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Top uses of direct mail marketing

Examining the viability and performance of direct mail marketing in the modern digital age.


Direct mail is an effective marketing tool that has remarkable potential. Unlike email or telemarketing, it has the unique characteristic of being physical.This in itself makes it a highly preferred marketing channel. People like to engage with marketing with more than one of their senses. That's why 81% of professionals planned to either match or increase their direct mail marketing output last year.But is direct mail being used to its full potential?Below is a short list of campaigns that got creative with their direct mail marketing. The geniuses behind them didn’t get bogged down by what was expected of a traditional campaign. Instead, they pushed the boundaries of the marketing channel and delivered things that were both engaging and memorable.The companies and their products featured here still linger in our minds. And isn’t that the most important thing for a marketer?

Kit Kat: Too Chunky to Deliver

The brilliance of Nestlé's Kit Kat Chunky campaign is that it plays with something that is instantly recognizable.

If the Royal Mail is unable to deliver your package, they will leave a little red 'Something for you' card at your address (pictured on the left). These cards explain the reason why the delivery couldn't be made, and what you need to do to claim your item.

Kit Kat recreated these cards and distributed them to targeted households (pictured on the right). They claimed that the delivery was missed because their product was 'too chunky' for the letterbox. The recipient could claim their free Kit Kat Chunky at a local newsagents.

The campaign also benefits from its parody through the feelings of excitement and sense of urgency that are linked to the original red card.

GGRP: A Cardboard Phonograph

In 2009, Vancouver-based sound design studio Griffiths, Gibson and Ramsay Productions orchestrated a direct mail marketing campaign targeting advertisement agencies.GGRP designed a cardboard phonograph that could be folded and posted straight through their leads' letterboxes. The recipients could set up the phonograph in two simple steps and play an accompanying vinyl containing a single titled 'A Town That Found Its Sound'. This campaign is unlike any other and its originality quickly got people talking. GGRP were praised for their marketing creativity and their success in transforming an example of their audio work into an effective piece of physical direct mail.

Earth Hour: Candle Box

Earth Hour is an environmental movement encouraging people to fight global warming by turning off their electricity. WWF organizes the movement and events are held every year where participating businesses and communities shut down all power usage for an hour.To encourage support and involvement, WWF sent yellow candles to the CEOs and business leaders of targeted companies.As well as serving as a useful source of light when all electricity has been switched off, the candle came in a cleverly designed package that mimicked the front of an office block.When the candle is in the box, silhouettes of people can be seen inside as if all of the office's lights are on. When you remove the candle, the silhouettes disappear on the black interior as though the lights have been switched off.The effectiveness of this direct mail campaign is in its simplicity and the visual representation of Earth Hour itself. There's no question what WWF wants with this campaign. They're not selling something. Their call to action is clear: get involved and turn off your lights.The candle even serves as a promotional gift and an incentive to get the companies involved.

BMW: Cut Through Winter

BMW wanted to target existing BMW owners with a marketing campaign that showcased their Cold Weather Tires. The final product was a leaflet featuring a BMW driving through a snowy landscape. Though at first appearing to be a piece of traditional direct mail, there was actually a perforated tab that, when pulled, carved out a trail through the snow. The tab represented how the BMW Cold Weather Tires could cut through winter. Pulling on it opened up the leaflet to reveal a more colorful interior and an insert showcasing the tires.This extra touch of interactivity that comes with pulling on the tab may seem like a minor inclusion but it had an overwhelmingly positive effect on the recipients.According to Cundari, the agency responsible for the campaign, their unique approach to direct mail succeeded in 'vastly increasing normal response rates and helping the client surpass their goals for the program'.Though rather simple in its design, BMW's attempt at taking direct mail marketing to the next level saw a huge return. The results of this campaign go to show that all you need is a little extra customer engagement and you can transform your direct mail marketing into an incredibly successful campaign.

Target Optical: Birthday Notes

One surefire way to add this extra level of engagement is through personalization. Target did this with a direct mail campaign marketing their optician and eye-care service, Target Optical.Target Optical sent past customers a leaflet offering 30% off of a complete pair of glasses. At first glance, this campaign seems like a rather traditional example of direct mail marketing. It wasn't just the names or the offers that were personalized, though. It was when the leaflets were delivered.Target used its customer information to offer a discount on the customers' birthdays. This transformed what would otherwise have been standard campaign into a personalized experience.

So How Can You Improve the Effectiveness of Your Direct Mail Marketing Campaign?

Even today, direct mail marketing is a powerful tool that can boost engagement and convert leads, but by adding that extra level of personalization, you can make your campaign far more effective.

So why not try handwritten?

Some of the campaigns we explored are impressive but costly, but by using Scribeless' handwritten notes service, you can create an effective and affordable direct mail marketing campaign.

There's no denying that handwritten works. In fact, businesses that have used us in the past have seen tremendous increases in engagement rates. To see just how effective handwritten marketing is, check out our case studies here.

Handwritten is the next step in direct mail marketing. If you want to see great results with a memorable campaign, do get in touch.