Direct mail marketing offers a 112% return on investment which 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?
The answer to this will be determined by several factors including the direct mailer cost, the quantity, the postage costs, and the audience.
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 take a look at all factors that will determine the cost of direct mail advertising.
What to Consider When Planning for Direct Mail Campaign 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
Mailing postcards will be cheaper than mailing 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.
While catalogs, graphic designers, 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 postcard or brochure be able to successfully deliver that message or would a catalog work better?
What Factors Make Up Direct Mail Advertising Costs?
The Direct Mail Designing 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 or not, 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
If you do not have the ability to design in-house or aren’t interested in using a pre-designed template, then 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
If you’re looking to set up triggered direct mail campaigns or pulling a list directly from your marketing automation platform or CRM, then the mailing list won’t always be a factor involved in the overall direct mail advertising costs.
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 $0.25.
A business list will cost slightly more than a consumer mailing list due to the process that is 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 not only has a huge impact on the cost of mailing your direct mail advertisements, but it also has an impact on the cost to print them.
While it makes sense that printing fewer direct mail pieces would be cheaper, this isn’t always the case. Printing in certain numbers will result in a lower price, for example, if you’re looking to print 450 5.5x8.5 postcards, it would cost slightly more than if you were printing 500 postcards. This is because of the way jobs are laid out on press sheets and by adding just 50 more it results in the production team not having to waste any paper and can move jobs along the press much more quickly providing you with a lower price.
Also, while the total cost may increase, the direct mail cost per piece drastically decreases as you increase the quantity. For example, printing 200 5.5x8.5 catalogs could result in around $2 per catalog while if you increase the quantity to 500 the price per catalog drops to around $0.60.
The Type of Mailer
The direct mail advertising costs will also be determined by the type of mailer and the printing costs to create those mailers.
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 have an impact on 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, then a 6x9 postcard will stand out more than a 4x6 postcard. If you’re looking to list the product or services you offer, then a brochure may be too small and could come across as overwhelming in which 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 per direct mail piece depending on the type of mailer, the size, and more.
The Mailing Quantity
Unless you are using a direct mail marketing service like Direct Mail Commingling, it’s important to keep in mind that the USPS offers reduced postage prices on bulk mailings which are cheaper than single-piece prices. This is because when you take advantage of bulk mailing, you or your direct mail provider handles a lot of the work that otherwise would need to be done by the Postal Service.
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 and for First Class Mail, you need to 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. This direct mail service works by mailing your small quantity with other companies' small quantities so that when grouped together everyone qualifies for bulk mail discounts.
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 to print your direct mailers due to more expensive materials, 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 Turnaround Time
The faster you need your direct mailers printed, the more expensive your direct mailing costs will be which means if you have a specific budget in place, it’s important to plan early for your direct mail advertising campaign so you order your direct mail materials sooner. For example, if you needed 1000 catalogs, and needed them ready within 4 days, it would cost you around $70 more than if you were to need them within 7 days.
Planning ahead and choosing a longer turnaround time for your direct mailers is significantly cheaper than rush orders because it gives your printer enough time to find similar jobs that they can run along with yours, saving them time and paper.
The Postage Costs
The majority 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, as well as the class of mail you qualify for. However, keep in mind if you qualify for bulk mail, you will be able to take advantage of postage discounts so make sure to stay within the USPS guidelines and regulations.
First Class Mail is a bulk mailing option and is viewed as the most important mail which results in faster delivery times as well as higher prices. First Class postage costs can be anywhere from $0.40-$1.16 per direct mail piece depending on the size you are mailing. For example, the USPS considers 4x6 postcards as “cards” which would mean 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, then 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 take into consideration 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 even cheaper than Standard Mail but who you target within your direct mail campaign is limited. This is because with EDDM, you choose mailing routes within a ZIP code and your direct mail pieces will be delivered to every address within those given routes.
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
Advanced Direct Mail Targeting Services
It's also important to keep in mind that creating a mailing list based on location and demographics only, through a mail list tool configurator, will be much cheaper than acquiring a mailing list using an advanced builder like Look-Alike Analysis which creates a list of potential customers who share the same characteristics as your most successful customers.
There are many direct mail marketing services available for you to better target your ideal audiences including Mailbox Retargeting where you can target your website visitors, Drive Time Mailing where you can target individuals who live a certain distance away, and many others. While these direct mail advertising options 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 on taking advantage of a more targeted direct mail campaign, be sure to weigh in your goals and budget to determine if they are the right option for you.
Adding personalized elements for each of your recipients to your direct mail pieces including names, images, and more can drastically increase the responses you generate from your direct mail marketing campaign. In fact, personalized direct mail advertisements generate around a 135% increase in response rates. Customization can be created using Variable Data Printing and can slightly increase your direct mail advertising costs; however, you will gain better results with personalized direct mail pieces.
Automation & Integration Costs
Direct Mail Automation, or Direct Mail Integration, is an advertising option where you can integrate direct mail into your marketing automation platform or CRM software. Once integrated, you can then send direct mail advertisements the same way you send emails as well as set up triggers so that direct mail is sent automatically to a recipient based on certain events or on an action they took. For example, if someone clicked on your email but did not make a purchase, an automated postcard with an incentive for that person to place an order would automatically be sent to them.
The overall cost for automated direct mail advertising varies based on if you choose to use your printer’s design services, the types of direct mailers you would like to integrate, and so on. However, there are no software fees or installation fees, and it uses Direct Mail Commingling so whether one month you send 10 postcards and the next you send 500, you’ll still be able to take advantage of bulk mail discounts.
While there aren’t drastic costs to Direct Mail Integration, that would increase your direct mail marketing costs, it’s noteworthy that automating your direct mail will increase your conversions and ROI. For this reason, if you take advantage of direct mail marketing regularly or even occasionally, it’s worth learning more about Direct Mail CRM Integration.
Direct Mail Tracking Costs
Direct mail marketing has a 9% response rate which is higher than email, paid search, display ads, and social media response rates combined. But you’ll still want to track the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns.
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, including discount codes or a coupon is typically free and you can easily see who responded to your direct mail advertisements by simply 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.
So How Much Does Direct Mail Marketing Cost?
Your direct mail marketing or direct mail advertising costs will typically be cheaper than many other forms of digital marketing, while also generating a higher response rate and return on investment compared to online adverting. However, the cost 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. In fact, 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 get started on exploring all direct mail advertising options available to you, click the button below and feel free to give us a call today to find out how we can work within your specific budget while exceeding your direct mail marketing goals.
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