What is Lumpy Mail and Why Should You Use it in Marketing?

What is Lumpy Mail and Why Should You Use it in Marketing?

Read Time: 4 Minutes


13 Nov 2020

According to DMA, direct mail marketing is the most effective marketing technique, with a 4.4% response rate – compared with a measly average response rate of 0.12% for email marketing, that’s a pretty impressive number. But how many times have you thrown away a marketing letter without even opening it? 

You may have heard that something called ‘lumpy mail’ drastically improves this already high response – but what exactly is it? And should your business be investing in something that’s actually referred to as ‘lumpy’? 

As it turns out, yes! Here’s everything you need to know about lumpy mail including what it is, how it can help improve your direct marketing response rates and a few examples and ideas to get those noggin juices flowing.

What is Lumpy Mail?

Lumpy mail is a term used to describe direct marketing mailers that stand out from normal, flat letter, flyer or postcard because of an additional object included to make it ‘lumpy’. 

What you use to bulk out your mailer all depends on your objectives, budget and what your target customer will like or find useful. Lots of people choose to include promotional or branded merchandise, like bookmarks or pens. Others include useful tools like calendars for the new year in a Christmas mailer or a sample of the product they sell.


Why Does Lumpy Mail Work?

In theory, a bulkier shape or heavier/fuller envelope gives the mail more potential value than a standard letter, meaning the recipient is more likely to open it. After all, everyone loves a freebie.

It’s also a case of curiosity getting the better of the cat. What’s making this envelope so lumpy? It’s hard to throw away a letter if you know there’s more than just a standard document in it.

But is the extra cost associated with lumpy mailers worth it? Does having lumps in all the right places make your mailer irresistible? Let’s dive into the statistics…


Lumpy Mail Response Rates & Performance

As we mentioned above, with response rates of around 4.4%, direct mail is a clever investment for your marketing budget. But, when you add a 3D object in an envelope with a flyer or folded leaflet, you create a lumpy direct mailer. Once you have a lumpy direct mailer, it’s not uncommon to see response rate percentages in the double figures. 

In fact, according to the Online Marketing Institute, 3D dimensional mailings outperform standard direct mail formats by 250%, but only increase the cost per lead by 50%. With odds like that, you’re pretty much guaranteed a return on your investment and then some. 

So, now you’ve heard all the pros to this kind of mail, let’s check out some examples of companies who’ve gotten it right over the years.

3 Examples of Lumpy Mail

Want to find a lumpy mailer idea for your next direct marketing campaign? Sometimes the best inspiration comes from those around us. We’ve gathered up some awesome examples of lumpy mail to help you think of new ways to attract attention in the post.

  1. The Economist
    In a recent campaign, international newspaper The Economist used promotional balloons to help bulk their mail out. The balloons featured a brain, which got bigger when the balloon was blown up, cleverly emphasising that reading The Economist can help grow your brain!
    red balloon with a brain that grows when blown up

  2. Nike
    Anything interactive is sure to be memorable, and if it uses more than one of your senses, all the better!

    Sports company Nike sent out shoeboxes in the post – but instead of having shoes inside, they were set up as mini stadiums! And to top it off, they also produced the sound of a crowd roaring when opened.
    football stadium inside a shoe box

  3. Companhia Athletica
    This gym gave out super creative calendars whereby each month, the cut-out person got slimmer and slimmer. Calendars are a great way to bulk out mail – not only is the spiral binding perfect for adding an intriguing lump and heaviness to a mailer, but they’re actually very useful if you send them at the right time of the year!
    weight loss calendars with cut out people getting smaller as the year goes on


>>>Need more? Here are 8 fun examples of direct mail you need to see<<<


More Lumpy Mail Ideas

Here are a few budget-friendly lumpy mailer ideas you can create in no time at all.

  1. Go Mini
    The standard sizes for UK letters are C4 (for unfolded A4 letters), C5 (for A4 letters folded in half) and DL (for A4 letters folded into thirds). The main aim of lumpy mail is to disrupt these norms to get attention, and the simplest way to do that is by dramatically changing the size of your mailer.

    Instead of sending out a card or letter, why not try and send a folded business card instead, maybe with a QR code or link to a landing page to find out more about your campaign?

  2. Samples
    Free samples are a great way to get a customer hooked to your product and wonder how they ever lived without it in the first place – and you’ve probably already got lots of bits around to use as samples without having to spend much more money creating an extravagant mailer.

  3. Promotional Merchandise
    From something as little as a coaster or pen to a branded diary, T-shirt or even a mug, promotional merchandise is one of the most popular things to bulk up your mail with. You also get the added benefit of your brand being out in the open and in front of more eyes when the recipient uses or wears your gifts.


How to Measure Your Lumpy Mail Campaign Success

Direct mail success is notoriously difficult to measure since it’s pretty much impossible to know the open rate – it’s not like envelopes let you know they’ve been opened the way that emails do! 

But, there are a few ways you can measure the impact of your campaign, whether that’s through adding a trackable discount code, linking to a landing page or roughly measuring the performance of what you’re trying to sell with your mailer.

Remember that you might not see results straight away, especially if your customers need to make big purchasing decisions. To keep this in mind, measure the above examples at different intervals, e.g. after 3 weeks, after 6 weeks, after 12 weeks.

So there you have it – everything you need to know about lumpy mail! We can’t wait to see what kind of creations you come up with. Remember to tag us in your pictures on Instagram and Twitter using @instantprintuk or #instantprintuk to show us how you use your print for a chance to be featured on our channels, website, emails and direct mail campaigns that are seen by over 500,000 people in the UK! 


About the Author

Hi, I’m Craig, instantprint’s Marketing Manager. I have a passion for discovering new and innovative ways small business owners can give their marketing a boost.