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Why The Death of Direct Mail Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

Thinking about ditching direct mail and reallocating your budget to digital? These days, it’s tempting to think of digital media as direct mail’s flashier, more stylish cousin, but there’s plenty of room in your marketing plan for both. The style and delivery of direct mail continues to evolve, with providers like Canada Post introducing innovative new ways to adapt direct mail for the digital age.

And, despite what you may have heard, it remains one of the most effective ways to reach customers. Here are five reasons why the death of direct mail has been greatly exaggerated.

1. It’s Not As Expensive As It Seems

The bills for printing, mail handling, postage, and list rental might seem hefty when you’re approving them for payment. But when you compare cost per customer, direct mail is competitive. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) surveyed marketers in 2015 and found direct mail costs $19 per lead, compared with $11-15 for email, $16-18 for social media and mobile, and a whopping $50 for online display ads.

Direct Mail

Why the differences? The response rate for direct mail is much higher — 3.7 percent on average, compared with 0.1 percent for email, mobile, social, and online display. In fact, the only marketing technique with a higher response rate than direct mail is personal telephone calls.


2. People Like Getting Mail

People prefer direct mail over email, according to DMA research. Data from the DMA’s 2014 survey of consumers showed 70-80 percent opened their mail.

After a long workday on the computer, sometimes it’s nice to look at a catalog or mailer, rather than jumping right onto your personal device. And going through the mail is a comfortable, familiar part of many people’s evening routine. In fact, 81 percent of people surveyed by the Canada Post Corporation said they go through their mail the same day they receive it.

3. Mail Feels Personal

Even the most intricately personalized email campaign feels technological. Mail is tactile, and mail that is hand-addressed and stamped seems more personal — DMA research shows 70 percent of consumers affirm this.

And personalization is important to consumers. Nine of out 10 consumers said personalization had some impact on their purchasing decisions, according to Adobe.

4. A Creative Piece Gets Noticed

To re-invigorate your next direct mail campaign, try doing something a little different. Canada Post found 85 percent of people open mail that looks interesting. You can use a sophisticated technique, such as variable printing or a die cut shape that matches your product or offer, or you can simply print an interesting image on the outside of the envelope.

Just make sure everything else that goes into your campaign, including the copy, the offer, and the call to action, are as compelling as the tool you use to capture attention.

5. Mail Sticks Around

Sixty-six percent of consumers keep mail they find useful, according to the Canada Post survey. Take advantage of this tendency by including a branded item your customers can keep using, such as a notepad, pen, travel cup, or other item your customers will want.

This will help you stay at the top of your consumers’ minds when they’re making a purchasing decision and also gain exposure in their social and work network, depending on where they use your branded item. (Think of how successful Coca-Cola’s “Share A Coke” campaign has been in terms of social media sharing and visibility.)

This tendency to share helps increase the value of any item you send out, and increases your market penetration with little extra work on your part.

DATA Communications Management has the technology and expertise to streamline and manage every aspect of your next direct mail campaign, from data management and personalization to printing and delivery. To learn more about our direct marketing solutions, contact us today.

Topics Marketing Financial Services Retail Services


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