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How Much Are Direct Mail Advertising Costs?

Direct Mail Advertising Costs

Direct mail marketing offers a 112% return on investment and when considering the cost of direct mail advertising, the overall cost is typically only a small fraction of the return it brings companies.

However, one of the most important questions any marketer will need to know the answer to is: How much does direct mail marketing cost?

Several factors, including the direct mailer cost, the quantity, the postage costs, and the audience, will determine the answer to this.

To understand how much a direct mail campaign will cost you, including the direct mail cost per piece, the postage prices, mailing list costs, and more, let’s look at all factors determining the cost of direct mail advertising.

What to Consider When Planning for Direct Mail Advertising Costs

Calculating direct mail advertising costs.

Like any marketing campaign, before you get started on direct mail advertising and figuring out the costs, you’ll need to make sure you have a budget and goal in place so that you can choose the best direct mail marketing options that meet your specific budget and goals.

Your Direct Mail Marketing Budget

Direct mail postcards cost is cheaper than the cost to mail catalogs. Designing your direct mailers in-house will be cheaper than hiring a graphic designer, and mailing First Class Mail will be more expensive than mailing Standard Mail. In addition, using a mailing list you already have will be cheaper than using a custom-built targeted list.

While catalogs, graphic designers, targeted campaigns, and First-Class Mail all have their perks, they may not work within your budget, and you will need to explore the best options that will.

Your Direct Mail Marketing Goals

While your budget is extremely important to meet, so are your advertising goals. Here are a few questions to answer that will help you narrow down the best options for your goals:

  • Do you have an audience or mailing list you want to reach, or are you looking to target a new audience?
  • What is the message you’re looking to advertise? Would a direct mail postcard or brochure successfully deliver that message, or would a catalog work better?

What Factors Make Up Direct Mail Advertising Costs?

The Price to Design Direct Mail

Direct mail design costs and how the effect advertising costs.

Designing Your Direct Mail In-House

Having an internal team member or graphic designer design your direct mailers in-house is the cheapest option, as it typically costs nothing.

Whether your in-house designer is experienced in designing direct mail pieces, it’s a good idea to grab a free direct mail design template from your printer to ensure the design they create is formatted perfectly for printing and mailing. You can also check out these 10 direct mail design tips for an even more effective direct mail campaign.

Using A Pre-Designed Direct Mail Template

Taking advantage of the many pre-designed direct mail templates available on websites like Canva will be the second cheapest option, which even offers some beautiful free options that you can customize with your logo and branding.

Some printers even offer complete InDesign direct mail templates that you can easily download and customize at no charge.

Hiring A Professional Direct Mail Designer

Suppose you cannot design in-house or aren’t interested in using a pre-designed template. In that case, turning to a design agency or professional designer is your best option. This will result in beautifully stunning advertisements, but it is the most expensive option and could result in a small added cost or thousands of dollars depending on the quality of art, the designer, and the type of direct mailer they are designing.

The Cost of Mailing Lists

Suppose you want to set up triggered direct mail campaigns or pull a list directly from your marketing automation platform or CRM. In that case, the mailing list won’t always be involved in the overall direct mail advertising costs.

The cost of mailing lists and how they effect the price of a direct mail advertising campaign.

However, if you’re looking to target a new audience, you will need to factor in the cost of purchasing a mailing list, which, depending on the parameters you want your list to be created from, a list could cost anywhere from $0.03 per contact to $0.35.

A business list will cost slightly more than a consumer mailing list due to the process needed for business data. Below is an overview of what you can expect when purchasing a mailing list.


Consumer Mailing Lists

Business Mailing Lists

Avg. Cost per 1,000

Avg. Cost per Name

Avg. Cost per 1,000

Avg. Cost per Name











The Direct Mailer Costs & Printing Costs

The Printing Quantity

Quantity has a huge impact not only on the cost of mailing your direct mail advertisements but also on the cost of printing them.

While printing fewer mail pieces typically costs less overall, the direct mail cost per piece decreases when you increase the quantity. For example, printing 250 5x7 postcards costs around $0.38 per postcard, while printing 500 costs around $0.21 per postcard.

The Type of Mailer

The type of mailer will also determine the direct mail advertising costs.

Types of direct mailers and how they determine the direct mail advertising costs.

For example, generally speaking, 1,000 4x6 postcards will be cheaper than 1,000 6x9 postcards, which will be cheaper than 1,000 8.5x14 trifold brochures, which will be cheaper than 1,000 8.5x11 catalogs.

The type of direct mailer you choose will also impact the responses you will generate. Because of this, it's important to keep your goals in mind when choosing the right direct mailer. For example, if you're promoting a huge sale, a 6x9 postcard will stand out more than a 4x6 postcard. If you want to list the products or services you offer, then a brochure may be too small and could come across as overwhelming. In this case, you would want to opt for a catalog to avoid the risk of your advertisement being thrown out.

Overall, the direct mailer and printing costs can range anywhere from $0.05 to $5.00 and beyond per direct mail piece, depending on the type, size, and more.

The Mailing Quantity

Unless you use a direct mail marketing service like Direct Mail Commingling, it's essential to remember that the USPS offers reduced postage prices on bulk mailings, which are cheaper than single-piece prices. 

Direct mail quantities and how the determine the cost of direct mail marketing.

So, your direct mail advertising costs will be significantly lower if you mail enough direct mail pieces to qualify for bulk mail discounts. For example, to qualify for Standard Mail discounts, you need to mail at least 200 pieces or 50 pounds; for First Class Mail, you must mail at least 500 pieces.

While mailing quantity does affect the cost of direct mailing, there is a way to qualify for Standard Mail discounts when even mailing only one direct mail piece, thanks to Direct Mail Commingling.

The Paper Stock & Finishes

Paper stock and finishes affect how much direct mail advertising costs as well. Not only can heavier paper stocks or coatings impact the price of printing your direct mailers, but they can also affect the postage price. This is because of the way the USPS determines the price of postage. The heavier your direct mail pieces are, the more you will pay for postage.

The Postage Costs

Postage costs are a factor that determines the cost of direct mail advertising.

Most of your direct mail advertising costs will be on postage and will be determined based on the volume you are mailing, the size and weight of your direct mailers, and the class of mail you qualify for. However, if you qualify for bulk mail, you can take advantage of postage discounts, so make sure to stay within the USPS guidelines and regulations for bulk mailing if you are looking to qualify for these discounts.

First Class Mail is a bulk mailing option and is viewed as the most important, resulting in faster delivery times and higher prices. First Class postage costs anywhere from $0.40 to $1.16 per direct mail piece, depending on your mailer type and size. For example, the USPS considers 4x6 postcards as "cards," meaning your postcard postage costs would be around $0.40. On the other hand, if you're looking to mail 6x9 postcards using First Class mail, your postcards are considered "letters," which are around $0.55.

For Standard Mail bulk mail discounts, also known as Marketing Mail, direct mail marketers typically use this option to cut down on direct mail marketing costs. Standard Mail postage costs are around $0.20-$0.50, depending on the size and weight of your direct mailers. While the postage costs are lower for Standard Mail, you'll need to consider that delivery times are a bit longer, with First Class having a delivery time of about 1-5 days and Standard Mail having a delivery time anywhere from 3-21 days.

Other mailing options that affect the direct mail marketing price include EDDM or Every Door Direct Mail. This direct mail marketing option is cheaper than Standard Mail, but who you target within your direct mail campaign is limited. With EDDM, you choose mailing routes within a ZIP code, and your direct mail pieces are delivered to every address.

To learn more on how you can reduce postage costs, check out our blog “Direct Mail Marketing Postage Costs: Tips to Keep Them Low.”

Other Costs That Can Determine Direct Mail Advertising Costs

Direct Mail Targeting

While targeting can save you money on direct mail campaigns and improve your ROI, it's important to remember that creating a mailing list based on location and demographics will be much cheaper than targeting based on interests and buying activity. For example, acquiring a mailing list using an advanced builder like Propensity Mailing creates a list of potential customers who are interested in or are in market for your product or service. This data is more expensive due to the way it is analyzed and gathered.

While direct mail advertising options like Propensity Mailing or Look Alike Analysis offer an amazing ROI due to the ability to harness specific data, they can increase your direct mail advertising costs due to the process of harnessing the data needed for a successful campaign. So, when deciding to take advantage of a more targeted direct mail campaign, consider your goals and budget to determine if they are the right option for you.

Personalization Costs

How Variable Data Printing effects the overall price of direct mail campaigns.

Adding personalized elements for each recipient to your direct mail pieces, including names, images, and more, can drastically increase the responses you generate from your direct mail marketing campaign. Personalized direct mail advertisements generate around a 135% increase in response rates. Customization can be created using Variable Data Printing and slightly increases your direct mail advertising costs; however, you will gain better results with personalized direct mail pieces.

Direct Mail Tracking Costs

Depending on how you track your direct mail marketing results, it can either have no impact at all or slightly increase your direct mail advertising costs. For example, discount codes or coupons are typically free. You can easily see who responded to your direct mail advertisements by looking at how many people used your discount. QR codes and pURLs are also typically free, however, if you don’t have a way to track your website traffic, you would need to calculate the costs of taking advantage of a web analytics provider.

How Much Does Direct Mail Marketing Cost?

Direct Mail Marketing Costs

Direct mail marketing or direct mail advertising costs will typically be cheaper than many other marketing forms while generating a higher response rate and return on investment than online advertising. However, the price of direct mail advertising will be determined by the above factors, including:

  • Design costs
  • The cost of a mailing list
  • The cost to print your direct mailers
  • The postage costs
  • Other potential factors including personalization, advanced targeting, etc.

With so many factors determining the cost of a direct mail marketing campaign, it's impossible to provide one price. A direct mail campaign could cost anywhere from $4.00 to $4,000.00. Because of this, it's important to explore your options and talk with your print and direct mail provider to determine the best options that fit your goals and budget.

To start exploring all direct mail advertising options available to you, click the button below, and feel free to call us today to find out how we can work within your specific budget while exceeding your direct mail marketing goals.

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