Is Direct Mail dead?

My COO asked me about direct mail the other day and if we had a marketing strategy around this mode of getting the message out.

At first, I was shocked because I haven’t discussed direct mail campaigns in years. The subject was on a list of agenda items to discuss with my Chief Marketing Officer many years ago and when we got to this item on the agenda she just laughed and moved on the next item, so I naturally assumed that direct mail was now dead and buried.  After-all few people in my generation even go to the mailbox to collect the mail let alone read anything inside. I usually take a trash can with me once a month and simply scoop the contents into the trash. But surely old people still read mail? The question really is does it work?

Many marketers view direct mail as old and antiquated that’s for sure. Others claim that direct mail is one of their most effective channels. I guess a lot depends on what industry you are in. I work in cybersecurity in the B2B space so not a lot of mail checking going on there among the techies we pitch to, but if I were marketing a product like replacement home windows or a new burger joint that had opened locally perhaps this might be a better mode of marketing than an email blast.

In 2016, The Data & Marketing Association reported that the direct mail customer response rate increased by 43%. Even better, the prospect response rate increased by 190% compared to 2015. And statistics don’t lie. Direct mail has an ROI of 29%, putting the ROI in third place behind email and social media which has almost zero cost. Social media is ahead by only 1 percentage point. Now compare that number to email, which has a response rate of only 0.6%.

In a world where consumers are being bombarded all day long by email and popups perhaps the marketing mode of old is more personal – akin to a personal meeting with a prospect rather than a phone or zoom call and we all know how effective phone and zoom calls can be some times!  

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