11 Powerful Attributes of Direct Mail

11 Powerful Attributes of Direct Mail

Direct mail is the most heavily used direct marketing medium, and its popularity continues to grow. It’s no surprise if you understand its performance level compared to other media.

Digital channels like email, search, online display and social media have been interesting because they are relatively new but now, they are becoming more and more cluttered and less effective. Consumers are dealing with clogged inboxes, frustration over spam and concerns about online privacy and scams.

Physical direct mail is more valued now by many consumers. Because there has been less traditional mail arriving in customers’ mailboxes, the value of direct mail is higher than ever before. Companies using direct mail effectively have gained ‘share of mailbox’ and higher response rates as a result.

Here are 11 key benefits of direct mail that make direct mail a very powerful tool that should not be overlooked in your marketing mix.

Direct mail marketing is:

  1. Intrusive – No other medium captures more undivided attention and interaction from your audience. When mail arrives, we have to do something with it, so it must be handled. We bring it into our homes or offices where it requires attention and some sort of interaction on a daily basis. And that makes it easier to break through and make an impact. For marketers, this gives you the ability to proactively push offers and messages to your prospects and customers.
  2. Tangible – When we interact with our mail, we can touch it and feel it; it has dimensions and texture. A well-crafted direct mail package can carry a lot of content, images and emotion. Research has found that reading something that can be tangibly and physically held has been proven to be more long-lasting in a consumer’s mind than looking at something on a digital device.
  3. Personal – Few other media can be customized to the individual level like direct mail. Name is only the beginning of what should be considered as personalized. Variable messaging and images can make direct mail highly relevant and even more persuasive at the individual level. Offers can also be delivered with the perfect personalized timing to generate immediate action.
  4. Flexible – Direct mail pieces can vary widely and offer enormous flexibility in how you communicate. You can mail out a simple postcard, a letter package, a self-mailer, a catalog, or a dimensional package. We’ve even started mailing out video messages. With modern production technology you can customize your direct mail in countless ways to more effectively communicate the message.
  5. Trusted – Based on consumer opinion direct mail is trusted 2 to 1 compared to other media. As a result, your message can linger in your customers and prospects home long enough to illicit a response. 86% of consumers would rather hear about new products and offers from direct mail vs. email or telemarketing. More than 70% of Millennials and Gen Xers trust direct mail. And over 80% of older groups (Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation), trust direct mail.
  6. Persuasive – Persuasion is an art that begins with earning trust and continues by leading the prospect to the place where they give themselves permission to act. Within a direct mail package, a skilled direct response writer can use logic, emotional drivers and other tactics to influence the reader to take immediate action and respond.
  7. Targeted – Data targeting tools available today allow smart marketers to focus spending for the highest possible results. Postal address databases are larger and far more data rich than ever before. Direct mail can reach almost any conceivable target group. Using the wealth of data and artificial intelligence tools available today we can quickly and efficiently build powerful predictive data selection and segmentation models to focus your marketing spending on the most responsive and profitable groups.
  8. Measurable – For each piece mailed, the resulting responses and sales can be linked. Program performance can be measured accurately and reported. With tracking and reporting, you’ll know response, sales, revenue and exact ROI overall for every test cell within your programs. Studying the results allow you to optimize your approach to eliminate guess work and implement data-driven decision making.
  9. Testable – Direct mail is a “stealth” or one-to-one medium. This gives marketers the opportunity to send out multiple versions to include head-to-head split testing. This process is very powerful and can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your direct mail. You can test key drivers like messaging, formats, design, and offers with relatively small quantities and gain important answers to key marketing questions. High performing marketers can even have many segment- specific messages and offers going out at the same time without causing confusion in the market.
  10. Predictable – Proven winning tactics can be used repeatedly to drive a steady flow of results with very low risk. One you have a winning “Control” package, you can resend it out — controlling the drop schedule to create a very predictable and consistent flow of leads and sales.
  11. Scalable – With direct mail a short R&D period provides a long-term return on investment. Once you’ve created high performing direct mail, you can roll-out the program and scale up that winning approach with low risk and a great return. Successful direct mail that delivers a strong ROI can become a self-funding channel for growth, and frequently gives companies who know how to maintain it a competitive marketing advantage.

Because of these attributes, direct mail can be highly effective to target both prospects and customers producing a high response rate and strong ROI. According to research by the DMA, direct mail overall is 8 times more effective for internal house lists and 14 times more effective for prospects than email and other online media. So, when you’re looking for channels that are going to contribute directly to your bottom line, don’t overlook the benefits of direct mail marketing.

However, it is also important to understand that not all direct mail is created equal. There is a lot of poorly crafted direct mail sent out every day that does not produce the results that it should. Some companies think direct mail should be easy and attempt a “DIY” approach. Others take on mailing with a printer or ad agency who really doesn’t know how to create high performance using mail. The result can be ineffective mailings with fatal flaws. Unfortunately, we see these in the mail every day, and these mistakes hurt the reputation of direct mail.

Your strategy and tactics in direct mail will have an enormous impact on your end results and can dramatically reduce risk. Direct mail works the best for those who know how to work it. This is why many wisely choose an expert direct marketing agency like RPM to provide insights and help them avoid the pitfalls to create optimized direct mail programs that achieve the best ROI.

Are you ready to try direct mail marketing? Get in touch to see how we can help you.

Data and Marketing Association (DMA) / Demand Metric (2017)
United States Postal Service (USPS) Household Diary Study (2016)
MarketingSherpa (2017)
MarketingCharts.com (2018)