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The Role of Direct Mail in the Modern Marketing Mix

Posted by Mike Hall on April 10th, 2013 at 9:31 am

The growth of digital marketing, social media, email and search marketing in recent years has left many marketers feeling that direct mail is somewhat of a dinosaur and has no place in the modern marketing mix. Contrary to this view however, is a school of thought that believes direct mail remains valuable and when used correctly, has the potential to achieve significant ROI.

According to a Market Reach, Royal Mail survey, responsiveness to direct mail remains high in the UK, 83% of direct mail is opened in comparison to average email open rates of 11%, a statistic that alone demonstrates the worth of the channel within the digital setting.

Response rates are also significant, a TGI report highlighted that 44% of UK adults have done something within 12 months of receiving direct mail. This “something” ranges from the 29% that purchase, the 12% that visit stores or the 7% that enquire, further showing the value of direct mail beyond the initial interaction.

For direct mail to remain successful however, it’s essential that marketers consider how they target prospects; the carpet bombing approach of old simply doesn’t cut it with increasingly savvy consumers. Effectively targeting direct mail messaging can be achieved along the lines of interests, demographics and purchasing behaviour, this is of course heavily reliant on the quality of the data being used.

One of the reasons direct mail is still considered relevant is because it is perceived that mail creates greater emotional resonance than other channels - based on a survey of around 2,000 UK adults carried out by BMRB, over three quarters like being informed of special offers or promotions by post whilst over half welcome mail that offers useful information.

The physicality of direct mail is also purported as a huge benefit to marketers. Put simply, digital channels can’t place something in the hands of their target audience in the same way as direct mail, a considerable advantage in competitive spaces. When taken further the physical connection can be used to exploit all the senses,  a particularly valuable tactic when it is taken into account that 47% of consumers are more likely to open “scented” mail and 49% are more likely to open intriguing packages (BMRB 2005, 2011).

Direct Mail has the power to deliver great ROI, but to achieve this you need to understand where costs arise. Look for high quality, targeted data if acquiring new customers, it will cost more, but it will also help to maximise ROI. Printing your literature is also a necessary expense, but as highlighted previously, being innovative and investing in quality is advisable. When it comes to sending the mail pieces, franking machines can open up considerable discounts on postal charges and, through envelope printing, help to deliver a professional image and provide additional space for marketing messages.

Whilst there have been many proclaiming the death of direct mail as a marketing channel, this has hopefully shown that it remains as relevant as ever – as long as it is targeted, creative and carried out as economically as possible.

Statistics sourced from:

One Response to “The Role of Direct Mail in the Modern Marketing Mix”

  1. There is still a place for direct mail in a marketing campaign. Since many businesses gave up on direct mail in favor of email, there's a better opportunity to stand out. People only get a few pieces of physical mail a day as opposed to all of the emails that come in and are largely ignored.

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