Why Direct Mail is Not Dead

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Everything is going digital, right? Well, yes and no. The fact that e-commerce, virtual conferencing, and streaming TV have exploded in recent years would lead a person to reason that offline mediums, like direct mail, are falling by the wayside. However, that’s not actually correct.

In truth, direct mail advertising is a $72.67 billion industry forecasted to grow at a compound annual rate of .3% by 2026, according to the Direct Mail Advertising Global Market Report 2022. There might be a few reasons why. 

Even though digital is all the rage, it has also grown costlier and more cumbersome in its own right. Digital advertising prices and customer acquisition costs continue to soar, and brands have not yet mastered ad frequency, meaning consumers continue to ignore or opt out of ads. Plus, Apple’s iOS privacy upgrades mean it’s now challenging to track the activity of iPhone users across the websites, apps, and social media sites they use. Consumers have always been able to opt out in terms of other online channels like email. And now that third-party cookies are going away, the entire way companies execute behavioral targeting and measure advertising effectiveness is being turned on its head. 

Direct mail surpasses all these hurdles. It provides a direct connection to customers and prospects in a way other channels can’t consistently achieve. Direct mail can be a highly targeted, cost-effective way to engage and retain customers and secure additional leads.

The ROI of direct mail

Direct mail produces an average ROI 23% higher than digital channels. The USPS reports that 77% of consumers sort through their mail as soon as they receive it, with 51% of households reading advertising mail and another 21% scanning it. The Response Rate Report from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and Demand Metric showed that—keeping somewhat lower usage numbers in mind—direct mail saw an average ROI of 112%, the highest of the channels reported, which included SMS, display advertising, and email.

This means direct mail is an excellent option for companies still waiting to fully adopt digital bill-presentment and -payment methods and channels. Thanks to digital data, direct mail is now more targeted, dynamic, and usable as a powerful tool in omnichannel campaigns. The USPS reports that combining digital and direct mail drives 40% conversion rates, which makes the latter a great channel to include in a digital adoption program. 

For example, you can use direct mail to drive to your website or a landing page with information about signing up for online billing or activating special offers. You can also combine direct mail and email in your marketing campaigns by matching email addresses to physical addresses so you can retarget email recipients with personalized direct mail assets. 

Tips for getting direct mail right 

Here are our top seven factors to consider if you want to start using direct mail in your marketing campaigns. 

  • Know your audience: Each generation has different preferences regarding direct mail. Baby Boomers, for instance, want simplicity and easy-to-read text. On the other hand, millennials crave more creativity and engagement with digital content after receiving direct mail. You must have a holistic, data-driven view of your customers to understand the direct mail features that most resonate with each. 
  • Use CTAs that drive to digital channels: Two of the top three industries that have always depended on direct mail, healthcare and finance, are using digital CTAs to a greater degree than ever before, according to research by the USPS and Comscore. Depending on your goals, don’t miss the opportunity to incorporate links to your website or social media channels, online brochures, coupons, sign-up forms, or other digital content.
  • Leverage QR codes: QR codes can help you track the performance of direct mail campaigns, which likely accounts for why they were the leading type of digital CTA used by direct mailers in 2021 at almost 40%. The tracking ability inherent in QR codes allows you to see the number of times customers scanned and even pinpoint their location, time, and device. You can update QR content anytime, A/B test your messaging, and link to any online property.
  • Ensure accurate addresses: Look for technology that can vet the accuracy of your mailings by correcting misspellings and comparing your addresses to the delivery points that USPS has so you can update when necessary. This might include leveraging USPS technology like NCOALINK® and services like return mail and certified mail in addition to a vendor’s proprietary capabilities. 
  • Make it look good: Your direct mail pieces must look good to capture customer attention. This requires high-speed, full-color printing capabilities and quality control to ensure high-quality, mistake-free assets.
  • Manage the customer communications lifecycle: High-quality targeted direct mail pieces can help you engage customers throughout their journey with your brand. To simplify the processes involved with these end-to-end communications, you’ll need access to document imaging and management services, the ability to personalize messages to individual customers, and streamlined creation and distribution based on the direct mail schedule and format you want. 
  • Demand security and compliance: Direct mail involves customer data you must treat with strict security and confidentiality guidelines. Ensure you or your direct mail partner complies with relevant safety and confidentiality requirements, has business continuity plans, and maintains physical security and multi-layered logical access, network, and data protection controls.

Tap into the experts

If you don’t have the in-house expertise to do direct mail or companion digital marketing channels well, look for a partner who can. Direct mail requires accurate data to build, segment, and target your contact list and involves campaign development, creative development, quality control, and analysis. If this isn’t a core competency of your organization, outsource it. Partners, like OSG, can help you analyze your direct mail and other communications to isolate what messaging with which readers will most engage.

OSG offers a complete suite of communications and marketing services, including direct mail, that meet your customers where and when they want to engage, so you drive long-term loyalty and performance. Get in touch with us today to learn more.