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Direct Mail Makes a Comeback

August 13, 2015


As email marketing and digital advertising took off in the early-to-mid 2000s, one belief was repeated almost endlessly by digital marketing evangelists: that the old fashioned forms of direct marketing – print and direct mail – were “over.”

New data from New York-based consulting company the Winterberry Group shows that this prediction couldn’t have been more wrong. In 2015, direct mail spending is projected to grow to an astounding $45.7 billion in total.

Even more impressive, direct mail is viewed by a growing number of marketers as a more effective, higher impact marketing channel than the digital marketing options that have previously dominated most marketing discussion.

Why is direct mail marketing experiencing such a significant comeback? The answer is made up of several factors, from direct mail’s incredible level of personalization to the targeting that modern direct marketing lists make possible.


The more personalized, the higher the response rate

One of direct mail’s biggest selling points has always been its personalization. With custom postcards and modern inkjet printing, direct marketers can speak directly to their customers in a way that just isn’t possible through other marketing channels.

Variable data printing allows marketers to customize their message based on the recipient’s previous shopping habits, their name, their location and factors such as their gender.

Instead of delivering a generic message to a broad, poorly defined audience, direct mail marketers can deliver a clearly defined, personalized message to an audience that’s extremely likely to respond to it.

All this personalization has huge benefits, particularly when it comes to response rate. Analysis from Melissa Data shows that personalized direct mail achieves, on average, three times the response rate of non-personalized direct mail.

The more personalized and specific a message becomes, the more effective it is in engaging readers and encouraging action. Variable data such as a prospect’s name may seem simple, but it has a measurable positive effect on a campaign’s success.


As email becomes more crowded, direct mail becomes an event

The massive growth in the use of email marketing hasn’t made direct mail weaker, but stronger. As more marketers use email to reach their target audience, receiving a letter becomes an event that allows any business to stand out from the crowd.

On average, American office workers receive an astounding 121 emails every day, according to a Radicati Group report. At the same time, personal letters are sent at an all-time low rate, with the average household receiving one every seven weeks.

Sometimes, it’s the marketing channel you choose – rather than your offer or your message – that has the biggest impact on your success. Although email inboxes are becoming more crowded every day, most people receive surprisingly little mail.

A carefully crafted, personalized direct mail piece isn’t just a marketing message – for many people, it’s an event. The more personalized your message is, the greater its effect on recipients and the more significant its benefits for your business.


Direct mail’s comeback is just beginning

To many marketers, the arrival of email marketing in the late 1990s signaled the end of traditional direct mail. However, the results show that although email has become very popular in the last two decades, it’s far from very effective.

As people’s inboxes become even more crowded and their mailboxes less so, the benefits of direct mail keep increasing. How can your business take advantage of direct mail’s comeback to achieve your marketing goals?