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Direct Mail Marketing Strategies for Political Candidates

2 min read
Direct Mail
Good Party Politics Team · Mar 15, 2024

In today's digital age, it might seem counterintuitive to focus on something as traditional as direct mail for political campaigning. However, direct mail marketing remains a highly effective strategy for political candidates. It provides a tangible connection to voters, allows for targeted messaging, and can be especially impactful in local elections or with demographics that are typically less engaged online. 

Read on for a comprehensive guide to leveraging direct mail marketing strategies for political candidates, complete with practical tips and real-life examples of successful campaigns.

Direct Mail Marketing: Benefits and Best Practices 

Direct mail marketing refers to all of the fliers, letters, and postcards voters receive in the mail every election cycle. It’s campaign material that’s sent directly to a private residence or business from a political candidate or organization. Despite the dominance of digital media in the information age, direct mail marketing remains a powerful tool for reaching and engaging with voters. 

How powerful? 

According to data compiled by the United States Postal Service (USPS) after the 2022 midterm elections:

  • 3.9 billion pieces of political mail were delivered in 2022, a 34% increase over 2018

  • 50% of mailers were sent to suburban homes, 30% to urban residences, and 20% to rural addresses

  • 74% of those surveyed recalled receiving candidate information via direct mail

  • 63% of recipients considered direct mail the most trustworthy form of political advertising

  • 64% of those surveyed say their direct mail reinforced information on candidates received from other sources

The same survey found that direct mail campaigns had the second-highest recall rates (62%), next only to television ads (78%). Direct mail is also more cost-effective than TV advertising. 

Mailers also compelled potential voters to act, with:

  • 60% of recipients following election news more closely

  • 58% of recipients searching online for more information

  • 40% sharing the mailer with a friend or family member

  • 39% deciding to follow the candidate on social media

What’s more, direct mail’s tangible nature, combined with the ability to precisely target recipients, offers several unique benefits and a level of effectiveness that digital channels can't always match.


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To help you get the most out of your political campaign strategy, here are some key benefits and best practices to maximize the impact of your direct mail marketing efforts:

The Benefits of Direct Mail Marketing

In addition to the fact that direct mail advertising is easy and cost-effective to produce, there are more tangible benefits to adding this tried-and-true marketing technique to your campaign’s voter outreach strategy. 

Direct mail is also:

  1. Tangible and Personal: Direct mail offers something physical for voters to hold, making it more memorable and personal compared to digital messages. Believe it or not, this physical presence can lead to a stronger emotional connection with the campaign’s brand or message.

  2. Highly Targeted: With advanced data analytics, you can tailor your direct mail campaigns to specific segments of voters, improving relevance and response rates.

  3. Lower Competition: With fewer politicians using direct mail, your message has a better chance of standing out. The reduced clutter in physical mailboxes versus email inboxes can lead to higher engagement rates.

  4. Measurable: Direct mail campaigns can be easily tracked through unique phone numbers, landing pages, or scannable QR codes, allowing for a clear measurement of ROI.

  5. Compatible with Digital Marketing: Integrating direct mail with digital marketing efforts can amplify the effectiveness of both. For example, you can add your website or social media info to a postcard or flier and send a follow-up email after sending out a direct mail piece to increase voter awareness and conversion rates.

In order to experience the benefits of direct mail political marketing campaigns, it’s important to devise a strategy and use current best practices. 

7 Best Practices for Direct Mail Marketing

  1. Know Your Audience: Understanding who your audience is, what they value, and how they prefer to be communicated with is crucial. Use voter data to segment your audience and personalize the messaging to each target demographic.

  2. Make It Personal: Personalization goes beyond just addressing the recipient by their name. Tailor the content to their interests, pain points, and past interactions to make the message resonate.

  3. Clear and Compelling Design: Your direct mail piece should be visually appealing and easy to read. Use high-quality images, create easy-to-read content, and make sure your key message and call to action (CTA) are front and center.

  4. Strong Call to Action: Be clear about what you want the recipient to do next. Whether it's visiting a website, donating to the campaign, attending a campaign event, or turning up to the polls on election day, your CTA should be unmistakable and compelling. 

  5. Test and Refine: As with any marketing strategy, testing different elements of your direct mail campaign (such as the CTA, design layout, or image) can help identify what works best and improve future campaigns. 

  6. Follow Up: Consider a follow-up strategy to reinforce your message. A phone call, email, or even a second, well-timed piece of direct mail can increase the effectiveness of your campaign.

  7. Ensure Quality Data: The success of your campaign heavily relies on the quality of your mailing list. Regularly update your list to remove outdated information and ensure compliance with any relevant regulations.

By leveraging these benefits and best practices, direct mail marketing can serve as a powerful component of your overall campaign strategy, providing a tangible and personalized way to connect with voters.

A Step-by-Step Plan for Direct Mail Political Advertising

1. Understanding Your Audience

Start by tailoring your campaign message to specific groups within your voter base. Segmentation can be based on demographic information, political affiliations, or issues voters care about, which you can accumulate through email, voter surveys, or analytics from campaign apps and other digital platforms. This ensures that your message resonates personally with each recipient.

Access voter databases to refine your mailing list further. For example, freely available voter registration data can help you target likely supporters or undecided voters more effectively. Various online databases provide this information for national, state, and local elections. 

2. Crafting Your Message

Make sure that your message is clear and concise. Your mailer should communicate your message quickly and effectively. Focus on issues that matter most to your audience. Use verifiable data and specific plans to show how you will address these issues. Create headlines and bullet points to make your key points stand out.

Personalization can significantly increase engagement. Whenever possible, address recipients by name and tailor the message to reflect their interests or concerns. 

3. Designing Your Campaign Mailer

Your mailer should be visually appealing and reflect the seriousness of your campaign. Invest in a professional, eye-catching design. Include images that evoke emotion and align with your message. 

Use real images of yourself, your family, campaign team, and/or voters rather than stock photos. Pictures of the candidate in the community or engaging with constituents can be powerful.

Your mailer should have a clear CTA, urging recipients to vote, donate, or take another specific action. Make sure that it’s prominently displayed, identifiable,  and separate from the other text on the mailer.

4. Optimizing Timing and Frequency

Time your mailers to coincide with key campaign milestones, voter registration deadlines, or just before early voting starts. Remember that consistency is key. Plan a series of mailers to keep your campaign top of mind for voters. However, time them to avoid overwhelming your audience with too much mail.

5. Legal Compliance and Ethical Considerations

Learn and follow all regulations to ensure your mailers comply with all local, state, and federal election laws, including disclaimers and funding statements. Avoid promoting misinformation or disparaging opponents in a way that could backfire. Focus on creating positive messaging and including factual information.

Real-Life Examples of Successful Direct Mail Political Marketing Campaigns

It seems like every election cycle sees an avalanche of mailers coming from various political camps. In a veritable sea of direct mail solicitations, two recent examples stand out:

Barack Obama's 2012 Re-election Campaign: 

This campaign took a multi-faceted approach which leaned heavily on direct mail. Using Big Data analytics, these mailers, many of which featured only a closeup of Obama's face on a dark background, unfolded to reveal facts that were tailored to specific demographics. These messages spoke directly to the recipient’s concerns, such as those targeted toward women highlighting healthcare reform, and contributed to his victory.

Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” Campaign: 

Whatever one’s feelings are about Trump, there’s no denying his branding mastery. The campaign's use of direct mail for his 2016 presidential campaign was able to reach his core demographic in the most traditional and tangible way possible.

Additionally, local candidates often use direct mail to reach voters in their districts, focusing on their stance on education, public health and safety, and other local issues. These campaigns are smaller in scale, but demonstrate the efficacy of targeted direct mail strategies.

Get Started with Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail marketing can be a potent tool in a political candidate's arsenal, especially when integrated with other digital and traditional marketing strategies. By understanding your audience, crafting a compelling message, designing an impactful mailer, and adhering to legal requirements, you can effectively engage voters and potential donors through direct mail. 

Remember, the goal is to create a personal connection with the electorate, motivating community members to support your campaign through votes or donations. With careful planning and execution, direct mail marketing can significantly influence your campaign's success.

Good Party provides free campaign tools for independent, third-party, and non-partisan candidates running for office across the United States. Our suite of tools includes campaign content generators, voter engagement tracking, and other built-in capabilities designed to help you campaign smarter.

Contact us to book a free demo today.


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How to Run for Office
Campaign Messaging
Direct Mail
By Good Party Politics Team
The politics team is focused on transforming the political landscape by promoting transparency, accountability, and positive change. They aim to engage citizens in the political process, encourage informed decision-making, and support candidates who prioritize the common good. Their mission revolves around creating a more fair and just political system, fostering collaboration, and breaking down traditional barriers of partisanship.