Direct Mail's Resurgence and New Role in Integrated Marketing
The fact that consumers use and trust certain communication channels over others means marketers need to understand which channels resonate most at various points in the purchase cycle. The Epsilon study suggests that brands should use a variety of media to build relationships, starting with trusted channels such as direct mail. The best approach is to engage the prospect or customer, asking through a quick survey poll for their channel preference(s); listening will only increase your share of wallet over the lifetime of that customer.
Direct mail, not surprisingly, has been staging a resurgence since 2010. Thomas J. Foti, the editor of Deliver Magazine, said in the February 2012 issue, "Last year saw the continuation of some monumental shifts in direct mail." A USPS Household Data Study, 'Mail Use & Attitudes in FY 2010' (pdf), reported that 12 percent of 2010's $171 billion spent on advertising was allocated to direct mail, and total advertising mail volume in 2010 was 83.5 billion pieces. The USPS reported that marketers mailed out 84 billion pieces in 2011, and project standard class mail to increase by 14 percent in 2016 (see Table 3 in the media player).
According to The Direct Marketing Association, direct mail expenditures in 2011 grew to just more than $50 billion, a 4.6 percent increase, and are forecast to rise at least 3.6 percent annually through 2014. A recent Winterberry Group Analysis reports that, between 2010 and 2011, marketers increased direct mail budget allocations by 2.5 percent, and another 2 percent from 2011 to 2012, which nets out to a volume increase of 5.5 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively (see Table 1 for more).
Furthermore, direct mail gets opened—your offers are seen, engaged with, tested and purchased. A 2010 USPS Household Diary Study (pdf) found that in 2010, more than 48 percent of all standard mail addressed to specific household members was read immediately, as opposed to only 39.6 percent of standard mail addressed to "occupant/resident."