Direct mail marketing – still a powerhouse in the age of digital

By: Larisa Bedgood

Year after year, email marketing reigns as the top marketing channel according to annual industry studies. And for good reason – email marketing is the best marketing channel in terms of ease of use, real-time engagement and a hefty ROI. According to the CMO Council, the ROI of email marketing is quadruple that of direct mail ($28.50 vs. $7).

However, email brings its own set of challenges. With the deluge of emails cluttering inboxes, your email only has a few seconds to capture the attention of your readers before they hit the delete button. And if your emails aren’t highly segment and personalized, forget it. Your subscribers will again hit the delete button if the message isn’t relevant to them.

Other issues with emails according to a survey by the Relevany Group include:

  • 44% – Sent too often, I get too many of them
  • 37% – They are not relevant to me
  • 32% – Too small to read and interact with
  • 26% – When I click through it is too hard to see their full website on my mobile phone

Don’t get me wrong – email is an extremely powerful medium when done right and should most certainly be included in the overall marketing mix. But a good well-rounded marketing strategy should include a mix of both offline and online channels and direct mail offers the perfect medium for many industries to connect with consumers in ways that digital channels cannot.

Direct Mail by the Numbers

  • A study by Epsilon showed that 77% of people sort through their physical mail as soon as they get it. (Hint – create eye-catching pieces to entice your audience to open your mail piece).
  • According to the Direct Mail Association (DMA), nearly two-thirds of people have bought something because of a direct mail piece. Additionally, 70% of customers have re-started a relationship because of direct mail.
  • 56% of consumers who responded to direct mail went online or visited the physical store, according to InfoTrend.
  • According to USPS, 69% of people feel that mail is more personal than the internet.
  • Millward Brown, a research agency, found that physical media left a “deeper footprint” in the brain than digital media did. If people can touch and see a piece of direct mail, they’re likely to be more engaged with it.
  • According to the USPS, Americans spend an average of 30 minutes reading their mail on any given occasion. When it comes to magazines, they spend 45 minutes turning the pages.
  • Most mailboxes are stuffed with bills and daily flyers. However, receiving a fun direct mail piece from a favorite brand is exciting. 56% say receiving mail is a “real pleasure,” and 55% “look forward” to learning what they’ve received in the mail, according to the USPS.

 Direct Mail is the Ideal Way to Target New Movers

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 40 million people move each year, meaning the average business needs to replace about 20% of its customer base that moves away in any given year. Targeting new movers who are looking to establish a new relationship with local businesses should be an important strategy for industries and businesses of any type.

According to a survey by Epsilon, most new movers are between the ages of 18–34 and typically relocate in response to a significant life event, such as a marriage, divorce, new job, or new addition to the family. As a result, they are often looking for new upgraded products and services and will spend, on average, $9,000 on goods and services during a move. They rely on word of mouth and direct mail to find new businesses – and those that reach them first are more likely to make a lasting impression that keeps new movers to the area coming back.

Direct mail is a great choice for reaching new movers, especially new homeowners whose mailboxes are still relatively empty. 80% of new movers will also redeem coupons from merchants before, during, and after the move so use direct mail to your advantage and send enticing offers, discounts, freebies, and other valuable rewards to encourage consumers to try out your services and products.

Data-Driven Technologies Have Brought New Success to Direct Mail Marketing

Until recently, direct mail has been on the decline for some years but recently, it has been making a comeback. With the availability of more data and advancements in technology, direct mailers have been able to infuse a new level of personalization into their direct mail campaigns. For example, a brand can send out a personalized and targeted direct mail piece offer based on a consumer’s purchase history, lifestyle, hobbies, or other interests.

Another powerful way direct mail is evolving is through real-time capture of online behavioral data. This data, such as web browsing history, is scored and enhanced with third-party data sets in order to send out a triggered direct mail piece. According to the DMA, “Variable printing is a tool that’s being leveraged to capitalize on web-browsing data, and the lag time between the site visit and mail drop has decreased dramatically. In other words, a shopper browsing handbags on the web could receive a second touch in the mail within 24-48 hours. That’s a powerful way to motivate customers to take action.”

Millennials and the Power of Direct Mail

Despite the digital savviness of the millennial generation, direct mail is a great channel for targeted this generation. According to the InfoTrends study, millennials are the most likely of any generation to read direct mail. In fact, 25% of millennials consider reading direct mail a leisure activity.

Check out these additional statistics about Millennials and direct mail:

  • 75% of Millennials find that the mail they receive is valuable. (Source)
  • 92% of Millennials are influenced by direct mail to make their purchase decision as opposed to 78% influenced by email. (Source)
  • 90% of Millennials said they would prefer postal delivery over email when receiving promotional items. (Source)
  • 82% of Millennials read direct mail from retail brands and more than half (54 percent) look forward to receiving hard-copy retail catalogs in the mail. (Source)
  • 73% of Millennials use direct mail coupons when making purchases. (Source)
  • 63% of Millennials who responded to a direct mail piece within the past three months made a purchase. (Source)
  • 90% of Millennials think direct mail advertising is reliable. (Source)
  • Those ages 18 to 21 read mailings immediately 62% of the time. (Source)
  • 25% of Millennials consider reading direct mail a leisure activity. (Source)
  • 80% of Millennials want brands to entertain them, and they find direct mail entertaining. (Source)

Overall, direct mail is a great channel for getting leads to visit a web page, encouraging customers to buy online, collecting information such as email addresses, and as for targeting consumers with personalized offers. Every marketer is sending email, but direct mail offers an additional way to connect with your customers and prospects in a way that your competition isn’t.

Download our Right Time Marketing Solutions Guide for more strategies and best practices on how to target consumers across the right channels and at the right time.

Bio: As Director of Marketing for DataMentors and Relevate Auto, Larisa has a deep understanding of today’s data-driven marketing environment, including key components such as Right Time Marketing, Data Quality, Business Intelligence, and Data-as-a-Service (DaaS).

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