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April 8, 2024

Direct Mail for Elections: How it Shapes Political Campaigns

Throughout American history, targeted direct mail has always been instrumental in shaping public opinions in the country.

It began in 1835 during the abolitionist movement when the American Anti-Slavery Society (AAS) mailed abolitionist papers to Southern leaders. Their actions spurred lasting discussions about slavery that continued for decades and resulted in its abolition.

Targeted direct mail campaigns remain a powerful tool for swaying public opinion today, which is why politicians still use them for elections. In fact, the 2022 midterm election cycle alone saw 62% of registered voters receiving political campaign direct mail weekly.

Now that the 2024 elections are on the horizon, you should consider leveraging direct mail in a political campaign to engage voters more effectively.

What is Direct Mail?

Direct mail involves sending messages outside digital platforms by delivering print materials directly to individuals' mailboxes. Despite being a traditional mode of communication, it's witnessing a modern resurgence, especially in retail, advertising, and politics.

Campaign budgets are usually tight, so you might find online channels as more attractive platforms for your message. However, what they don't offer is tangibility. By contrast, direct mail is more engaging and memorable, with 75% of voters perceiving mail as a helpful starting point in learning who to vote for.

Direct mail is also instrumental in influencing public opinion about candidates. Take Citizens Behind the Badge's recent campaigns, for example. Using an appealing cover page, a survey, and a letter, the organization effectively communicated its qualms about how some politicians treat police.

5 Ways Direct Mail Shapes Political Campaigns

Despite being an ancient strategy, direct mail still benefits political candidates worldwide by providing the following advantages.

1. Instills more emotional messaging

Direct mail excels at conveying emotional messages that resonate with voters. Receiving physical campaign material feels more personal than scrolling past a post on social media. The younger generation agrees, with 75% of millennials finding personal mail more special than digital messaging.

2. Enables highly targeted campaigns

Direct mail doesn't fall behind its digital competitors in delivering tailored messages. Using voter data, you may craft personalized content that addresses specific concerns and increases audience engagement. For instance, if one county has a higher poverty rate than the rest, you could send them mail presenting solutions to their problem to make them feel heard.

3. Boosts credibility and trust

Misinformation is rampant during election seasons, so you should establish trust with your audience. Thankfully, direct mail carries a sense of authenticity as the resources you spend to produce and deliver mail boost your message's credibility. In fact, direct mail is seen as a powerful tool for campaigns since 57% of Virginia voters believe it’s more trustworthy than TV or online advertising.

4.  Offers high open rates

Recipients are more likely to notice and engage with your content when they arrive in mailboxes. Direct mail enjoys a 90% open rate—surpassing social media and email, which recipients can easily miss. This figure ensures increased visibility for your campaign, making it more likely for potential voters to hear about and remember it.

5. Reinforces other strategies

Reiterating messages from social media, emails, and speeches through direct mail enhances overall campaign impact by creating a cohesive narrative across multiple touchpoints. 

5 Best Practices for Direct Mail for Elections

These practices can help you maximize your political campaign's full potential and better resonate with your voters.

1. Plan your campaign

No campaign is successful without a plan. A well-thought-out strategy ensures you allocate resources efficiently and align the mail with your overarching campaign themes. First, define your goals: do you want to discuss pressing issues or make the candidate more visible to the masses? Once you have an answer, it's time to determine your message and establish a mail distribution timeline.

2. Design with voters in mind

Your materials shouldn't only align with the candidate's plans but also resonate with your target audience's preferences. So, consider the latter's demographics and cultural nuances. For instance, if you plan to send materials to a religious group, avoid using potentially offensive language or symbols in your design.

3. Keep messages personal

Your materials should relate to your recipients. So, address their concerns using conversational language and avoid formal tones to demonstrate a genuine understanding of the community's needs. It also lets your candidate build stronger emotional bonds with voters, making their message more impactful and memorable.

4. Target the right people

Your direct mail campaign's effectiveness hinges on delivering to the right audience. Fortunately, here is where voter data and segmentation come in handy. Tailor your campaign materials to resonate with each segment's distinct characteristics. In effect, you can optimize your resources and ensure that the right messages reach people most likely to engage.

5. Test your materials

Finally, before launching a full-scale direct mail campaign, use a focus group to experiment with your design and identify what resonates most with your target audience. You could experiment with other types of printing products that are sustainable which might appeal more to some audiences than the typical poster or letter.

This method lets you refine your campaign based on real-world feedback. As a result, you can ensure that your final output is the most compelling you can produce.

Engage Voters through Direct Mail

Direct mail remains a unique opportunity for political candidates to connect with voters on an emotional level and convey messages with lasting impact. For the printing and packaging industry, it emphasizes the continued demand for high-quality and innovative print materials. So, consider investing in direct mail—it could be the secret to your candidate's triumph.

The 2024 presidential elections are just around the corner, and now is an excellent time to prepare for your direct mail campaign materials. Choose tried-and-tested printing services from Intermedia Print Solutions, from events marketing to outdoor banners, to help you build a successful political campaign.

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