8 Factors That Affect Direct Mail Marketing Campaign Costs

Posted Nov 21, 2023 | Updated 6 months ago

| Written By Sarah Perry

For many small businesses in Colorado Springs, direct mail campaigns are an integral part of regular advertising and marketing efforts to reach a local audience.

When done effectively, a direct mail campaign will help you reach new and existing customers with sales offers and promotions, as well as provide current information regarding your services, products and business operations.

In general, you can expect to spend an average of about $0.30 to $3 per piece of mail. However, the total cost varies among projects for several reasons, including the size of your mailer; the type of paper or material you use; postage prices; whether you’re purchasing mailing lists; and how you design, assemble, and distribute your print assets.

To get the best estimate for your upcoming direct mail project, connect with a local design and print agency, like Third Angle, and request a quote.

How to Calculate Your Direct Mail Marketing Campaign Costs

In order to budget properly and ensure you’re maximizing your return on investment (ROI), it’s important to consider the array of factors that can affect your total direct mail campaign costs. From there, you can make adjustments to meet your budgeting and marketing goals.

To help you get started, here is a look at some of the most common factors affecting your total direct mail costs:

1. Quantity for Campaign

The cost of doing direct mail advertising depends heavily on the volume of materials that you are printing and mailing. Higher volume = lower per piece cost. It’s the principle of scalability. For example, sending out 50 mailers will differ significantly in price from a mailing 2,000.

The cost per unit typically decreases as the quantity increases for a few reasons. Some of the expenses associated with mailings are static—such as designing the postcard, flyer or brochure. That cost will be the same whether you print 50 or 5,000 mailers.

On the other hand, many printing companies in Colorado offer a lower price per unit as volume scales up, because of logistics around laying out print jobs; machine setup costs; doing a pre-production print trial; and machine downtime. Those costs—which must be absorbed regardless of the quantity you’re ordering—get spread out further when volume increases, thus decreasing the individual cost per unit.

Get Printed Marketing Materials

Boost your small business' marketing efforts with custom, printed marketing materials. From postcards and brochures to flyers and look-books, our custom promotional materials will help you stand out.

2. Postage Prices

To manage your campaign budget, you can choose a specific type of delivery. Mailing your materials with First Class Mail has the advantage of a shorter and more consistent delivery time, but it is more costly than mailing via Standard Mail. Your postage prices also will be impacted by the type and size of your mailer. 

You can use USPS’s own Postage Cost Calculator tool to get an idea of how much you’d be spending on the postage line item for your mail campaign.

If you go with Standard Mail for your campaign, you also can access Standard Mail bulk mail discounts for what is known as Marketing Mail or Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) marketing prices. With EDDM, you select mailing routes within specific ZIP codes in Colorado Springs or the surrounding area, and your items are sent to every address in those areas.

3. Your Audience

If you have accurate addresses for the people on your direct mailing list, you’re a step ahead. In some cases, though, you may be looking to reach new prospects. You can go through a third-party compiler to purchase a list of contacts that aligns with your target demographic based on attributes, gender, income level, or housing situation (renters versus homeowners). You may also want to target people who all live in a specific neighborhood or are in a certain age range. These could be people who all live in a specific neighborhood or are in a certain age range.

This type of resource helps you tailor your marketing campaign and boost its effectiveness, but third parties also charge to access these mailing lists. They typically cost between $0.03 and $0.25 per contact, depending on the parameters you set. 

Additionally, you can choose to personalize your mailers using Variable Data Printing if you want to build a more direct connection with your audience. This tactic will increase your overall direct mail cost but often generates a higher response rate.

4. Size of the Mailer

Mailer size is also going to affect your overall cost when doing a direct mail marketing campaign in Colorado, both in terms of printing and mailing. You have multiple options for the type of mailer you can select, from catalogs and brochures to flyers, postcards, letters in standard business envelopes, and larger envelopes (or flats) containing a few materials.

Postcards are typically one of the most cost-effective forms of mailer. They’re simple, standardized and don’t have to be put into envelopes. Plus, you can incorporate quite a bit of important information onto a postcard with a smart, thoughtful design.

Even for postcards, though, you can choose different sizes, and each one has the potential to change the overall price of your campaign. Some of this has to do with how many individual units the printer can fit on a single piece of paper and how much excess they need to trim. Side note, printing a design with a bleed also is more expensive.

At the end of the day, printing 500 4Ă—6 postcards will typically be more cost-effective than printing 500 6Ă—9 postcards, and both projects are less than printing 500 8.5Ă—11 catalogs.

Get Printed Marketing Materials

Boost your small business' marketing efforts with custom, printed marketing materials. From postcards and brochures to flyers and look-books, our custom promotional materials will help you stand out.

Postcards and envelopes are also less expensive to mail than flats or catalogs because of size and weight. Additionally, when it comes to marketing mailer prices, keep in mind that the USPS offers a discounted rate for nonprofits, but they require specific authorization. A bulk mailing by USPS standards is at least 200 pieces of mail (or 50 pounds).

5. Design Services

Another cost to consider is the creation of your marketing collateral, whether it be a postcard, brochure, or other type of mailer. You may have a team member who can design the product in-house, in which case you’re only paying compensation for the hours they dedicate to the project.

If you go this route, it’s advisable to use a template to make sure you’re formatting the design appropriately for printing and mailing. The layout for your postcard must perfectly align with USPS standards in order to be processed by their machines; they will reject your mailer if not appropriately set up, meaning you could incur costs to redesign and reprint your mailer if not done right the first time.

To avoid this headache and additional cost, most businesses turn to graphic design professionals that have experience designing for distribution through USPS, like our team here at Third Angle. For a nominal fee to leverage professional design services, you will get high-quality, on-brand materials that will convert into leads, revenue, and positive reputation for your business.If you’re on a tight budget, focus on designing one high-quality postcard or mailer that can be used for multiple segments of your audience or multiple drops, rather than trying to make several different hyper-specific designs. This will help you control design service costs and you can do bulk ordering.

Get Printed Marketing Materials

Boost your small business' marketing efforts with custom, printed marketing materials. From postcards and brochures to flyers and look-books, our custom promotional materials will help you stand out.

6. Type of Paper and Materials Used

The paper stock and finishes you select for your direct mailing also impact cost. Thick cardstock and specialty papers are more expensive than basic paper stocks, both for printing costs and distribution costs. Additionally, you might want to print in multiple colors or use specific coatings to increase the quality and aesthetic appeal of your materials. All of these factors will alter your final printing cost.

Bear in mind that if your company mails a thick piece but fails to pay for adequate postage, your recipients will be responsible for paying the remainder of the postage fees. (We’ve seen it happen from a local non-profit here in Colorado Springs!)

When you request a quote from our team Third Angle, ask what type of paper materials and finishes are available for your direct mail campaign and how they’ll affect the final cost.

7. Printing Timeline

When working on a specific budget, it’s good to be prepared and give your printer ample time to finish your project. This will help you control costs and ensure efficiency. Printers often have standard print times for bulk jobs that will depend on what orders they have in process already and how many pieces you need printed.

If you request a quick turnaround for your direct mail materials, you’ll likely have to pay an additional fee for the rush order. Another benefit of getting your order in with enough notice is that your printer can ensure they have your preferred paper in stock or give you other options if dealing with paper shortages. Give your designer and printer time to proactively find cost-reducing solutions for you rather than rush to meet a quick turnaround. Don’t forget to factor in reviewing and approving your proof. You also want a little cushion to make necessary edits or corrections before the whole project goes to print.

8. Packaging and Assembling Services

If you’re putting together a packet or even a letter or pamphlet that goes into an envelope, you have to consider assembly as part of your production cost. Some nonprofit organizations or businesses can rely on their team or even volunteers to help stuff envelopes or prepare materials for a large direct mail campaign. Otherwise, you can work with the mailer design and printing agency to handle this part of production as well.

Get Printed Marketing Materials

Boost your small business' marketing efforts with custom, printed marketing materials. From postcards and brochures to flyers and look-books, our custom promotional materials will help you stand out.

Is Direct Mail Marketing Cost-Effective?

In general, direct mail marketing has the potential to be a cost-effective way of connecting with your target demographic within a designated geographic location when done right the first time. You can design and distribute the mailing to reach those individuals in your area who already are customers or have a high likelihood of converting.

Working with a single company for the graphic design, printing and distribution can make the whole project more efficient and cost-effective. They will streamline the process and ensure you are on track to meet your budget goals for the campaign, from start to finish.

Here’s an example where one of Third Angle’s clients deployed a Direct Mail Campaign effectively to contribute to a 32% increase in top line revenue. [View Case Study]

Print versus Digital Marketing: Which is More Budget-Friendly?

So what about print campaigns compared to digital advertising? Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising has become more popular in the digital age. Some businesses invest in PPC through Google Ads or social media platforms.

Like other forms of advertising, the cost of PPC campaigns varies based on the ad network, who manages your PPC, your audience, the keywords you’re targeting, and the level of competition in your industry. According to various sources, the cost-per-click in 2023 typically runs from about $2 to $5 across various digital platforms. Compare that to the roughly $0.30 to $1 per unit you generally pay for a postcard mailing that goes directly to the customers of your choosing.

Get Printed Marketing Materials

Boost your small business' marketing efforts with custom, printed marketing materials. From postcards and brochures to flyers and look-books, our custom promotional materials will help you stand out.

While you can certainly have a broader reach with digital PPC advertising, that’s not typically a top concern for small to mid-sized businesses and organizations that rely on local audiences. In fact, postcards and other mailers have the added bonus of feeling more personal and meaningful—especially with the influx of digital fatigue currently experienced by consumers. They also tend to have a more long-lasting impression on customers compared to digital ads. Plus, you can add QR codes to your print materials so you’re still creating a bridge between a beautiful, tangible piece of marketing and your digital assets. 

In this way, print marketing campaigns can be more cost-effective, and more a meaningful investment, for businesses in Colorado Springs than PPC advertising on social media and online search engines. 

Maximizing Your Direct Mail Marketing Efforts

When you need to spread the word about your business, physical mail campaigns are still a great budget-friendly option for small businesses in the Colorado Springs area. Third Angle can help you clarify your message and make sure it gets delivered to the right people at an affordable rate.