Why Direct Mail is a Worthy Opponent of Digital Marketing
Direct mail is rising from the dead
Direct mail was in its prime 30–40 years ago, growing more than 133% from 1975 – 19881. Marketers loved that it provided more targeting capabilities and personalization than the “spray and pray” tactics of newspaper, radio or billboard advertising. But then, computers came along in the 80s, digital advertising was born in the 90s and the growth of direct mail slowed as a result. When the Great Recession happened, direct mail was declared dead as many companies simply put a halt to spending money on tangible advertising in exchange for “cheaper” digital advertising and social media. But only a few short years later, and direct mail spending is rising.
So why is direct mail increasing in popularity? And how does it compare to digital marketing? Below we highlight some of the reasons you may want to consider (or re-consider) adding direct mail to your marketing mix.
It’s trustworthy. Unlike email, which requires a minimal investment, direct mail comes with a cost for printing and mailing. Consumers know this and, therefore, trust direct mail more. Think about how many spam emails you receive on a daily or weekly basis. Do you trust those companies? Are they reputable? Would you want to do business with them? Probably not. Now think about the direct mail that arrives in your mailbox. For the most part, they are reputable companies, right? Consumers want to trust the companies that they do business with and by investing in direct mail, you are also investing in your prospects – and they know this. In fact, 56% of consumers think direct mail is the most trustworthy of all marketing channels2.
Better Open Rates. Just how many emails can one person read in a day? We are bombarded with digital messages from the time we get up in the morning until we lay our heads down at night. On our phones, on our mobile devices and at work, consumers receive north of 100 emails daily. With that many emails, some are bound to get ignored – maybe yours? With much less competition, direct mail is far from overwhelming to consumers, in fact, 70% of consumers look forward to opening their mail3. And according to the DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail response rate dwarfs email response rates, 3.7% vs. 0.1%.
It taps into more emotions. The tactile feel, and even the smell, of your direct mail piece helps to create a personal experience for your potential customer. Selecting quality materials will aid in communicating that your brand is reliable and reputable. Think about the last piece of marketing collateral you received from a company. Was it sturdy with nice finishes or cheap and flimsy? How did it reflect on the company that you received it from? Direct mail has the ability to tap into multiple senses, unlike digital marketing, which really only taps into the sense of sight. And because multiple senses are used, direct mail becomes more memorable and personal.
There is less competition. As discussed earlier in this post, direct mail was, at one time, a very popular form of marketing. But advertising spending cooled off during the Great Recession and direct mail was on the chopping block across many organizations. Today, direct mail is gaining in popularity again, however, it is still used much less than in its heyday. For you, this means less competition in the mail box and more opportunity to get noticed. According to the USPS, consumers spend about 30 minutes reading their physical mail, and while doing so, they are not getting distracted by pop-up ads and email notifications – instead, they are focused on your message right in front of them.
Spending your entire marketing budget on direct mail campaigns is definitely not recommended, however, making it a part of your multi-channel marketing strategy is smart. In today’s world, data is plentiful, so direct mail campaigns can be more relevant and better targeted and can even deliver a healthier ROI than digital marketing.