Direct mail is a way of advertising in which advertisers mail printed ads, letters or other solicitations to large groups of consumers. Bulk-mail rates are used to lower the cost of the mailing, and targeted mailing lists are used to maximize potential response.
Direct mail is used in many different situations, limited primarily by the imagination of the advertiser. Stores typically use direct mail to advertise new products or to distribute coupons. Charities typically use the it to raise money or recruit volunteers. Almost any sales pitch can be made by direct mail.
To create a direct mail mailing, advertisers will work to create an ad that will appeal to a substantial number of people. They will then send it to a large group of people, depending on the potential audience of the ad. That could be a particular area, demographic, or entire nation.
Advertisers have found direct mail appealing for a number of reasons. It takes their message directly to the consumer. While consumers might walk away from a television ad or flip past a newspaper ad, they will eventually open their mailbox. Advertisers also like that they can direct their message as narrowly or broadly as they want, using bulk mailing rates. By receiving the mail at home, direct mail puts the advertiser's message in the hands of the consumer at the time the consumer might be likely to read it, along with the rest of the mail.