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As a marketer, you can wear a lot of hats during the day. Because your role may involve social media, email, CRM, automation, direct mail, content, analytics, design, SEO, retargeting and more, sometimes a checklist is a helpful way to keep on track. This is especially true for direct mail, where there can be multiple players involved. 

A direct mail campaign involves planning, creative, production, delivery and review, with many activities under each area. Here’s a description of the important things you’ll need to consider for your direct mail campaign and a checklist to help keep you on track.  


During the planning stage, you will decide on big picture items for your campaign, including budgets, lists, offer development, mail formats and selection of the partners in your direct mail ecosystem. Allow 1-2 weeks for planning activities. 

  • Select your vendors. 
  • Confirm your budget. 
  • Develop your offer and list. 
  • Identify your key performance metrics. 
  • Agree upon your ROI calculator. 


Creative involves your overall creative strategy, development of your creative brief, concepts, copywriting and design work. Allow about 2-4 weeks for creative, which includes time for feedback and revisions of copy and design. 

  • Finalize your creative brief. 
  • Review mailpiece formats. 
  • Develop and select final concepts. 


During production, your mailpiece is prepared and physically produced. This includes data processing and personalization for recipient addresses, and the printing, inserting (if needed), and mail preparation activities (e.g., presorting) before the mailpiece enters the USPS® mailstream. Allow 2-4 weeks for production. 

  • Review proofs and attend necessary press checks. 
  • Discuss any relevant inserting needs with the lettershop. 
  • Finalize how mail will be sorted. 
  • Review indicia. 


Delivery of your mailpiece is dependent on two factors: the price you pay for postage and the distance the mailpiece has to travel. Be sure to review available USPS promotions for potential savings on your campaign. Delivery can take up to 1-2 weeks. 

  • Final review of USPS promotions. 
  • Ensure you are using the class of mail aligned with your objectives. 
  • Communicate final delivery dates to team. 

Campaign Review 

Hooray! You’ve planned, created, produced and delivered your campaign. Now it’s time to assess its performance. While 6-8 weeks can be an ideal time to calculate your ROI, be sure to allow time for any offers to be redeemed so you can factor those into your results.  

  • Finalize your ROI calculation 6-8 weeks after your campaign. 

Tension’s “Planning Your Direct Mail and Integrated Campaigns” White Paper  

Checklists? We love checklists! Download our “Planning Your Direct Mail and Integrated Campaigns” white paper that includes a printable version of this direct mail checklist and more helpful information about planning your campaign. 

Contact Us 

Before you start your next campaign, consult with an expert at Tension who can help you each step of the way.