One of the main questions that we are often asked is one that does not have a concrete answer. The question is…“How much does direct mail cost?”
We are also often asked, “What is the cost of a direct mail campaign?”
Unfortunately, there is not a set cost for a direct mail campaign for every company in the United States. Let’s look at some of the factors that go into determining the total cost of planning and executing a direct mail campaign.
What Factors Affect Direct Mail Costs?
While there is not a “one size fits all” cost for direct mail, the prices of the individual elements of a campaign are pretty straightforward. Here are some of the main parts of a campaign you need to keep in mind when sending out direct mail:
- Total quantity of the pieces being mailed
- The size of the direct mail piece
- The choice of finish used on the printed piece
- Postage costs
- The design process (whether you handle it in-house or outsource the task)
- Variable Data Printing (Personalization)
- Tracking the effectiveness of the mail piece
- Compiling an accurate mailing List
- Integration with online and/or interactive content
Want to know more about the elements listed above? Take a look below for more details about the direct mail costs you can expect during your upcoming campaign.
Direct Mail Cost Factor #1 – Quantity
The total cost of printing a direct mail piece is determined by the quantity you want to mail. For example, the smaller the total number of pieces that are mailed, the higher the per unit cost.
On the other hand, mailing a higher total volume of pieces will give you a lower cost per unit but keep in mind the overall cost will be higher.
Direct Mail Cost Factor #2 – Size
The format and size of the item (AKA the dimension of the item) that you are printing will impact the cost. In other words, the more materials that you use when printing the mail piece, the greater the cost for both the substrate you print on and the ink that prints your message. If you want a cost-effective choice, consider postcards and flyers. If you want your mail piece to have a sophisticated and personalized touch, consider printing letters for your mail piece.
Direct Mail Cost Factor #3 – Type of Finish
The choice of print finish you decide on for your direct mail can make a big impact on the final price of your direct mail campaign due to the weight of the piece. In general, the heavier a direct mail piece, the more you will have to pay for postage. In addition, a complex or lavish finish can cause the cost of the piece to increase. For example, the use of a simple satin coat for the finish will cost less than a mail piece that uses stamped foil, spot UV, or a textured finish.
Direct Mail Cost Factor #4 – Cost of Postage
One aspect of the direct mail process that you cannot control is the postage cost of the campaign. Postage is determined by the USPS and they have listed the rates for the various types of direct mail you can send. If you are looking to save money on postage, you might be able to qualify for bulk mailing discount rates if you use first class mail, standard mail/marketing mail, or Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM).
Direct Mail Cost Factor #5 – Design
If you have access to professional design services at your company, the decision to design your direct mailers in-house is definitely a cheaper option. You likely pay your design team a salary which means the design process will not cost you any extra money. If your in-house design team doesn’t have the necessary experience to design a compelling direct mail piece., you can hire a design agency but this will increase the total price of the project.
Direct Mail Cost Factor #6 – Personalization
In order to get the attention of your target audience, it is important to personalize the message that you send to their address. Personalized direct mail is more expensive than direct mail that includes a generic message that does not address the individual needs of the person. Variable Data Printing (VDP) gives you the ability to personalize the marketing message included with the mail piece. If you need each mail item to be personalized with details about the customer and the offer included with the direct mail piece, you will need to use VDP which increases your direct mail cost.
Direct Mail Cost Factor #7 – Tracking
Once the mail piece has been sent to your mailing list, you will want to track the effectiveness of your direct mail campaign. You also need to know that there are additional costs associated with this task. Even though QR codes and pURLs are usually free, you need to have a way to track your website traffic. Be prepared to include the expense of using a web analytics provider to determine the effectiveness of the campaign.
Direct Mail Cost Factor #8 – Mailing Lists
If you don’t have your own mailing list, or if the list you have contains outdated information, you will need to procure a current mailing list. This expense is a good investment in making sure you get the information you need to reach your audience. Some of the items that go into the final cost include the quality of the list (making sure you reach the right audience and the right demographics), the size of the list, and who provides you the list.
Direct Mail Cost Factor #9 – Integration
The act of integrating your direct mail with your marketing automation or CRM platform will need to be included in your budget. Once the mailing list information is integrated, you will be able to send your customers direct mail materials the same way you send them emails. In addition, you can also set up a series of “triggers” that will automatically send a direct mail message based on a previous action performed by the direct mail recipient.
The direct mail costs listed here cover over ninety percent of the costs you will encounter. Of course, there might be some unexpected tasks that can add to your costs or you might discover some efficiencies that reduce the total price. If you need additional information, contact our office.
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