From Creative to Targeting, Designing a Holistic Approach to Direct Mail Programs

There is plenty of innovation on the horizon for direct mail in 2022, and one thing Lindsay Donnelly of TLC Political is certain of heading into the heart of this midterm year: direct mail budgets are only headed upward. 

“Come rain or snow or pandemic, the mail was still the most successful, trackable and predictable way for us to communicate with people where they were spending more time [last cycle],” said Donnelly, vice president of advocacy at TLC Political. 

Among her expectations: this year will see a surge in spending for mail in a midterm election and that means campaigns and political organizations need to be positioned to use those dollars wisely. From concept to execution, Donnelly encourages a holistic approach that brings together both the creative and the targeting. 

“So in our process, there is as much science — using eye tracking and personalization, for example — as it is an art form in harnessing highly disruptive creative,” said Donnelly. 

One thing that’s proven fairly consistent across the mail programs TLC Political has run over the past couple of cycles: Concise is better when it comes to text on most mailers and creating a real sense of urgency helps drive voters to action. 

“We’ve had a lot of success with repetition and urgency conveyed in our creative. So not just in words, but also in visual styles,” she said. “When I talk about repetition, I’m talking about design and messaging, so front and back, ensuring we’re consistently beating the drum on a message in a way the audience will remember.” 

The other critical trend for this election cycle: integrating digital into mail programs in a way that actually drives recipients to action. Now that QR codes are in vogue on mailers again, campaigns are using them with frequency. But one important consideration when using them, said Donnelly, is making sure you’re giving recipients a good reason to take that extra step of scanning the code.     

“We found that it helps to spell out for the end user … what they’ll actually get or what they’ll see or what the experience will be” she said. “Because people will take action, but if you’re not clear about what they’re going to [get], they’re far less inclined to do so.”  

A recent whitepaper, released by the United States Postal Service, emphasized this point, citing an uptick in Americans (27%) who visited a website during the election by using the QR code on a mail piece.

Watch our full interview with Donnelly above for more on how her firm approaches integrated mail campaigns and for tips on tracking mail performance. 

To learn how you can better integrate mail into your next campaign, visit