration should be who you plan to send a mailing to and why, it would be a complete waste of time and money to compile a beautiful direct mail piece but then mail it to the wrong audience. So you need to start the process by first carefully considering who you will be mailing to and compiling the data. Once you have selected your audience you can then move on to considering what to send them and developing the messaging that will appeal to your chosen prospects.


Sustainability Questions.

I am new to direct mail, can you support me through my campaign?

Yes our litho press uses vegetable based inks and our stock paper is FSC accredited and purchased through the Woodland Carbon Scheme. And we are powered by solar panels on our roof. You can read more about our sustainability here on our dedicated sustainability page.


Do you offer a sustainable option for wrapped magazine and catalogue mailings?

Yes we offer a compostable potato starch mailing film that decomposes within 10 days, we know that because we tested it:#10dayCompostablePolyChallenge.


Data lists & Target audience Questions.

Who should I send direct mail to?

It’s a good idea to profile your existing customers, select your most profitable customers and build a picture of your ‘ideal customer’ – what does your ideal customer look like, what do they have in common? It could be gender, marital status, income bracket, occupation, geographic location, or interests/hobbies.

From the characteristics of your ideal customer you can then build new lists of ‘look-a-like’ prospects to target with your mailing. These prospects will be those who are most likely to be interested in your products or services and more likely to convert into a sale. By targeting a ‘look-a-like’ audience.

But don’t forget your existing customers as they too will be interested to hear about offers, special events and new products or services you are releasing. Your easiest win is repeat sales from your existing customers – they are warm to your brand already.

What should I look for in a mailing list?

You must make sure you have done your due diligence when buying third party data. Under GDPR rules you are accountable for ensuring the data you use for marketing is compliant.

You need to know:

  • How was the list compiled? Lists are often gathered from membership lists of magazines or trade bodies, associations or the electoral roll.
  • Was consent obtained? And how recently was it obtained or updated.
  • Has the data been screened against the Telephone Preference Service and the Mailing Preference Service.

Other questions you might want to ask:

  • Is the data list available as a one-off purchase or for multiple use? Most are to rent on a oneoff use only basis, though follow-up mailings within a certain period are usually allowed on payment of a fee.
  • Does the cost per thousand include job titles and individuals’ names, company names?
  • What is the minimum order? Many brokers will try to sell you 5,000 names as a minimum, but it does not take 5,000 names to know whether the list is going to generate a response, a list of 1,000 should be enough.
  • What is the total number available? Some lists can be too small to reach the minimum quantity, making them rather expensive per head.

Our mailing service covers every step – so we can help you build GDPR compliant targeted lists for your campaigns. For more information on how we can help you with data please take a look at our data service page or get in touch.

How can I be sure that my data is kept secure?

Initially we will provide a data sharing, processing and storage agreement detailing how we will manage your data securely. Then, to further this we will provide you with a secure data transfer platform to keep your data secure in transmission to us. Additionally we will hold your data on our secured Microsoft Windows file storage server.

What should I be aware of to comply with the Data Protection Act?

All businesses using personal data must comply with the Data Protection Act.

There are 8 principals you must observe to comply with the Act. Since the introduction of GDPR in 2018 the new principals are broadly similar to the principals in the Data Protection Act 1998.

Under the principles you must make sure that any personal information you hold is:

1998 Act: GDPR:
Principal 1 – fair and lawfully processed Principle (a) – lawfulness, fairness and transparency
Principal 2 – processed for limited purposes Principle (b) – purpose limitation
Principal 3 – adequate Principle (c) – data minimisation
Principal 4 – accurate and up-to- date Principle (d) – accuracy
Principal 5 – retention (not kept for longer than necessary) Principle (e) – storage limitation
Principal 6 – processed in line with their rights No equivalent to 1998 Act Principle 6 (provisions in chapter iii)
Principal 7 – kept securely Principle (f) – integrity & confidentiality
Principal 8 – international transfers only with adequate protection No equivalent to 1998 Act
Principle 8 (provisions in chapter v)
No equivalent to GDPR Accountability Principle Accountability principle

To find out more about your obligations under the Data Protection Act, visit the Information Commissioner’s Office website.


Postage & Delivery Questions.

I need to get a next day postal delivery, is that possible?

Yes, we can use Royal Mail 1st class postage service, more than 90% gets delivered on the next working day. We can also offer more economic 2-3 day or up to 4 day deliveries.


Can you offer Mailmark® services?

Yes we were one of the early adopters of this postal service and can offer Mailmark® via Royal Mail or by one of our preferred alternative Downstream Access postal providers.


Response Questions.

What response can I expect?

Response rates vary enormously, so it’s hard to predict what response you will get without carefully analysing your specific data and campaign. Therefore, you can expect much higher response rates when you mail your existing customers as they are already familiar with your products or services and what you have to offer.

According to the DMA, the average response rate for direct mail is 4.4% compared to 0.12% for email. Response rates will depend on the nature of your business and the quality of your mailing and your mailing list.

It is important to distinguish between responses and conversions. Many prospects may send for a holiday brochure, but how many then convert to buying a holiday vs those who use it for ideas? Analyse your responses and look at what you can improve on for your next mailing.

Precision can help you with handling responses as part of your campaign. Our in-house response handling team who collate and refine your database with performance analysis. We can also provide a follow up telemarketing campaign service.


How soon will I know if the mailshot has worked?

The extent of the response will be known within a week or two, sometimes even less than that.

It may take a little while to work out what didn’t work if your response is low. It could be that you have mailed the wrong data list with the wrong message, or the message wasn’t clear enough. The best way to find out would be with a follow up to some of the contacts, otherwise you may never know for sure what went wrong.

Another approach would be to test your campaign on a small group or do an A/B test split to see which creative resonates best.


How do I calculate the ROI of a direct mail campaign?

There are 3 key areas to look at in order to calculate a campaign ROI:

Complete campaign costs – for this you need to include everything required to get the final mailing to your customers. This will include; data list purchase, data cleansing, data profiling, print, promotional items, packaging for the mailing, fulfilment costs to insert and compile the mailing ready to post, postage and response data handling.

Campaign conversion income – this is the people contacted who then went on to purchase the product or service. It can be very hard to distinguish what is campaign specific income so it is important to set up a response code or specific response email or phone number to help you distinguish.

The true income of a campaign is not just a direct sale of a promotional item but also the derived sales, e.g. additional items purchased.

The third is the intangible benefits from the campaign. These can not be quantified but are important to acknowledge when considering the campaigns success or failure.

A few examples of these could be:

Customer satisfaction – this could be the difference between repeat purchase or not.

New prospects – you may find you have located a new set of prospects to follow up due to subscribers to newsletters, brochures or online services.