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Direct Mail : The Future of Mail Is Here

Kick off 2013 by advancing your direct mail program to meet the demands of an evolving marketplace

January 2013 By Pat McGrew
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There are some who say direct mail marketing is dead.

Their reasoning takes many tracks and varies depending on where you sit in the marketing universe. For some, the talk track goes like this:

The move into online marketing using Web banners and email has been swift and widely accepted by the brands and consumers; we no longer need to go through the pain of developing creative and tolerating the costs associated with printing and mailing direct mail marketing.

For others, the talk track is more accommodating to the value proposition of direct mail campaigns, but print is put on the back burner because of the line item costs that seem to not apply to Internet-based marketing.

Considering the pressure that most marketers are under to produce greater results with fewer dollars, it's not surprising that direct mail looks less attractive when faced with competition from social media and other customer-facing channels.

At this point in the story, it would be easy to declare direct mail marketing to be dead, and say the future has arrived with the cost-per-engagement models of online marketing. It might be easy, but it wouldn't be accurate.

There is ample evidence in the market to show that keeping direct mail touchpoints in your marketing mix pays off. Look at the Direct Marketing Association's "Statistical Fact Book" for any year or reports from The Winterberry Group and you will see that direct mail marketing campaigns still play an interesting role in driving customer engagement.

The first learning is that the role of direct mail has changed. It has shifted from driving direct orders to setting the hook that drives prospects to an online forum where offers can be refined, more data can be gathered and the call to action finalized.

You may have seen the term O-to-O (Offline-to-Online) to describe the relationship. In fact, the more accurate description is O-to-O-to-O—where the life cycle of the customer engagement can start in either galaxy, online or offline, be directed to the alternate, and then pulled back to the original touchpoint.

 
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