Direct Mail

Make Your Direct Mail Stand Out

Every day, postcards, flyers, and other direct pieces and other printed material bombard us. How do you ensure that yours stands out in the crowd? Here are four highly effective methods for designing printed material.

1. Grab Their Eyes: People can’t read your message if they don’t see it. The first thing you must do is grab their attention. There are two complimentary techniques for doing this:

  • Pick the perfect images. People are hard-wired to respond to images. Bright, vibrant, compelling imagery will hook your audience every time.
  • Tweak the design to appeal to your specific audience. For example, if the audience is young and hip, give them a more edgy typeface that angles off the page. If they are more upscale and sophisticated, let white space and elegance be your guide.

2. Change the Shape: Interesting shapes stand out and make people want to touch your design. Shape the piece to convey your message or intrigue your audience. Shapes that follow the contours of an image or that contain different angles make your piece more appealing.

3. Add Texture: Choose paper that includes a texture, add an emboss or deboss to your design, or try a contrasting spot varnish. If the piece is on glossy paper, use a matte finish or vice versa. These tricks add both texture and visual appeal.

4. Fold It: An innovative panel or a fold that goes in the “wrong” direction adds mystery and interest to your piece. Try adding slotted folding panels or multiple folds to increase the uniqueness of your design.

Ask Us

We have other ideas and examples to show you, and we can help you build your file to accommodate these tricks easily. Intrigued? Give us a call!

Thinking Direct Mail? Think Timing

When we think about the benefits of direct mail, we think of tangibility, message retention, and breaking through the clutter. But when GrayHair Software thinks about direct mail, it thinks about timing.

In a recent e-book, GrayHair, which provides software for postal tracking and multichannel marketing services, described multiple benefits of direct mail in a multichannel marketing strategy based on the timing benefits direct mail provides. Let’s look at three of them.    

1) Gain control and greater visibility.

Direct mail tracking allows you to determine the precise time that your mailer arrives at the target destination. This can provide you with critical insights.

Let’s say you mail out a postcard intended to drive traffic for your weekend sale. Most of the customers arrive on Saturday, which is day two of the sale. Did they arrive on Saturday because the extra hot weather on Friday kept them away from the stores or because your mailer simply did not arrive on time? Mail tracking helps you figure it out.  

2) Boost response with timed email delivery.

If you know what date the direct mail offer hits, you can time an email follow-up for the next day or the following day to reinforce the message and spur recipients to action.

3) Determine the best channel for delivery.

Using A/B testing across both print and digital channels, you can test the effectiveness of marketing channels the same way you test offers, messaging, and other marketing components. Don’t assume you know which channel your customers will best respond to. Test it!

With mail tracking, you can think about direct mail in a whole new — and testable — way. Want to see how postal tracking and tighter channel integration can benefit your marketing campaigns? Let us help!

The Reply Card: Art or Afterthought?

The sales letter, lift letter, and brochure tucked inside your direct mail package all share one purpose – to compel the reader to complete and return the reply card. While most cards may never be returned, every card that is returned represents an interested prospect. The value far outweighs the cost of printing and insertion. When you look at it this way, you begin to view this thin, rectangular piece not as an afterthought, but as an integral component of your direct mail strategy.

Creating an effective reply card is an art. Within the defined space of a few inches, you must capture interest and summarize your selling proposition while leaving room for the respondent’s contact information, your return address, and postage. Graphics should be subtle to avoid confusing or distracting the reader. Coated cardstock won’t work because the respondent needs to write on the piece.

Well-conceived reply cards have several things in common:

  • They get straight to the point about what is being offered and what the reader needs to do.
  • Checkboxes are included with a positive call to action and often an incentive as well: “YES! I accept your free trial offer!”
  • Additional avenues for responding are featured prominently, such as a toll-free telephone number, QR Code, and links to social media.
  • An expiration date is included to create a sense of urgency.

Studies have shown that response rates can be greatly increased when response devices are personalized. In this age of identity theft, however, you must be sensitive to the amount of information that is traveling through the mail on a postcard. If your business requires personal data like date of birth or a credit card number, be sure to include a reply envelope. Whatever approach you take, make sure your piece meets Canada Post’s standards for cost-effective processing. 

A reply card is arguably the most important piece inside your direct mail package. Rethink the role this seemingly simple piece plays in your overall direct mail plan.

Let’s get together to map out your next effective Direct Mail campaign.

Boost Revenues by Targeting Lapsed Clients

Did you know that one of your deepest wells for bigger profits is your lapsed customer base? These are customers who have done business with you in the past, but for some reason have not come back.

This isn’t always due to discontent with your company. Sometimes it’s forgetfulness. Sometimes people simply want to try something new, and once they’ve done so, stay with it for convenience. Or a competitor comes along and offers them a deal at just the right time.

Assuming that lapsed customers had a positive relationship with you, re-engagement campaigns targeting those customers can yield tremendous results.

Take the example of one optician in the United Kingdom. In its market, independent opticians have been facing increased price-driven competition from large specialist chains. It fought back using a direct mail campaign with personalized URLs and incentive vouchers to re-activate lapsed clients and increase traffic to the practice.

The results? The practice reported 82 campaign recipients responding to the campaign and spending an average of £150 ($250) each after voucher reduction. This generated an immediate ROI of over 400%.

Want results like that? Talk to us about targeting your lapsed customers!

Direct Mail Campaigns

I’ve had a number of inquiries about Direct Mail Campaigns – you know Direct Mail (DM) is the only channel capable of reaching your intended audience – it’s Canadian law, that once a piece is put into the Canada Post mail System, it must get to the destination – no ifs, ands or buts.

Can email do that? Well email has some problems of it’s own – it could be blocked by computer firewalls, or by spam blockers, it could get accidentally routed to the Junk folder or among a bunch of other spam emails and accidentally deleted. Besides, email addresses change all the time – a physical mailing address exists forever, unless the place is torn down.

So – some general information about Direct Mail (from the Canada Post point of view):

There are two general types of DM – addressed and unaddressed.

a) Unaddressed – sometimes known as householder mail, is, as the name implies NOT addressed to anyone in particular at the destination address. In Canada our postal codes look like this N8X 3M5 – the first 3 digits (N8X in my example) refers to the FSA portion of the postal code. Canada is divided into hundreds of FSA areas, which in turn are divided into many Letter Carrier Walks (LCW). Within a FSA there are 4 possible points of contact – homes, apartments, businesses and farm. A marketer can choose to target any one or combination of these 4 contact points.

— do you need to mail to an entire FSA? No. But what you must mail to is at least one complete LCW within the chosen FSA. Current postage rate is (June 2014) 17 cents.


b) Addressed – this implies that each piece mailed will be addressed to someone – such as to me:

Mr. Cary Wheeler, 1685 Windsor Ave., Windsor ON N8X 3M5

In this case in order to get a reduced Canada Post postage rate you must have a minimum of 1,000 pieces addressed and mailed and going into the Canada Post system all at the same time. Although the postage is more (June 2014 rate at 43 cents) studies have shown that an addressed piece returns more responses than an unaddressed mailing. However, either you or our company will need to supply the mailing list from which to address the mailed pieces. (Call us to discuss formatting of your own “house list” or to explore Wheeler’s purchasing a mailing list on your behalf.)

So what pulls better? A postcard or an envelope stuffed with offers? Rather than answer that question – because there are too many variables involved to answer correctly – think of this >> a postcard does not require the expense of the envelope, the expense of printing on the envelope, the expense of folding, inserting and sealing the envelope.

You should be always asking yourself – what is the purpose of this campaign? To sell a product or service? To gather leads for your sales staff? To announce something new in your company, or expansion or change of address.

There are unique tools Wheeler’s Printing can offer you that will increase response rates and at the same time gather valuable information for future campaigns that will lead to quicker sales closings and/or savings by eliminating wasted mailings to prospects that may never buy your products or services. Call us today to learn more.

One final bit of information – Wheeler’s Printing is completely fluent in Canada Post Direct Mail Campaign structure – we know how C.P. wants the items bundled, and labelled, we know how to prepare electronic documentation to process your mailing and save you added costs in postage, and we know all the regulations to save you extra postage costs and printing costs.

Wheeler’s has been doing DM Campaigns through Canada Post since 1994.

Still have questions – call me – Cary Wheeler – 519-254-5237



Measuring the Effectiveness of Print Campaigns

You can extend the concept of return on investment (ROI) to your print marketing efforts, measuring profitability versus cost. Leading corporations use intensively data-driven approaches to report the economic benefits created from marketing investments. You can develop metrics to measure the effectiveness of your printing expenditures even if you don’t have a full-time staff of business analysts.

Set specific goals for your print campaign. Do you want to increase total revenue and profits? Or is the purpose to increase sales of a particular product or service or expand into a new market? Perhaps you need to spur seasonal sales to offset fluctuations in demand. Or your goal might be less tangible, such as increasing brand awareness or improving your company’s image. Tailor your evaluation methods to these defined goals.

Crunch the numbers. Customize this basic print ROI model with your own assumptions to determine whether your campaign will be successful.



Number of Pieces Printed


Total Cost


Response Rate Anticipated


Percentage of Respondents Expected to Purchase


Average Profit per Purchase



Number of Respondents


Cost per Response


Number of Buyers


Cost per Buyer


Cost per Printed Piece


Profit per Printed Piece




Total Profit/(Loss)


Total Cost




Design your printed materials to track responses. Include a customized coupon, code or inquiry card to determine which customers are responding to a specific printed piece.

Document how new customers found you. Train your sales and customer service personnel to ask how a client learned about your organization so you can be certain new sales are a result of your marketing efforts rather than another factor, such as a competitor going out of business.

Recognize that it’s not all about dollars and cents. Print pieces have a long life and might be passed from person to person, so campaign-driven sales might not be realized immediately. And, there are some metrics that you can only capture through market research. For example, organize a focus group or survey of those who received a specific printed piece to measure recall, perceptions about your company and purchase intent.


These strategies will enable you to cost-justify your print marketing budget and focus your efforts where you will receive the greatest returns.

Go to Top