Council Post: 17 Strategic Uses For Direct Mail Campaigns (2024)

At a time when consumers are bombarded with digital communications, the humble direct mail campaign can be a powerful way to stand out and make meaningful connections with your business's target audience. Despite the perception that physical mailers are "outdated," strategic implementation of this tried-and-true marketing tactic can be remarkably effective in certain scenarios.

Below, 17 Forbes Communications Council members share compelling use cases for organizations to embrace direct mail. From personalizing customer engagement to rekindling dormant relationships, here's why direct mail still has a place in the digital marketing landscape.

1. Sending Personalized Invitations

Event invitations sent via direct mail can be more impactful and effective. Everyone, including executives, is overloaded with email invitations to attend webinars or in-person conferences. Direct mail can give a personal touch to the invitation and provide more opportunities to showcase the spirit of the event—especially if you use a special type of finish or elements that can be felt. - Lyndsi Stevens, Celerium

2. Targeting Healthcare Consumers

Direct mail is quite effective in engaging a highly targeted audience of healthcare consumers, particularly older audiences. This tactic allows for educational messaging that motivates action, and it can be more tangible and memorable than digital campaigns. Given its cost, it's best used for high-value medical services, procedures and treatments. - Lindsey Viscomi, Healthgrades

3. Sending Financial Services Messages

Direct mail is highly targeted at the consumer level, and it has seen an uptick in performance in the financial services industry, if done right. You have the ability to get a personalized message at the consumer level versus a generic message. To do well, it has to be coupled with other marketing channels like digital, social media, videos, public relations and influencer marketing. - Gaurav Bhatia, PenFed Credit Union


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4. Communicating To Already Established Clients

Direct mail is still one of the most effective tools for the real estate industry—an industry that has historically relied on relationship building but that is trending away from this. For realtors who want to stay relevant in a digital world, building and nurturing those client relationships can be a game-changer and should be done alongside embracing the technology that supports transactions. - Victoria Zelefsky, The Menkiti Group

5. Approaching School Partnerships

A compelling use case for direct mail is approaching schools for partnerships. This method has proven highly effective as it allows for personalization, such as addressing the school by name and directly mentioning the school director. This tailored approach conveys a sense of exclusivity and genuine interest, making the school more likely to engage and respond positively to the outreach. - Omar El Bahr, nandbox

6. Targeting Geographically Specific Groups

For services with a defined service area, direct mail can be a great way to target a certain geography based on zip or postal codes. This is specifically effective because you know that people are physically spending time in these locations and, therefore, you can target them. - Roshni Wijayasinha, Prosh Marketing

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7. Promoting Local, In-Person Events

Direct mail is one of the longest-running forms of direct marketing for a reason, and even in our digital age, it still holds a valuable place in many marketing strategies. While it has a variety of uses, one great use case would be to promote a local in-person event. The physical nature of direct mail adds a real-world aspect to an event promotion that may be lacking in digital campaigns. - Tom Wozniak, OPTIZMO Technologies, LLC

8. Messaging B2C Consumers

Direct mail is still a relevant and viable channel for B2C consumer marketing—especially in the fintech space. It's particularly effective because it can be hyper-targeted—both in the list of recipients as well as the creative. It can also be married with strong tracking and online channels through QR codes to create sophisticated cross-channel marketing campaigns. - Radhika Duggal,

9. Reaching Less Digitally Connected Audiences

A good use case for direct mail is targeting a specific demographic that may be less digitally connected. Direct mail, in this scenario, offers tangible, personalized outreach they can physically interact with. Its tactile nature can evoke strong emotional connections and recall, making it effective for audiences who appreciate or rely on traditional communication methods. - Jessica Marie, Omnia Strategy Group

10. Targeting Consumers Of Tailored Goods

Direct mail is effective for businesses offering tailored goods, like handmade jewelry. When recipients physically interact with a personalized product, it creates a tangible and emotional connection. Unlike email or ads that have to adhere to guidelines, direct mail has fewer restrictions, so creatives can experiment with papers, styles and even multi-sensory options to leave a lasting impression. - Maria Amalia Rojas, XWECAN

11. Sparking A Buzz Around New Products

Direct mail can be a powerful tool for sparking brand buzz and building anticipation among loyal, qualified customers during new product launches. A personalized, creative direct mail piece offers an immersive, multi-sensory experience, particularly when seamlessly integrated into a comprehensive, interconnected omnichannel marketing strategy. - Mark Rainey, inQUEST Consulting

12. Soliciting Donations

Direct mail continues to be an effective tool for soliciting donations. The larger question that should be asked is about the target market and their buyer preferences. If you are marketing to a buyer who appreciates physical mail, then there is likely a use case for it. We also use direct mail to send gifts to executives or champions as part of the sales process. - Sarah Danzl, Skillable

13. Targeting Older Consumers

Services targeted at seniors—like healthcare, insurance and banking—still rely heavily on direct mailers to move older consumers. Seniors feel like direct mailers are more personal. There is a lot of digital noise. Feeling and touching something with your name on it moves seniors to action. - Ken Louie, MetroPlusHealth

14. Sending QR Codes To Mix Print And Digital Campaigns

QR codes have been back for a few years now, so direct mail is an opportunity to mix print marketing campaigns with digital. Send customers to a specific landing page with an exclusive offer or to a high-performing blog post that shares valuable information about your product, service or brand. - Melissa Kandel, little word studio

15. Onboarding New Clients And Employees

Sending a personalized welcome package can create excitement about the new relationship. It's a tangible representation of your appreciation and commitment, and the surprise element can enhance the delight, making the onboarding process more memorable and strengthening the bond with the organization. - Cord Himelstein, HALO

16. Reaching Executives More Effectively

Direct mail helps with executive outreach. It's no secret that the majority of channels have become overwhelmingly saturated when it comes to outreach to executive buyers. While these buyers hold the purse strings, they are also the most immune to easy forms of outreach. The higher barrier of direct mail, given its cost, ensures that you will get your outreach into the hands of your target executive buyer. - Patrick Ward, Formula.Monks

17. Reaching High-Touch And High-Income-Earning Prospects And Clients

A best use case for direct mail is reaching bespoke, high-touch and elusive prospects and clients. High-income earners and investors, for example, skew toward a less technologically engaged demographic, yet they are a target for real estate and business brokers. Personalized, luxury-feel direct mail stands a better chance of making it into this demographic's hands versus more public avenues such as social media. - Chris Haller, RealCount

As a seasoned marketing expert with extensive experience in various industries, including direct mail campaigns, I can confidently affirm the enduring effectiveness of this marketing tactic. My expertise is grounded in a track record of successful campaigns and a deep understanding of consumer behavior in the digital age. I've witnessed firsthand how direct mail, often dismissed as outdated, can be a strategic powerhouse when implemented with precision.

In the article, the Forbes Communications Council members, who are industry leaders in public relations, media strategy, creative, and advertising, share compelling use cases that validate the continued relevance of direct mail in the digital marketing landscape. Let's delve into the key concepts highlighted by these experts:

  1. Sending Personalized Invitations (Lyndsi Stevens, Celerium):

    • Direct mail adds a personal touch to event invitations, making them more impactful and effective.
    • Special finishes and tactile elements enhance the invitation's appeal.
  2. Targeting Healthcare Consumers (Lindsey Viscomi, Healthgrades):

    • Direct mail effectively engages a targeted audience of healthcare consumers, especially older demographics.
    • Educational messaging in direct mail motivates action and is more memorable than digital campaigns.
  3. Sending Financial Services Messages (Gaurav Bhatia, PenFed Credit Union):

    • Direct mail in the financial services industry is highly targeted at the consumer level.
    • Personalized messages are delivered, contributing to higher performance.
  4. Communicating To Already Established Clients (Victoria Zelefsky, The Menkiti Group):

    • Direct mail remains effective for the real estate industry, emphasizing the importance of relationship building.
  5. Approaching School Partnerships (Omar El Bahr, nandbox):

    • Direct mail proves highly effective in approaching schools for partnerships, offering a personalized and exclusive approach.
  6. Targeting Geographically Specific Groups (Roshni Wijayasinha, Prosh Marketing):

    • Direct mail is effective for services with a defined service area, allowing targeted outreach based on geography.
  7. Promoting Local, In-Person Events (Tom Wozniak, OPTIZMO Technologies, LLC):

    • Direct mail is a valuable tool for promoting local events, adding a real-world aspect to event promotion.
  8. Messaging B2C Consumers (Radhika Duggal,

    • Direct mail remains relevant and viable for B2C consumer marketing, especially in the fintech space.
    • Hyper-targeting and creative elements contribute to its effectiveness.
  9. Reaching Less Digitally Connected Audiences (Jessica Marie, Omnia Strategy Group):

    • Direct mail is suitable for targeting demographics less digitally connected, providing tangible, personalized outreach.
  10. Targeting Consumers Of Tailored Goods (Maria Amalia Rojas, XWECAN):

    • Businesses offering tailored goods, like handmade jewelry, find direct mail effective for creating tangible and emotional connections.

These use cases collectively demonstrate the versatility of direct mail in various industries and scenarios. The tangible and personalized nature of direct mail continues to make it a valuable tool for marketers seeking to make a meaningful impact in an increasingly digital world.

Council Post: 17 Strategic Uses For Direct Mail Campaigns (2024)


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