7 Reasons Direct Mail Still Matters

Aug 20, 2013

Terry Brokamp

You know direct mail – you receive it, you use it, and it’s more effective than ever. But why? Why in our era of feature-rich, multimedia, permission-based marketing does direct mail still endure? Why do marketers know in their gut that direct mail is irreplaceable? When we sit down and spell it out, the not-so-obvious answers become obvious.

8-20-13_thumb1. Direct mail is proven. Research shows that typical direct mail response rates are between 3 and 5 percent. Though this seems small, it is still a statistically reliable number for expected response rates and it could be very successful depending on the product or service being sold. For instance, a high-ticket item like a $10K window installation may only require one sale to pay for the entire mailing and then some. In this case, even a 0.5 percent response rate could be very profitable. The key is to determine your desired response rate at the onset so that you can calculate the proper investment and expected ROI.

2. Direct mail can be personalized. Unlike magazine, newspaper, TV and most other forms of advertising, direct mail can be personalized to the individual recipient. Variable digital printers can easily insert personalized information into a direct mail piece and make it look like the piece was custom designed for the individual. Auto dealers, for example, have found much success personalizing direct mail to car owners by seamlessly inserting the owner’s name, vehicle model, estimated mileage and estimated service work needed. The key here is to capture all the relevant information you can about your customers and their purchase history so that you may use that data to personalize your mailings.

3. Direct mail can be highly targeted. Plenty of direct mail lists are available for purchase containing a wealth of information about individuals. By accessing Census Bureau records, public property records, purchase histories and other list data, direct mail lists can narrow target demographics to precise buyer segments. For instance, many list brokers can help you mail to men or women, adults of a particular age group, homeowners within a particular zip code, income ranges, parents, etc.

4. Direct mail can have lasting shelf life. Suppose you want to keep your brand and company phone number easily accessible by consumers so that when they are ready to buy, your business is the one they choose first. Through direct mail, you can provide items such as magnets, stickers and pens that have shelf-life around the house or at work reminding consumers you are there and ready to serve.

5. Direct mail is experiential. Direct mail also has a unique capability that is unavailable through any other form of advertising. Direct mail can be “experienced” by the user. Fragrances, for instance, can be applied to a direct mail piece for experiencing the smell of a product such as a perfume or lotion without the product being present. In other cases, consumers can actually test a product through direct mail before purchasing it, as we’ve seen with sample laundry detergents, juice drinks and other consumables.

6. Direct mail is scalable to any budget. Whether you budget is $10 or $100,000, a direct mail program can be developed to fit your needs. This allows you to send a mailing to just your top few clients or to the thousands in your surrounding market. You simply establish your budget, then structure a mailing to fit that budget.

7. Direct mail is precisely measureable. A number of different features are inherent in direct mail allowing you to precisely measure response rates. When you distribute your mailings via First Class mail from the USPS, you are sure of the delivery since the “undeliverables” are returned to you. More important is the use of unique phone numbers or promotional codes applied to direct mail. This allows you to accurately measure the responses received from a particular direct mail piece.

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Tags: USPS, direct mail marketing, campaign, segmentation

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