Paper Matters Blog
Direct Mail That Dominates The Mailbox

Marketers and brands alike want to achieve top-of-mind awareness, especially now that consumers are venturing out and getting back to some version of normalcy. It’s no secret that the past year has had an impact on the way we shop, learn and live. Because of this, the transition to digital-only marketing proceeded at warp speed. While digital marketing has its merits, those channels are now overfilled – making it even harder for marketing messages to make it through to the customer. Direct mail provides a great path to cut through the noise, gaining the undivided attention of consumers.

It may be viewed as old-fashioned in the digital era – but that is not true at all. In fact, studies have found that 31% of consumers are more excited to receive their mail each day compared to before the pandemic. Consumers are also spending 34% more time reading marketing and promotions that arrive in their mailbox. In a world where we are all experiencing some amount of digital fatigue, there is nothing quite like the tactile nature of direct mail and its ability to connect on a personal level.

In order to have direct mail that dominates the mailbox, choosing the right elements is extremely important. Paper choice, the use of color and incorporating printing techniques will make all the difference in how your direct mail message is received.

Paper Choice

The paper choices out there are limitless – but choosing the right medium for your direct mail message doesn’t have to be hard.

One thing to consider is the message you are trying to convey. Your paper choice should be an extension of what your brand represents. For example, coated papers will give your direct mail a sleek feel. On the other hand, uncoated papers have a certain warmth and tactile nature to them and their haptics imply a sense of trust, authenticity and responsibility. This makes them great for things like education, home goods and apparel. A great example of choosing the perfect paper for the message is a recent piece from the Hall Family Foundation. Read more about it here.

You should also consider the caliper of the paper you are considering. Caliper (or a sheet’s thickness) is what adds a little heft to your final piece. A higher caliper also means the paper will hold up when mailed. This is especially important if you are doing a postcard or self-mailer. During the election last year, I received postcards from a few local candidates. I may be biased because I am a paper nerd, but the direct mail that used higher-quality, heavier stock (with a higher caliper) caught my eye more often than those pieces printed on cheap, thin paper.

One final thing to consider is the quality of the paper you are choosing. We’ve heard time and again that marketers don’t think the paper matters – they just want the cheapest thing they can get. Remember that cheapest is not always best, and cutting corners when it comes to paper can leave you with lackluster results. The good news is that our Cougar®, Lynx® and Husky® brands are of the highest quality, and all have excellent runnability and printability.

Use of Color

When it comes to print, nothing grabs a person’s attention like color. Studies have shown that the use of color can increase mail order response by 20% and improves readership by as much as 40%.

Using color in your direct mail does not have to be limited to just how many inks you print – there is also an opportunity to use different color paper to enhance your message. A great example is this Christmas card that was made using Domtar HOTS®.  Both our pastel-colored Colors and fluorescent-hued HOTS lines offer cover weights that meet the USPS requirements for 9pt. guarantee.

Using color paper in your direct mail doesn’t mean you have to go with pastels or fluorescents – you can also incorporate something more subtle like Cougar® Natural. Cougar Natural is a great option if you are wanting to convey a feeling of nostalgia and warmth. The best part? Cougar Natural is available in a variety of weights and sizes with accompanying envelopes – making it a great option for any direct mail campaign.

Incorporating Techniques

Marketing budgets will be tight for the rest of the year – but there are opportunities to incorporate cost-efficient techniques into your direct mail project. Using eye-catching or entertaining techniques is especially important if you are marketing to Gen Z and Millennials. Studies have found that these two generations love direct mail – but you need to be sure to entertain them with your message.

Consider including an emboss. This technique will make your direct mail stand out, so your audience is more likely to pick up and engage with your direct mail campaign. There are quite a few options out there – so we’ve provided this great resource to explain the differences. (Be sure to request the printed sample as well!)

Another technique to incorporate is foil stamping. The result adds color, texture and dimension to any direct mail project. Be sure to check out the Firebird Symphony Hall piece. The use of foil stamping (along with rich, vibrant color) helps transport the reader into a Russian fairytale. This piece commands attention and interaction – which is exactly what any direct mail campaign strives to achieve.

Once you’ve figured out the optimal mix of paper, color and techniques for your direct mail project, don’t forget to check out the promotions and incentives currently offered by the USPS.

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