The Ultimate Direct-Mail Marketing Guide for Ecommerce: Advantages and Costs (2024)

What is direct-mail marketing?

Direct-mail marketing is a form of advertising where businesses send promotional materials to potential customers through the postal service. These materials can include postcards, catalogs, brochures, and sales letters.

Is direct mail an effective form of marketing?

Direct mail has several advantages that make it an effective form of marketing for ecommerce businesses.

High response rates

Direct mail often yields higher response rates than digital marketing efforts. According to the Data & Marketing Association, direct mail has a response rate of 4.4%, compared to email’s response rate of 0.12%.

Strong emotional response and brand recall

Physical mail can evoke a stronger emotional response and create better brand recall compared to digital ads. A study by Canada Post found that direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media, meaning it is easier to understand and more memorable.

High ROI

Direct mail can offer a high return on investment for ecommerce businesses. The average ROI for direct mail is $12 for every $1 spent, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

Amplifies the impact of email marketing

Direct mail can complement and amplify the impact of email marketing. When used together, they can create a powerful multichannel marketing strategy that reaches customers both online and offline.

Is direct mail expensive?

Direct mail can be more expensive than digital marketing, but it offers a higher response rate and ROI. The cost of direct mail includes design, printing, postage, and mailing list acquisition. However, with careful planning and targeting, the benefits can outweigh the costs.

How to create a direct-mail campaign in 5 steps

1. Create a target mailing list

Identify your target audience and create a mailing list that includes potential customers who are likely to be interested in your products. You can acquire mailing lists from reputable vendors or build your own based on customer demographics and behavior.

2. Design an effective marketing campaign

Create compelling and visually appealing direct-mail pieces that showcase your products and promotions. Use strong calls-to-action and personalized messaging to engage recipients and encourage them to make a purchase.

3. Consider a test drive

Before rolling out a full-scale direct-mail campaign, consider testing a small sample to gauge the effectiveness of your messaging, design, and targeting. This allows you to make any necessary adjustments before investing in a larger campaign.

4. Streamline your mailing process

Work with a reputable mailing house to streamline the process of printing, addressing, and mailing your direct-mail pieces. This can help save time and ensure that your materials are delivered efficiently.

5. Track your campaign

Implement tracking mechanisms to monitor the success of your direct-mail campaign. Use unique offer codes or personalized URLs to track response rates and measure the impact of your campaign on sales and customer acquisition.

3 tips for a successful direct-mail campaign

Offer a discount

Include a special offer or discount code in your direct-mail piece to incentivize recipients to make a purchase. This can help drive response rates and encourage customers to take action.

Don’t let it stand alone

Integrate your direct-mail campaign with your other marketing efforts, such as email and social media. This creates a cohesive message and increases the likelihood of reaching and engaging your audience across multiple channels.

Keep it simple

Avoid overwhelming recipients with too much information. Keep your direct-mail piece simple, clear, and focused on a single message or promotion to ensure that it resonates with your audience.

Direct mail FAQ

How do I target the right audience with my direct-mail campaign?

To target the right audience, segment your mailing list based on demographics, purchasing behavior, and engagement with your brand. This allows you to tailor your message and offers to specific groups of recipients, increasing the relevance and effectiveness of your campaign.

How do I measure the success of my direct-mail campaign?

You can measure the success of your direct-mail campaign by tracking response rates, conversion rates, and the overall impact on sales and customer acquisition. Use unique offer codes, personalized URLs, and tracking tools to monitor the performance of your campaign and make data-driven decisions for future efforts.

How does direct mail compare to email marketing?

Direct mail and email marketing can work together to create a powerful multichannel marketing strategy. While email marketing offers cost-effective and immediate communication with customers, direct mail provides a tangible and memorable experience that can enhance brand recall and drive higher response rates. When used in combination, they can amplify the impact of your marketing efforts and reach customers through both online and offline channels.


Direct-mail marketing offers several advantages for ecommerce businesses, including high response rates, strong emotional response and brand recall, high ROI, and the ability to amplify the impact of email marketing. While direct mail may be more expensive than digital marketing, its benefits can outweigh the costs when executed effectively. By following the five steps for creating a direct-mail campaign and implementing the tips for success, ecommerce businesses can leverage the power of direct mail to reach and engage their target audience. When integrated with other marketing efforts and measured for success, direct mail can be a valuable addition to a comprehensive marketing strategy.