We’ve all heard it many, many times — direct mail is dead. But is that really true? Yes, digital marketing has taken hold, and it isn’t going anywhere. However, that does not make direct mail any less valuable. In fact, the current advertising climate might make direct mail more valuable than ever, because marketers are coming to realize that every marketing effort works to support the others, and each accomplishes something unique that the others cannot.
In spite of what the skeptics have said, there’s a definite future for catalogs and other direct mail. Every year, 80 billion pieces of direct mail are delivered through the Postal Service. But in order to get the maximum value out of your mailing plan, it’s important to understand where direct mail circulation stands today and why direct mail is an integral piece of so many marketing plans.
The State of Direct Mail
Direct mail hasn’t just been limping along, merely surviving the digital revolution. The truth is direct mail is thriving. As more companies embrace online forms of communication, the average home receives fewer communications via traditional mail, which means your direct mail pieces have a better chance of standing out among the reduced clutter if you provide the customer with value, addressing their needs, desires and pain points.
- Between 70 and 80 percent of mail recipients review all of their mail — even mail they don’t necessarily care about.
- Nearly 80 percent of direct mail recipients will take action on the mail they receive immediately. On the other hand, only 45 percent of email recipients do the same.
- The average direct mail campaign sent to existing customers yields a 3.4 percent response rate. Meanwhile, similar email campaigns have a response rate of just one-eighth of one percent.
The numbers don’t lie. Direct mail is alive and well and can be used effectively to reach new prospects and existing customers. Direct mail is both intrusive and tactile, two very powerful attributes for an advertising medium.
How Direct Mail Has Influenced Marketing
What’s even more impressive than direct mail’s continued effectiveness is its influence on newer forms of marketing. The core principles of direct mail and direct mail circulation can be found in many aspects of digital marketing, further cementing direct mail’s status as a driving force in modern-day businesses.
Inbound marketing is centered around building a list of interested parties and tailoring the marketing message around the activity of those individuals. That’s a concept that comes directly from direct mail Inbound marketing has also borrowed the personalization that’s commonplace in direct mail, creating a digital complement to the tried-and-true methods that have worked for decades.
Content marketing is another discipline that has its roots in direct mail. Sending supplementary content with industry information has been a staple of direct mail for some time. We’re just now beginning to see the digital equivalent of this approach in how companies are tailoring all their content — from articles to tweets to website copy to emails — to meet the audience’s needs by providing value through knowledge, services, offers and more. As consumers continue to make their voices heard and demand a meaningful experience across all channels, companies will be able to use the insights direct mail has gathered on audience segments to actively focus on the consumer and improve every interaction, whether online or offline.
As part of an effective overall marketing campaign, direct mail remains highly relevant, and it will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Even in a largely digital world, there’s a purpose for direct mail and physical catalogs that cannot be replaced or removed without losing a valuable and effective means of reaching prospects and existing customers.