Does Enclosing a CD Work Well in Direct Mail?

JC, a reader of this blog, writes: “I’m putting together some direct marketing materials and I want to include a mini-CDROM. I’m targeting computer professionals, so I think they’ll be inclined to pop in the CD, even if they don’t read the rest of the material.

“I’m curious if other people have done this, and if so, what exactly they put on the CD. One thing is for sure: the CD needs to have a program launch up immediately, rather than make them browse the CD.”

I throw the question out to my blog readers. Do you have any experience using CD’s in direct marketing? Any advice or results you can share with JC.


105 thoughts on “Does Enclosing a CD Work Well in Direct Mail?

  • I don’t have experience in putting a CD in my DM packages, but I can offer my opinion. As in all DM packages, you have to provide a level of trust, because me personally, I will not put a CD in my PC from unknown or untrustworthy sources. I wouldn’t want to get a virus or spyware downloaded to my PC. So I think the key would be to provide that confidence if you want a anyone, especialy a computer professional to load up a CD they go in the mail. Of course a good hook always helps.

    Krishna Avva

  • A few years ago while working for a direct marketing agency, I helped a client ( medical billing software firm) test two mailers. One included a CD mailing package with a free 30-day trial version of the software. The other was a self-mailer without with a BRC. The self-mailer outpulled the CD package by 50%.

  • You may want to ask yourself whether you’d do better by simply including a URL that links to the content. We only include objects in mailings that have a damn good reason for being there.

  • These are all good comments, particularly Morgan’s comments and statistics. I think as much as including a CD *seems* like it would be a plus, perhaps in reality it’s not. And of course, Krishna’s concerns about viruses are valid.

    Regarding Robert R’s comments, I am including the URL at the top of my main brochure. Perhaps that’s good enough. I admit, the CD is more of a gimmick, with nothing of particular value. All I could think to put on the CD was pretty much the same material available on my website.

    A few weeks ago, my wife received a mailing that had a CD in it. We put it in, and it turned out it was a DVD, not a CD, and the content was nothing more than a 10-minute infomercial. It was kind of boring, and silly.

    Perhaps I’m probably best off focusing on top-notch brochures and leaving the CD out.


  • The mini-CD format would be a problem for a lot of people. My laptop has a slot-loading CD drive, which can’t play a mini-CD. There are adapters out there, I’ve heard, but the chances of me going out to buy one just to access somebody’s promotional materials are between slim and none. Nor am I going to borrow my husband’s laptop, which does have a CD drawer (I think) or walk to the other end of the house to see if our antiquated desktop has the right kind of drive. Most likely I would just toss it.

  • I think CD’s can help but are generally overused and overrated. While they add some ‘value’ to a DM, and undoubtedly reduce the ‘throwaway’ rate, the same if not more could be achieved in much more creative ways… after all CD’s are a bit old hat!

    If the purpose of the CD is to send a video or interactive message, I would much rather deliver this online and direct the recipient to your URL. The penetration of internet allows us to do this and to deliver up-to-date content at a later date. Importantly, the use of a website response also creates an opportunity to measure campaign effectiveness from online tracking tools and also the opportunity to gather a response database.

    Instead of spending valuable budget on a CD, the same funds can be used to make the DM piece more creative. We can humour audiences immediately without needing them to take the CD and use it (after all when was the last time you were DM’d a CD and actually took 10 minutes to look at it? For an example of a more creative way to engage, see

  • I’ve never used them in packages. But, from the receiver’s perspective: I’ve NEVER put a free CD into my computer that was unsolicited in the last 7 or 8 years. I rarely even use the ones on computer magazines, especially now in the days of broadband (it used to be good in the days of modem to have a 250Mb service pack on hand without the slow download).

    And, apart from the slot-loading drive issue, the only feedback I’ve read on mini-CDs is that they look good, but don’t get used (some people are afraid they’ll wreck their PCs with them, or sometimes aren’t even aware the mini-CDs can be put into a CD/DVD drive — especially the odd-shaped ones!).

    I’d definitely use a DVD/CD to send out to someone *responding* to a DM piece, but not unsolicited.

  • My only comment would be to use a full size CD. People (me) with slot loading DVD drives may be hesitant to put a mini disk into it, as it may not eject easily.

  • Depends upon the product and your own personal marketing style. CD’s are tough to get people to watch. They lend themselves to In Home Business Briefings or “Party’s” that have been successful with the cosmetic DM products. Invisus Direct is a Direct Marketing product that lends itself to ‘old fashioned face-to-face marketing. The market is as big as every computer with Bill Gate’s operating system on it. Can be marketed anyway, although one-on-one works best.

    It is also a unique product to procure. Subscribe to it, refer it for free or become an Internet Safety Advocate and get directly involved with the business.

    There are not a lot of direct products that allow you to use the product without becoming directly involved. Lots of PC builders can offer this to their clone customers. Chamber of Commerce’s can offer it to their members…a valuable financial resource to those organizations. Real Estate Agents, Financial Planners and Mortgage Originators can gain instant credibility with their ‘new market data base’ just letting people know they are in the business with protecting their personal information. That is very important in these, and many other fields that require one on one interaction or presentation.

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  • I think directing marketing with CD’s is a waste of time and money. For the price tag you should try PPC advertising. It is more lucrative, HIGHLY TARGETTED, and will bring you way more traffic than any CD mailing marketing attempts. That method is OLD and out of simply out of date!!!

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