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3 min read

How Direct Mail Remains Effective in The Digital Age

1/9/20 2:11 PM

You’ve heard it time and time again: direct mail is dead. But as much as the recent technological advances may make you think no one reads snail mail anymore, the reality is that direct mail marketing is still incredibly effective. 

While employing a wide number of digital marketing strategies is becoming the norm, don’t discount the benefits of direct marketing. Below are a few ways that direct mail is still effective in the digital age:

It Has a Higher Response Rate
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that direct mail has a response rate of 4.4%, much higher than the 0.12% response rate for email1. The same study also concluded that direct mail’s response rates are anywhere from 10% to 30% higher than that of digital. This is most likely due to the fact that direct mail has much less competition than email does. While email inboxes are usually overflowing, not many companies take the time to send physical mail to prospective and existing customers. 

There is a positive reaction attributed to getting direct mail that email or other forms of digital marketing cannot copy. Giving and receiving a tangible object achieves a more lasting impression that is easier for a customer to recall. When a customer gets a coupon in the mail, it’s a lot easier for them to see it sitting on the counter day after day, reminding them to buy the product. When receiving a promotion via email marketing, the customer can easily forget about it if they don’t immediately act on it or it gets buried in their inbox.

Its Audience Targeting Has Improved
While direct mail campaigns of the past were mostly limited to targeting a location, current direct mail lists can be targeted much more selectively. Now, you can target your direct mail lists to a business type, a specific number of employees, by annual income and more. You can even send direct mail to customers based on data such as whether or not they’re a pet owner, a homeowner, or a first-time homebuyer. This data allows you add a personal touch while accurately targeting the customers most likely to engage.


It Can Help Drive Online Traffic
Although it may seem repetitive, direct mail can boost traffic to your website in a way that email marketing cannot.  Because recipients trust direct mail more than they trust marketing emails, you’ll be more likely to trigger online activity with direct mail. In fact, 56% of people feel that print advertising is the most trustworthy form of marketing2.

It’s also an effective way to offer incentives to get customers to register and use your online portal. When customers receive promo codes or coupons via direct mail, they’re more likely to create an account on your website to access that promotion.

Millennials Love It
Direct mail marketing is even effective with millennials.  While millennials are definitely the digital generation, they maintain the same built-in emotional response to receiving physical mail. Arguably, millennials are more likely to respond to direct mail due to the novelty of receiving it. If you use a strategically targeted direct mail campaign, you’ll be sure to generate qualified leads and drive online traffic to your company’s website.

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Concluding thoughts
If you find yourself wondering if direct mail is worth your time in today’s digital world, it definitely is. The one thing you can’t dispute is the data: a whopping 80% of direct mail recipients scan or read each mail piece3 and direct mail has a median ROI of 29%, putting its ROI in third behind email and social media marketing.

While you shouldn’t invest only in direct mail, you should include as an integral part of your marketing activities. Direct mail campaigns give a high ROI and even a higher ROI than paid ads. These campaigns work effectively by themselves, or alongside a digital marketing campaign. Despite what people say, direct mail is still holding its own against other marketing channels because of its high open rate, its novelty, flexibility, creativity, memorability, and the trust consumers place in it.


1 DMA 2017 Response Report
2 Alliance Business Services, 2019
3 Compu-Mail: 35 Direct Marketing Statistics for 2018-2019

Written by GSM

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