Direct mail provides immediate gratification. Ever wonder why mailings include return address labels or product samples? They work! Direct mail that includes an instant free gift or usable product sample provides instant gratification and better direct mail open rates. They also plant the seed of a relationship with new customers and no download is required.
Direct mail is still officially and personally delivered ... for less than a Starbuck's cup of coffee. While there's plenty of reason to be critical of the USPS, it's still a person in uniform — not a computer — who hand-delivers your mail. He or she is a "regular" in the neighborhood or office. All this carries an unspoken aura of importance.
Direct mail is virus-free. It has never made a computer crash. Need I say more?
Have you noticed there's been an increase in direct mail from restaurants? Why? They've discovered it's the cost-effective way to saturate a geographic area or radius with an appropriately relevant message and put an offer into the hands of a new customer.
Direct mail is still perceived as being private and less risky when providing credit card and other personal information.
Direct mail is personal. In an informal focus group of attendees at a direct marketing (not direct mail) workshop, I asked how many preferred receiving birthday and holiday cards by mail versus email. 100 percent said traditional mail. Now true, this was not a statistically reliable sample. But what caught my attention was the average age of 20-something. Done right, it's still hard to beat the personal appeal of traditional mail.
Direct mail databases remain a powerful prospecting tool. They allow you to target prospects you otherwise can't reach because of opt-in rules and do not call lists.
Another good reason to use direct mail is to influence sales through other channels. Think about what influences your visits to retail stores and Web sites. Often it's a catalog or postcard. Just because customers aren't mailing reply cards or order forms doesn't mean direct mail isn't working.