Direct Mail Design: Go Beyond The Basics To Deliver An Experience


By Jim Cochrane
Chief Customer and Marketing Officer
Executive Vice President
U.S. Postal Service

Direct mail is proven to have a substantial impact on how customers engage with a brand. The world of marketing has become increasingly digital and extending beyond the physical piece to create an omnichannel experience that can take your campaign to the next level. Research has shown that direct mail boosted ROI of a campaign by 20% when it was part of an integrated campaign, as well as improving lift of local ads by 44% and online campaigns by 62%. So how do you make it happen?

The trend towards digital and omnichannel marketing has presented major opportunities for the United States Postal Service to bring digital capability to direct mail. USPS has introduced promotions and incentives to create an inventive omnichannel experience that engages customers across multiple digital platforms. Current and upcoming promotions include advanced technologies like near-field communication (NFC), augmented and virtual reality, as well as print-mobile technologies such as QR codes that promote online and mobile shopping.

This article is from the Spring 2017 Official Mail Guide. Click for PDF.

QR codes are a cost-effective and recognizable way to have customers interact with a mail piece digitally. Customers scan a QR code and can be directed a variety of places from a video advertisement to an online shopping portal. A mail piece marketing a t-shirt can be scanned, automatically taking the customer to a checkout window.

For a more costly, but potentially more “savvy” solution, near-field communication is an exciting option. Adding NFC to your mail piece allows for the mail piece to interact wirelessly with your customer’s smartphone. A customer would no longer have to cut out a coupon from a mail piece as it would automatically be registered by their phone.

Digital direct mail experiences can get even more advanced with the addition of Video-in-Print, augmented reality or virtual reality. Adding this capability brings your mail piece to life and enhances the visual experience. A car advertisement is no longer an image, but a video of the car driving down your street. (Visit for additional case studies on paper and pixels including Variable Data Printing.)

USPS has brought the digital to mail pieces, but it is also doing the reverse and bringing the mail piece to your customers’ digital platforms. Informed Delivery® shows your customers what is waiting for them in their mailbox with daily e-mail notifications. The ability to add interactive content and online promotions related to the mail piece adds a new element for you to engage a customer, and gives businesses the opportunity to add directed marketing alongside a direct mail campaign.

Cochrane graphic

By creating a more seamless and integrated interaction between the physical mail piece and the digital world that we live in today, your direct mail campaign will be more effective than ever before. It is important to consider the fundamentals of sizing, postage, and mail class – but it is also vital to look beyond the basics to deliver an experience for your customer that brings your business into every facet of their daily digital experience.
For additional elements of creating a successful mail campaign, use the steps in the chart at left and for more ideas visit