Marketers: Word of Direct Mail’s Demise is FAKE NEWS!

By Toby Reed

The truth is it’s hot! Why? Because direct mail complements digital!

That’s right. Good old ‘snail mail’ has become an integral part of the marketer’s technological revolution. A mainstay in the marketing mix of the past, direct mail has found new life, relevance, and value in the world of digital marketing.

But how so? Didn’t everyone say that email and digital marketing would be the death of direct mail? Didn’t everyone say that the new generation of Millennials and beyond would reject the paper-based medium in favor of their screen based counterparts?

Well, it would appear that, THEY were wrong!

Direct Mail is actually experiencing a resurgence as marketers have started to include the medium in their multi-channel, integrated-marketing campaigns. So why were the experts wrong? Why is direct mail so important now?

It would appear that some of the prognosticators who predicted a direct mail demise ignored a couple of truths about the rise of digital media in marketing.

  1. Online Marketing Congestion: Yes, digital marketing is all the rage. The issue however is that the low entry cost of digital advertising engagement has opened the online channels to many more advertisers, creating a VERY congested digital advertising landscape. This results in an online user experience where customers view online ads as "white noise" that simply comes as part of the online mosaic. Therefore the problem for digital marketers becomes one of relevancy and ROI, as standing out gets more and more difficult.
  2. Online Marketing is not delivered on the recipients’ time table: Another issue with digital marketing is that it is primarily ‘pushed’ to its recipient on the marketers’ time table. What we often do not know as marketers is if the recipient is ready to absorb the message we want to convey. So despite the low cost and high reach of many digital channels, the marketers’ message is often ignored or never gets viewed because the customer is simply not ready to receive the message.

So where does Direct Mail fit in?

Direct mail actually addresses the digital shortfalls expressed above when thoughtfully integrated into a company’s multi-channel marketing campaign. Here is how:

  1. Direct Mail cuts through the online noise: In terms of addressing the issue of online marketing congestion, direct mail gets noticed. Delivered live to a customer’s mailbox, direct mail stands out as a tangible real world vehicle that provides companies the opportunity to physically engage with their customer. Further, direct mail provides a seamless "offline" bridge to the marketer’s other online marketing channels through Virtual Reality, PURLS, 2D barcodes, etc. to help foster an ongoing conversation with your customer. According to the USPS, marketing campaigns can yield up to a 40% conversion rate when direct mail and digital are combined.
  2. Direct Mail is recipient oriented and creates ‘Pull’: Additionally, direct mail helps to make digital marketing campaigns more recipient oriented to increase engagement. Since direct mail is one of the only marketing mediums that has a standing daily appointment with your customer, while checking their mailbox (known as the “mail moment”), it has the opportunity to engage with your customer when they are ready to view your message. Receptive engagements often create interactive engagements. When a customer interacts with their mail piece, a marketer is able to drive their customer to an online campaign. This direct mail/customer interaction is where “pull” is created. When the customer scans a code or launches their PURL from a direct mail piece, they have invited the marketer to continue that dialogue online. Being prepared to further that conversation online once that 'pull' is created, is where the digital marketing channels can flex their muscle.

In the end, savvy marketers are seeing that direct mail helps drive traffic to their online channels, extends the customer conversation in the ‘offline’ world, and provides a real-world tactile element that Millennials respond to that digital media cannot replicate. That translates to more conversations and better ROI. Something I guess the prognosticators of direct mail’s demise didn't factor into their model?

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