How to use direct mail to drive website traffic

direct mail drives website trafficIf you want to drive traffic to your website, which media should you use?

Email delivers traffic quickly and at low cost, though open rates can be low. Social marketing shows great potential, but it takes effort to make it work.

Then there’s PPC, banner ads, and other online strategies which deliver varying results. But what about traditional direct mail?

Too many people suffer from an “oil and water” mentality when it comes to mixing online and offline media. But the fact is, they work well together. And when you need to drive online traffic, an integrated approach can often work wonders.

According to the 2009 Channel Preference Study by ExactTarget, direct mail influences 76% of Internet users to buy a product or service online. Better still, direct mail remains the one medium that gives you direct and reliable access to nearly everyone in your target market.

How do you drive web traffic with direct mail? Here are some pointers:

Make a compelling offer. It’s not enough to ask people to visit your website. You need to give them a powerful reason. You do this with a compelling and valuable offer, such as a free trial, seminar, white paper, savings coupons, or sample. It must be something they want, not just something you want them to see.

Use an easy-to-type URL. Unlike email, where you can include a clickable link to your landing page, in direct mail you can only print a URL. Your prospect must type this into a browser. The shorter and easier it is to spell, the easier it will be for people to visit your page. If you create a separate domain exclusively for the promotion, the URL can be much shorter. If you want the landing page on your site, redirect from the unique URL to your page.

Test a personalized URL or pURL. This gets extra attention and creates curiosity. For example, a pURL using my name might look like this: This is easy to type and allows for tight integration of the direct mail piece and landing page for tracking.

Try personalized copy. Just as a pURL gets attention, personalized teasers, headlines, subheads, and body copy attract attention and encourage reading. Use personalization with restraint to avoid the appearance of an over-the-top sweepstakes mailing.

Issue a clear call to action. If you want your prospect to complete a survey, for example, say “Go to and fill out our survey to claim your $100 Savings Coupon.” People are more likely to respond when you specifically tell them what to do.

Push response with a deadline. As in most direct marketing situations, people are more apt to respond immediately when they know they have limited time. With whatever offer you make, state a deadline near the call to action.

Test various formats. Because of printing and postage costs, many people use postcards to drive web traffic. But you can also test self-mailers, flyers, and envelope packages. The amount of pre-sell required should dictate the format. The simpler and more valuable your offer, the less pre-sell you need. Only testing can show you for sure.

Build a special landing page. Generally, it’s not a good idea to drive traffic to your home page. There are too many choices and too many ways for prospects to get lost. By creating a unique landing page and driving people to that page, you can control the message, track response, and collect information for follow-up and future direct marketing efforts.

Capture contact information. A one-time visit offers limited value. Good direct marketing practice dictates that you use their first visit to begin a dialog. And to do that, you must at least ask for their email address and maybe their first name to personalize future communications. Depending on the value of the offer, you might also be able to get full name, mailing address, and other information to build your in-house database.

Should you use email, social, and other online media? Absolutely. But smart business people don’t make decisions based on personal preferences or novelty. They make decisions based on what works.

So if traditional direct mail is working for others, you should test to see if it can work for you as well.

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8 Responses to “How to use direct mail to drive website traffic”

  1. Tracy on August 4th, 2010 10:06 am

    Thanks for the great post and tips. Most importantly is developing the best list of customers and then getting the mail opened and read. We use different mediums to contact our customers and direct them to a website as another way to track the results of a program. Please read our blog on way to get your direct mail opened.

  2. Jodi Kaplan on August 5th, 2010 2:38 pm

    One more tip. Use a fresh list.

    I ran into someone who bought(!) a list and kept using it. A year later, he had a huge pile of returned mail and couldn’t understand why.

  3. Matt Certo on August 5th, 2010 4:17 pm

    Good tips in here. I have been noticing how there is now less physical mail in my stack and more electronic mail than I can consume. I believe it is easier to stand out using snail mail than it once was. Going to re-tweet this.

  4. Dean Rieck on August 5th, 2010 4:25 pm

    You’re right. Mail volume is down. Lots of people using postcards and cheap formats. But I’m seeing some businesses using large formats to take advantage of the lower clutter right now, especially for lead generation and financial products.

  5. Casey on August 5th, 2010 6:08 pm

    I really like the checklist I can create from this in the future.

  6. Lauren on August 13th, 2010 3:50 pm

    This is some great info. I’m actually working on a postcard campaign for a friend right now, and some of these points are things I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.

    If anyone wants to give postcard marketing a try, there’s a giveaway on my blog right now:

  7. [url=]Copywriter[/url] on September 2nd, 2010 4:44 am

    very useful information….thanks…

  8. How to Get Traffic to Your Website Within 2 Hours – Follow These 8 Simple Steps - Marketing Confessions on June 7th, 2012 8:31 am

    [...] Using offline marketing to drive web traffic is probably one of the most overlooked traffic generating methods.  Grab a copy of any business related magazine (Inc, Forbes, Fast Company, etc) and you will likely find several web based companies advertising their services.   Although you probably can’t afford space in one of these national magazines, you can afford space in your local or regional publications. [...]

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