You’re not seeing things.

Despite how most people think “digital” first when they hear the word marketing, the headline above really does read, “How to use mail for marketing.”

And for good reason.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, using mail to conduct marketing (otherwise known as direct mail marketing) produces a response rate of 4.4% vs. a measly 0.12% response rate for email. That’s a 37% difference. In other words, in this digital age we’re all living in, direct mail works!

The important first step: defining your marketing goal
Direct mail marketing can be used for a lot of reasons: boosting sales, attracting new customers, upselling existing customers, promoting a new product or service, getting people to sign up for your company e-newsletter and more.

So, take the time to strategize and think about what your marketing goal is. Once this is clearly defined, you’re all set for step 2.

Who is the target audience?
You know what your marketing goal is, the next thing is to zero in on which audience you’ll be targeting. When it comes to direct mail, research has shown that your greatest success will come from targeting consumers who have an interest in your business or the category your business is in.

Don’t waste your money having your direct mail piece land in the mailboxes of everybody under the sun. Over 68% of consumers will just toss your direct mail piece in the recycling bin if they don’t feel it is relevant to their needs or wants.

Create a list
If you’re a large business or established business, you probably already have a list of customers to mail your piece to. If you don’t have a list or you want to augment your list of existing customers, you can use the USPS Every Door Direct Mail program. This simple service features an online mapping tool for finding potential customers that are located near your business. You can then build your list based on customer demographics and available postal routes.

Decide on the type of piece
Just because we’re talking about mail doesn’t mean that direct mail marketing is just about sending out a letter. Yes, your direct mail marketing piece could be a letter, but it could also be a postcard, self-mailer, an insert or wrap, a dimensional mailer or even a catalogue.

Deciding on what type of direct mail piece to send out depends on a variety of factors, including: your marketing goal, target audience, how many people you want to reach, budget and marketing concept.

Hire a creative team
If you’re a small business owner and your first instinct is to save money, you might think the smart thing to do is to write and design your direct mail marketing piece yourself. You might be able to pull it off, but the better bet would be to hire a professional writer and designer to create it for you.

Professional writers and designers have been trained in the art and science of marketing. They know how to create concepts, copy and designs that will resonate with your target audience and motivate consum-er action, which is the whole reason you are doing direct mail marketing in the first place.

How to get your direct mail piece produced and mailed out
Once the copy and design of your direct mail piece has been final approved, you need to get it printed.

If you’re collaborating with a creative team, the designer can look after this for you. Another scenario could be that the designer creates a printer-ready file and sends it to you. You would then have to find a printer on your own and send them the printer-ready file.

Once your direct mail piece has been printed, you would pick up your order and take it to your local USPS post office so it can be mailed out.

If this process sounds too involved for you, another option is to use a direct mail processor or print & mail shop. These types of services take care of printing, postage and sending out your direct mail piece for you. Hiring a service like this is something to consider if you would rather focus your time on other areas of your business vs. coordinating the production and distribution of hundreds of pieces of mail.

Remember, when it comes to marketing, mail equals impact
As we mentioned at the top of this article, direct mail marketing generates a response rate that is 37% better than email marketing.

Adding more fuel to the fire, according to Business News Daily, direct mail marketing response rates have been trending up for the past 10 years.

The next time you sit down to strategize your latest marketing initiative, don’t overlook the potential ROI your business could enjoy by choosing direct mail marketing over digital marketing.