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The Personal Touch: Why Direct Mail Marketing Still Rules in the Digital Age

When everyone has access to their email in the palm of their hand at all times, does sending out physical marketing materials in the form of brochures, letters, postcards and catalogs matter anymore? It tends to come as a surprise to many that direct mail, as this marketing approach is known, continues to thrive.

While many marketing gurus have predicted the fading away of direct mail, these materials bring clear advantages to the marketing efforts of businesses both large and small, ones that are simply not possible with email. One of the most noticeable benefits is that unlike email that often ends up in spam folders or that simply gets lost among hundreds of other marketing email, brochures and catalogs usually do make their way into the hands of most recipients, and they are not easy to get rid of. Marketing materials, once they arrive in a recipient’s home or office, float around for days, which means that unlike email, they stay active for an impressive length of time.

Direct mail can be effective in many other ways, as well. 

To begin, people aren’t tired of direct mail at this point 

Years ago, when people received bunches of direct mail, it was dismissed as junk. Today, with most companies having switched to email and other forms of digital marketing, most consumers and b2b customers have a problem with it.

It’s important for marketers to take note of the change. Most people don’t even look at the marketing emails that they get. On the other hand, studies by the US postal service show that three out of four consumers will look at physical mail at least once when they receive it whether the open the envelope or not. Many direct mail marketers in printing envelopes with the most important part of their message on the outside to make sure that they do get their message across.

Direct mail gets the undivided attention of consumers

When people look at their email, they usually have many other things going on — other tabs, Twitter and Facebook notifications, and so on, all on the same screen. With email, then, it can be hard to get a consumer’s undivided attention. It’s different with physical mail — presented on a medium that is clearly distinct from the electronic screens that display distractions, it tends to hold consumers attention better. To any marketer attempting to convert someone through the force of their persuasiveness or through the personal touch, it’s likely to go through much better with physical materials.

Email comes with a limited bag of tricks 

If you want to show your email recipients the results of a study, letters of appreciation by happy customers and so on, it can be difficult to do with anything other than attachments or links; unfortunately, these methods tend to make people suspicious. With direct mail, on the other hand, you can attach anything you want. Studies show that the fatter a packet, the more trustworthy it is seen to be.

There’s far more versatility with direct mail 

With email, no matter how much effort you put into its design, all you get to attract the recipient was at first is a few words on the subject line. Not so with direct mail. From envelope color and shape to the blurb that you put on the envelope and the freebies that you get to stuff inside, there are so many choices they can help you stand out. You can even go with expensive scents and the use of high-quality paper. Direct mail is simply easier for dramatic effect.

Direct mail does get results 

According to research by the Direct Marketing Association, email tends to do with a response rate of barely 0.1%; in other words, for every 1,000 emails sent out, only one actually elicits some form of response. Direct mail on the other hand, gets a 3.4% response rate. It is 34 times as effective. It is clearly the superior medium.

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2 Responses to The Personal Touch: Why Direct Mail Marketing Still Rules in the Digital Age

  1. Roisin Prizeman November 23, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

    Thanks for that helpful article Robert, it makes interesting reading and perfect sense! Róisín

  2. Jeanne Landau November 30, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

    That’s a great point that direct mail gets undivided attention. There’s no spam filters in your mailbox, and it’s guaranteed to at least get into the hands of the consumer that you’re targeting. Whether or not your message is converted into a sale largely depends on how well you convey your message.

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