An Ultimate Guide to Automotive Direct Mail Marketing

An Ultimate Guide to Automotive Direct Mail Marketing
27 July, 2023 • ... • 812 views
Sara Kurczyńska
by Sara Kurczyńska

Nothing makes a postcard better than a picture of a car — any automotive direct mail marketer would say. And they have a point! 

When it comes to attracting customers and driving sales, automotive direct mail marketing plays a crucial role. So, let’s dive right into it and explore the world of automotive direct mail. By the end of this guide, you will have all the insights you need to make your direct mail campaigns a roaring success.

What is automotive direct mail marketing?

Automotive direct mail marketing is targeted advertising to potential customers through traditional mail. It involves mailing promotional materials, such as postcards, directly to the prospects’ mailboxes. It is commonly used by car manufacturers, dealerships, and other automotive businesses.

A direct mail strategy makes it easier to capture the attention of the contacts and encourage them to take action. The desired action could be purchasing a vehicle, paying for car cleaning services or repairs, visiting a local industry event, checking recommended resources, etc.

Common direct mail types

There are various types of direct mail that automotive businesses can use. We are going to go over the most popular ones to give you at least a few direct mail ideas.


Postcards are concise and visually appealing. They are also the easiest to manufacture. They help you convey key messages and promotional offers in a compelling and engaging manner.

A promotional postcard from a car dealership
Source: Who’s Mailing What!


Compared to postcards, brochures offer a lot more space. As brochures are foldable, you’ll get 6-8 paper pieces to advertise on. Brochures can provide detailed information about specific car models, including their most important features, performance, and benefits. They also allow each customer to browse through the available options and consider their choices.

A brochure for an Audi A4 launch event
Source: Lauren Bunker


Flyers are an effective direct mail format for automotive businesses as they are versatile and cost-effective. Flyers are made of thinner paper and are generally larger than postcards (8.5 x 11 inches compared to 4 x 6 inches). They are great for bulk sending and general advertising. But if you want your contacts to save the direct mail piece for later, it’s better to opt for postcards. With bold headlines, eye-catching graphics, and concise information, flyers can grab the attention of potential customers and generate immediate interest.

A flyer template for a car rental company
Source: Sanzida Afrin on Behance


Catalogs provide an extensive overview of the automotive products and services offered by a business. They are more comprehensive than brochures, featuring a range of car models, accessories, and related offerings.

A BMW catalog
Source: Pierre-Yves Linot’s website

Benefits of direct mail in the automotive industry

While it might seem outdated, direct mail marketing is still effective. In fact, automotive direct mail marketing offers several advantages for any business in the industry. It makes it possible to connect with a potential customer directly and outsmart the competition. Direct mail offers resources and possibilities that other types of advertising don’t have.

High ROI

In the long run, direct mail is a very cost-effective marketing strategy. While email marketing campaigns have a 36% return on investment, the return on investment of direct mail campaigns can be as high as 112% for letter-sized envelopes. 

High response rates

Direct mail often yields higher response rates compared to other marketing channels. The physical nature of direct mail captures attention and encourages recipients to take action. In the United States, the average response rate for direct mail campaigns was 9% while email, paid search, and social media marketing each had a 1% response rate. Additionally, personalized offers or incentives included in the mail can further enhance response rates. The most common ones include discounts on car cleaning or other services or auto parts. 

Tangibility and brand awareness

Direct mail has a physical, tangible presence that stands out in the digital-first world. Customers are more likely to remember a brand that sent a scratch-off postcard than one with a simple email. 

For example, this Volkswagen pop-up direct mail piece is memorable and attention-grabbing:

A promotional flyer from Volkswagen with a pop-up red carpet fence
Source: Pinterest

By repeatedly putting a specific brand name in front of the target audience, an automotive business can increase brand recall. When a recipient ends up having to buy a vehicle or car products, that brand will most likely come to mind.

Moreover, half of the consumers sometimes or often share direct mail pieces with friends and family. It means that even when you target one particular person, your promotion is actually more widespread. 

Targeted approach and personalization

With direct mail service providers like Every Door Direct Mail in the United States, automotive businesses can target specific demographics or individuals based on factors such as location and age. This way, direct mail can reach people who are likely to be interested in purchasing a vehicle or specific services. For example, you can target young adults with used car deals.

Plus, direct mail can be personalized with the customer’s name and birthdate using variable data printing. Such a personal touch helps build trust and engagement with potential customers and increases the chances of conversion.

Chevrolet sent a highly-personalized direct mail piece addressing the customer by name and provided vehicle and reward points information:

A personalized direct mail piece with the customer’s name, vehicle model, and loyalty points
Source: Who’s Mailing What!

Direct mail and digital marketing

Using email marketing for small business marketing operations, as well as other forms of digital marketing has become commonplace. Why not combine digital marketing with direct mail marketing? By doing so, automotive businesses of all sizes can achieve even greater results.

But how should you go about it? In case you want to mix direct mail and digital marketing, here are a few useful ideas to look into.

QR codes

If you are wondering how to collect emails for email marketing, why not incorporate QR codes in direct mail products? To give an example, you could use a QR code for a lead generation form. Such integration would bridge the gap between an offline mailing experience and an online one. Aside from that, it would provide a potential customer with a convenient way to engage with you further.


By capturing data from website visitors, automotive businesses can craft targeted direct mailers to reach out to potential customers in a more tangible way. It ensures that every potential customer continues to see the brand’s message, products, and services across different touchpoints. In the long run, it also increases the chances of conversion.


This is another effective strategy for automotive direct mail marketing campaigns. For example, imagine that a customer expressed interest in purchasing a specific car model. A well-designed direct mail piece can showcase the various add-on features or higher trim levels available for that model. By highlighting the benefits and value of these upgrades, automotive businesses can entice customers to consider spending more and upgrading their purchases.

Automotive direct mail can be complemented by email marketing. With Selzy, you can send marketing campaigns using car sales email templates, track analytics, and send follow-up emails to further engage your prospects.

Starting an automotive direct mail marketing campaign step-by-step

To launch a successful automotive direct mail marketing campaign, follow a systematic approach. Start with gathering data on who you want to target. Then, come up with a creative design and invest in personalized mailing pieces. Finally, execute the campaign and measure its results.

  1. Audience research

Before you start creating any direct mail materials, you need to figure out who you are targeting. So, conduct market research to identify the demographics, preferences, and needs of potential customers. Then, use it to guide the campaign messaging, design choices, and overall strategy.

  1. Design & creativity

Invest in eye-catching and creative designs that align with your company image and messaging. For instance, you could design a promotional flyer that has interactive elements, such as a scratchcard. It will really stand out compared to every other envelope in recipients’ mailboxes.

Kia came up with an interesting winter-themed direct mail campaign. At first, it appeared to be just an ice-covered windshield of a car. But the ice can be scratched off, revealing a promotion:

A picture of a promotional flyer from Kia with a person’s hand scratching it off with a coin
Source: Pinterest

In addition, come up with visually appealing mailing layouts, use high-quality images, and write persuasive copy. It can help capture attention and generate interest, as well as show potential customers that you are a trustworthy and professional business. Check out Selzy’s direct mail design tips for inspiration.

  1. Data & personalization

Next, use customer data to create personalized direct mail materials. For instance, imagine that you are sending a postcard to a friend. Make sure to address the recipient by name and incorporate purchase history or customer preferences into the direct mailing’s content.

It might seem excessive, but it really is worth the hassle. According to recent data, personalization lifts revenues by 5 to 25%

  1. Execution & delivery

Now, you do not want to handle the execution and delivery of a direct mail campaign alone. So, partner with a reputable direct mail service provider and prepare for the launch of the campaign.

First, check whether the mailing list you are about to use is accurate and up to date. Second, coordinate with the provider to schedule the mailings effectively. Third, track each batch of mailings and ensure that everything goes according to plan.

  1. Measurement & analysis

After launching the campaign, track and analyze its results. In the case of direct mail campaigns, you could monitor clients’ phone calls to a dedicated line, customer purchases, or website traffic in the days following the delivery of any direct mail materials. 

Then, analyze that data and evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign. Calculate its ROI, response rate, and other metrics. If possible, identify areas for improvement. Later on, you can use these insights to ensure the success of your future direct mail campaigns

Automotive direct mailing best practices

In the following section, we will explore the best practices for automotive direct mailing campaigns that drive business growth.

Provide value

Ensure that any direct mail materials you send offer something valuable to the recipient. The value could be exclusive offers, discounts, and useful resources. Note that an attention-grabbing offer or promotion motivated 64% of people to take action. 

Take a look at this postcard from a parts shop:

A promotional flyer containing a 25% discount
Source: Who's Mailing What!

The flyer contains a big discount. It is presented using a large, black font that contrasts with the yellow background. As a result, it is very eye-catching.

Take advantage of special occasions and holidays

What about leveraging special occasions and holidays to create targeted direct mail campaigns? To give an example, you could send out a postcard with a special discount centered around Memorial Day. Here’s one from an auto repair store in New York:

A promotional flyer from a car dealership centered around Memorial Day
Source: Who's Mailing What!

Another occasion is your company’s anniversary. To celebrate, you can offer discounts or gifts with purchases. All in all, aligning the messaging of marketing campaigns with certain events or times of the year is a great marketing practice. It makes them more likely to resonate with prospects.

Highlight your recommendations

In your automotive direct mail marketing campaigns, make sure to highlight your recommendations to guide potential customers. Showcase popular or top-selling car models with their key features and benefits, along with any special promotions or discounts available. 

Here’s how a car dealership from Georgia, US did it:

A mailer with exclusive Black Friday deals featuring several car model photos with prices for lease or purchase
Source: Alexis Drake on Behance

They decided to celebrate Black Friday with a special offer. To make it more attractive, they listed out six different car models the direct mail recipient might be interested in buying or leasing. Each model is listed with its full name and an attractive photo, as well as its very attractive price. It makes this direct mail pretty eye-catching.

Distribute postcards

As mentioned above, postcards are an attractive and cost-effective direct mail option. The concise format allows for quick reading and increases the chances of recipients engaging with the content. Almost 80% of marketers find postcards very or moderately successful in their direct mail marketing.

Additionally, postcards do not have to be sent in envelopes. So, opting for postcards can lower the overall cost of a direct mail campaign.

A promotional postcard from Toledo Auto Care
Source: Who's Mailing What!

Use personal information

Using the recipient’s first name on a promotional postcard makes you appear more human. You could also present loyal customers with birthday discounts. Or, take into account each customer’s location to recommend your nearest car showroom, service center, or parts shop. Such personal touches can add to a company’s brand image. It makes your relationship with customers more personal.

This Hyundai direct mail piece includes a map and details of the nearest dealerships to the recipient:

A direct mail piece from a Hyundai dealer with dealership locations and a coupon
Source: Who's Mailing What!

Reward loyalty

In the world of automotive direct mail marketing, it’s essential to recognize and reward customer loyalty. By showing appreciation for your existing customers, you can foster long-term relationships and encourage repeat business.

Chevrolet dealership celebrated a year since a customer’s purchase with a special direct mail piece. It addresses its recipient by their name and even lists the car’s model. All this makes the message more personal. Plus, to sweeten the anniversary, the dealership offers a service gift certificate:

A flyer from a Chevrolet dealership containing a discount and personal information
Source: Who's Mailing What!

Write a clear call-to-action

Every direct mail piece should have a clear and compelling call-to-action. Whether it is visiting a showroom or scheduling a test drive, make it easy for recipients to understand what they should do next. 

For instance, the flyer below encourages its recipient to book a service appointment:

A flyer from a Hyundai dealership with a clear call to action
Source: Pinterest

Final thoughts

In conclusion, automotive direct mail services are a powerful tool for connecting with potential customers. By combining the tangible nature of direct mail with targeted messaging and personalization, an automotive company can achieve remarkable results. Now, here are four key points to remember:

  • Personalize and target direct mail materials to increase engagement and response rates. 
  • Make sure that each mail stands out. For example, use a custom envelope or a postcard with an eye-catching design.
  • Integrate direct mail with digital marketing strategies. This way, you create a seamless multichannel customer experience.
  • Continuously measure and analyze each campaign’s performance. Use it as an opportunity to find ways to maximize the results of future marketing campaigns.

With the above-mentioned principles in mind, any automotive company can unlock the full potential of direct mail marketing. So, get started today, and begin attracting customers while driving business growth!

Article by
Sara Kurczyńska
Sara Kurczyńska is an experienced content writer from Poznań, Poland. She enjoys writing about digital marketing, as well as playing video games and petting her fancy rats. In her spare time, you can find her birdwatching and taking long walks around the local parks and forests.
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