5 Ways Schools Can Improve Their Direct Mail Marketing Campaign

Educational institutions have long used direct mail as a mainstay to connect with alumni, gain new sponsors and increase enrollment. How can educational institutions leverage the power of direct marketing mailing lists and improve ROI? The answer: Master the “Five R’s” of direct mail.


1 Revisit your entire marketing strategy
It’s easy to treat every marketing channel as a separate silo, figuring that your school’s Facebook fan page won’t help your direct mailing. However, marketing has a synergistic effect — and cross-promoting your marketing efforts can help boost enrollment and sponsorships. For instance, an athletic department could try to gain sponsors by sending out a direct mail piece. The direct mail piece could promote sponsorship opportunities and include the address of the athletic department’s Facebook fan page. At the same time, the Facebook page could promote sponsorship opportunities. This makes it easy to reach prospects using various touchpoints, both online and offline.

2 Review your past direct mailing list metrics
It’s easy to get so caught up in sending out a direct mail piece that reviewing campaign metrics turns into something “you’ll do later…when there’s more time.” But the question is: How can you figure out how to improve your direct mail campaign if you’re not testing and measuring your results? Test everything – envelope copy, headlines, images, the offer – even the color paper you use. A slight tweak can immediately generate a higher response.

3 Refresh your in-house mailing list
Are you finding that an ever-growing number of your mailers are being returned as undeliverable? One of the easiest ways to increase your mailing list campaign ROI and save on postage is to “clean” your list. According to Alison Lewis the CMO of Johnson & Johnson, “Content needs are exploding as we move to a world of precision marketing and 24/7 engagement.” Mailing list companies can cross-reference your lists with the National Change of Address (NCOA) database, and provide an updated mailing list. This ensures that you can reach supporters and alumni wherever they’ve moved – and that your school saves money on undeliverable mail.

4 Reach out to new recipients
Another great benefit of direct mail: Expanding your marketing reach is relatively inexpensive – and can have a huge impact on ROI. As an example, a private school could purchase a mailing list of people in the next county. Or a university with online class options could even mail their continuing education catalog across the state. It’s important to note that it’s the quality of the mailing list that counts – not the number of recipients on the list. Segment your audience carefully and only send your mailer to your ideal prospect. Depending on your message, sending your mail piece to everyone in a new area may generate a less-than-ideal response rate.

5 Revamp your messaging
One secret to a successful direct mail campaign is personalizing the message to the audience. According to Smarter HQ, 72% of consumers say they only engage with personalized messaging. Consider new ways you can personalize your direct mail piece to make it more powerful. Ask yourself: Does the writing clearly convey your school’s benefits? Is it written in a tone and style that resonates with your target audience? Does the envelope entice prospects to quickly open it – or does it tempt people to “round file” your mailer?


USADATA supports more than 175 colleges and universities nationwide with data and digital services to boost enrollment and to more easily manage alumni databases.

Direct mail can be used as part of a successful marketing campaign for schools to generate leads with focus and tracking, so reach out to us to see how we can help you incorporate this into your strategy! We’re good at what we do, we care, and we’re here to help.


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