Advertising & Marketing

5 Effective Lumpy Mail Ideas for Direct Mail Campaigns

Hi! Welcome! We hope this is a fun read for you. At the end of it we predict you’ll be a lumpy mail fan in particular and a better person in general. This latter part is because doing direct mail right is a gift to humanity. Sure, it’s going to benefit your bottom line—that’s a “you” thing. But when you use lumpy mail rather than a plain old postcard or single-page letter, you’re doing your part to spare direct mail recipients around the world (or the block) from un-fun junk mail and “current resident” refuse—and that’s nothing short of valiant. That’s a “we” thing.

Okay, so now, let’s begin! Here are five tips and lumpy mail ideas that will set you up for success in your next direct mail campaign:

1. Get to Know: What Is Lumpy Mail?

Lumpy mail isn’t smooth. It’s not a postcard or a flat envelope. It’s oddly shaped. It’s mail that’s got something other than a piece of paper in it. Could be a fridge magnet. Or a diamond ring! Who knows? Because we don’t know what the heck’s inside, when we get a piece of lumpy mail we absolutely, positively, without doubt, must open it post haste!

So if you’re considering a lumpy mail campaign, you’re already off to a great start. And remember: Mailing small items in envelopes can be just as lumpy as larger items—as long as they aren’t the same size and thickness as paper. Lumpy is easy!

2. Don’t Believe the Hype: Direct Mail Is Alive and Well

Yes ma’am! Yes sir! Direct Mail works better than ever. Because we’re so inundated with online ads and email, that ol’ mail box is a port in a storm, a welcome respite, like stopping by Mom’s house for dinner. Did you know that young folks really like direct mail? Check out a few stats from Data Marketing & Analytics (DMA) and Print Is Big:

  • Direct mail response rate is currently a whopping 5.1% (compared to 0.6% email, 0.6% paid search, 0.2% online display, 0.4% social media).
  • Direct mail response rate among people aged 18-21 years old is 12.4%.
  • For every $167 spent of direct mail in the US, marketers sell $2,095 in goods—that’s a 1,255% return.
  • 92% of shoppers say they prefer direct mail for making purchasing decisions.
  • Direct mail increases online donations by 40%.

Most important: lumpy mail is opened pretty much 100% of the time. Because whether it’s a pad of custom Sticky Notes or an inflatable beach ball, we just gotta know!

3. Know When to Mail

If you’re thinking about a direct mail piece for customers or prospects, pick the frequency option that suits your marketing goals:

  • One and Done: For occasions like special events, grand openings, one-time fundraisers, and liquidation sales.
  • Drip Campaign: Could be quarterly, monthly, or some other increment. The goal is to keep your name top of mind with seasonally changing offers, opportunities, or new items.
  • Trigger-based Mailing: This mailing comes in response to a specific event like a birthday, big donation, bad customer experience, new prospect, or new purchase.

Whether it’s one time or every month, make your mail lumpy and you’ll love the results!

4. Choose a Compelling Gift

We know people and packages come in all different shapes and sizes. But we think it’s okay to admit that in the case of direct mail gifts, lumpy is best. With that in mind, here are our respectfully submitted ideas on how to achieve the coveted lumpy silhouette (svelte is out!).

Some gifts will fit in a standard #10 envelope and others in a larger envelope, padded envelope, or box.  FYI, if your goal is to get your lumpy giveaway into a #10 envelope, the max size is 6-1/8 inches high X 11-1/2 inches long X 1/4 inch thick.

Here are some lumpy mail ideas that we’ve seen work well in action:

Stress Balls

Irresistible! They can be industry-specific like this Doctor Stress Reliever or Convertible Stress Reliever, or just silly like this Smilin’ Eye Poppin’ Pal Stress Reliever.

Tote Bags

Lightweight, low priced, and always useful, custom tote bags are a slam dunk in a direct mail piece. We like the Foldable Mira Shopper Tote and the Budget Shopper Tote.

Flashlights and Gadgets

Most people love an unexpected gift that turns on or lights up. Check out the Orbit LED Key Ring and the 6 SMD Utility Light Bar.

Bar Tools

When congratulations are in order, the Deluxe Bottle Opener is, as well! Remember to add a paper gift box to your order so the bottle opener doesn’t inadvertently open your envelope en route.


These are gifts that fit in an envelope that’s standard size, but still qualify as lumpy because of the thickness and weight. We like the Oval Magnet 5 3/4″ x 3 3/4″ and the Deluxe No. 10 Envelope Sized Calendar Magnet.


A journal lends a credible, sincere tone to your mailing and your brand. Our favorite is the Meissa Journal with Pen. It’s professional-looking, comes with a pen, and the price is right.

When you customize your mail giveaway, use block letters and contrasting colors (black and orange, yellow and blue) for maximum visibility. You’ll most likely include a letter or one-sheet in your mailing that describes your company and offering, so don’t try to cram too much info into your giveaway imprint. A company name plus a slogan, URL, or phone number is great!

5. How Much Should I Spend?

Lumpy mail has something for every budget. You can spend $.50 a piece or $30. Some guidelines:

  • Hotter the Lead, Higher the Spend: The more qualified the recipient, the more you should spend. You can blanket a whole neighborhood with a logo pen advertising your new deli. But the couple that test drove at your car dealership? For them a logo shirt might be in order.
  • For Regular Mailings, It’s a Marathon, not a Sprint: If you plan to mail regularly (e.g., a drip campaign vs one-and-done mailing), lower ticket items might be more practical budget-wise, and price becomes less important than creativity.
  • Calls to Action Cost Money, Too: When looking at your budget, factor in any special deal or coupon you’re including. Let’s say you’re opening a car wash. You mail a stress ball in the shape of a pig to 1,000 people in the neighborhood offering $10 off their first deluxe car wash. 100% of your recipients open your mail (we’re not kidding—it’s because of the cute and lumpy pig, of course!). Of those, 25% redeem the coupon. That’s $2,500 that you need to factor into your overall ROI.

Whatever your budget, you’re sure to find a lumpy mail giveaway that leads to brand recognition and customer conversions.

A Few Last Lumpy Tips

We work with a lot of small and medium size businesses. Many are pulling off a direct mail campaign on their own or with a small team—and on a tight budget. With that in mind, a few final tips:

  • The post office offers a free tool called Every Door Direct Mail® that will estimate how many recipients are in your target area, and what their age and income are. Play around with the tool to get the brainstorm going.
  • Only send to people whose names you know (avoid “our neighbor” mailings). Direct mail is about creating a personal, emotional engagement. Starting the relationship with “current resident” or the equivalent negates all that right from the jump.
  • Incorporate digital. You’ll get a much higher conversion rate. Could be a QR code, landing page, personalized URL—or simply including an email address or text-friendly mobile number.

Lumpy Is the Way!

We hope you feel great about lumpy mail—and yourself, for sending it! Enjoy pleasing your prospects and growing your bottom line. Let us know your lumpy mail ideas and how you do!

Karleen Wise Andersen

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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