Is Direct Mail Marketing Effective?

by | Sep 28, 2022

Direct mail marketing is a very effective way to reach an audience. Advancements in printing and marketing technology, as well as new scientific knowledge, drive the growth of this channel as well as how it is used strategically. And mail works along with digital channels to acquire, retain, and reactivate customers and donors. Thanks to proven tracking methods, responses and sales can be directly attributed to direct mail marketing.

Why Does Direct Mail Still Work?

Direct mail marketing is effective for so many good reasons. And yes, money has a lot to do with some of them, as you’ll see in the sections below.

But money isn’t everything. Some of the best reasons for choosing a direct mail marketing campaign have more to do with engaging consumers along the sales funnel, building a brand, or providing a print alternative for messaging in our digital world.

So consider all of the ways direct mail marketing is effective, listed here:

Reason #1: Direct Mail Has High ROI

In the most recent ANA Response Report, marketers reported a 112% ROI for prospect lists using letter mail, and 92% ROI for postcards mailed to house lists.

Reason #2: Direct Mail is Physical

And because it is ink on paper, it stimulates 5 senses. Multiple neuroscience studies have shown that direct mail is easier to understand and more memorable than other communication channels because of how it activates different parts of the brain.

Reason #3: Direct Mail Works Great with Digital

Direct mail integrates well with digital, including ads, SMS, and social media. QR codes drive response to landing pages, including personalized ones, as do PURLs; in particular, email and direct mail have strengths that complement each other.

Reason #4: Direct Mail is All About Personalization

Improvements in personalization technology now allow direct mail marketing to focus on 1-to-1 communication. Because of variable data printing (VDP) and smart strategy, marketers create more customized touchpoints for customers, whether as charts, images, maps, headlines, or offers.

Reason #5: Direct Mail is Trackable

The right USPS and industry tools, such as Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb), let marketers track direct mail campaigns from the moment they enter the postal system to when a customer responds to the offer. Informed Visibility provides additional insights.

Reason #6: Direct Mail Has Staying Power

Ever put a direct mail postcard on your fridge, maybe from your dentist or pizza shop? Direct mail sticks around for several days – up to 17 days according to some surveys. Emails? They’re a tap away from oblivion.

Reason #7: Direct Mail Looks Important

Mail often has a regulatory or compliance purpose and it’s legally required to be sent in printed form. Think about tax issues, parking tickets, or even some important bills and checks. They can be easily missed, ignored, or not trusted as reliable when sent by email. And would you really trust a phone call about these matters, maybe asking for a credit card number or form of ID?

Reason #8: Direct Mail Has High Response Rates

Direct mail response rates vary depending on the industry, but marketers surveyed by the Association of National Advertisers say they average 5% for prospect lists, and even better, 9% for house lists.

Reason #9: Direct Mail Increases Brand Awareness

Mail is one of several channels companies use to build brand awareness at all stages of the customer lifecycle. Digital-first startups for example, find new audiences that are otherwise unreachable. And when you complement your digital messages with a direct mail campaign, you appear to be everywhere, at the top of your game.

Reason #10: Direct Mail Appeals to a Wide Demographic

You’d think that older audiences (Boomers & Silent Generation) would like mail because it’s all they had when they grew up. But survey after survey shows that digital-native generations such as Millennials and Gen Z like mail because it is something tactile, like LPs, that have enjoyed a comeback.

Reason #11: Direct Mail Can Be Creative

A piece of direct mail gives creatives – writers, designers, and printing professionals – an opportunity to show how to impact target audiences. Whether it’s a story, an image, or even a form factor like an oversized postcard or an interactive fold, direct mail can inspire action.

Reason #12: Direct Mail Reaches Everyone

Talk about addressable media! Direct mail reaches nearly 100% of the nation’s households. With matchback, IP addresses of website visitors can be tied to an offline physical address.

Reason #13: Direct Mail Supports Non-Profits

Direct mail remains the preferred channel for fundraising by non-profits. When the American Cancer Society paused its direct mail acquisition in 2013, new donor revenue dropped by $11.3 million in the first year. According to a 2021 Blackbaud Institute survey, 87% of money raised by non-profits comes from offline channels – like mail.

Reason #14: Direct Mail Has Less Competition

Mail volumes are less now than at their height in the early 2000s, thanks to changing consumer preferences for receiving statements and invoices. This means that your mail gets more easily noticed in a less-crowded mailbox.

Reason #15: Direct Mail is a New Growth Area for Companies

Especially digitally-native brands! They’ve hit a ceiling with Facebook, paid search, and influencer marketing. And let’s not talk about the coming end of cookies. Many discover mail works by testing segments of their data or by including a promotion in a share mail program.

Reason #16: Direct Mail Has an Affordable Cost Per Acquisition

When you scale direct mail, it gets less expensive thanks to production efficiencies. With digital or social, it gets more expensive to scale to larger audiences, as more companies are discovering.

Reason #17: Direct Mail Makes an Emotional Impact

Words trigger actions. And while we like to think that we are rational beings, emotions drive decisions. We just use facts to back them up for the most successful direct mail campaigns. As already noted, messaging that uses print, like direct mail, creates deeper connections in the brain.

Reason #18: Direct Mail Creates Impact With Triggered Campaigns

When you shop websites, abandon a shopping cart, or cease being a customer, your actions create a digital trail. Smart marketers will look at that data and jump into the mail quickly with a piece of mail that tries to win them back with a good offer.

Reason #19: Direct Mail Inspires Moments

I’ve already mentioned how direct mail marketing is effective for activating the brain because it’s tangible. But mail is also a rest from feeling overwhelmed with hundreds of messages that we see every day, most of them digital. Are any of them really special? On the other hand, a piece of direct mail, like a greeting card or a well-targeted personalized offer stands out. It commands your attention, especially with a good offer or use of data, a compelling story, an attractive image, or an interesting design, ink, or finish. It is the only thing that keeps you from going back to whatever you were doing before you decided to look at your mail.

Direct Mail Statistics Marketers Should Know

Because some people always look for the numbers, here are a few statistics that show direct mail marketing is effective:

  • 67% of marketers say direct mail provides the best ROI of any channel they use, according to a recent Lob survey of marketers
  • 62% of consumers reported having taken action after reading a direct mail piece
  • $43.3 billion will be spent on direct mail in 2022 according to a Statista forecast
  • In the most recent ANA Response Report, marketers reported a 112% ROI for prospect lists using letter mail, and 92% ROI for postcards mailed to house lists
  • According to marketers in one survey, simply adding mail improves omnichannel response from 51% to 83% – a 63% increase

Direct Mail Marketing Isn’t Dead

Direct mail marketing is effective because it is the most successful medium in history. Major and small companies alike have been using mail to acquire customers and get them to spend more than ever before.

At mailing.com, our direct mail marketing pros have over 5 decades of experience helping companies develop complete, cost-effective, and modern campaigns that accomplish your goals quickly.

Call or contact us today for a free quote!

Keep Your Direct Mail in Shape!

Sign up for free direct mail tips & trends

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Curious How We Can Help Your Campaign?

.