Direct mail—the kind of advertisement that shows up in a potential customer’s mailbox—is surging in popularity. While you might think of mailbox ads as a marketing technique from a bygone era, research by the Data & Marketing Association shows it’s still a good marketing value. They calculate the ROI for direct mail campaigns at 29 percent, with a response rate of 2 to 3 percent. That makes it more effective than either social media ads or paid search engine results.
What does direct mail have that email doesn’t?
- It stands out. Direct mail doesn’t end up lost in the slew of daily emails. Our inboxes are bulging, but our mailboxes are not, making it easier for pieces of direct mail to catch the customer’s eye.
- It feels personal. Customers perceive a mailbox ad as more unique than an email because mail bears the target customer’s name and address. Recipients also perceive direct mail as having more value. Email must be “cleaned out” of our inbox. Items arriving by “snail mail” are touched and examined; a Compu-mail report found that 90 percent of mailbox items will be opened.
- It combines well with other forms of marketing. Direct mail allows you to send something physical to a customer that contains a phone number, website URL, or hashtag. One company sent its customers a holiday card containing a $20 bill and instructions to give it away—then post about their experience on social media. Direct mail is also a straightforward way to get discount coupons into the hands of potential customers.
- It takes up physical space. A coupon direct mailed to a mailbox might end up stuck to the refrigerator, putting the company name in front of the potential customer’s eyes multiple times. A gift item branded with your company’s logo might stay in a customer’s line of vision for weeks—unlike an email, which vanishes with a click.
- It’s targetable. The United States Post Office even has an online tool called Every Door that lets you hover over a map of nearby addresses and get demographic information about those households, to help you choose addresses for a direct-mail campaign..
- It’s trackable. By assigning specific website addresses and telephone numbers to your direct mail campaigns, you’ll easily know when your direct mail has prompted a response.
- It’s a little bit more fun. Compu-mail research found that 73 percent of American consumers preferred that brands contact them by mail with information they can read at their own convenience. Fifty-nine percent said they “enjoyed” receiving mail.
Mail is still important to our oldest generation. One in three senior adults don’t use the internet at all, according to the Pew Research Center. If you market to older people who grew up before email, you can only reach them at home—and the easiest way to do that is through the mail.
Whether you want to announce your new business or give your current business a boost, your best bet might be a blast from the past: direct mail.
Tips for Improving Direct Mail Response Rates