There’s no question that digital marketing has secured a huge place in the overall marketing strategy used by virtually every company in America, but it’s still premature to consider direct mail dead. Most marketers have come to realize that all marketing efforts support each other, and direct mail is no exception.


In fact, the future for direct mail actually looks more promising than ever, and at the present it’s still an $8 billion industry which has a place in the top 100 of the Harris Poll. However, in order to really maximize the value of direct-mail, you have to understand exactly the position it holds today, and why it still occupies such a prominent role in the marketing plans for most companies.


Current status of direct-mail

Many people think that digital mail is currently just limping along, keeping its head above water as the digital revolution takes hold. This however, is a false impression, and the truth is that digital mail is actually alive and thriving. As companies become more and more attached to online forms of communication, most homes are now receiving fewer pieces of mail via conventional delivery, and that means direct-mail pieces have a better chance of standing out amongst all the other clutter.


So if you can provide customers with real value that actually addresses their needs and pain points, you have a pretty fair chance of actually reaching them. Here are some facts you might find surprising about the state of direct-mail today:


  • Direct-mail provides a 70% higher recall rate than any other form of advertising
  • 95% of people in the 18 to 29 age group react positively to direct-mail
  • 70 to 80% of mail recipients take the time to review all mail, even mail they’re not interested in
  • The average direct-mail campaign currently yields a 5.1% response rate for existing customers and a 2.9% response rate for acquiring new customers. Email campaigns with similar purpose typically earn a response rate of less than .5%
  • Approximately 80% of direct-mail recipients will generally take immediate action on received mail, whereas only about 45% of email recipients do the same.


From the facts above, it should be clear that direct-mail is not only alive and well, but that it may be enjoying something of a renaissance, and is more effective than at any other time in its history. The truth is that direct-mail is mildly intrusive and tactile, both of which are considered powerful attributes for any type of advertising medium.


Marketing influence of direct-mail

You might be very surprised to learn about the continued effectiveness of direct-mail’s influence on newer forms and types of marketing. Principles which make direct-mail circulation so effective are found in many other aspects of digital marketing today, which further solidifies the status of direct-mail as a compelling force in business today.


For instance, inbound marketing involves building a list of interested parties and then crafting a marketing message which caters to the activities embraced by those individuals. This concept is taken directly from direct-mail, and inbound marketing also makes major use of the personalization which is a hallmark of direct-mail. This has created a digital complement to the proven methods which have been effective for direct mail for several decades now.


Content marketing is another area which owes its origins to direct-mail. Sending out supplementary content with industry information has been a strong feature of direct-mail for number of years now. It’s only now that the digital equivalent of this approach is emerging, as companies customize their content to meet audience needs by offering value through their services and knowledge.


Consumers are making their voices heard to a much greater extent and in a greater number of channels, which provides companies the opportunity to use many of the insights gathered by direct-mail. This in turn, allows companies to focus on the consumer a great deal more, so that each touchpoint can be improved whether it’s, off-line or online.


One more way that direct-mail has had a huge impact on digital marketing is in the circulation of product catalogs. It is known that people prefer browsing through catalogs because they’re more fun and easier to use than a long list of webpages loaded with merchandise. This has prompted companies to distribute catalogs directly from their websites, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the value delivered by the physical catalog itself.


Retargeting is an area which definitely has its roots in digital advertising, but which has evolved from direct-mail as well. Since direct-mail is an out-of-the-box approach to remarketing, it is capable of having a huge impact on site conversions and consumer engagement, even including e-commerce. It’s no accident that a great many e-commerce companies have now begun expanding their marketing efforts into direct-mail, e.g., Amazon, Warby Parker, and Bonobos.


The big picture

No one is suggesting that direct-mail should be the centerpiece of any company’s marketing strategy these days. However, every action taken from your overall marketing initiatives has a mutually supportive effect, and it can create meaningful customer experiences at every touchpoint along the purchasing journey. Knowing how your customer has expectations at each of these points will help you to figure out where you should focus your advertising efforts, whether that’s by social media marketing, email marketing, paid searches, or a physical catalog.


By establishing a customer-centric approach, every one of your marketing efforts will build on its own particular strengths, and contribute to the big picture in its own way. As part of any really effective marketing campaign, direct-mail can still be extremely relevant and useful today, and that is likely to be true for the foreseeable future. Even though marketing today has become largely digital, there’s still a very significant role for direct-mail, and physical catalogs which cannot be replaced or eliminated, without losing a very valuable method of reaching existing customers as well as potential new customers.

Want help creating a winning direct mail campaign for your business? Give us a call at 309-767-0004 and see why our clients mail millions of pieces through Profit 911’s Print Division.