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Why Does 3D Direct Mail Stand Out


Why Does 3D Direct Mail Stand Out?

In this article, we talked with 3D Mail Results about the industries 3D items work best for, customers’ reactions to 3D products in their mail, and ways of reaching the right audience.

This time, I had a Q&A (over email) with Travis Lee, Co-Founder and President of 3D Mail Results. 3D Mail Results helps direct mail marketers increase the return on investment of their direct mail with creative, unique, and clutter-busting 3D mail products and grabbers.

As you might expect, most of the questions and answers center on the role of using 3D physical items in direct mail. He sums up the usefulness of them this way:

It’s so much more interesting than flat mail and often the items are truly useful, so it’s like a gift.

Travis LeePresident
3D Mail Results

These are just a few of the topics we covered:

  • What industries 3D items work best for
  • How customers react to getting a 3D product in their mail
  • Reaching the right audience
  • Two BIG mistakes companies make with their direct mail
  • Why direct mail still works today

Here are the questions and answers (edited for clarity and space):

  • Please introduce yourself, your background, and let our readers know what your company is and what it does.
[I] started the business in 2008 with [my] father, Keith. [He] had used 3D mail to grow his first business, American Retail Supply, but finding new and exciting items to mail became difficult. In May 2007, we hatched a crazy idea to start a business where we would supply all the grabbers and items a business would need to implement hugely successful 3D mail campaigns. Our “Origin” story can be found here.

We offer full-service mail house fulfillment capabilities. We can supply the item(s), print your sales material, fold/insert, affix postage and deliver to the post office. We’re your one-stop-shop for all your 3D mail and direct mail needs. We offer a full range of printing options as well. Just contact us with your ideas, we can make it happen.

  • What are the advantages of using “urgent” or “express” envelopes? Are they more effective for acquisition or lead generation?

In any marketing media, the first and biggest hurdle is to first gain attention and ensure you hook the reader or listener … getting your envelope opened and the first few sentences of your sales letter read. The uniqueness of these items will often increase open rates and help overcome that first hurdle.

You still need a great offer matched to the mailing list; it can’t fix that, but they will increase open rates, and almost always bump response rates.

In B2C, we typically use these for acquisition mailers, usually in an industry where actions can be “time-sensitive.” Attorney’s mailing to unrepresented individuals who have been sued in civil court, or a mortgage broker offering refinancing on currently low rates, etc., though they aren’t exclusive to that. I’ve had dentists’ mail as appointment reminders. If you want your mail opened, these are a great start.

In B2B these are great for lead generation and lead conversion. We often use the 9”x12” version in this instance. Nobody sends a 6”x9” priority mail envelope to a business, it’s always 9”x12”.

express direct mail

  • Are there industries that 3D mail is well-suited for? Which ones?

It works best in industries with one of two offerings (or both!): a high(er) transactional value, or a high lifetime value.

  • The attorneys and mortgage professionals mentioned above.
  • SAAS businesses and service providers which lend themselves to monthly/yearly recurring revenue
  • B2B where you need to reach a decision-maker with gatekeepers and multiple layers between the business and the prospect

More on this topic in the question below.

  • Is 3D mail relevant at every stage of the customer journey or there are stages it serves more effectively for (like awareness or retention)?

It can work, generally, at all stages of the customer journey. But we do make changes to the types of 3D mail we use. Generally, we use the lesser expensive pieces during lead generation or initial offering. We’ll often use fake or foreign banknotes, express envelopes, items like that.

fake or foreign banknotes

And while 3D mail works well for lead generation, it probably works best during conversion, upselling, cross-selling, etc to leads and existing clients. Most businesses should get the best response, and ROI from their leads and customer list.

For example, many of our clients put on “customer appreciation” – type events, or seminars, these are great opportunities to use 3D mail.

  • What type of reactions do your customers say they get from using your 3D mail products?

It’s almost always a laugh or funny story about it arriving in the mail. Most find it funny. Sure, very few think it’s corny and unprofessional (and if people can’t have a laugh once in a while, I don’t want them as a customer).

It is true that some people won’t like it, and if that’s not OK with you, don’t use it. However, in our experience, we’ve found that most people really appreciate and enjoy receiving 3D mail.

Why? Because it’s so much more interesting than flat mail and often the items are truly useful (so it’s like a gift), making 3D mail a great way to move from an unwelcome pest to a welcome guest in the eyes of your prospects.

  • Is there a difference between headlines or other design elements that should be used on 3D mail products vs. regular, simple mail?

There’s really only one “rule” with using 3D mail vs. traditional direct mail and your question hit the nail on the head. In the vast majority of cases, you’ll want to tie in the 3D mail piece you’re sending to the headline, in some way. You’ll also want to address it earlier in the letter to “pay off” the reader for their time and tying the theme together. People love the closed loop!

Other than that, it’s no different than any other direct mail media. I often tell people if they have a “flat” letter that is seeing declining response, test a comparable 3D mail piece and you’ll often get a bump in response.

  • 3D mail is not a cheap option. So how can you make sure your 3D mail reaches the right customers (those most likely to convert)?

(This, and the biggest mistake #1 answer below go hand in hand)

Like any direct mail campaign, it all starts with the list. Use basic list hygiene, clean/dedupe your list, etc.

See my answer about “shotgun” mailing below in the next question. That’s the biggest thing, KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER, because we can almost always find a list for that exact person.

If running a dream 100 campaign in the B2B space, we often find it very valuable to make an outbound call first to confirm the person you’re targeting is the correct person, and if they are still in that role in the company.

  • Speaking of direct mail overall, from your point of view, what’s the biggest mistake companies make with their direct mail?

#1 – For most businesses, too broad a message to an overly broad audience. We know so much about potential buyers now, there’s no need to run a shotgun approach to direct mail. If you want vegan moms who mountain bike, direct mail can find you that prospect.

While there are certainly businesses that can make direct mail work with an “EDDM” approach, we find that sending LESS mail to a more TARGETED list will usually win out for most businesses.

#2 – They don’t test. They expect to hit a home run on their very first at-bat. They don’t tweak, test, try new lists, new offers etc. In this regard, they are too narrow-minded.

  • What is the best value proposition for direct mail … why does it still work so well today?

There’s way less competition compared to 10-15 years ago. With so many businesses going digital, the costs there, in most industries, have gone up and are extremely crowded in competitive environments.

But people still check their mailbox, and they read what’s inside. Via direct mail, you can arrive uniquely, in a ‘setting’ where you’re not surrounded by all your competitions (online), and have a conversation with them, not shout at them like a carnival barker.

Thank you again, Travis, for your insights! To learn more about 3D Mail Results, visit

Your comments and ideas are very important to us in making your Who’s Mailing What! experience even better for you. Through these engaging talks, we hope you’ll take away practical tips, insights, and stories to inspire and build your own success.

If you have any feedback — or are interested in sharing your expertise with our wide and diverse audience — please reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you!

Direct Mail Evangelist

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