Make Your Next Direct Mail Campaign Stand Out

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Dimensional mail isn’t your standard letter or post card. Dimensional mail is much more exciting. It’s lumpy and bumpy. It’s unusual. It feels like a gift. The recipient picks up the envelope and it’s heavy. There’s obviously something different inside. What could it be? The curiosity about what it might be really gets people's attention.

It isn’t always appropriate, but when used in the right way, it can bring a huge response.

Why dimensional mail?

By arousing curiosity, dimensional mail inspires a much higher open rate than standard mail. And that’s what you want: to get your prospect to open the envelope to see what’s inside. Once they see the object, then they want to find out why you sent it to them. So they start reading the letter that came with the pen, the key chain, the chopstick, or whatever the item is. And that’s when your glowing copy has the chance to make the sale. And if the person likes the object and keeps it, it can be a daily reminder of your company.


Even if people know what is in the envelope, they will open it to get the item. For many years, U.S. Pen and Pencil Corp. sent out millions of letters with pens inside the envelope. Even though recipients knew they would find a pen inside the envelope, they couldn't ignore it. A large number opened the envelope, and at least looked at the offer. It worked very well for the company.

There’s only one big problem with dimensional mail. It’s expensive. You have to pay for the inserted object. You have to pay for inserting the object. You have to pay more postage. It can really add up. But in the right application, it more than pays for itself because of the increased order rate.

So what’s the right application?

Your best use of dimensional mail is to a small, highly targeted group of prospects. These carefully selected individuals are your most likely buyers. If you can just put your offer before them, there’s a huge chance they’ll bite. And dimensional mail gets them to open the envelope so you can put your offer in front of them.


I also find it invaluable to use in hard-to-reach niches. For example, business executives and medical professionals often have “gatekeepers” who screen their mail and probably won’t let “junk mail” get through. (I know several companies that throw away “junk mail” before it ever gets to the recipient.) But they’ll be reluctant to screen out a piece of mail that feels like something special might be inside — especially if it has first-class postage on it. So your chances of getting past the gatekeeper are greatly increased.

It is the same theory behind sending FedEx packages to business executives — it makes it look “important” — gets your pitch past the “gate keeper” — and if the cost is worth it, it can work very well for you.

So why wouldn’t you want to use dimensional mail?

It’s usually not cost-effective to send dimensional mail to thousands and thousands of prospects. It you are mailing to thousands of prospects, you are most likely mailing to a broad list that is not super targeted. A list that is not as targeted would produce a lower response rate. A lower response rate usually does not bring in enough customers to offset the higher production cost of dimensional mail.


Assess your situation carefully to see if dimensional mail could be worthwhile for you to try. If you think it is, start small. See what kind of a response you get, and that will tell you whether the campaign was worth it. If you get positive results, roll out to a larger group. Tracking your results will make it clear whether dimensional mail is indeed appropriate for you. Remember, if it’s a small list that is very targeted, then you should give lumpy mail a try and if it’s a broad list of prospects, then you will probably lose money if you use lumpy mail due to the high cost and low response rate when mailing to prospects.

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