Direct Mail Marketing, a Dead Practice?

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Despite the popularity of digital marketing, direct mail marketing is far from dead. In truth, the fact that online advertising is so popular is one major reason why this type still works – it’s different and gives you the opportunity to produce high-quality visual advertising, and people love anything that’s unique. All types of companies continue to use direct mail marketing successfully – insurance companies, real estate (which if you are in the market is the site for you), and retailers are just three industries that have this type of advertising as an important part of their overall marketing strategy.

Why is Direct Mail Marketing Successful?

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It is one of the most targeted types of marketing out there. You’re able to deliver relevant, useful information to your target audience. Plus, they can’t block you! Unlike something like email or digital marketing, where people can click an “Unsubscribe” button or simply block you, direct mail can’t. And a lot of customers don’t want to block their mail, anyway – receiving a piece of mail, especially if it’s personalized, makes the individual feel valued and like they’re connecting with a company on a real level.

It also makes an impact because recipients physically touch it. When a person holds, looks at and eventually throws out their mail, they’ve made a physical connection with it. That connection is memorable and meaningful to the person. It’s sort of like talking to someone on video chat versus being with them in person. Both modes of communication let you connect with another person, but literally being in their presence is more impactful.

The Return on Investment (ROI)

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It’s hard to imagine that a physical item has an ROI that can compete with a digital item, but direct mailings hold their own when compared to two leading types of marketing: email and social media. The average ROI of direct mail is almost 20%, which is just about the same as social media. While email marketing has a very high ROI of almost 125 percent, it’s still important to remember that direct mailers have one of the top three ROIs of the major advertising mediums.

Direct Mail vs. Email Marketing

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While there seems to be the perception that the response rate for direct mail marketing has dropped, it hasn’t, and some reports show that it has a greater response rate than email marketing. One reason why the response rate may be higher for direct mail is that people aren’t as overwhelmed by physical mail as they are by email. Since a lot of people don’t receive a lot of mail, getting anything in their mailbox is actually exciting and eye-catching. (Keep in mind that ROI and response rate are different. Direct mail may have a higher response rate than email marketing, but email-targeted users may spend a higher percentage than direct mail audiences.)

People flip through their email quickly, sometimes not even taking in much of a sales email at all before clicking “delete.” Looking through mail takes a little extra time, though, and even if an ad is tossed, it tends to stay in the person’s memory for longer than email. If they’re still thinking about that ad they received, they can go online to check out the company and possibly make a purchase.

Versus TV Advertising

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TV advertising is one of the most expensive types of advertising out there, even more pricey than print and radio ads. It’s definitely more costly than direct mail marketing, as well. Plus, it may be more effective than TV advertising for one very simple reason: people stop to look at their mail.

Think about watching your favorite TV show or TV network. You can probably tell when commercials are about to come on, right? You may start to get up as soon as you sense that a commercial break is coming. You leave the room, make a quick phone call or even change the channel to something else for a couple of minutes.

People aren’t nearly so flippant about direct mail. Nobody ignores their mail, because there’s a fear of throwing away something super important, like a wedding invitation or a bill. Because of that, people take a few seconds to look at every piece of mail they get, even if they consider most of it junk. That type of undivided attention is what makes direct mail marketing so effective.

Direct Mail Can Be Targeted and Tracked

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You may think that it’s not possible to target audiences with direct mail campaigns (aside from geographical location), but that’s not true. There are tools that can help, like Every Door Direct Mail from the USPS. First, you narrow down options by location. Then, you can filter results based on how many people live in a home, age of residents, household size and even household income. You can then find out exactly how much it’ll cost to send your mail to that home. If you already know your audience demographics, figuring out exactly which homes to target with your marketing campaign is possible.

Once all of your mailings go out, you can track how effective they are – a cornerstone of a successful advertising campaign. Unlike with digital marketing, you can’t automatically track things like response rate, engagement and ROI. However, there are ways to figure out which users are responding to your mailing.

If your mailer encourages people to call your business, you can set up a phone number that you only use on the mailers. Then, you can track how many people call that number. Or, you can direct people to a URL and create a landing page just for that campaign. That way, you’ll know that anyone who signs up for your offer came directly from that mailer.

Final Thoughts

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There are many wonderful things about digital marketing, and it may even have a prominent place in your strategy. However, tried-and-true tactics like direct mail marketing haven’t been edged out. Combine traditional with modern advertisement campaigns to find the ones that work best for you and your business.