As we explained earlier this month, much more goes into a mail campaign than you might think. It’s a lot to keep track of, whether you’re new to direct mail or have been sending campaigns for years. With so many moving parts, it’s easy for something to accidentally fall through the cracks. So we put together this handy checklist you can use to make sure every element of your campaign is in place.

Getting Started

√        Clarify the purpose of your mail campaign (Answer the question, “What do we want people to do after they receive our mailer?”).

√        Establish a timeline for producing and sending out the campaign.

√        Decide on a budget. This should include funds needed for creative work, list purchasing, printing, and postage.

The Concept

√        Develop a basic design concept.

√        Decide on an offer to include in mailer.

√        Decide how you will measure campaign results.

√        If needed, take photographs or purchase images to incorporate in mailer.

√        Enlist a graphic designer to design the mailer.

√        Enlist a copywriter to write mailer copy.

The List

√        Decide whether you will use a homegrown or purchased list (or some combination of the two.)

√        If you’re using a homegrown list, comb your database to search for outdated, duplicate, or incorrect entries. (You can use a postal software to help you do this.)

√        If you are purchasing a list, define:

  • Your budget for list building
  • The number of people you want to send to
  • The geographic area you want to reach
  • The types of people you want to reach (age, income level, etc.)


√        Send your designed file, along with your mailing list files, to a print shop.

√        Ask to see a proof of your piece with live data.

√        Make corrections to the proof as needed.

√        Purchase postage. (If you are a nonprofit or are sending in bulk, you may qualify for discounts.)

√        Plan for delivery: ensure there are no major holidays that will conflict with your mailers being delivered on time, and take into account how far mailers must travel.

√        Print the mailers.

√        Deliver mailers to the post office.


√        If applicable, follow up on your mailer with another form of outreach, such as an email or a phone call.

√        Keep records as mail recipients redeem their offers. If possible, match redeemed offers to your mailing list: with which groups was your campaign the most successful?

√        Collect results until campaign is complete.

√        Clean up your mailing list based on addresses that have recently changed.

√        Compile a list of “lessons learned” to use for your next campaign.


We get it: even with a checklist, this is a lot to keep straight. Fortunately, you can hand many of these tasks, from design to mailing, over to your printing partner. Even if they can’t do it themselves, they may be able to recommend someone who can.

If you follow these steps to a T—and work with a print partner you trust—you’ll be well on your way to a great mailing campaign.