If you thought direct mail was a thing of the past, you aren’t the only one. Plenty of people still believe that direct mail is no longer an effective way to market, focusing instead on email and online marketing.
But they are all wrong.
Almost every major online retailer spends millions of dollars on all types of media, including direct mail. They’re doing it because it works. And because they know a mixed approach of both online and offline marketing is more effective than using one approach by itself.
There is no question that there was a period of time when companies could make more money by focusing solely on their online marketing. But direct mail has made a tremendous come-back.
What happened to make direct mail appealing again?
You can probably relate to getting hundreds, if not thousands, of daily emails – most of which are unsolicited. You have spam filters, but they don’t catch it all. Half the time your spam filter catches a few emails that you want so, so you end up having to search through the spam filter to find the good emails, which frustrates you even more.
It seems like every time you buy something online, you end up with emails from at least 1- different companies. You start deleting as fast as you can. Often, legitimate emails you actually want to get, and legitimate offers you might actually be interested in, get deleted.
Do you honestly look at everything in your inbox? Chances are you don’t even look at 1% of them.
How many times have you gone on a deleting and unsubscribing sprees simply because you were too overwhelmed by email? Chances are you do this pretty often.
This is what your prospects are going through, so getting your prospect to even see, not to mention open, your email is a challenging task. And before you can even get your email into someone’s inbox, you have to make sure you are complying with email laws if you don’t want to find yourself in an expensive legal battle just because you wanted to promote your business.
What makes direct mail effective again?
First, there are no laws against sending unsolicited mail to someone’s physical mailbox, so it’s easier to get into physical mailboxes.
Secondly, even the busiest person eventually has to go to the mailbox, pick up the mail, and shuffle through it to decide what to keep and what to throw away. Okay, some of the busiest people don’t look at their mail; they have someone else do it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get their attention using direct mail.
You have at least a second or two to get their attention. It is very easy to delete an email without ever seeing a single word in the email. It is not so easy to get rid of a direct mail piece without at least taking a quick glance at it.
Third, most of us spend a good part of our day staring at a computer screen. There is still a large part of society that enjoys reading the printed word on paper. How often do you read any sort of long document on the internet? You probably print it out like the rest of us and take it to read in your easy chair.
Here are a few facts to chew on:
- The Direct Marketing Association found that average direct mail response rates among existing customers is 3.4% vs. .12% for email.
- The Direct Marketing Association says that 73% of people prefer to receive a direct mail solicitation vs. an email solicitation
- An Epsilon Preference Study in 2011 showed that 50% of consumers say they pay more attention to postal mail than email
- That same study showed that 60% of consumers say they enjoy checking their mailbox and receiving mail
- The Epsilon Study also found that preferences for direct mail even extents to the 18 to 34 age group
- Alliance Research found that a fast-growing percentage of people exp4ress frustration and resentment with email marketing even from sources with which they have a good relationship
- USPS data in 2011 showed that 98% of consumers retrieve and sort through their mail from the mailbox the same day it is delivered
- A study by Bangor University and Millward Brown showed “Tangible materials such as direct mail trigger a much deeper level of emotional process than any other media”.
DMNews reports that marketers have increased their spending on direct mail by nearly 3%.
These statistics prove that direct mail is not dead!
Not only is it not dead, it is arguably more effective at creating an emotional connection with potential clients. The emotional connection they need to make in order to make the decision to buy from you.
Let’s go back to why consumers prefer “snail mail”.
(For you younger folks who never heard of “snail mail”, let me explain. When email first came out, traditional postal mail was given the nickname “snail mail”, mainly because it was not instantaneous like email.)
There are several reasons consumers prefer “snail mail”. First, it is simply easier to read something printed on paper than on the computer screen. Second, you can do things with paper and ink, such as adding scents, using special papers, including incredibly rich photos, and other things that create an emotional response, that you can’t do on a computer screen. And because it’s nice to get a break from that all-consuming computer screen.
Most of us spend all day in front of a screen, fighting through information overload with constant news streams, social media updates and notifications, and overflowing email inboxes… those five pieces of mail in our physical mailbox at the end of the day is surprisingly refreshing.