Direct mail works for Amazon too


We’ve entered the biggest shopping season of the year, and online sales are more prevalent than ever. And who is King of that digital domain? Amazon.

Amazon has made its mark as an online storefront for everything you need, want, and can’t live without. Not just products, but services (free shipping and free grocery delivery!) and content (movies, music, e-books, and more) have all come to fall under the Amazon umbrella.

But, despite Amazon’s massive digital presence, sometimes they still need to turn to offline channels to get their message across. One of those channels is direct mail, like this letter Tom received with a special sign up offer for Amazon Music Unlimited.

Amazon & Direct Mail: A Case Study

Amazon Direct Mail letter and envelope

Amazon’s recent mailing consists of an envelope and a single sheet letter. The offer: sign up in a limited window of time and receive 4 months of Amazon Prime Music Unlimited for $0.99.

A letter in an envelope is the most personal format for communicating via direct mail. However, it comes with one consideration. Before your audience can read and act on your messaging, you’ve got to get them to open the envelope.

To encourage this, we often advocate for printing a compelling teaser or tagline on the envelope. But in this case, aside from the postal permit and the address block, the only printing on the envelope is the Amazon logo.

Amazon Direct Mail Envelope

This may seem obvious—of course Amazon is going to put their logo on their mail, right? But what stands out is, they don’t need to print anything else to entice interest. Simply the fact that you’ve received a physical piece of mail from Amazon, one of the largest online companies in the world, is curious, if not striking on its own.

The letter succinctly outlines the offer, a bulleted list of the benefits of the unlimited music service, and the fact that the offer is only available for a short period of time. On the back side of the letter, Amazon has provided a helpful table showing what Prime members, who are receiving this letter, are currently getting with Prime Music, compared to what they could be getting with Amazon Music Unlimited.

Why is Amazon Sending Direct Mail?

While we don’t know all of the data that went in to developing this mail piece and determining who it was sent to, we can make a few calculated guesses.

Young woman listening to music on cell phone
This direct mail piece accompanied a digital advertisement made through Amazon’s music app. (Music photo created by freepik –

This letter started out as a digital offer, made through the Amazon Prime Music app. The popup ad was seen and clicked out of several times before the direct mail piece appeared in Tom’s mailbox. So, the letter works as an additional touchpoint and follow up piece to that ad. However, the offer is also successful as a standalone marketing letter.

We could conclude that the letter mailing was sent to Prime members who had seen and clicked out of the ad a certain number of times. I find popup ads invasive and annoying, and I’m sure many of you do, as well. Possibly this letter was sent to those Prime members who had seen the ad, but not clicked, as Amazon felt they had a better chance of breaking through the noise with a physical letter.

Or, maybe Amazon has been tracking Prime users who listen to Prime music a certain amount of time per month, making them ideal candidates for an upgrade to a more expansive service.

Another reason could be demographics. While younger generations have a positive view of direct mail, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation typically respond more regularly to marketing like direct mail than to digital marketing.

Receiving a direct mail letter from Amazon may not be as exciting as seeing a UFO or winning the Powerball, but it does have an important implication. Even those entities that have built their brand as a digital, online presence are still relying on direct mail to improve their marketing success.

At Paw Print, we specialize in direct mail marketing. Let us help you design and print a targeted direct mail campaign to generate qualified leads for your business.

Read below for another review of a past direct mailing from Amazon!


I had an unexpected surprise in my mailbox a couple of days ago. Included in my personal mail was an envelope addressed to me from Amazon. I have to admit that this got my immediate attention, putting aside the other mail pieces, curious to see why Amazon was mailing me.

I found myself wondering why this elicited such a strong response. Curiously enough, I think it’s because of the relationship I have built with Amazon that gives their brand a seat at my table. I mean, who hasn’t purchased something on – the quintessential online retailer of “everything”. And, for anyone who’s an Amazon Prime member (that be me), I’m continually impressed by how easy they’ve made buying stuff; to the point where I don’t think much about it; quick search, 1-click checkout, arrival at my door 2 days later.

So notwithstanding Amazon’s association as the quintessential online transaction experience, I’m now holding a piece of mail from the largest digital presence in the universe. And, I suppose, therein lies the power of this particular piece of mail.

  • It’s unexpected
  • It stands out
  • It’s physically in my hands – I’m touching it, inspecting it, and ultimately opening it; something digital cannot do

Amazon-direct-mail-enclosure-Paw-Print-MailI open the envelope and pull out the piece inside that’s a folded enclosure with a little heft to it. On the outside cover of the enclosure is a phrase “Expect more smiles…” I’m intrigued. What could be inside that will bring a smile to my face?

I open the envelope and on the inside of the flap is the phrase Amazon-direct-mail-Paw-Print-Mail-VT…in unexpected places.

So, not only am I looking forward to something that will make me smile, but it contains something I’m not expecting; in other words… I’m about to experience a nice surprise!

I quickly see that this mailing is about my Amazon Rewards Visa card. THUD!! All this buildup for a credit card solicitation? Yes and no. Yes, it’s about my credit card, but no, it’s not a solicitation but rather an announcement of expanded benefits. Whew… all good!

Amazon-direct-mail-Paw-Print-VermontThe next thing I see is the cover letter, which quickly grabs my attention and keeps this mailing from crashing and burning by succinctly and clearly announcing to me the special benefits and rewards upgrades to my Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card. AND, because I’m an Amazon Prime member, these additional benefits are automatic… no action required!! (these words evoke a similar pleasure to the word FREE!)

Shuffling through the balance of the enclosures, I find a colorful travel benefits brochure, a handy FAQ sheet, and lastly, a sheet of legalese about the Amazon Rewards Program (this IS a financial services notice after all).

What are some of the key takeaways here that you and I, as a business owner/manager and marketer, might apply in our own efforts?

1. Relationship is everything.

Over the past few years, I’ve established a consumer, business, and lifestyle relationship with Amazon. (along with AMEX, Audible, South Burlington Audi, Skirack, Pandora, Target Marketing and Road & Track Magazines, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Nespresso, Motley Fool, and the local nonprofits I support – to name a few) I’ve become part of these brands’ target market so that when they knock on my door, I open it. Huge.

2. Identify, connect with, and nurture your target audience.

Again… relationship. Your target audience and client base is your most valuable asset .

3. Approach your target audience how they prefer to be reached.

In this example, it’s direct mail. What I’m real curious about for this campaign is what other channels, if any, Amazon used to connect with the various age ranges of their target audience.

  • Was this entirely a direct mail campaign or were other channels employed?
  • Did I receive this by mail because of my age? (let’s just say I watched the Beatles United States debut on the Ed Sullivan show in real time)
  • Did their millennial members receive the same mail piece or contacted digitally?

I don’t know, but I do know direct mail works for me and others similar to me in their target audience.

As for younger folks, ongoing studies and data reveal that Millennial’s are surprisingly responsive to direct mail as well. InfoTrends research found that:

  • 63% of Millennial’s who responded to a direct mail piece within a three month period actually made a purchase
  • 25% of 25-34 year olds say they opened direct mail because of the print and image quality
  • 25% of Millennial’s consider reading direct mail a leisure activity

4. Looks count.

The look and feel of the mail piece can make or break a direct marketing campaign. Relevance, interest, and clarity of design are essential to make the instant connection that’s needed for success.

5. Content is the Holy Grail.

You’ve only got a brief moment to engage the recipient or not. The focus of the content must to:

  • Tell the recipient what you do or why you’re contacting them – be specific and clear
  • Sell benefits not features and why the benefits are important to them
  • Provide an action device or call-to-action

Paw Print & Mail specializes in direct mail marketing and nonprofit appeal campaign production. Contact us to discuss your next project to maximize your response rate and ROI.

This blog was originally published in March 2017, and updated December 2019.

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