Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Why Direct Mail Retains a Key Marketing Role

Direct mail, perhaps because of its proven workhorse status, keeps a low profile in marketing trend articles, except for the periodic "direct mail isn't dead" reminder. Yet, despite growing use of digital channels--web, e-mail, social, mobile--the majority of marketers continue to rely on direct mail. Why? Marketing data backs up direct mail's proven response power and ROI. Target Marketing magazine’s latest study “Marketing Mix Trends 2010-2016” shows that 69% of marketers surveyed either increased or held steady on direct mail spending in 2016. The 6% of marketers decreasing their mail budgets were the smallest group since 2010. A reason for direct mail's survival as a go-to marketing channel can be seen in the the Data & Marketing Association's 2016 "Response Rate Report." The report showed 2016 direct mail response rates leaping to 5.3% for house lists and 2.9% for prospect lists, the highest DMA-tracked response rates since 2003. By comparison, 2015's reported rates were 3.7% and 1.0%, respectively. More significantly, no other channel in 2016 had response rates over 1%! Direct mail response allows it to compete in ROI despite higher costs, coming in third at 27%, close to social media's 28% (e-mail leads ROI). Bottom line, direct mail's evergreen power lies in delivering on direct marketing basics. Rather than exploring the diverse creative and tech-savvy ways to meet direct mail goals, it is easier to focus on a few big mail "don'ts," and that's the tack recently taken by Summer Gould of Target Marketing magazine in "5 Things Not to Do in Direct Mail." Gould chooses key, highly avoidable pitfalls: a hard-to-read font; dishonesty; old, bad data in mailing lists (one of our bugaboos); a missing or unclear call-to-action; and a promotional focus on features over benefits. Direct mail--no matter how loaded with interactive QR codes, variable data printing personalization and multi-channel customer analytics--will miss the mark if it misses on these basics! For more, go to

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