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20 Myths About Direct Mail

December 1, 2014

20 Direct Mail Myths

Do you think direct mail is just for “old-fashioned” companies? Or that mailing direct mail postcards is too expensive to be profitable? There’s no shortage of myths about direct mail, many of which couldn’t be more untrue.

From perceptions that direct mail “just doesn’t work” for young audiences to ideas that direct mail is impossible to customize, read on to discover the 20 biggest direct mail myths and why they’re 100% untrue.

People don’t like receiving direct mail

Far from being an annoyance, direct mail is actually one of the least intrusive forms of direct marketing. Unlike TV and radio ads, which are largely unavoidable, direct mail messages that you don’t want to read can easily be discarded.

Direct mail only works for 40+ audiences

Think direct mail is just for baby boomers? Direct mail has a fantastic response rate with younger consumers, including millennials, who trust direct mail messages to a greater extent than digital or TV advertising.

Direct mail just doesn’t work anymore

With the right message and the right audience, direct mail can be hugely effective in selling your product or service. From generating leads to strengthening your brand, an effective direct mail campaign really works.

Direct mail is generic and impersonal

Think direct mail is all about catalogs and form letters? Thanks to variable printing, it’s easy to customize your direct mail campaign to include people’s names, recent purchases, and more.

Direct mail is too expensive to be profitable

While mailing direct custom postcards costs more than sending out emails to your audience, it also has a larger impact. Direct mail is more expensive than other forms of marketing, but it tends to produce more revenue on a per-piece basis.

Direct mail only works for certain products

From cleaning products to local businesses, direct mail is often used to promote a certain type of product, service or business. This doesn’t mean it isn’t effective for other products – when done right, direct mail can be used to market anything.

Direct mail is “outdated” in the 21st century

With email around, who needs direct mail? While sending customized letters may seem out of date in 2014, the reality is that people are far more likely to open and read a direct mail postcard or brochure than they are an email newsletter. And after all, postcards have a 100% open rate.

Direct mail requires special marketing skills

Direct mail has an almost legendary status in certain direct marketing circles, being seen as a costlier, more difficult alternative to email and online marketing. In reality, it’s no more difficult to succeed with direct mail than any other marketing method.

Big brands don’t use direct mail anymore

From high-end luxury brands to big-box retailers, some of the world’s largest and most respected brands use direct mail to market their products. More than 50% of all mail is direct mail, and a huge percentage of that is brand-focused marketing.

Most people never read direct mail postcards

Think direct mail postcards go straight into the trash? While a percentage of direct mail recipients discard any commercial mail without a second’s attention, the majority of direct mail recipients read the commercial mail they receive.

A good headline is all it takes to succeed

Great headlines are massively important in direct mail – in many cases, they’re the difference between success and failure. While headlines are important, they won’t achieve much without a great product, service or offer to complement them.

Direct mail only works for big businesses

There are some economies of scale to direct marketing if you’re working with an offset printer, with the per-piece cost of direct mail postcards decreasing with volume. However when working with a digital printer, small business postcard marketing is a highly cost-effective tactic because you can target your ideal customers and send to them and them only with no wasted cards purchased just to get a bulk discount.

Direct mail campaigns are slow and inefficient

Think it takes weeks to send out your direct mail postcards? Not so. From design and printing to delivery, many direct mail campaigns can be executed in just a few days when working with a the right vendor.

The “rules” of direct mail are unbreakable

List benefits, not features. Offer something for free, not a paid product. These are a few of the “rules” of direct marketing. While many of them are logical and helpful, there’s nothing wrong with bending (or breaking) the rules on occasion.

Great direct mail messages are “clever”

Think your marketing message needs to be clever or funny to be effective? Some of the best direct mail marketing messages are straightforward and simple. While it’s rarely a bad thing to include humor in your marketing, it isn’t a must-have.

Targeted audiences don’t matter very much

Some marketers think it’s all about the message. While not all audiences will have a positive response to your direct mail campaign, 40% of the success of your campaign lies in targeting the right type of recipients that will receive your business postcard offer.

Direct mail only works for inexpensive products

Tell this one to the tens of thousands of car dealerships and real estate agencies that rely on direct mail to generate leads and sales. While direct mail works very well for inexpensive products, it also works extremely well for expensive luxury goods and services.

“Modern” companies don’t need to use direct mail

Think direct mail is only useful for old brands? Many of the world’s biggest digital companies use direct mail. In fact, Google uses direct mail to reach local businesses interested in using its Adwords search advertising network.

Direct mail doesn’t work with integrated marketing

Thanks to QR codes and other print technology, it’s easy to integrate direct mail into your integrated marketing campaign. Not only can you reach users offline – you can also direct them to online product pages and checkouts to continue shopping on your company website.

Direct mail is difficult to measure and optimize

Custom phone numbers, A/B tests and other optimization techniques make getting the most from your direct mail campaign simple. Far from being difficult to track or measure, direct mail is one of the easiest offline marketing methods to measure.