More and more marketers are incorporating direct mail into their marketing strategy. Though direct mail may seem like an outdated tactic, it continues to deliver a solid response rate and return on investment (ROI).
On average, people receive 100–120 emails per day. Customers are fatigued by digital communication! The competition in direct mail marketing is much less: the average American household receives 361 pieces of direct mail per year.
If you’re ready to try this marketing tactic, it’s important to do your due diligence to select the right direct mail printing company to partner with. As with any business relationship, it’s best to work with a direct mail printer you know, like, and trust. Why? You know they care about your business and want to help you succeed.
We recommend researching direct mail printing companies to find the best printing partner for your needs. But before you begin your search, you must take the time to outline your direct mail marketing needs.
Continue reading to learn what you need to do before you begin your search for a printing partner and what you need to consider when you research potential partners. These processes and tips will give you the clarity you need to choose the best direct mail printing partner for your needs.
Step 1: Understanding Your Direct Mail Printing Needs
Searching for and selecting a direct mail printer can be daunting if you don’t have a clear plan for your direct mail marketing campaigns. When you invest time in strategizing, you lay the groundwork for successful marketing and set parameters around your printing partner search.
As with any other marketing tactic, here are the top 4 things you need to define or establish for effective direct mail marketing:
What do you want to achieve with direct mail marketing campaigns? Knowing this upfront will make planning individual campaigns easier and give you a yardstick for measuring campaign success.
Email allows you to contact multiple segments of your audience with ease at a low cost. Direct mail campaigns, on the other hand, have a longer runway than email and a higher cost per piece. This is why you want to be very clear on which audience or audience segment you are targeting.
The price for direct mail can vary depending on factors such as design complexity, paper size and quality, postage, and number of mail pieces. When you know budget and audience size, you can estimate your postage costs and then calculate how much you have left to execute your campaign. The Direct Mail Cost Calculator from the United States Postal Service is a useful tool for campaign budgeting.
Campaign Scope & Frequency
Will you send direct mail seasonally? Do you want to target prospects, nurture existing customers, or both? Your potential use cases and mailing frequency will influence the type of printing partner best suited to your needs.
Step 2: Researching Direct Mail Printing Partners
Once you’ve put some boundaries on your direct mail marketing plans, you can begin the search for your ideal printing partner.
Use your preferred search engine or supplier database like IndustryNet or Thomasnet to compile a list of potential direct mail printing partners. Once you have your list, it’s time to evaluate them individually and compare them to each other to hone in on the best fit.
We recommend you evaluate each company using these 5 criteria:
The Company Overall
Does your company have any requirements potential partners must meet before becoming vendors? When you think of your ideal business partner, what characteristics do they have?
These two questions cover a range of characteristics, like industry specialization, company reputation, certifications or accreditations, location, and sustainability practices.
Remove any options that don’t align with your values or meet company requirements before you continue your evaluation.
Direct mail marketing is complex. You must consider design, printing, targeting, mailing list management, and distribution. Which of these services do you need a partner for? And which services do each of the companies offer?
Keep in mind that not all direct mail printing companies cover the entire mailing process and that some have specializations or capabilities that might not be a fit.
Technology & Equipment
You know from your experience with other marketing tactics the role personalization plays in campaign success. Variable data printing allows you to tailor direct mail pieces to improve customer engagement and ROI. Be sure potential printing partners have this capability.
If your company is technology-forward, look for companies capable of integrating with your marketing automation platform or customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Could your direct mail contain sensitive information, like health records or financial data? If that’s the case, look into companies’ data security systems and processes to protect your customers and your business.
During step 1 of this process, you established a budget for direct mail campaigns. Now it’s time to contact your short list of potential direct mail printing partners to discuss pricing or request a quote.
This is a critical step in the partner evaluation process. Committing to a vendor without a clear understanding of their pricing and project costs could cause you to go over budget and cut into your ROI.
Now is the time to get clear on what their pricing does and doesn’t include and whether they have any printing quantity requirements.
Communication & Customer Support
Inquiring about pricing should have given you insight into the direct mail printers’ responsiveness and communication styles. For longer-term projects especially, choose a vendor that is upfront and consistent in their communication so you’re never in the dark.
If you’re already communicating with companies, ask how they manage projects and the support they offer. Also, read online reviews of the companies, paying special attention to those that mention support.
Step 3: Choosing a Direct Mail Printer That’s Right for You
Having planned your overall direct mail marketing strategy and researched printing partners, the time has come for you to make your decision.
To choose the direct mail printer that’s right for you, use the information you gathered on each option to eliminate companies that aren’t a fit. Perhaps their values don’t align with yours. Or maybe you need a company that can manage your mailing list, and they don’t offer that service.
Once you cross off the companies that don’t meet your needs, compare the remaining companies against each other. If two or more companies are similar, consider writing a pro and con list for each of them to make the comparison easier.
McAdams Graphics: A Direct Mail Printing Partner You Can Trust
Being able to trust the people and companies you collaborate with lightens your load as a decision-maker and marketer. Choosing a direct mail printing partner is a process you shouldn’t take lightly, but it doesn’t have to be hard.
First, you plan your overall direct mail marketing strategy. Knowing your goals, audience, budget, and general scope for this tactic will help you narrow down your list of potential printing partners.
Next, do your research, making sure you look into each company’s background, services, capabilities, pricing, and customer service.
Finally, compare the companies against your own needs and company requirements and then against each other to make your decision.
Once you’ve selected the direct mail printer you want to work with, it’s time to start reaping the benefits direct mail has to offer!
McAdams Graphics has provided sophisticated direct mail printing and mailing services for a variety of industries since 1984. We’d love to be your trusted printing partner. Review our direct mail services to learn more about how your direct mail marketing can benefit from our capabilities.