Why Direct Mail Marketing is Still Important in the Age of Digital Marketing

In the digital age of advertising, an age in which people have instant access to Google, email, and all social media platforms on the device in their pockets, non-digital means of advertising, such as direct mail marketing, seem obsolete.  Paying bills, checking bank account balances, and communicating with friends and family members long distance are done entirely online and can be done much quicker and easier than with “snail mail.”  Therefore, it is not unreasonable for people to believe that direct mail marketing is dead as people tend to only check their mailboxes when they are expecting the delivery of a product they have ordered.

While there is no denying the growth and importance of digital marketing, traditional marketing channels like direct mail marketing should not be ignored.  Recent studies have shown that direct mail marketing is surprisingly effective, and the Intelligent Mail Barcode applied by USPS makes it easy for marketers to track their materials to the mailboxes of the recipients.  However, direct mail marketing should never be used as your only marketing channel.  This marketing strategy works best as a compliment to other digital marketing strategies as many people who receive materials in the mail will follow up with your brand online.

This guide breaks down the common misconceptions of direct mail marketing and discusses the statistics that show why direct mail is still an effective marketing strategy.  This analysis is followed up with tips to help you form an effective direct mail marketing strategy for your business.

Direct Mail Marketing Misconceptions

Before delving into the advantages of direct mail marketing, it is important to bring up and address the two main misconceptions that prevent marketers from using this strategy:

  • Direct mail is difficult to track: There was a time when this was true, but the introduction of the Intelligent Mail Barcode by the USPS in 2012 makes direct mail very easy to track. Marketers can use this barcode to track all direct mail marketing materials until they reach the mailbox of the intended recipient.
  • Direct mail marketing is more expensive than digital marketing: The cost of direct mail marketing campaigns compared to digital marketing efforts will vary between businesses. On average, direct mail marketing is only a little bit more expensive than email marketing when it comes to cost per acquisition (CPA).

In summary, the two biggest misconceptions that have kept marketers from utilizing direct mail marketing involve cost, tracking, and logistics.  Now that these issues have been shown to no longer be issued, the only remaining question is how do consumers react to direct mail marketing?

Advantages of Direct Mail Marketing: One of the Most Trusted Marketing Channels

Recent studies from several marketing experts show that consumers still put a high level of trust and value in direct mail marketing materials.  In fact, direct mail marketing outperforms some digital marketing channels in several key ways.  The following are the main advantages of direct mail marketing:

Higher Direct Response Rate

When it comes to response rate, direct mail marketing has been shown to have a clear advantage.  The open rate for direct mail is 80 to 90 percent compared to 20 to 30 percent for email, and direct mail is opened the day it is received 79 percent of the time versus 45 percent for emails according to CMO Council.  Another telling statistic is that consumers spend an average of about 30 minutes reading through direct mail and only about one minute with email.  Not only are consumers more likely to open and read direct mail over email, but they are also more likely to respond as direct mail has a 4.4 percent response rate compared to a negligible 0.12 percent response rate for email according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).

Direct mail has a higher open rate and response rate than marketers can ever hope to achieve with email marketing campaigns.  Part of the reason for this is because mailboxes these days are much less inundated with marketing materials than email inboxes, which makes marketing emails very easy to ignore.  Mailboxes are much less cluttered which makes it easier for direct mail to stand out.

Higher Perceived Value

Consumers tend to put more value and trust in direct mail marketing materials and the statistics show it.  According to a study by Adweek, 54 percent of consumers prefer and trust direct mail over other types of marketing.  Most consumers consider direct mail to be more personal than other marketing materials as 57 percent of consumers report that direct mail makes them feel more valued as a customer.  The UK Royal Mail conducted a study that found that the physical, tangible nature of direct mail causes people to feel a stronger emotional impact.  This study concludes that “Giving, receiving and handling tangible objects remain deep and intuitive parts of the human experience.”  Marketers should not overlook this sentiment.

Higher Chance that Consumer Takes Desired Action

Studies show that consumers are more likely to respond to the call to action in direct marketing materials that certain digital marketing channels.  According to MarketingProfs, consumers spend 28 percent more with a company after receiving direct mail advertising and 42 percent of those who receive direct mail respond online which is why direct mail marketing must be used in addition to other digital marketing strategies.  A study from DMR shows that 48 percent of those who receive direct mail will keep the materials for future reference.

As mentioned earlier, direct mail has a 4.4 percent response rate compared to 0.12 percent for email, which means that people who receive direct mail are almost 37 times more likely to respond.  This is something all marketers must understand so they do not devote all of their time and effort to marketing emails that mostly get deleted before they are even opened.

High Influence on Millennials

The millennials are one of the most targeted demographics for marketers.  Despite the wealth of information available on millennial consumers, the common belief is that they are not interested in non-digital marketing channels such as direct mail marketing.  Millennials are a digital savvy generation that is perceived to turn to their smartphones for their every need.  However, a study from National Mortgage Professional Magazine found that 75 percent of millennials see value in direct mail and a surprising 92 percent report that direct mail materials influenced a purchasing decision.  A Gallup poll found that 95 percent of consumers between the ages of 18 and 29 like receiving personalized mail including letters and cards.

Marketing to millennials successfully is something that every marketer strives to achieve.  However, few marketers understand the impact that a non-digital marketing channel like direct mail can have on this generation.  It is time for marketers to realise this and produce direct mail marketing materials that appeal to the millennial demographic.

How to Create a Successful Direct Mail Marketing Campaign

The statistics discussed above from various marketing studies show that direct mail marketing is still relevant and quite successful among several consumer demographics.  Therefore, it is important to incorporate direct mail marketing as one of several strategies in your overall marketing campaign, along with effective digital marketing strategies to ensure you have a strong online presence.  Remember, 42 percent of those who receive direct mail follow up online which makes direct mail and digital marketing a highly effective combination.

It is possible for businesses to create and implement direct mail marketing strategies in house, and there are also professionals who can help you form and implement your direct mail marketing campaign.  The following tips will help you create an effective direct mail marketing campaign for your business.

Good Designs Make Good First Impressions

People often sift through their mail quickly which means that your mail has about 2-3 seconds to get the attention of the consumer.  Direct mail is more likely to get this attention with strong, interesting designs that stand out.  Unique designs, eye-catching colors, heavier stock paper, interesting cuts, and well-designed envelopes will all help get the attention of the consumer and make a good first impression of your brand.

Integrate Direct Mail with Digital Marketing and Email

The most successful marketing campaigns consist of several different strategies across marketing channels that all work together.  This is why direct mail marketing must be used along with digital marketing and email marketing strategies.  Direct mail is great for grabbing the attention and interest of consumers, but it is all for nothing if you have a terrible website or worse, no online presence, for these consumers to follow up with your brand.  It helps to coordinate direct mailings with email blasts and social media posts so that you reach more consumers and give those who are responding to your direct mail a digital means of following up.

There are Google certified digital marketing agencies that can help your company form a complete marketing strategy that integrates your non-digital channels such as direct mail.  You can also work with professionals to help you with your email marketing campaigns.

Personalise the Direct Mail

Part of the reason consumers put so much trust in direct mail is because it is seen as more personal.  One way you can capitalise on this is by including the personal information of the consumer on the materials, including their full name and other relevant personalised data.  Direct mail that is personalised has a much higher response rate.

Create a Detailed Mailing List

Make sure your company keeps a detailed mailing list with accurate information about your customers.  The information in this list should be kept up to date so you can be more efficient when sending out direct mail.  Keeping a neat and updated mailing list will also help you easily track the mail.  If you want to increase your mailing list, you can purchase direct mailing lists from third party vendors.

Create Good Call to Action

As with other marketing materials, a good, strong call to action is very important to motivate your customers to take the next steps.  Whether the next step is making a purchase or simply following up by visiting your website, you should make sure that the call to action is clear and that the desired action can be tracked so you can gauge the effectiveness of your campaign.

The Power of Direct Mail Marketing and Digital Marketing

There is no question that digital marketing channels are the driving force behind successful marketing campaigns, but the impact of direct mail marketing should not be overlooked.  Finding an effective way to integrate direct mail marketing with solid digital marketing strategies will drastically increase your outreach and brand awareness and build stronger brand loyalty among your audience.












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