Given the heightened cyber security environment we live in, I was skeptical that any attempt to launch EXTRA DAY by email would be successful, as my announcement would be filtered into junk mail folders, never to be read.  

Hence, snail mail was the natural choice.  Prior to launching EXTRA DAY, I decided to monitor my own mailbox to see who shared my philosophy and I recommend you do the same…there’s a lot you can learn! 

I focused my analysis on the mailings generated by the marketing folks at on-line companies.  Given their virtual existence and social media savvy, I wanted to see how they would draw people to their sites through a more traditional method.  Turns out these marketers have designed some of the most interesting and sophisticated pieces I’ve collected.  

There's a reason for that, shared by Lauren Allergrezza, Senior Marketing Analyst with Thomas Reuters:

“In 2015, the United States Postal Service delivered 154 billion pieces of mail, which means the average home received just 1,300 pieces of mail in a year, or five per weekday…

In contrast, the average person receives 121 emails every single day.

The result? People like getting mail, and they respond to it.

When surveyed, 56 percent of Americans said receiving mail is a pleasure. Seventy-nine percent act on direct mail immediately, compared to 45 percent for email. Over 70 percent of people open most of their mail, including ads, and more than 60 percent will visit a website because of a mailer.”

So, I’m naturally feeling good about the above,  but there is a right way and a wrong way to run a direct mailing campaign and let’s see what lessons I can share from my mail this week:

A Virtual 'Style' Company:

This company remains anonymous because I’m addressing their shortcomings.  This 5 year old on-line personal styling service sends you a 5 piece outfit, based upon your survey.  Buy what you like, send the rest back.  This is the first mailing I've received from them.

What did they do right?  They sent an interesting, attractive brochure that explains exactly what they do.  What did they do wrong?  

(1)   There's no tracking mechanism on this mailing.  They haven’t used a unique landing page or coupon code to track the success of this mailing against their other campaigns.  If you are going to spend the money, include a means to measure the conversion rate from your mailing.

(2)   There's no compelling call to action – coupon, discount, deadline to act.  A unique coupon code would be a great option to tracking conversion from the mailing and also encourages a reason to check out the site.

(3)   ‘Or current resident’ on the label.  Most recipients don't know you're just complying with USPS move update requirements and thus, you've lost the personal touch.  You've just labeled yourself 'junk mail.'  Review your options and though it may cost more to validate the mailing list, depending upon your objective, might be worth it.

A Well Known Magazine

A minor lesson, but important no less…don’t trick your recipient as it may foster ill will.  I received a mailing from a magazine we’d never subscribed to and tossed it… but  then saw “DO NOT BEND” on the outside of the envelope as it sat in the recycle bin.  I thought “oooohhhh, something inside that shouldn’t be bent!” and pulled it out of the garbage and promptly opened it.  How did I feel when the envelope contained only a flimsy subscription invoice?  Even the call to action to save $66.89 off the cover price didn’t excuse the trickery used to compel me to open their unattractive envelope.  The take away?  If using an envelope, a call to action on the exterior is a great idea, but make sure you don’t disappoint with the content.


We know Shutterfly as one of the original on-line photo printing company that also makes cards, coffee table books, and even offers an event planner for your sports team.  Receiving a 40 page catalog from this virtual company was quite unexpected and a first for our household.  

What did they do right?  Two coupons for $20 off of a $50 order, is easy to calculate and motivating.  That is enough to send me to their website, because I can only imagine my holiday cards will be at least $50.  The coupon code contains sufficient tracking information for Shutterfly to measure the success of their mailing.  They have cleverly offered a coupon to your friend – taking advantage of the network effect.

Barnes and Noble

Talk about a call to action, there are 6 peel off coupons on the inside of this great mailer.  These include general savings and specific savings on individual gift ideas.  While I’m very impressed by the quality of the mailing and tracking mechanisms on each coupon, I’ll share the fine print trickery.  I’d hate to spend all that time on-line shopping, only to enter my coupons and have them denied at check out.  Reading the fine print on the back of the peel off coupon (which many might never peel off), they are for ‘member accounts’ only.  We are not a member household.  Turning the brochure over a few times I find a banner at the base of the cover stating "Coupons for Members."  While it’s a great mailing, Barnes and Noble is using a stale mailing list (as years ago we were members) and almost caused a bit of ill will.  Perhaps their strategy is to (1) gain more members (2) achieve non-member purchases without the coupons.  Assuming no hidden strategy, the lesson here is to make sure your mailing list is accurate and appropriate for the recipient.

The only piece of the puzzle we don’t yet know is how each of these direct mail pieces fall into the overall marketing strategies of these on-line companies.  Will I receive an email follow up if I don’t respond to the call to action, or see an ad on any of my social media feeds.  Only time will tell how they have chosen to integrate direct mail into their campaign.  If they don't, that goes into the 'wrong' category, as your direct mail campaign primes warmer reception to emails and calls in the near future.

Once you’ve crafted the perfect mailing and obtained an up to date, clean mailing list, how will you chose to track the success of your mailing?  If you plan to create a special landing page for the mailing, make sure you create a very easy URL, as you're asking people to type it in, rather than clicking a link.  

A coupon code is a great tracking alternative that also contains a call to action.  You can vary that coupon code by region, demographics, timing of mailing and more, in order to obtain the data that matters to you.  Make it compelling – I personally like hard dollar discounts, and am not motivated by anything less than a 30% discount.

How will you integrate the direct mailing into your overall strategy?  Ideally, you have the emails of the recipients so that in a week’s time, you send out a follow up email or post a similar message on your social media feeds where they may follow you.  Likewise, if you have a calling plan, the cold call should be that much warmer. 

No matter the intention of the mailing (business launch, special offering etc.), it’s important to have an intended goal and to monitor the results against that goal, while remaining open to unexpected results, as all data is useful in developing your on-going strategy.

For a fun read on an extreme mailing campaign, click