Is Direct Mail Marketing a Worthwhile Small Business Expense?

| 3 min read

Is Direct Mail Marketing a Worthwhile Small Business Expense?

Is Direct Mail Marketing a Worthwhile Small Business ExpenseWhether you’re an established business, or are just setting up shop, marketing is an essential vehicle for attracting new clients, generating leads, and ultimately selling your product or service. Devising a marketing strategy that’s aimed directly at your target audience is one of the best ways to introduce potential customers to your business, and give them the information they need to make a buying decision.

As such, marketing is a necessary cost of doing business. But while this cost is technically an expense from an accounting point of view, it might be more practically viewed as an investment, since your company is unlikely to grow without it.

Which marketing tools and programs you choose to invest in will very much depend on:

  • your budget,
  • your promotional goals, and
  • the habits and demographics of the customers you’re trying to reach

But the most successful campaigns tend to be those that take advantage of a multi-pronged marketing approach.

Multi-Channel Marketing

Social media, email marketing, special events, and print advertising can all be effective ways to market your business under the right circumstances. Whether you hire a marketing strategist - or research, experiment with, and analyze the results of a few promising promotional routes yourself – a multi-channel campaign will ensure the right message is getting through to the right audience, at the right time.

Research has long since concluded that leveraging both digital and print opportunities to market your business produces the most profitable results. Supporting your online presence with initiatives like email communications and direct mail, for example, can drive more traffic to your website, where leads are generated and customers are converted.

While designing, printing, and mailing promotional postcards or brochures is not always the cheapest form of marketing, it is widely recognized as one of the most easily targeted and measured. And it can be particularly effective for:

  • introducing your product or service to customers in your local community (especially if you’re a new business),
  • keeping your brand top-of-mind with past and future clients,
  • encouraging would-be buyers to take the next step in contacting your business for more information, and
  • prompting both deliberate and spontaneous purchasing decisions

Did you know that close to 80% of consumers open – and read – their physical mail on a daily basis? In-depth studies by Canada Post concluded that direct mail not only lifts response rates, it’s the inspiration behind half of recipients’ in-store purchases, and 20% of their online buying. And these results get better when print and digital marketing efforts are combined.

Measuring Your Return on Investment

Closer to home, advanced neuromarketing research conducted by USPS and Temple University has revealed that physical ads like direct mail are significantly more influential than their online counterparts, because they:

  • encourage readers to spend more time engaging with them,
  • invoke a stronger emotional response with a longer lasting impact, and
  • are more quickly and easily recalled

Opening the daily mail in the comfort of our homes is a ritual that combines the physical with the familiar – and that’s a powerful mix that often leads consumers to take some form of action.

Some businesses have found direct mail to be a reliable marketing tool that generates results. If you do choose to try it for yourself, you can improve response rates by creating - or purchasing - targeted consumer mailing lists that will put your material into the hands of those most likely to benefit from it.

Initiating a direct mail campaign is not without its cost – especially since repeated mailouts are sometimes necessary to create a positive outcome. But like any investment, the value of this type of marketing lies in its returns. Figuring out your ROI (return on investment) is relatively straightforward with direct mail, because targeted print materials lend themselves to such trackable strategies as:

  • including special online discount codes for buyers,
  • providing distinct contact information in the form of a dedicated phone number, email address, or website URL, and
  • having the mailout serve as a physical coupon for in-store or in-office purchases

According to the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), 2.5 billion coupons were redeemed in 2015 alone! At the same time, compelling statics compiled by HubSpot point out that, while the clear majority of marketers say channels like social media are important to their business, only about one-third of them are able to track their ROI from social media activities. The ability to calculate - and adapt - the results of any marketing campaign is paramount to its success.

One of the biggest challenges for many of today’s small businesses is how to stand out amidst the noise of our fast-paced, digital-based society. Although consumer attention spans are becoming shorter, the DMA assures us that print continues to be “impactful, interesting, and POWERFUL.” Not only did customer response rates to direct mail increase by a notable 43% in 2016, the response rate of prospects more than doubled. If you’ve never tried direct mail marketing to drum up and hang on to clients, it could prove a worthwhile business expense.

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