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Direct Mail is Dead. Long Live Direct Mail.


It's human nature to gravitate toward the coolest, newest, shiniest things. When televisions became popular in the 1950s, soothsayers predicted the demise of radio. When the Internet became ubiquitous, the great grandchildren of those clairvoyants predicted the end of magazines and TV. Email, fast, accountable, and cheap, was supposed to mean the end of direct mail.

Not so fast.

Radio's still here, as are magazines and television. And direct mail — although much maligned — is still going strong too.

Skeptics will point out that there's less mail being sent. That's true. According to the USPS, total mail volume has dropped nearly 30% in the past ten years. In 2007, there were 212.2 billion pieces mailed. In 2017, there were only 149.5 billion.

This is bad news for the postal service.

But, it's good news for marketers. Here's why:

Direct mail is costly. But, thanks to better data marketing and targeting, companies can realize the same results by mailing fewer pieces. Not only is that good for us economically, but it improves the public's perception of our industry. At B Direct, we always tell clients that "Junk mail" is mail sent to the wrong person with the wrong offer at the wrong time. With better targeting, commercial mail becomes more relevant to the recipients.

And less is more in other ways too. With less mail, any individual campaign is more likely to stand out. Getting noticed is hurdle number one and the odds are much better when there's less in your audience's mailbox.

There are numbers that support this. Looking at the same 10-year history, response rates have increased. Significantly. Mail to house lists is now averaging a 9% response rate, a 173% increase. Mail to prospect lists average a 5% response, a 194% increase. And, these rates are higher than average responses from email, paid search, social media, or online ads.

Math aside, direct mail gives you more bang for your buck. Your prospects and customers can hold it, touch it, interact with it, pin it up, pass it along. It's a tangible "thing," not an ephemeral result of coding.

But, you may be thinking, email is virtually free. How can we walk away from it?

The answer ... Don't.

Add it to your direct mail campaign and watch both media work harder.



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