Smart Cost Savings Strategies for Direct Marketers

We have previously given marketers ideas on how to reduce costs when including direct mail into their marketing channel mix. With the current state of inflation resulting in tighter marketing budgets, we thought we should add to our previous recommendations as you are planning your 2024 budgets. We know direct mail works. We want to continue helping our clients execute direct mail campaigns that also work for their budget.

The biggest factors impacting postal and distribution costs are delivery type, how it is sorted, the way it is transported, and where it is delivered. Marketers can also save money when sending direct mail by employing these additional cost-saving strategies and tactics:

  • Targeted Lists: Invest in high-quality, well-segmented mailing lists to ensure you’re reaching the most relevant audience, thus improving your response rates and ROI. Using low-quality lists will result in more print and postage waste.
  • Postcard Marketing: Consider using postcards instead of traditional letters or brochures. Postcards are less costly to print, and postage costs are lower since they don’t need envelopes.
  • Bulk Mail Discounts: Take advantage of bulk mailing discounts offered by postal services. These discounts can significantly reduce postage costs for larger mailings.
  • Standard Mail: Use standard (nonprofit) mail rates if applicable, as they are less expensive than first-class mail rates. To qualify, you may need to meet certain criteria, like being a nonprofit organization.
  • Format, Size and Weight Optimization: Keep the size and weight of your mail pieces within standard limits to avoid extra postage charges. Oversized or overweight pieces can incur higher postage fees. More than half the cost of a direct mail piece is printing and postage, so choose formats that optimize printing and postage efficiencies.
  • Design and Copy Efficiency: Create concise and effective direct mail pieces that get your message across without unnecessary or verbose copy. Less copy may mean the size of the mailer could be smaller reducing printing costs and potentially postage costs.
  • Printing and Paper Selection: Choose economical paper and printing options. Bulk printing in single- or two-color printing can be more cost-effective than full-color printing.
  • Personalization: Use variable data printing to personalize each mail piece. This can improve response rates and justify the additional cost as you’re targeting individuals more effectively. If you have a large quantity of records on your list, there may be efficiencies with printing offset and lasering on personalization than printing the entire piece digitally.
  • Test and Measure: Conduct A/B testing on various elements of your direct mail, such as headlines, offers and designs. This can help you optimize your campaigns and avoid unnecessary spending.
  • Timing: Plan your mailings well in advance to take advantage of postal service discounts for presorted and automated mailings. Avoid rush jobs that might incur additional costs. If you need to get information out very quickly for an awareness campaign, consider digital marketing channels first and plan for a follow-up direct mail campaign when you won’t incur rush fees.
  • Negotiate with Suppliers: Negotiate with print and mail service providers for bulk discounts, especially if you have regular, large-volume mailings.
  • Outsourcing: Consider outsourcing some aspects of your direct mail campaigns, such as data processing, printing or fulfillment, to specialized service providers. They may offer cost savings due to economies of scale.
  • Track ROI: Keep a close eye on your return on investment (ROI) to ensure that your direct mail campaigns are cost effective. Adjust your strategy based on the results you achieve.
  • Clean and Update Your Mailing List: Regularly clean and update your mailing list to remove duplicates, correct addresses and eliminate non-responsive recipients. This ensures you’re not wasting money on mail that won’t reach its intended target.
  • Leverage Online Integration: Use online tools and strategies to complement your direct mail campaigns, such as directing recipients to your website or social media for additional information, discounts or engagement.

By implementing these cost-saving strategies, marketers can make their direct mail campaigns more efficient and budget friendly while still achieving their marketing goals. If you need help tightening up your direct mail budget with cost-saving strategies, let’s talk.

Contributing Author:
Lauren McCullough
Account Coordinator

Jenny Lassi • October 24, 2023

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