In today's hyper-digital world, we often hear the question, "Is Direct Mail Dead?" It's a fair question, and one that we have spent a lot of time thinking about over the years as the world around us has become increasingly digital. Is the direct mail industry the dinosaur of marketing channels? Can direct mail really be effective in reaching consumers, voters or donors in today's market? With all of the marketing options available to us today, is direct mail really even something we should consider? Or is direct mail simply a thing of the past, similar to the home phone landline and VHS tapes?
We could sit here all day and give your our professional opinions about why direct mail is still very much not only a valid marketing concept, but a very important component of any marketing campaign. But our primary business is direct mail, so we can see that you might see our opinion as a slight bit skewed. Instead, we've done some research and found what other folks are saying about how direct mail fits into today's marketing strategies...
According to the article, "Is It Still Worth Marketing By Direct Mail?" by CEO Today Magazine, direct mail is "experiencing a resurgence due to the overwhelming nature of the digital age". The incredible number of emails, social media posts and digital ads that we are all exposed to every day means that we are really "seeing" and taking real notice of fewer of them. We sort through our emails looking for the important ones and discarding everything else. We mindlessly swipe through our social media feeds until the cute kid photos or dancing cat videos grab our attention. But with direct mail, your message goes directly into the hand of your target audience as they pick up their mail. The article from CEO Today goes on to say that "It's estimated that direct mailers are kept in the house for 17 days, and more than 66% of direct mail is read". That's a staggering difference from the milliseconds you have to grab your audience's attention online.
Best selling author and respected marketing guru, Neil Patel, gives his thoughts on how direct mail fits into today's digital age in his post, "13 Reasons Why Direct Mail Isn't Dead". Mr Patel talks about direct mail's high ROI (return on investment) as compared to paid search and online display ads. He discusses how you can use direct mail to build a relationship with your audience that will make them feel special, how it can improve your brand awareness, how it can work hand in hand with your digital efforts, and then there's this... "When you open the mailbox and pull out a small stack of letters, you won't throw away any of the mail without at least glancing at it first...There is a fear of missing out on something important." Mr Patel goes on to say, "...when you receive a piece of direct mail, you're at home, after work, with some extra time to view the letter. Direct mail naturally gets more attention because there are fewer distractions when people see it."
In their post, "Why Direct Mail Marketing is Far From Dead" Forbes says that direct mail reaches out to people on an emotional level because it is real. It is tangible and uses the senses of touch, sight and even smell to some level. As they say, "We've sent it and received it, opened it, saved it and thrown it away for much of our lives. It has weight, substance and dimension. Mail is a constant.". They reference studies that report that "60% [of folks polled] said this effect made a more lasting mental impression on them, making it easier to recall later on. 57% of respondents said that postcard marketing makes them feel more valued and creates a more authentic relationship.". This relationship leads to a higher desire to do business with or interact with the folks who sent them the mail. And aren't relationships what we all strive to build with our audience?
In her article, "Are You Ready for Direct Mail's Comeback?", professional speaker and marketing specialist Elaine Fogel reports that 8 out of 10 business users find direct mail effective in growing their businesses. But she also reports that "a strong majority of consumers trust direct mail when they want to make a purchasing decision". In fact, she cites 70% trust levels for direct mail even amongst Millenials! We've read other similar statistics, many of which state that this trust factor could go back to the strong perceived value and undivided attention that comes along with mail. Recipients of direct mail feel special across generations, and for younger audiences direct mail is more exciting and personal than yet another digital outreach. Perhaps too, folks might believe it is harder to share fake or fraudulent information via mail than it is online? That would make for an interesting study.
In another Forbes article, "Direct Mail Still Works: How to Use Tech to Elevate Traditional Marketing" Michael Plummer, Jr says, "The internet is a technological marvel, but everyone is using it. Seeing an ad on the internet is like looking at the night sky and picking out a favorite star. They all look the same after a while.". He talks about how direct mail can set you apart from your competition because you show up in their mailbox, speaking directly to them... and maybe your competition doesn't. You can use your message on direct mailpieces to grab your audience's attention and then direct them to your digital presence: your website or social media channels. He also talks about direct mail being tangible and trackable. If you send out an offer and someone walks in the door with the card to redeem it (or enters a special code online), you know that they received your mailpiece and paid attention to it. You know that your outreach worked.
In their post, "11 Reasons Why Direct Mail is Critical in the Digital Age" the Data and Marketing Association discusses why folks still like to receive and respond to direct mail. In today's digital world, they see direct mail as "disruptive and engaging". They say "Mail is personal; the printed word harkens back to hand-written notes and birthday cards. It connects us, something email cannot do." And, perhaps equally important and often overlooked, they describe direct mail as active. "Customers may find their way to your website on their own, but a direct mail piece in their mailbox is an active tap on the shoulder that online-only activities don't allow... and it won't get overlooked in a crowded inbox like email." Their studies indicate that the average person looks through their mail for 10 to 20 minutes and opens 80% of what they receive. Those numbers far exceed anything online.
So, what do you think? Is direct mail dead? We don't think so. In fact, we believe that it is becoming an even more important part of an effective marketing strategy. As clutter decreases in physical mailboxes and increases in digital mailboxes, direct mail is becoming an even more powerful way to stand out and build relationships with your audience. Have questions about how direct mail might work for you? Give us a call at 713.569.1369 or send us an email! We'll be happy to answer your questions.