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What is the Cost for Direct Mail Marketing? What is the Pay off?

It’s a common misconception that print media is dead in the marketing world. Digital marketing experts will have you believe that print has absolutely no use in the modern world. Stick to digital methods instead, they say, it’s the way forward. Of course, anyone with a slight bit of knowledge in this industry knows that’s untrue.

Direct mail marketing is still one of the most effective ways of reaching out to your audience. Consumers are far more likely to look at and open direct mail than they are with emails.

The trick is figuring out how to plan your direct mail marketing campaign. You need to get the most out of it, and a significant aspect of this revolves around the type of direct mail you produce and send out. We’ve got a whole section on this later, but there’s another topic we want to cover first.

What is the Cost of Direct Mail Marketing?


Clearly, the success of your campaign is determined on how much of a return you get from this investment. With that in mind, you need to know how much direct mail marketing costs. From here, you can get an estimate on how much it will cost you, which allows you to then work on some projections and see what the pay off is.

If you’ve never tried direct mail marketing before, then you’ll be shocked at how many different elements are involved. To get a good understanding of the overall costs, we’ve broken down each little element and shown you how everything adds up.

Direct Mail Design

Obviously, you need to design the mail that you send out. The costs here are diverse as it depends on how you come up with the designs and how intricate those designs are.

If you’re lucky, then someone in your organization may have artistic talents, meaning you can design your own material. As a result, the cost will be absolutely nothing.

However, if you don’t go down this route, then there are two other options:

  • Design-templates
  • Professional designers

Templates are seen as a cost-effective option as you can get them for around ten dollars online. For the most part, they may work well. Especially if you’re just looking to send out some basic direct mail. The obvious drawback is that there’s limited customization when you use a template.

Which brings us to professional designers. By far the most expensive option – with some designers charging over $100/hr for their services – but also the most creative.

You can design something truly unique and professional, which could give your mail an edge over the competition. So, it depends on if you want to pay for a higher quality piece or stick to something more generic. Mainly, this will boil down to your budget and the type of direct mail you want to send out.

Printing Costs


The cost of printing your direct mail can fluctuate dramatically. As a company that offers direct mail printing services, we know first-hand how different the costs can be from business to business.

As such, we can’t really say a definitive price for printing. It’s usually up to around $2-3 per piece, but this is just an average estimate.

The reason that we can’t tell you an exact price is that there are plenty of ways you can customize the printing process, depending on your needs. Here are some of the key factors that influence the price:

  • Color printing is more expensive than black & white
  • The size of your paper alters the price – the bigger it is, the more expensive it will be
  • You have to pay extra for different types of paper
  • Double-sided direct mail costs more than single-sided
  • The number of sheets of paper you’re printing out will raise or lower the price

If you’d like an actual quote, you can click below to contact us and we can discuss your campaign and printing costs more.

Copywriting Costs

Direct mail is useless if it’s plain! You have to write copy for your items, and this may cost money. Again, you can save lots of money by doing this yourself. Many small businesses choose this path as you can still create an engaging copy without needing to spend any money.

Otherwise, your best bet is contacting a freelance copywriter. Their rates can vary considerably. Some inexperienced ones may offer cheap rates of around $20 per piece of original copy. So, if you only need them to create one unique piece of copy that will be on all your pieces, then it’s a reasonable price. Experienced writers can charge closer to $100 per piece, but the content might be better and help you generate more leads.

Acquiring Mailing Lists

You’ve got your design, you have the copy, and you may even have some printing lined up. Now, who are you sending the direct mail to?

You need a mailing list, and this adds yet another cost to the equation. Once more, it’s possible to acquire a mailing list for free. If you collect your own records or want to send things to your customers, then you won’t need to spend a penny.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to expand your customer base and draw in new leads, then you need to get some contact information. Mailing lists can be bought online for as little a 2 cents per record. So, the more people you need, the more expensive it will be. Also, quality leads cost more than regular ones, and you also pay more to acquire records that let you send regular direct mail to the address.

Recommended Read: How to Create a Successful Mailing List

Sending Your Mail

Last but not least, you have the actual distribution costs. Your beautifully printed mail won’t send itself! So, you will need to look at various mailing services and couriers to get the best quotes for the most affordable and cost-effective rate.

Different things affect the price of sending your mail, such as:

  • How far it needs to be sent
  • The current postage rate
  • How much mail and how heavy it is
  • The rate of the company sending the mail (if you choose a private courier service)

Overall, you can see the cost of direct mail marketing is hard to pinpoint. It varies based on all the factors we’ve just run through. Our advice is to go through each section and try to get quotes for everything and create an overall cost for the campaign.

When you’ve added up the overall costs, divide it by how many people you’re sending the mail to. This will give you a cost per person. You may find this is $20, $5, or even less than a dollar per person. With this data, you can predict how much you can gain per person if your mail is a success and helps you find leads.

What Type of Direct Mail Marketing Piece Works Best?


Now, after seeing all of the costs involved in direct mail marketing, you can start thinking about creating your campaign. But, you shouldn’t begin without considering what type of direct mail works best for your particular business.

Below, we’ll explain how you decide which type to choose, and what options are available/most commonly used.

Lead Letters

Lead letters are a classic type of direct marketing material. In effect, they’re used when you’re sending documents or forms out to your clients. They should look professional, and the copy needs to be tailored to each specific customer. Primarily, they’re useful for businesses with professional clients.


A simple way of generating leads and trying to reach a new audience. A postcard is almost like a mini-poster that you send in the mail. It should contain engaging marketing copy that convinces the reader to get in touch with you. Postcards are useful for all businesses as you can tweak how professional they look.


If you run a business that sells lots of products, then a catalog is the best direct mail piece for you. It will show off all of your stock, and you need copy for each item to inform the reader and really sell your products.

There must be an eye-catching cover – usually with a special discount or promotion – that convinces people to open up and look inside. Again, this is often used when finding new leads, but it’s also useful when looking to gain more business from existing customers.


These are almost like a condensed version of catalogs. With a brochure or leaflet, you provide people with information on your latest products/services. They’re not as detailed as catalogs, and not as big.

They’re handy when you get some new leads and want to show them what you have to offer. Some companies also use them as lead generation material.

Dimensional Mailers

Brochures and leaflets are traditionally used when you run a B2C company. But, if you have B2B contacts, then this is the more professional equivalent of brochures/leaflets. The goal is the same, they’re just designed with more class and authenticity.

How Do You Choose the Right Type of Direct Mail?


You know what options are available, now it’s just a case of deciding which one to choose. Many of you are reading this and thinking that all of the types appeal to you. So, if you want to narrow down your options and get the best return from your investment, then you have three key questions to ask yourself:

  • What are your main campaign goals?
  • How do you brand yourself as a business?
  • What’s your budget?

What are your main campaign goals?

What do you want to gain from direct mail marketing? Are you looking to find new customers? Do you want to directly generate sales? Are you trying to retain business from your existing customer base?

Every campaign needs to have a set of goals and aim to work towards meeting those goals. When you do this, you quickly realize which marketing materials will work better than others. For example, if you’re looking to boost sales, then a catalog is clearly the best way.

How do you brand yourself as a business?

This is important as your direct mail must be consistent with your brand. So, if you’ve established yourself as a well-respected and highly professional company, then does it match your brand image to send out tacky postcards or brochures? Of course not! Instead, you need a more professional approach – like dimensional mailers or personalized postcards for each client.

Consider your branding as it helps you see more clearly and avoids instances where you accidentally use direct mail that harms your image.

What’s your budget?

When all’s said and done, this is the critical question. How much are you willing to pay for direct mail marketing? More to the point, how much can you afford to pay?

This is where the previous section comes in handy as you can look at some of the average costs and try to figure out how much your campaign will set you back. Look at your business finances and work out how much you could conceivably afford to spend on this. Then, you can start tweaking the different elements of direct mail to make it more affordable for you.

Two similar direct mail campaigns can end up costing completely different sums of money. An established business with a large budget may choose to go all out and pay for professional design & copywriting services, use the best quality printing materials, and send out thousands of pieces of mail.

In contrast, a smaller company may want to save money by writing their own marketing copy, using an online template, and choosing cheaper printing costs.

All in all, we hope this guide has helped you understand the cost for direct mail marketing and how to choose the right direct mail for your business. Don’t believe what anyone says if they try and tell you that direct mail is dead. It’s very much alive, and you can see substantial gains if you use it properly.



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