Direct Mail's Resurgence and New Role in Integrated Marketing
The emergence of digital technological advances, as detailed above, has provided marketers with lower cost options to reengage their target audiences As engaging and dynamic an experience as these new channels are, they are not the be-all and end-all for acquiring and retaining customers. They really are a wonderful, new set of tools in the marketer's tool box, whose value needs to be understood through testing and learning and retesting.
However, the extreme pendulum shift from offline to online channels since 2007, and for some even earlier, may have been too severe. Today we read many industry articles, blogs and discussion group postings that speak of the value of a strategic mix—or rather an integration of direct response channels—as the best way to attract and retain customers.
There was a time when marketers had to compete for their targets' attention, designing amongst the clutter to stand out in an overcrowded postal mailbox. History seems to be repeating itself, but this time in our electronic inboxes, both personal and work related, as evidenced by the clutter and overload. Recipients have the power to use the delete key, and within seconds can clear out an overloaded inbox, or worst yet, just leave your message unread.
The greatest lessons marketers obtain come from testing offers, copy, lists, prices and frequency, as well as asking their customers their communication preferences through short surveys.
Epsilon Targeting completed channel preference studies in February 2008, February 2010 and recently in August 2011. The findings reported in The Formula For Success: Preference and Trust show that through economic turmoil, technological advances and channel proliferation, direct mail continues to deliver as consumers' preferred means of receiving marketing messages. The 2011 research shows that despite direct mail's reputation for being "old school" or expensive, it is the top choice of U.S. and Canadian consumers for receipt of brand communications in almost every category, including household products and services, insurance and financial, such as credit cards offers. One of the most interesting findings was the preference for direct mail, especially financial related offers, by the 18-34 year old demographic (see Table 2 in the media player for key findings).