Getting Your Direct Mail Opened


I was asked by a colleague to come up with some promotional product ideas to include in a direct mailing her company is doing. Here’s the thing with putting promotional products into a direct mail piece: they can either have absolutely no effect whatsoever, or they can dramatically increase the open rate, thus increasing the response rate.

How can a promotional product have no effect at all on the open rate? After all, putting a little gift in the envelope should be incentive enough to open it, right? Well, since postage costs for mail that is rigid or not uniformly thick went up dramatically about three years ago, people don’t want to incur the additional postage cost and are opting to put flat items, like magnets, into their direct mail. Here’s the rub, if people can’t feel something in the envelope, which they interpret as a gift you sent to them, then their curiosity isn’t aroused and your open rate does not increase!

Yes, your postage costs will go up if you put something rigid or that causes the envelope to become lumpy. (Note that your promotional product cost does not need necessarily need to increase to create a lumpy mailing.) However, if your open rate goes up as a result of increased curiosity by the recipients then your response rate should go up as well.

After all, if your envelopes don’t get opened because they don’t inspire further examination, then you may have saved the extra cost of postage, but the money you spent on the flat promotional product was wasted. Balance the cost of increased postage against increased revenue, and you may find that the more cost-effective way to go is lumpy mail.