How to Create a Profitable Direct Mail Campaign for Your Small Local Business


By Samantha Hager

In a digital age, it can be easy to forget about the old-school tried and true marketing methods that still help small local companies succeed worldwide. One of the most valuable marketing strategies that don’t rely on social media or online advertising to accomplish is direct mail. With a successful direct mail campaign, small business owners can achieve increased profits and build their local brand image without breaking the bank or needing to be particularly tech-savvy either.

In this article, we’ll break down both the value of a successful direct mail campaign as well as how to accomplish one step by step in the new year. With this guide alone, you’ll be able to take your small cleaning or restoration business to the next level and see increased engagement and profits in no time.

direct mail marketing campaign

The value of a successful direct mail campaign

With a proper direct mail campaign, companies can see an increase in profits, engagement, and employee/customer retention as well. 73% of customers prefer direct mail over other marketing channels, and the brands that use it to their benefit actually see 3x more engagement than the ones that use email marketing strategies instead. Furthermore, the average return on investment for direct mail is $4.09 for every $1.27 spent and the average response rate for direct mail is between 2.7% and 4.4%, compared to email’s 0.6% response rate. However, it’s truly the direct effects on the business that is most impressive as seen below.

1. Customer retention  

54% of consumers say they want direct mail from brands that interest them, and they are more likely to buy again from a brand that keeps in contact with them via direct mail likewise.

2. Community connection

Direct mail helps companies connect with their local community in a personal way. Take the time to learn the first names of your mailing list and incorporate them into your direct mail designs to connect even more with your community in a positive way.

3. Top-of-mind awareness

Direct mail has an open rate of 90%, a far cry from the 23% open rate of email marketing. With these kinds of numbers, being able to put your name out there to 90% of the people you market to can significantly impact your brand’s top-of-mind awareness locally. Then, when cleaning or restoration jobs arise, you will easily be the first name these individuals think to contact.

4. Brand image success

A company’s brand image is everything—especially when they’re a small local company. With this being said, sending out direct mail to the community with discounts and personalized designs can be a great way to boost your local brand image and stand out from the competition.

5. Growth and industry expansion

As you perfect your top-of-mind awareness and brand image locally, you will also likely begin to see growth internally as well as expansion in your industry. One example of this is Cleanfax magazine which features up-and-coming leaders in the industry as well as experts and seasoned veterans. That kind of coverage can help you network, grow your business to even more locations, and get the best of the best employee candidates all at once.

6. Increased profits

Direct mail has a 29% median ROI compared to 23% for Paid Search and 16% for online display. This makes it one of the most cost-effective marketing methods out there. On top of this, people between the ages of 45 and 54 are the most likely to respond to direct campaigns, with their direct mail response rate sitting around 14%. Since the average age of homebuyers overall is 47, this means that the largest demographic for cleaning and restoration brands answer direct mail more than any other age group. As a result, new opportunities for client acquisition and future jobs help to increase profits as well. Lastly, employee retention and quality employee acquisition help boost profits in ways that many leaders don’t regularly consider.

7. Employee retention and acquisition

In the 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the overall turnover rate for employees was 57.3%. Considering this, it makes sense why employee retention boosters are so enticing to business owners at every level. For small local businesses, employee retention and acquisition are even more crucial since the talent pool is far smaller. Fortunately, with a good direct mail campaign that highlights job openings, you can get even more potential candidates locally and stay connected in a personal way with your current employees to increase their job satisfaction and pride.

8. More site traffic and online engagement

Lastly, companies that utilize direct mail strategies actually show increases in their site traffic and online engagement stats as a direct result. While this may sound silly, we’ve all likely seen a postcard from a company that compelled us to look up their site to peruse their deals or find a particular item they reminded us about. As such, one of the best marketing strategies to boost every element of your small business still remains direct mail marketing.

With a better understanding of the benefits of this form of marketing, it’s time we break down the steps needed to officially run your own direct mail campaigns in 2023 and beyond.

successful direct mail strategy

How to build a profitable direct mail campaign step-by-step

With these steps, you can not only run a smooth direct mail campaign but also track the metrics of each campaign for growth, improvement, and building out your buyer personas further as well.

Step 1: Define your audience and goals

The first step you must take when building out a comprehensive direct mail campaign is determining who it should be going to and why. A great direct mail campaign will take into account its audience, how to connect with them, and what results it should garner from the start. For instance, if you are a small carpet cleaning company, you may want to target new homeowners in your local area, send out a direct mailer to each of the recently purchased homes in your community, offer a discount for carpet cleaning, and personalize it with the homeowners’ names and a congratulatory message regarding the home purchase.

Step 2: Develop your mailing list

Next, you will need to develop your mailing list with your goals and audience in mind. This article on getting direct mailing lists can help you achieve this goal as you start out. You can also create specified lists based on data such as new homeowners, past clients, warm leads, and discount opportunities.

Step 3: Find what direct mail design platform is best for your brand

With your list defined, it’s time to determine what platform you want to use for the design and development of your direct mail items. Personally, I live”“and, quite honestly, would die too—by Canva. for direct mail postcards alone, they have over 100 pre-designed templates to use that you can customize however you wish with different graphics, colors, logos, and more. Plus, it can be used to send your direct mail list as well. However, if you want to compare options online, here is a great list of direct mail design platforms to choose from.

Step 4: Look at your competitors and brands you want to emulate for inspiration

After you have the design platform chosen, you can begin to plan out your designs using your own creativity as well as the influence of your competitors and brands you want to emulate. If your competitors have a direct mail campaign and it does well, you should absolutely be tracking this mailer, what attracts your audience base to it, and how you can take it one step further. On top of this, some of the biggest brands in the world have direct mail campaigns and do them perfectly. Signing up for their mailers and using them as inspiration is a great way to learn from the best and stand out professionally as a result.

Step 5: Design your most important templates/content formats

As you finally begin to actually develop your direct mailers, you will want to consider the most important templates you should be designing for every season and content format. For instance, start with a simple discount direct mail template as well as holiday direct mail templates. From there, you can make a company anniversary template, a job opening template, and a promotional template for your social media and website as well. These will serve as the foundation for your yearly direct mail campaigns and will help you to be prepared for every occasion well before it strikes.

Step 6: Find a print solution that’s cost-effective and high quality

Once you’re ready to send out your very first direct mail piece, you will want to find the right print service for you. While you can absolutely design your direct mail and print it elsewhere, Canva does serve both purposes as stated above. However, for those of you still too stubborn to trust my experience with this platform, here is a great list of direct mail printers to choose from.

Step 7: Start small and grow consistently

Now that you have your first direct mail pieces actually sent out to your audience, you must remember that it is best to start small and grow from there. Instead of targeting a massive area, try a single local neighborhood and see what the results of this endeavor are. This is ideal also because you can get the proverbial kinks out of your direct mail operations, find trends and patterns from a smaller control group, and revise with this information in mind as you continue to expand your mailing lists.

Step 8: Track the success of your campaign and revise accordingly

Lastly, the final and, quite possibly, most important aspect of a successful direct mail campaign is the ability to successfully track the results of your campaign regularly and comprehensively. We’ll get into the tracking of these metrics further in a later article. However, for now, just remember that the most important metrics to track are response rate, conversion rate, cost per acquisition (CPA), and ROI.

So, how do you feel? You’ve completed your first direct mail campaign and you’re probably over the moon right now—as you should be! All that’s left is to keep up this momentum throughout the entire 2023 year to connect with your community, expand your brand, and turn your small local business into a profitable powerhouse that everyone knows and loves.

Cleanfax Staff

Cleanfax provides cleaning and restoration professionals with information designed to help them manage and grow their businesses.

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