The Future of Direct Mail
Digital media will capture a portion of the loyalty and retention markets with opt-in email, but even with 20 percent average open rates (that are currently declining), direct mail will play a major role there as well.
Boldt: How has your job of copywriting/design/direct marketing changed in the past couple of years?
Bly: In 1982, when I started, 100 percent of my work was offline and 98 percent was print (I did a little radio and video). Today, 70 percent of my work is online and 30 percent or less is print. In a few years, I suspect it will be 80/20 online/offline.
Lewis: About 60 percent of my copy now is geared to the web. I anticipate that number increasing to at least 75 percent as social media (of which I'm not fond, because the lunatics can ruin the asylum) become more prominent as marketing tools.
Merritt Engel, VP of fundraising agency Merrigan & Co.: Like most copywriters, we find ourselves writing more for the interactive space and for more integrated campaigns. Project development time has shortened dramatically as organizations need to get their message out more quickly and respond to changes in the marketplace. A positive change—as competition has increased—we've noticed increased emphasis placed on messaging. The format and list alone are not enough to carry a piece.
Merrigan: It has also forced a greater focus on the information needs of the recipient. Today's prospect/customer has far more information sources to choose from ... and far more ability to self-select what information to pay attention to. It's no longer enough to simply be in front of them; you have to be relevant.
Warwick: One of the keys to success in fundraising generally, and in direct response specifically, is personalization. As our use of that technique becomes more extensive, the craft of copywriting becomes ever more complex. Writing 100 versions of an appeal isn't easy! But my colleagues and I will have to get used to that sort of thing.
Grant Johnson: I have become more consultative as prospects and clients are more concerned about the effectiveness of their direct mail and are unsure of how to proceed. I am anticipating and seeing a larger wholehearted commitment to direct mail or an abandonment of the channel like never before. All or nothing, at least near-term.
Tyson: My job and my company's focus has shifted away from pure creative to outsource management and consulting. We still do creative work for management clients, of course, but project and freelance work is not something we actively seek. This change occurred over time. It was a conscious decision on our part about 10 years ago. I read the handwriting on the wall and decided to head in an alternate direction.