The Dilemma that is Direct Mail

Direct Mail has the opportunity to play a significant role in your campaign. A well run Direct Mail campaign has the potential to differentiate you from your competitors, while ensuring that the resources invested provide a more than adequate return.

Direct Mail campaigns must marry various appropriate aspects of your campaign - a misjudged campaign could have the result of draining valuable campaign resources, while not delivering the levels of engagement that you would expect.

In this article, we're going to discuss the different aspects of a Direct Mail campaign, and make sure that you get yourself on the right track, and have the biggest impact!

A Direct Mail campaign does not have to be expensive. The campaign will pay dividends or equivalent scale to the resources you dedicate to it. The scale of our campaign, will depend on the quantity of two key resources we dedicate to it:

  • Funds
  • People Power

Any campaign will require a mixture of both. However, either of these can be reduced to negligible levels by increasing the input of the other by a comparative amount. This is true whether it is a small, or large scale direct mailing campaign. We will be applying these two resources in three areas:

  • Data
  • Literature
  • Delivery


This covers a broad range of data points that may or may not be relevant to your campaign:

  • Geography
  • Voters Support Preference
  • Voter Interests

This information can often be purchased from marketing vendors, or those that deal exclusively with political campaigns. However, this information may be incomplete, or not as up to date as you would wish. Alternatively, with time, you can update a purchased voter file, or you can even build one from scratch. Your campaign will likely choose some level in between these two extremes, with due consideration to your resource budget.

In particular, Voter Interest data can be hard to come by, and compiling it yourself may well be the only option, and should be a key part of your data acquisition initiative - not to worry though, as long you intend canvassing in the run up to the election, Ecanvasser can help you with this!

Literature:You may opt to have flyers, or some other form of glossy literature printed, and this can be a great way of ensuring that your message is eye-catching. That said, there's also something to be said for professional, and understated! If printing costs appear to be too much of a resource drain, perhaps you might be able to opt for a simple letter? These can be printed by the 1,000 on standard printers, and aside from the the paper and ink, you'll just require a few volunteers to work on putting the letters into envelops.

It's also worth considering that varying your messaging style can also have benefits and help your message get through an information saturated voter at election time. If you are doing multiple mail-shots, consider making one of them the letter/envelope style, and you'll be able to keep some extra money in reserve, while also shaking up your message.

Delivery:While in large scale campaigns, in particular, having your mail-shot delivered by the mail is the norm, this may not be an option for all candidates. If this is a concern for you, consider having your volunteers deliver your direct mail by hand - this is particularly effective if they have access to transport, and when using the letter/envelope method outlined above. While it may seem that this would only be an option for the smallest of campaigns, this is not the case - your ability to do so will relate directly to the depth of your campaign team, in relation to the scale of your mailing.


In designing your Direct Mail campaign, you will have to marry the available resources with the required expenditures. Below, we will run through three very different Direct Mail campaigns, each implemented in very different ways due to the available resources. We'll also give a brief run through of each, so as to explain how each campaign managed to utilize what they had to be available, effectively.

Before we run through the above examples, you may believe that these do not apply exactly to your campaign exactly, and this would be quite possible. You might be limited in one resource, but able to make up for it due to a bountiful supply of another; and this is what stratigizing prior to implementation is all about. Consider your resources, as well as how you are willing to spend them, and then design an effective Direct Mail strategy that will work for your campaign!

Stream 1 - SmallIn this instance, our campaign may either be quite a small local campaign, or else we may have found ourselves in a larger campaign, but we are somewhat resources shy. As such, you might think that a Direct Mail campaign is out of your reach; however, this does not have to be the case. While we will not be able to run a large scale Direct Mail campaign, we can run a highly targeted Direct Mail campaign, that will:

  • not be resource heavy
  • can deliver a significant push, when and where we need it

As we move down the infographic, we can see that the delivery method this campaign opted for was via Volunteer Drop. In this instance, opting for the letter/envelope option outlined in prior in this article will greatly help keep costs down. It's also possible, particularly if your Volunteers have access to transport, to spread your campaign broadly across your electoral area (to specific individuals).

We can see that with limited data available to us we can push delivery to our known supporters, or those voters we have had particularly good contacts with (if we recorded this information during the course of our canvass). This type of Direct Mail campaign is perfect:

  • as part of a GOTV campaign
  • as an extra push/contact in a particular geographic area of interest
  • to keep contact with voters occasionally between elections

Stream 2 - MediumHere, we have a somewhat greater pool of resources from which to draw. As such, we can now mount a Direct Campaign that will:

  • Require a level of investment, both in terms of money and people

Given the larger scale of our operation, it has likely become necessary that we will be required to have our literature delivered via the national mail service, or courier. This is often not as expensive as you might expect, as many have bulk discounts that may apply to you - it's always worth checking for a quote!

With regards to Data, given the larger scale of our campaign, we are now in a position to not only contact our known/active supporters; or blanket an specific area, but in a position to individualize our direct mail. By ensuring that we properly record our canvasses in the period prior to the Direct Mail campaign, we have the ability to ensure that voters receive a personalized piece of literature that will appeal to them. You can find out more about the practicalities of implementing this type of data gathering via the link at the bottom of this article.

This type of campaign will require that larger investment, but it also allows you a greater return. Given our canvass gathered the required data, we can ensure that our Direct Mail campaign targets the exact segments we wish to - and not spend our campaign funds on mailing opposition supporters, or those unlikely to vote, or unregistered.

We're now at the level of carrying out a broad, yet significantly targeted campaign. This type of Direct Mail campaign is perfect:

  • as part of a GOTV operation
  • for trying to win over a particular segment of voters (perhaps prime voters, or swing voters)
  • as a substitution canvass in a geographic area that you may not have the resources require to canvass physically (you might not win new voters; but it will help shore up those who are already sympathetic to you!)
  • post canvass follow ups

Stream 3 - LargeIn this example, we have much greater resources available to us - this does not mean, however, that we are willing to squander those resources. We may apply them much more broadly, though we should still aim to put due consideration into how we do just that.

Given that we are now targeting the majority of voters in our electoral area; we will be relying entirely on a postal service/courier. Our data might not just have been provided by our canvassers in the weeks and months prior, and we may well have purchased information from a Market Research firm, or a company that deals exclusively in electoral data. This too allows us to ensure a high level of individuality in our literature, and avoid sending literature to stalwart opposition supporters.

Design your Strategy

  • Take stock of your resources
  • Determine what type of literature you will use
  • Consider how you will obatin your data
  • Decide upon a delivery method
  • See who this will allow you to target

Finally, it's also worth remembering; the above streams will not only cross over depending on your own campaigns situation. In the course of the election, you may end up sending out literature multiple times; and you can vary between strategies between mail shots. In order to get the best and most efficient results, be sure to sit down and broadly work out your campaign as early as possible!

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