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How To Use Direct Mail As Ecommerce Brand: Glowing Examples

June 22, 2021
1 mins read
How To Use Direct Mail As Ecommerce Brand: Glowing Examples

“Direct mail was one of the leading media choices of advertisers in 2019”, as The Household Diary Study states, right after Internet, TV, and radio, making it well worthy of marketers’ attention, along with plenty of benefits and opportunities to score more sales and win the hearts of customers.

To show you how to improve your direct marketing game (or develop a strategy in the first place), we’ll go through:

  • How ecommerce direct mail and GDPR go together;
  • The benefits of sending direct mail;
  • Types of direct mail to send to (potential) customers;
  • ecommerce Direct mail examples to learn from.

ecommerce Direct mail and GDPR: What you need to know

Postal marketing does not follow the same strict GDPR guidelines as email marketing.

There’s no need to acquire explicit permission if proven that a marketing campaign is of legitimate interest to people it’s being emailed to.

Be mindful of GDPR rules if the intention is to integrate online and offline marketing channels. The following quote from the GDPR Email Marketing section applies:

Recital 47 of the General Data Protection Regulation expressly states that the law also applies to the processing of personal data for direct marketing as a legitimate interest of the controller.”

Here are some tips to follow and make sure you’re not breaking the data protection laws:

  • Inform site visitors about the data you’re collecting with Cookies Bar and how they can give/ remove consent;
  • Use unticked opt-in boxes in the Agree to Terms Checkbox;
  • Record, document, and be transparent about data collection and usage, customer consent, and third parties.

Be sure to understand GDPR provisions and take the necessary measures in advance.

Why you should (still) send direct mail

Great ROI is the biggest benefit of direct mail. With 29% ROI, it surpasses both paid search and online display ads; note that social media only leads by one percent!

It sets you apart from others

Capturing attention online is a daunting task. With direct mail, ecommerce brands focus on their online presence the most. So should you, but utilize the free space, where there’s less digital advertising fatigue and banner blindness.

Direct mail often gets undivided attention, with fewer distractions than digital alternatives.

Ecommerce Direct mail works

People love to claim that various channels and techniques are dead in favor of their preferred method of communication. Each time you see the “Is X Dead?” headline, the answer is no.

So, rest assured that direct mail still works to entertain and convert customers.

This study backs the claims:

  • “The average click-through rate for Internet advertising is less than 3%. Overall read rates for mail ads, on the other hand, have averaged about 50%”;
  • “Households report they intend to respond to about 12% of First-Class advertising mail and 11% of Marketing Mail”.

You’ll connect with customers on a more personal level

Physical ads and marketing forms are tactile, tangible and allow your target audience to experience them with senses other than sight and sound.

Direct mail is less invasive, more convincing, and provokes stronger emotional responses. It is an indispensable ally to improve brand perception and increase brand awareness.

It’s science.

Types of ecommerce direct mail (and how to use them)

You’d be amazed at what you could send to customers and prospects.

Here are some ideas that come to mind, all fitting in envelopes:

  1. Coupons and codes for a discount, free shipping, gift with purchase;
  2. QR codes/ custom URLs leading to landing pages;
  3. Upsell incentives (loyalty cards, special price for the upgrade, and more.);
  4. Catalogs;
  5. Postcards;
  6. Small samples: scent, fabric, cosmetic testers.

Want to go big and send a box? Let your creativity run wild with gifts and luxury samples, but be mindful of the costs. We recommend doing this on a small scale for those top-notch leads you want to impress.

Consider the stage of the buyer journey

To determine what kind of direct mail to send to prospects, first decide which group you want to target:

  1. Awareness — many experts think that it’s too early to send direct mail at this point, but there’s no rule against it, especially if catering to specific geographic markets and want to let your potential customers know you’re an option too;
  2. Consideration — early stages are the time to educate and drive some kind of action; QR codes, URLs, testers, and samples make sense;
  3. Purchase — flaunt the deals, discounts, sales, free shipping, make the catalogs attractive;
  4. Retention — personalized birthday cards and offers to show you appreciate their support. As they’ve made the purchase, suggest loyalty cards, programs, and upgrades to upsell;
  5. Advocacy — more generous packages, perhaps influencer deals/ partnership offerings, affiliate codes.

Ecommerce direct mail examples to learn from

Some of these brands below aren’t necessarily ecommerce, but the same logic applies.

#1 Function of Beauty, Avon

Fragrant cosmetics and perfumes are hard to advertise remotely. With scent testers, you won’t need to hire a marketing genius, celebrity, and a whole movie crew to produce a commercial.

The function of Beauty is a haircare brand that creates customizable products for all hair types;

Optionally, choose the scent:

Function of Beauty, Avon ecommerce direct mai
Source: whosmailingwhat.com

Long before Function of Beauty appeared, I just loved to scratch and smell the perfume pages of Avon catalogs with my mom:

Source: beautyonlineuk.com

#2 Hello Fresh

Unfortunately, sending food samples by mail would be a logistics nightmare.

Hello Fresh created these appetizing cards instead and added a discount with a sly tactic: splitting it on the first two orders.

Hello Fresh
Source: Pinterest

#3 VistaBlue

Instead, this direct mailer was inserted into Wall Street Journal to target specific types of potential customers who could afford such things.

Notice the combo of luxurious design, power-words, and FOMO right off the bat:

ecommerce direct mai
Source: helium creative on behance.net

More details inside:

Source: helium creative on behance.net

#4 TargetOptical

Personalization is awesome.

Discounts? Even better!


#5 Raynostix

Raynostix specializes in healthcare IT: a particular area that allows them to pinpoint the prospects and send them this hilarious and relatable gift:

ecommerce direct mail
Source: Pinterest.com

Bottom line

Snail mail works: it’s less annoying, there’s less competition to worry about, and plenty of ways to be creative and enhance your brand image. Ecommerce direct mail has a high ROI, and with some smart targeting, it can revolutionize your whole marketing strategy.

Need it condensed? Here’s the summary:

  • Adjust the direct mail you’re sending to their customer journey stage;
  • Samples are the best way to introduce people to your product/ service;
  • Vocabulary matters: use high-converting power words, humor, create urgency and FOMO;
  • Use this opportunity to personalize your message;
  • Make a connection with your online presence and keep data protection laws in mind.

A cherry on top

After your show-stopping mail graces their post box, make sure you’re not inviting your potential customers to visit an unpolished ecommerce website.

To make the experience perfect from A to Z, let us show you what Vitals can do.

With 40+ must-have apps for any ecommerce store and site working even faster, your online efforts act as a natural direct mail extension.

Try it for free for 30 days.