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

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.

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  • Rick O’Connor

    I enjoyed your article, but i think your content is way above some audience’s capabilities considering budget, office talent and fear of doing any thing new. (especially Charities.)
    Something anyone can do is combine an email with traditional mail and tell supporters by email that "something very important" is coming their way in the mail. When you do that for a few weeks, you are cancelling out most of your competitors mail "asks" until yours arrives.
    For those Charities & non-profits slightly ahead of the curve, start using text messaging to notify supporters of soon to arrive snail mail or a special email and then migrate them over to their preferred method of communication.
    There are three realities: traditional mail, email/online, and mobile/online, and each avenue creates results based upon your supporters demographics. The hot, new charities generating huge revenues do not use mail and their supporters are mostly all under 40. That’s got to tell you something!

  • Theo Pettaras

    Great article Pat. Most certainly from our experience our clients have indeed benefited from this process. Thanks for sharing.

  • Robert W. Bell

    Direct mail sent by itself is less effective and really shouldn’t been done any more.
    We have launched a new Patent pending solution called LIVINGMAIL and we are seeing it combined with our mail and QR Code solution AccuTrace really increase the response and action with the mail recipients.
    In my opinion, its either get ahead of the curve, or get left behind. When direct mail can, text, email, make a phone call why would you not use those mediums? Sending out just a old plane mail piece will not work like it used to.