Last month, we looked at what media marketers plan to use in 2014, and direct mail ranked high on your list of priorities.
The follow-up question was beyond the scope of that survey, but worth asking: How do you use direct mail today?
We live in a time when most response happens online. There are some exceptions—fundraisers, for example, still seem to get a lot of response by mail. But for other mailers, it seems like the mail piece's job is to drive recipients to another channel, either to a website, retail location or telephone call.
I remember working on Catalog Success about five years ago. Even then, catalogers expected the vast majority of catalog response would come online. Now, that magazine's title is Retail Online Integration. So, should you even bother with an order form in the catalog? And how do you prove orders are driven by the catalog, so the bean counters won't cut your direct mail budget?
At the same time, it's very clear direct mail has an impact on recipients; especially with the bombardment of spam email, unwatched Web ads and paid social shenanigans you're seeing online. Direct mail is a kind of impact marketing: It stands out, it's real and the recipients have to handle it, even if they choose to ignore it. In fact, it can be easier to just read the piece than ignore it.
If you use direct mail, how do you deploy that for maximum effect in your marketing? Has that changed during the past 10 to 20 years?