The Future of Direct Mail
Mark Everett Johnson, copywriter: Direct mail will remain important for many direct marketers. Some mailers are doing very well right now due to reduced competition in the mailbox paired with carefully targeted creative. Examples: A health newsletter publisher that altered their copy led to focus on the relatively low cost of the subscription compared to the value of good health, and a financial newsletter publisher whose copy offers specific actions for protecting one's wealth in volatile financial markets.
Pat Friesen, copywriter: It remains a viable medium for keeping in touch with many market segments and prospecting in others. What has changed is that you can no longer afford to do mass prospect mailings that aren't targeted. However, even with ever-increasing costs, it still has certain advantages. It's three-dimensional, hard to ignore, perceived as being more personal and has tactile appeal other media lacks. It's also virus-free and reaches people email doesn't.
For example, a client in a service industry recently called me with a traditional letter-writing assignment. After successfully testing an email cross-sell offer to his customer base, he wanted to make the same offer in a letter to his email nonrespondents. Even with a 15 percent to 20 percent email open rate, he still wasn't reaching 80 percent to 85 percent of his highly qualified buyers. A matchback of his direct mail respondents showed they hadn't opened the email, but they did open and respond to the direct mail.
Grant Johnson, CEO of direct marketing agency Johnson Direct: Direct mail won't die, but it will remain forever changed. There is still no better way to prospect for business than traditional direct mail. Volume will decrease, as better segmentation due to better analytic tools will be the norm.
What will continue to happen is those who do direct mail well will prosper and those who do it marginally well or poorly will falter. Mail will still play a key role as a driver to action: raising money, buying a product or service, visiting a store or website, or being used as the main channel to close the sale through fulfillment.
Keith Goodman, VP of corporate solutions for Modern Postcard: I believe the market will be coming back very strong. At the end of the day, businesses need to acquire new customers, and direct mail has proven, time and time again, that it is one of, if not the most, cost-effective methods of customer acquisition for virtually any business. When you look at the slow but steady decline of the print industry, the issues concerning unsolicited email (spam), the DVR to skip commercials and commercial-free satellite radio, where else is there for businesses to effectively capture new business?