The Future of Direct Mail
I definitely see a return to direct mail over the next couple of years.
Boldt: What trends/techniques/strategies do you see increasing in the coming years?
Merrigan: More database/personalization are a given; it's difficult to have a genuine relationship if you don't know who you're speaking with! I think premiums will continue to play a significant role in fundraising acquisition, where the critical first hurdle is to simply get attention. And, because there are so many causes competing for the same donor dollars, there will continue to be a need for fresh package ideas (and/or production advances that lower the cost of existing packages). I think that all customers and donors are raising the bar on communications: They expect you to know them, to recognize them, and to speak to them in ways that reflect your appreciation and understanding of past interactions.
Grant Johnson: You will see much more creative use of direct mail formats, personalization and, hopefully, testing. Data will become more and more paramount, and look for more co-promotional efforts with offers and messaging.
Hennerberg: A trend I see is marketers, local retailers and professional firms moving into both online and direct mail as fewer people subscribe to newspapers and magazines, and watch less television. Local marketers are searching for other ways to promote their businesses, and it often includes a mix of direct mail and websites.
Tyson: Currently, publishers seem to have overlooked the fact that direct mail is the most flexible source of subscriptions available to them. You can actually conduct statistically valid testing of offers, lists, price and creative. Direct mail can be manipulated in a way that other sources can't, so far. You can mail more or fewer pieces, create a low-cost package. Mailing address list availability is still superior to email lists in most markets. At the same time, marketers can reduce the amount of subscriptions needed from direct mail by working to strengthen their web efforts, email campaigns, insert card production and agency business, not to mention renewals. These things aren't mutually exclusive. They are basic. And, not enough people are paying attention to basics right now.