What I learned from my first direct mail campaign

For direct mail post

Recently at work, I oversaw the smooth launch of my first direct mail campaign.

I didn’t write the copy for the letter that went out, but I was responsible for making sure it was going to the right people and it got sent out on time.

This was my first direct mail campaign, so mistakes were inevitable. I thought I’d talk about them here so you could learn from my slip-ups.

Sort out your addresses

For any direct mail campaign, you’ll have to do a mail merge. This involves importing names and addresses from an Excel spreadsheet onto your letter in Word.

When I first looked at my spreadsheet, I saw all the addresses had been written out in full in one column, like so:

direct mail spreadsheet example

I didn’t think much of this, until it came to transferring the information onto the letter.

As the full addresses were in one column, they camp up in one row on the letter’s address bar. To fix this, I had to break apart all the addresses over several columns in Excel. And I will be doing this in all my future campaigns.

Putting your addresses in several columns will seem like a tiring process, but this does pay off later. 

Keep a generic letter  

Before you print out your letters, make sure you save a version with a generic address bar. Something that reads like so:


Job title

Address 1

Address 2



Show this version to the people who will approve or suggest any changes to the copy or design.

DO NOT print copies of the letter that are going out to your audience until you have been given the go ahead. I did, only to be told I needed to make several changes to the copy.

I wasted hundreds of sheets of paper, and as these all had addresses on them they couldn’t just be thrown away. Each individual letter had to be shredded, which took up a lot of time. I won’t be doing this again.

Your first time

If you’re ever involved in a direct mail campaign, I hope you can learn from my pitfalls. If you’ve ever been part of a campaign, what mistakes did you make during your first time? Feel free to share your mishaps in the comments section below.


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