10 Steps to Creating a Direct Mail Marketing Plan

Did you know that in today’s digital world, direct mail marketing remains one of the most trusted sources of advertising? Radio and TV ads are a distant second and third [1]. By following the steps we’ve outlined, you can create an effective Direct Mail Marketing campaign with trackable responses.

This month we present the outline of the 10 steps and then in the following months, we’ll provide you with a deeper dive into each step of the process.

1) Identify and select your target market

Defining your prospective customers and members is the key first step to creating your campaign [2]. It’s okay to be broad or general right now, as long as you have an idea of the target audience that will be interested in using your product or service. Once you’ve identified the target, you’ll want to narrow the audience down, based on information obtained from your current customers or members demographics, and then create segments within the group.

2) Create a compelling offer – one that stands out

With a compelling, meaningful offer, you’ll get higher response rates and a healthy ROI. The wording used in an offer is key. For example, if you offer, ‘one free month membership’, vs. ‘10% off an annual membership’, you’re likely to receive a higher response given a consumer’s affinity for ‘FREE’ stuff [3].

3) Create a test panel, testing one or more offers

Once you’ve established a compelling offer, come up with a few more variations that you feel may move the needle to further response. Again, these offers all need to be of perceived value and inspire action [4]. Test the same offer to several segments of your audience and/or create other equally compelling offers in order to collect useful and reliable data.

For offer testing, it’s important to test in a logically defined segment that is most likely to respond. Once you’ve identified this, you can randomly pull a test panel from the group [2].

4) Create a test panel

Use a randomly selected sample, clearly separated and trackable, to test offers, creative concepts, and formats.

5)  Select the right format – letter package, postcard, self-mailer  

 Once you have your offers and audience in mind, deciding what format and design you want is another crucial step in creating an effective direct mail campaign. The choices are a variation of a letter, package, postcard, or self-mailer. Test different formats in your target audience, with a clearly defined single variant test. In other words, test only one item at a time; don’t test an offer and a creative format simultaneously.

6) Design and create the mail piece 

Once you’ve selected a format that complements your offer and accommodates your audience, make sure you’ve got a team of trained graphic artists or an agency that’s familiar with direct mail marketing to help you create your design and copy for the piece. A direct mail savvy team is essential to creating response-oriented copy and graphics for your mailing.

7) Set the mail plan 

Set the date that you plan to send your direct mail and any additional mail dates based on the goals of the campaign.  Note that you may find you need to re-work subsequent mailing dates after you gather data on the initial mailings, so have an idea or outline for future dates, with the ability to be flexible and change them when necessary.

8) Measure response

Collect your data and tweak your future mailings based on the response garnered from your sample audience.

9) Put it all together

 Make adjustments to your campaign based on what you’ve learned in the test panels and the control mailings.

10) Rinse and repeat

Send out your new mailers with necessary adjustments to hone-in on your most profitable future campaigns.

We hope you found this a helpful reference for creating a profitable Direct Mail Campaign. Stay tuned for future blogs where we will take a closer look at each of these concepts.


  1. https://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/chart/channels-customers-trust-most-when-purchasing
  2. Nash, Edward. Direct Marketing: Strategy, Planning, Execution. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2000.
  3. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-science-says-about-discounts_b_8511224
  4. https://conversionxl.com/blog/perceived-value/

About Genesis Direct

The key to better direct marketing and relationship building is getting the most relevant message to the right people, at the right time. Our integrated variable data printing process does just that. By applying the latest technologies, Genesis Direct is equipped to better understand and more effectively target customers and prospects by spotting trends and cross-referencing behavior patterns. Then, putting this knowledge to use by crafting truly customized one-to-one direct marketing campaigns that inspire action, we reach these targets more meaningfully and more profitably. Waste is minimized and spot-on insights replace CPM guesswork as relevance becomes the key. With our help, you will reach a willing audience that’s most inclined to engage in your offer. For nearly 25 years, we’ve been all about creating better relationships. 

For a free consultation and to learn how we can help your business grow, call or email our Senior Account Executive, Mike McNally at (813) 610-5931, [email protected], or visit us online today.