Marketing By Mail For Retailers

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As an advertising medium, direct marketing is often overlooked or underutilized by retailers. A very versatile tool for retailers, direct mail can be used to build store traffic, promote products, drive loyalty programs, establish new credit card accounts, educate an audience and many other applications.

Many retailers, particularly those that are larger or have multiple locations, rely on blanketing the marketplace to deliver their advertising messages. While those messages will be seen, there are several advantages of using direct mail in tandem with mass media.

Less Waste

When you don’t target your market, you are paying to deliver hundreds or even thousands of messages to people who may never need or want your product or service. By using direct mail you can reinforce your communication with those who are your potential customers.

Cost Effective

It is very costly to advertise in media that reaches hundreds of thousands. Unlike the fixed cost of other media, a direct mail program can be tailored to fit almost any budget.


It is difficult to separate your message from others when it is packaged in a 30-­second spot or one of several ad sizes. With direct marketing, there is no limit to the variety of formats you can use to position your product.


With direct mail you can measure the results of different advertising approaches, allowing you to concentrate on those proven to be more effective.


By physically putting your material in the recipient’s hands, you can establish a more personal relationship.


Most consumers expect some sort of interactive experience, especially from retailers. Your direct mail piece can drive consumers to your website, include QR codes or increase social media engagement. Taking advantage of personalized URLs, or PURLs, is another way to create an individualized experience that today’s consumers have come to expect.

Direct marketing also gives you the opportunity to deliver different messages to current customers. Your existing customer base is your most valuable audience. At the very least, they have been in your establishment and, hopefully, they have purchased your product or service. If the experience was positive they are likely to return.

Instead of using your message just to convey the benefits of shopping at your store, you can use direct mail to build sales by announcing special promotions, cross-­selling on products they may not be familiar with or offering discounts for repeat trips.

If your records are computerized, chances are you either have a customer list or a good base for establishing one. Name, address, type of product and amount purchased, size and other information can be invaluable in developing your advertising messages.

Your current customer list can also help you reach new prospects. Compiling geographic data can help you determine the radius for your service area. By combining that information with demographics like shopping habits and patterns, product references, etc., you can develop a customer profile. You can then purchase a mailing list to reach those most likely to purchase your product or service.


Bill Nichols

June 19, 2014

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