Custom Mailers as a Marketing Tool

Custom mailers refer to personalized and customized direct mail pieces that serve as marketing collateral. They enable brands to capture attention, engage audiences, and drive action through memorable unboxing experiences. This article covers how custom mailers can be leveraged across crucial marketing objectives.

Custom mailers break through the digital noise as tangible, creative mail pieces tailored to recipient data and preferences. As per the Association of National Advertisers, personalized mailers achieve 6X higher response rates than non-personalized campaigns.

They check many crucial boxes:

  • Personalization powered by variable data
  • Creativity in shapes, textures, and finishes
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Memorability of experience

This is why custom mailers are gaining popularity for:

  • Customer acquisition
  • Retention campaigns
  • Events and seasonal offers

We cover effective strategies, design considerations, and metrics to guide your custom mail marketing.

Defining Custom Mailers

Before diving into applications, let’s define what makes custom mailers unique.

Key Characteristics

Custom mailers:

  • Serve as both envelope and inside content
  • Use variable data printing (VDP) to tailor messaging
  • Experiment with non-traditional materials and finishes
  • Focus on unique unboxing experiences

For instance, a custom mailer could be:

  • A personalized gift box for a loyal customer
  • A discount postcard with custom imagery
  • A branded poly mailer showcasing new arrivals

Benefits Over Direct Mail

While direct mail has a 4.4% average response rate, creative custom mailers take it further by:

  • Personalizing across multiple elements – names, visuals, copy, offers, etc.
  • Adding creativity in shapes, sizes, and textures that reflect the brand image
  • Crafting memorable unboxing experiences that customers want to share

The tangible medium stands out amidst the digital noise. When combined with personalization, it delivers marketing messages in a context with higher perceived value.

This drives crucial metrics like:

  • Open and conversion rates
  • Brand awareness and recall
  • Customer perceived value
  • Long-term loyalty

Now, let’s explore critical applications of custom mailers across marketing functions.

Source: Image by Freepik

Strategies for Custom Mail Marketing

Custom mailers can drive value across different stages – new acquisition, retention, re-targeting, etc.

Here are the most popular applications:

1. New Customer Welcome Mailers

Welcome mailers introduce new subscribers or customers to a brand.

They achieve up to 50% higher open rates over regular direct mail.

Welcome mailer example with discount and FAQ brochure

Key tactics for welcome mailers:

  • Send within a week of the first purchase
  • Personalize content based on initial data
  • Provide special incentives like discounts or gifts
  • Include informational content like user guides
  • Set expectations for future communications

2. Customer Reactivation Campaigns

Lapsed or churned users tend to have higher intent and lower acquisition costs over new users.

A re-engagement mailer aims to:

  • Remind them of positive past experiences
  • Share new offers tailored to their preferences
  • Provide incentives to transact again

CARTO, a location intelligence company, employed custom mailers to re-engage lapsed users. They generated 50% more leads for 33% lower CPA vs traditional channels.

3. Customer Loyalty and Referral Mailers

Surprise loyal customers by sending custom mailers with the following:

  • Their favorite products
  • Special members-only discounts
  • Coupon codes to share with friends

Subscription brands widely use incentivizing referrals:

Referral mailer by meal-kit company

Product samples and coupons give existing users a reason to share your brand.

4. Events and Seasonal Mailers

Custom holiday mailers represent a considerable opportunity across retail and e-commerce.

Some occasions that call for custom mailers:

  • Holiday gifting season
  • Annual sales like Black Friday
  • Product launch events
  • Store opening events

REI sent custom-branded notebooks to customers for their new store launch:

REI mailer for upcoming store launch

The unique medium stands out from regular email invitations.

Now, let’s shift gears to discuss design and personalization.

Source: Image by vectorjuice on Freepik

Designing Captivating Custom Mailers

While strategy sets direction, design drives results.

Compelling custom mailer design is crucial for:

  • Standing out from the inbox clutter
  • Aligning to brand image
  • Delighting customers upon unboxing

Follow these design best practices:

Guideline 1: Align to Brand Standards

Ensure visual consistency with other touchpoints like your website, packaging, storefront, etc.

Brand elements to carry over:

  • Color schemes
  • Font styles
  • Logos
  • Iconography
  • Tone of voice

Familiarity builds trust and recognition.

Guideline 2: Optimize For Specific Channels

Certain design elements can boost delivery and engagement rates across channels.

For example:

  • Size – Postcards under 6′′x11′′ see higher USPS automation discounts
  • Images – Personalized imagery boosts open rates across email and direct mail
  • Interactivity – QR codes bridge offline and online experiences

Guideline 3: Make it Tangible

Leverage physical product qualities for delightful unboxing moments:

For example, Glossier is known for branded packaging:

Glossier’s recognizable branding across packaging

These elements tell a sensory brand story while creating shareable moments.

Guideline 4: Balance Creativity With Testing

Marketers often debate between consistency and continuous optimization. Balance both through:

  • Brand guidelines to ensure consistency
  • Multivariate testing of creative variables like shapes, sizes, offers, etc., across campaigns

Continuous testing prevents creative fatigue while giving flexibility for innovations like AR interaction.

Now that we’ve covered design let’s discuss optimizing personalization.

Optimizing Personalization

As per Statista, 76% of consumers get frustrated with the lack of personalization.

Personalized custom mailers can include:

✔ Names ✔ Individualized images✔ Purchase history ✔ Behavioral segments ✔ Predicted needs ✔ And more!

Follow these guidelines to maximize personalization:

Guideline 1: Map Data Infrastructure

Catalog available first-party data across systems:

  • CRM, marketing automation
  • Transactional databases
  • Product catalogs

Identify relevant segments and metrics to personalize messaging.

Third-party data enrichment can fill gaps to target ideal customer profiles (ICP).

Guideline 2: Maintain Relevance

Balance personal details with privacy expectations, especially for cold outreach.

Prioritize data points linked to customer motivations like:

  • Past purchases
  • Preferred categories
  • Active usage metrics
  • Lifecycle stage
  • Channel affinity

Personal details like birthdays see high permission and engagement where expected.

Guideline 3: Test Across Channels

Optimization should tie back to specified KPIs by campaign type:

  • Acquisition – Cost per lead, customer lifetime value
  • Retention – Churn rate
  • Loyalty – Share of wallet
  • Referrals – Uptake rates

Measure beyond vanity metrics like open and click rates to calculate ROI—factor in production and mailing costs for custom mailers over regular direct mail.

Multichannel tracking provides a unified view of customer journeys across digital and physical mediums. Relying solely on coded trackable URLs leaves visibility gaps.

Now, let’s explore campaign measurement to complete the personalization flywheel.

Source: Image by Racool_studio on Freepik

Tracking Campaign Effectiveness

Campaign reporting provides crucial insights to refine targeting and creativity and offers continual optimization.

Set up tracking across 3 phases:

1. Production Tracking

Collect delivery confirmation data to segment users for re-targeting based on:

  • Successful delivery vs bouncebacks
  • Geo-location
  • Estimated delivery timeframe

This helps account for hard bounces in campaign performance.

2. Engagement Data

Engagement metrics based on the channel include:

  • Email – Opens, clicks, browse abandonment
  • Web – Page views, custom events like downloads
  • Offline – Redemption rates for codes from mailers

Track granular on-site behaviors triggered by the custom mailer.

3. Business Value Reporting

Tie engagement data back to key business goals across:

  • Acquisition – Sales driven, cost per lead or customer
  • Retention – Churn rate
  • Referrals – Share rate

Factor production and mailing costs to calculate accurate ROI rather than vanity metrics.

Let’s wrap up with best practices to amplify impact further.

Conclusion and Best Practices

Custom mailers check many crucial boxes – Personalization, memorability and creativity at an affordable cost per touch.

Here are some best practices to maximize the impact of your campaigns:

  • Maintain brand consistency while testing creative innovations
  • Personalize based on customer motivations and expected value
  • Send timely follow-up emails to nurture recipients
  • Track granular engagement data across online and offline channels
  • Measure actual business value like cost per lead instead of vanity metrics
  • Continually refine targeting, offers, and creativity based on campaign reports

In closing, custom mailers grab customers' attention while conveying marketing messages in a memorable medium that stands out digitally and drives measurable business impact. They enable brands to combine creativity, personalization, and continuity to build memorable customer experiences.

With the strategies, guidelines, and measurement approaches covered, you can develop captivating and effective custom mailer campaigns tailored to reach your buyers.

Share this story

"Share on Facebook"

Most Popular

Most Recent

Keep in touch

Get design inspiration, business tips and special offers straight to your inbox with our cefBox's letter, out every two weeks.


The Essential Guide to Custom Mailer Boxes

View Details

Unlock the power of custom mailer boxes with our essential guide. Elevate your brand and packaging game effortlessly.


Maximizing your brand’s impact with small mailing boxes

View Details

For e-commerce companies shipping smaller, lightweight products, small mailing boxes present a cost-effective and versatile packaging solution.


Packaging Inserts vs Traditional Marketing Flyers A Cost Benefit Analysis

View Details

Discover the best marketing approach: Packaging Inserts vs Traditional Flyers. Tailor strategies for optimal ROI & audience engagement!