direct mail digital age

The Relevance of Direct Mail in the Digital Age

By Debbi Gourley

We live in a digital age and our lives are dominated by smartphones, email, social media and other digital tools. Marketers have evolved with time and have harnessed these tools to their advantage. However, good old direct mail continues to prevail, which is why they need to think ten times before dismissing it as outdated. Here are a few interesting statistics:

  • Direct mail household response rate is 5.1% (compared to .6% email, .6% paid search, .2% online display, .4% social media).
  • 54% people want to receive direct mail from brands they’re interested in.
  • 56% believe that print marketing is the most trustworthy form of marketing.
  • 40% consumers will give a new business a chance upon receiving direct mail from them.

Here are a few reasons why direct mail continues to be relevant in the digital age.

People Like Opening Direct Mail

While people receive lots of promotional emails on a daily basis, most of these remain unopened or get marked as spam and eventually end up in junk mail. This translates into zero eyeballs for brands.

However, as evident from the above statistic, direct mail enjoys a higher response rate compared to email, paid search, online display ads and social media. This indicates that people not only like receiving direct mail, they also open it more frequently, which gives brands a great opportunity to improve their conversion rates.

To increase the appeal of direct mail, it is advised to pick an attractive and sturdy envelope and personalize it with the customer’s name and address. Going beyond that and using the recipient’s first name multiple times (where relevant) in the mailer can enable better personalization.

Most importantly, the mailer should be informative, concise, and easy to read as all these factors will encourage the reader to complete the call to action such as call you to make a purchase or use a discount coupon to buy your product.

Direct Mail Integrates Well With Digital Campaigns

Almost all businesses employ digital marketing tactics in their campaigns. However, this does not mean that direct mail should take a backseat. For best results, it makes sense to combine it with your digital strategies to expand your network/base of customers and enable higher conversion.

The good thing about direct mail is that it works well with digital campaigns and does a great job of reminding prospects about a brand. Including QR codes in your mailers, for example, will enable your customers to scan the code using their smartphones, and land directly on your website. This, in turn, will integrate online and offline interactions with your brand flawlessly.

Direct Mail Is Flexible and Works With Various Campaigns

Moving a step ahead from the above point, it can be said that direct mail is flexible enough to be combined with an array of campaigns. If you’re a new business, for example, and want to tell your target audience about your offerings, you can simply start a direct mail campaign that entails distributing coupons to acquaint them to your brand and push them to purchase your products.

If you’re an established business, on the other hand, you can still use direct mail to reconnect with customers and re-engage them with monthly newsletters. You can also send them surveys and questionnaires to gain their feedback and suggestions. Such initiatives will help you establish a long-term connect with them.

Paper-Based Marketing Improves Brand Recognition

According to a Canadian study that compared the effects of paper-based marketing (direct mail pieces) to digital media (email and display ads):

  1. Direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media, indicating that it is easier to understand and more memorable.
  2. Overall effectiveness, referred to as the motivation-to-cognitive load ratio within the study, showed that direct mail scored an average 1.31 compared to 0.87 for all digital channels. This is important because, in this type of test, values greater than 1.0 indicate broad in-market success.

Moreover, consumers who received direct mail offers were able to recall the brand 75% of the time. Among consumers who received digital-only versions, the brand was remembered only 44% of the time.

Further, as per Forbes analysis of the above research, “Science clearly shows paper can be more impactful and memorable than digital.”

Enough said!

It Is Easy to Track

The results of digital marketing campaigns can be tracked with the help of several programs available online, but things can get tricky when your customers come through various channels due to multiple campaigns being executed all together. The results from direct mail campaigns can be tracked easily by including unique offer codes in mailers. This way, once you get a sale (online or offline) upon using the discount code, it can be understood that it is a result of your direct mail campaign. 

So whether you’re a San Diego direct mail advertising services provider or running a social media campaign in Chicago, you can track results without hindrances.

Direct Mail Helps Strike a Balance Between Online and Offline

Online and offline marketing strategies can work well in tandem. Did you know that only 66% of Americans over 65 years of age use the internet? This means that a large number of people are not looking at digital and are untapped by businesses. This is where direct mail comes into the picture.

At the same time, not all customers want to use digital channels to view your offers or when responding to them. If you want your brand to succeed, you need to know your customer’s preferences and give them choices. What works for one customer may not have the same effect on another. Using direct mail in accordance with digital strategies can, therefore, help businesses reach and serve their customers more effectively.

It Isn’t Outdated Anymore

Just like every marketing strategy has evolved with time, direct mail has also grown by leaps and bounds. Its relevance in the digital age has made it possible for direct mail to become increasingly sophisticated.

In fact, the digital medium complements direct mail just fine with the introduction of elements like NFC technology, QR codes and augmented reality. QR codes can be used to integrate videos into direct mail pieces. For example, by creating a QR code that links to your brand’s YouTube video, the user gets directed to your YouTube channel or the preferred landing page on their phone in no time.

Conclusion

Direct mail has a wide appeal that cannot be ignored if marketers want to design foolproof marketing strategies that target the majority of people. It can reach where digital media cannot, thereby making it more inclusive and engaging.

The last thing that progressive businesses want is to miss out on a large customer base by not including direct mail in their marketing strategy. Don’t be that business. Know that direct mail can work wonders for your overall marketing strategy in the digital age and use it to your advantage.

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Debbi Gourley on Linkedin
Debbi Gourley
Debbi Gourley is President and Founder at Money Mailer of San Diego, an advertising firm that provides shared mail, solo mail and print services.

2 comments

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  1. I still use a direct marketing approach, I have a small crew put door hangers (Flyers) on homes, this has been very productive to my painting service here in Austin TX.

  2. I would say that direct mail can be annoying but if it works then it’s worth trying. I guess when everything else is going digital, it might open up opportunities for direct marketing.

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