Why should you use direct mail?

DIRECT MAIL CAMPAIGN written with chalk on tarmac over colorful graph and rising arrow, business marketing and creativity concept

You decided to leave direct mail in the past many years ago. We get it. It seems crazy that a channel people perceive as an old-school way of speaking to customers can exist in the digital world. But the reality is that direct mail is alive – and it's even better than it used to be.

In fact, direct mail is thriving so much that you may find plenty of reasons to regret your decision to cut it from your strategy. Without direct mail, you could be missing out on the channel with the highest potential for growth and return. Trust us, there are plenty of numbers and case studies to prove it.

Here's why direct mail deserves a spot in your marketing lineup:

The response rate is high
Believe it or not, people are more likely to respond to direct mail than they are to digital channels. For starters, the Direct Mail Consumer Survey conducted by Infogroup reported that 58% of consumers open and read promotional mailers. That means the odds are already in your favor for an impressive amount of responses.

From there, direct mail response rates are 9% for house lists and 5% for prospect lists, according to the latest Response Rate Report from the Data & Marketing Association and the Association of National Advisors. Compare that to digital ones and, well, there's hardly any comparison. Email, social and paid search have an average response rate of 1%, while online displays land at 0.3%.

Of course, these successful direct mail response rates are due in part to the quality of the piece and the level of strategic thinking behind the copy, visuals and other elements. The most eye-catching, response-worthy direct mail content has features such as:

  • Local company shoutout or recognizable brand name.
  • Discounts, deals and promotions.
  • Bright colors and interesting visuals.
  • High-quality print materials and design work.
  • Personalization like addressing the recipient by name.
  • Product samples.

The DMA/ANA report also revealed that the size of the mailer can influence the results, with letter-sized direct mail earning a 15.1% response rate. Online tracking, coupon codes and contact center reports can help you measure such winning numbers.

The ROI is real
The promising response rates generally make way for converting prospects to customers, earning brands a considerable return on investment. In fact, if you were to launch a direct mail campaign today, it's likely less than 1 out of 100 targets would have to buy for it to be a profitable endeavor for your company.

Direct mail can break through the growth ceiling
When it's time to scale, direct mail is the move. With a rich data environment and predictive modeling, the prep work before sending out mailers identifies tens if not hundreds of thousands of incremental prospects. Plus, direct mail modeling piggybacks off your digital efforts, leveraging lists of customers from your online sources to identify similar prospects.

Such growth means you can afford to dedicate more of your marketing budget to direct mail. For instance, one of our customers went from $0 to $60 million real quick. The results supported the jump, with the campaign boosting response rates by 270% and reducing cost-per-acquisition by 50%. What's more, direct mail now contributes hundreds of thousands of new customers each year, accounting for 34% of the company's annual growth.

Home is where the decisions are made
The majority of consumers make important purchase decisions in the comfort of their abodes. Think about it: Our homes are our safe places, and they're also where we can easily and comfortably discuss decisions with immediate family. Especially with big-ticket items, people feel more confident in their purchase when they have time to plan and research.

When your direct mail content shows up in their mailbox, your brand becomes part of that buying process. Despite much of consumer buying research happening on phones or computers, the mailer can enhance their search for the right product or service with a standout touchpoint.

Tangible is memorable
There's an endless sea of information to scroll through on our screens each day. But our mailboxes aren't nearly as cluttered, which means your message has a greater chance of making an impression. For fear of missing something important, few people throw away mail before at least glancing at it. What's more, it's harder to forget something we hold in our hands versus view on a device.

Canada Post partnered with a neuromarketing research and strategy firm to confirm this theory, revealing that direct mail requires 21% less cognitive processing effort than digital content. That makes the physical content easier to comprehend and translates to a 70% higher recall rate.

Marketing guru Neil Patel also noted that direct mail has an air of romanticism that isn't dissimilar to the feeling we get from receiving a handwritten note. To that point, adding handwritten elements to mailers can add a personal touch that will resonate with consumers.

Direct response appeals to several audiences
Direct mail campaigns allow you to reach a wide range of age groups. It probably doesn't come as a shock that mailers are an effective way to reach senior citizens, namely because many older adults don't engage in social media.

However, direct mail is still in the cards when targeting a younger audience. Largely due to digital fatigue, direct mail resonates with the millennial audience. Research from the United States Postal Service revealed that 84% of millennials take time to check their mail, and 64% prefer scanning physical mail than emails.

Predictive modeling means better targeting
Today's direct mail campaigns get an added boost from better data and more sophisticated modeling techniques. They allow for robust testing efforts that ensure money is well spent on mailing to promising prospects.

A combination of multiple data sources, unique models and real-world competition can drive targeted, high-performing campaigns. SeQuel's sophisticated PrediQtor model, as one example, can help marketers greatly increase their odds of success. 

Are you ready to give direct mail a shot?