Is Direct Mail Dead?

Has Digital Finally Killed the Direct Mail Star?

Everything seems to be moving online these days. More and more people are getting information and offers from mobile devices. We have seen a big shift toward digital advertising strategies with more emphasis on banner ads, email notifications, geo-fencing and text notifications. Marketers are definitely transitioning to more electronic formats. Even more so now since the pandemic started. And it doesn’t look like that is going to change anytime soon. So what does that mean for print ads, particularly advertising delivered directly to the consumer’s mailbox? Is direct mail dead?

If you said yes, think again!

Most people think of direct mail as “junk” mail – those physical ads you receive in your mailbox and just throw away. But you would be surprised how many people respond to direct mail. According to the Direct Marketing Association, 70-80% of consumers say they open almost all of their mail – including junk mail. With the onslaught of electronic marketing hitting our email inboxes, our physical mailboxes are actually getting a better response. A DMA study concluded that 79% of consumers act immediately on direct mail while only 45% would say the same for emails. So why is this?

It’s tangible.

A physical ad is becoming rare in this electronic age, but people are more likely to react to something they have in their hands. There is a psychology to picking up your mail. Our brains respond differently to paper marketing versus digital marketing. A recent study strongly suggests that greater emotional processing is facilitated by physical marketing materials than virtual ones.

It’s personalized.

A physical mailing feels more personalized. That is the power of print! A tangible printed piece grabs your attention and can make you feel like you are receiving a personal offer. Print is customizable with gloss, matte, shapes, envelopes, booklets and extensive design features. All this customization can grab your attention and have an impact in ways that a digital ad cannot.

The Brand Optimization Checklist

Looking for a Brand Optimization Checklist? Every so often, it can be useful to step back and evaluate how well your brand is defined and what, if any...

Read more

It’s trackable.

Direct mail is an extremely measurable media. Knowing a consumer’s address is a powerful tool. Whether it’s through a customer data list or targeted demographic information, understanding who you are targeting and where they live can help optimize your campaign. Additionally, response rates can be measured by simply coding the call to action. This type of information can be used as an analytics anchor for multimedia campaigns. It is the most trackable solution for all your campaign needs.

It delivers greater ROI.

Because direct mail is so inexpensive, you can send a higher volume of ads. This helps increase your response rate and return on investment. Many programs have you share the postage cost with other advertisers, making the cost of mailing to a single household just pennies. According to the Direct Marketing Association, a direct mail campaign can yield a 3.4% response rate for existing customers, compared to the 0.12% response rate of a typical email campaign.

It’s for all age groups.

Regardless of how tech-savvy you are, everyone gets excited to see what they have in their mailbox. But younger generations prefer digital communications, right? Not so fast! The USPS conducted a study and found that millennials’ preference for political advertising was through direct mail! At least 42% of millennials prefer direct mail political ads to online ads, with 38% favoring both equally. So the notion that direct mail is for the older generation just doesn’t hold any water!

So how do you make a direct mail campaign a success? Here are some suggestions.

  1. Design to attract attention.

You have a mere 3 seconds to grab a consumer’s attention before your ad goes into the trash. Make sure it’s designed in a way that the consumer recognizes the brand, clearly sees the key message and can understand the relevant value.

  1. Create a strong call to action.

An ad with a coupon or offer will always get a better response. Whether it’s a percentage off or a BOGO offer, discounting a product or service will yield a higher response rate.

  1. Personalize to your audience.

Whenever possible, have your mailing personalize to the recipient. Add their name to the envelope or postcard. Nothing screams “junk mail” like mail addressed to “Current Resident.” Make sure the offer speaks to the consumer you are sending it to. Which leads us to:

  1. Use targeting data to your advantage.

You can have the greatest design and the strongest call to action, but if your mailing doesn’t get in the hands of your target audience, it was all for naught. Use mailing lists or consumer targeting data to make sure you are hitting the households that are most likely to respond to your ad.

  1. Integrate direct mail with other marketing channels.

To maximize the success of your direct mail campaign, combine it with other channels such as television, radio or digital. A campaign that combines direct mail and digital marketing can yield a higher ROI.

Direct mail is far from dead. In fact, it’s a thriving medium for your marketing strategy. It builds brand awareness, effectively communicates to customers and complements a digital advertising campaign. Even in today’s digital world, the mailbox is still a powerful tool to help brands connect with consumers.

  • Select category:

Want to publish a
guest post?

Review Guidelines
Subscribe today to get our latest content delivered to your inbox
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Follow us

Melissa Hayden
Melissa has more than a decade of marketing and account management experience, including strategy development, brand development, integrated marketing communications, program management and account service. She has a diverse personal roster of client experience with both B2B and B2C for industries such as grocery, retail, consumer package goods, hospitality and medical device. Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree in law and sociology from American University in Washington, D.C.

Ready to talk?

Learn more about us • Get some case studies • Schedule a presentation • Scope a project