One of the most significant changes to marketing was the advent of the internet. It was so significant, in fact, that it has caused marketers to re-examine traditional forms of advertising and question whether or not they were still profitable (or as profitable as digital marketing). With experts claiming certain methods were dying (or already dead), many marketers began steering away from them all together. But what if we’re shooting ourselves in the foot by ignoring these “antiquated” tactics?
In the age of smartphones, mobile apps and social media, the idea of sending direct mail seems almost archaic. However, there are quite a few reasons why it’s still a valid strategy to include in a multi-channel marketing campaign. For instance:
- 79% of consumers act on direct mail immediately, compared to only 45% who say they will deal with email straightaway (DMA)
- Direct mail has a 34% success rate in new customer acquisition, the highest in comparison to other marketing channels (Target Marketing Magazine)
- Targeted direct mail boasts a 4.4% response rate, compared to email’s rate of 0.12% (PR Web)
As you can see, direct mail isn’t dead, but it’s not really alive either. While it’s still being used and is still working in many cases, most companies want to do less of it. To keep direct mail viable, we have to make some alterations to fit the medium into a tech-driven world.
If you’re asking yourself, “why bother?” here’s your answer.
Why Use Direct Mail?
Sending email is cheap; that’s why over 205 billion emails are sent each day. However, the low cost of email marketing makes it a favorite among spammers, leading consumers to be far more suspicious. According to AccurateLeads, 57% of recipients will not open an email from an unknown sender. Furthermore, an Epsilon study showed that a quarter of consumers find direct mail offers more trustworthy than email offers.
There are so many advertisements vying for consumer attention that it’s becoming incredibly difficult to reach potential customers by email and social media alone. Consumers have learned to look past advertisements, tune out marketing pitches, and many have installed ad-blocking software on their web browsers.
Despite an aversion to advertisements, 70-80% of consumers still open all their physical mail — even junk mail! In some instances, a nicely designed postcard is far more likely to gain reader attention than an email. It’s tangible, memorable, and if you offer a discount, very valuable to the recipient.
With all the upsides to direct mail marketing, why do some companies still refuse to use it?
Why Do Companies Avoid Direct Mail Marketing?
Though there are any number of reasons why companies might shy away from a direct mail marketing campaign, generally speaking, it usually comes down to two motives. One, the idea that direct mail is outdated, or two, the high expense. Either way, it ends up putting the kibosh on this marketing tactic.
Authenticity and value are crucial to the consumer image of your brand and your marketing message. Like any digital marketing piece, as long as the direct mail is targeted to consumer needs, is transparent to what is being offered, and has an offer that is worthwhile, you can bet money that readers will respond positively.
As for expense, well, there’s no getting around it — when compared to email, getting a direct mail campaign off the ground costs a lot more. And if you don’t run a campaign correctly, you could be throwing away valuable marketing dollars. While companies often blame direct mail failure on the rise of social media use, it usually comes down to poor planning, bad timing or a failure in messaging.
How to Make Direct Mail Work
Although a direct mail campaign can cost more initially, it has the potential for an enormous ROI in the long run — that is, if it’s executed correctly. To make your direct mail campaign a success, consider the following:
- If at all possible, use a standard envelope size. It’s less likely to get lost in the pile than a smaller piece of mail
- Employ regular postage stamps as opposed to bulk rate — they elicit a feeling of authenticity
- Make the message personal. Address it to a specific person, not just “resident” or “occupant.” Personalization shows that you took the time to target their specific needs
- Customers expect direct mail that is relevant to them; offers based on what they want and need. Do your research and send to a targeted audience rather than a mass mailing list
- Direct mail should generate excitement and incite action by promising something unique like a discount, limited time offer, or a buy-one-get-one-free promotion. Give your readers a compelling reason to buy from you immediately
- Make sure your mailer encourages the customer to go online — after all, it’s important to get customers to connect with different touch-points on their journey
- Have an inclusive message. The call-to-action should tell your readers to visit your website or social media platform and include an email address
- Use tracking tools. Use QR Codes, texting response codes, coupons with personalized barcodes, or personalized URLs (PURLS)
Despite what some marketers may think, direct mail still has a role to play in a multi-channel marketing strategy. If you take the time to do it correctly, not only will it work in tandem with your digital marketing plan, it will produce some serious results. And as we all know, results equal money.
About the Author
Liz Greene is a writer, marketing professional, and Mattress Firm conspiracy theorist from the beautiful City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch her latest misadventures on her blog, Instant Lo.