Why You Shouldn’t Disregard Direct Mail Marketing

Posted on April 7, 2017 | Updated on March 1, 2021

Because your audience doesn’t, surprisingly. In today’s digital age, you’d expect consumers to respond more to direct digital marketing than to direct mail marketing. But, they don’t. Regardless of their age, audiences consistently respond more to direct mail marketing than email marketing efforts. Surprising, right?

It’s one of the main reasons direct mail marketing is still used today, but it isn’t the only reason. It’s one of seven and — well, you know where this post is headed.

Courtesy of Giphy

So, here’s a list of seven reasons why you shouldn’t disregard direct mail marketing.

1. Reaches Audiences

More than 70 percent of consumers open nearly all of their mail. Can you say that about your email inbox? Probably not.

Unlike email, consumers view direct mail as risk-free, personal and tangible. And personal isn’t limited to their name. Photos of your store, products or staff can help consumers connect with your company. And, yes, you can include photos of your cat, but only if he/she works there.

Direct mail also reaches consumers that email can’t. For example, in the U.S. 41 percent of people 65 or older are not online. Think about this: No email, no Facebook and especially no Twitter. If you want to reach them, you’ll need to use print marketing. The benefit is that the generations within this age group, the Traditionalists and the Baby Boomers, are receptive to direct mail.

And now you’re thinking, “What about Millennials? They can’t prefer direct mail, can they?”

They can and they do. In fact, they’re more likely than any other generation to read direct mail.

2. Targets Specific Audiences

One of the reasons consumers are so receptive to direct mail marketing is because it’s directed to them.

Of course, it’s not by chance that it’s reached their mailbox. It’s because of research. Out of all the candidates, they’re considered most likely to respond.

Audience research is paramount to your direct mail’s success. In fact, 40 percent of a mailer’s success stems from your mailing list, per the 40/40/20 rule of marketing. So, consider your message or project goal and who would be receptive to it.

Start to narrow your audience by considering the following factors:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Household Size
  • Location
  • Account Activity
  • Purchase History

Because direct mail is highly targeted, the short list above could generate a variety of specific audiences.  How comprehensive or in-depth your audience becomes is dependent on your marketing goals.

Often, email lists can’t delve into these parameters, which leads to a broad audience and a message that doesn’t resonate with most audience members.

3. Generates a Response

Courtesy of Giphy

Direct mail is dependable when it comes to receiving responses. In fact, it’s a leader, with 79 percent of consumers acting on direct mail. In comparison, email convinces only 45 percent of consumers to react. Direct mail even leads in influencing Millennial purchasing decisions, at 92 percent.

How audiences respond to your direct mail is based on your offer. That’s the second 40 in the 40/40/20 rule — your offer.

So, what’s the offer? It could be a discount or maybe an upcoming showcase event. What you offer will be influenced by your marketing goal and targeted audience. Discounts, however, tend to be the most enticing. If it’s a discount though, make it in dollars. Audiences tend to respond better, in comparison to discounts in percentages. Why? It seems like a better deal to consumers.

Whatever your offer, if you’ve done your audience research, it’ll generate a response.

4. Measures Response Rates

Compared to other marketing methods, direct mail’s effectiveness is simple to measure and analyze.

Coupon codes, exclusive URLs and QR codes are a few methods you can use for tracking audience response rates. Response rates reveal how enticing your offer was to consumers, as well as how much your mailer’s message resonated with them.

Your collected data, aside from evaluating your mailer’s success, can be used to improve upcoming mailer’s and update or refine mailing lists. Continually improving your direct mail campaigns, as well as your mailing list, are key to building lasting relationships with customers and/or establishing new relationships with other consumers.

5. Supports Marketing Campaigns

One is the loneliest number, so don’t isolate your print and digital marketing channels.

Multi-channel marketing is proven in increasing a marketing campaign’s success. Coordinated marketing efforts across three or more channels can boost a customer’s value by 125 percent. Communicate across two channels and that’s a 20 to 60 percent increase in a customer’s value.

Direct mail is unique in its supporting role because it can reach and interest consumers who may otherwise disregard your company’s digital marketing efforts. Essentially, direct mail can act as a liaison between print and digital media. Through its print appeal, it garners consumers’ interest and then uses that interest to direct them online to your company’s store and/or social media pages.

6. Provides a Return on Investment

Courtesy of Giphy

A quick assumption about print marketing is that it costs more than digital marketing. Direct mail, however, costs about the same as pay-per-click and provides a 15 to 17 percent return on investment, which exceeds email.

Direct mail, as a result, is a cost-effective option. Tactics to further decrease the cost of direct mail include using a smaller paper size, combining multiple direct mail printings, and reducing the mailing list.

If you’re thinking about altering your direct mail to lower costs, remember the 20 percent in the 40/40/20 rule — the design, the copy and the images. The strength of direct mail is its message, which resonates with audiences and gets them to act. If you lose that in remodeling the 20 percent, you lose your audience and your investment.

7. Makes an Impression

It’s proven — seriously.

A study on consumer psychology focused on the brain’s reaction to digital and print marketing materials. Scientists found that the physical materials activated the brain’s memory pathway, which suggests that physical media, such as direct mail, is more likely to be remembered by consumers than digital media, like emails. The study also discovered that print materials generated activity in areas of the brain associated with emotions, indicating that print media causes an emotional reaction that digital media doesn’t.

So, why are audiences drawn to direct mail? Biology aside, it’s the personal appeal with an alluring offer that engages audiences and drives them to action. While direct mail marketing seems archaic in a digital age, it continues to produce results for companies and marketers.

And now you’re thinking, “Maybe it’s time to try direct mail.”

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About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at www.eleanorhecks.com.

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