Direct Mail's Grand Revival
There's no doubt about it: Direct mail use continues to dominate. More companies add this channel to their media mix every year, and while search engine marketing investment might be growing faster than other media, it's only a fraction of the budget spent on direct mail campaigns. Certainly, this is because direct mail is more costly than search, but it's also due to the fact that the direct marketer's best prospects are baby boomers who are used to going to their mailboxes every day to see what might be waiting for them. They like their catalogs, magazine renewal efforts and offers for credit cards with better rates.
But there's a dark side to direct mail. The best direct mail shoppers get inundated with offers—and everyone is annoyed by mailings that aren't targeted. And suddenly, more is not better, it's just more. Or, more accurately, it's less, as in less welcome and less effective. Considering the U.S. Postal Service's current state of affairs—rising delivery costs, declining First Class mail volume and a $3.1 billion escrow payment for Civil Service Retirement Service funding—the sky's the limit for postage rates, if postal reform doesn't happen soon. Continually rising costs for direct mail means direct marketers have to make their campaigns work harder.
This month's issue contains two good sources of ideas for how to turn up the wattage on your direct mail efforts. As you can guess from the cover story's title, "Blockbuster Direct Mail," we're about to reveal the biggest trends in direct mail controls—strategies culled from hundreds of campaigns that are making their mailers very successful. While none of the long-term controls feature true one-to-one customization, many employ segmentation and personalization tactics to get as relevant as possible without the need to blow a significant percentage of your annual direct mail budget on one campaign.