Marketing Matters : The Power of Direct Mail – does direct mail work?

Does direct mail work?


It’s true that postal volumes are dropping, but the question on our lips today is does direct mail work as part of the marketing mix? Does it have a place in the modern day marketing strategy?

Online marketing strategies and campaigns should be a big part of direct marketing for businesses today. However, you ignore some of the old-school methods, like direct mail, at your peril!

It’s true that sending direct mail and printed marketing materials through the post is more expensive than e-mail, but as with all marketing, we know it should be about ROI – return on your investment, and time and again surveys show that direct mail performs exceptionally well when thought out and properly designed. Pound for pound, if direct mail gets you more customers and more business, why wouldn’t you?

Some marketing managers think direct mail is old-fashioned – we’re aware of some fantastic case studies where clients are getting a huge return on their initial outlay because the direct mail itself has been well designed, well written and well produced. We can help you with all of those things.

We like this article over on the KKP blog which lists reasons why direct mail should be part of any self respecting marketing manager’s armoury – over to them:

  1. Intrusive

While e-mail shares the intrusive nature of direct mail, e-mails can get overlooked in a crowded inbox. Plus, consumers are conditioned not to open e-mails from unknown senders for fear of viruses or other technical catastrophes. And direct mail won’t get caught in a spam filter.

When done properly, a good direct mail piece will stand out even in a crowded mailbox, grab customers’ attention and incite them to act. That’s the intrusive nature of direct mail that no other marketing tactic can emulate.

  1. Tactile

There’s something to be said for appealing to the senses. Direct mail delivers a tactile sensation that online activity can’t.

You can feel a mail piece in your hands. You can hear an envelope or tab tear open. You can see the images and key messages on the printed page. You might even be able to smell it! Websites and e-mail cannot compare to this experience.

The physical nature of direct mail forces customers to take note. And if we do our jobs effectively, the piece will pique their interest and encourage them to spend more time with it. (Editor’s note : especially if you use our Really Useful Print Guide to choose your print paper and finishes!)

In bricks-and-mortar retail, the ability to touch and experience the product increases the likelihood of a sale. It’s the same with direct: Even though it’s not the actual product in the recipient’s hands, a mail piece still activates the tactile senses.

  1. Targeted

At its best, direct mail is targeted to the customers most likely to respond. Whether you are speaking to prospects or customers, the best way to reach a specific audience is through direct mail.

But many marketers do not take full advantage of print’s ability to target — not only with lists, but with customized messages. With simple black plate ink changes, you can tailor your direct mail creative to different lists — best customers, lapsed customers, even prospects. You can target customers based on specific activities and microsegment prospects.

The more targeted the message and the list, the better the response. In fact, if you’re not customizing your print products, you may be wasting your efforts and creating “junk mail” that won’t get noticed.

  1. Integrated

Direct mail should not be the only piece of your contact strategy. You should build your mail plan with direct mail as a component, a cog in a larger machine.

Use e-mail to pre-announce mailings or to remind customers of an expiring offer. Push traffic to your Website for convenient ordering. Tie in social media, using your catalogue to promote the online presence.

Get creative with integration by producing an offer requiring a tweet response or that asks recipients to sign up for an offer online — anything that pushes a response, not just a purchase. Don’t think of it as a “circulation” strategy but as a “contact” strategy.

Several channels working together is powerful, and there are remarkable advantages. One channel should never replace the other — all should work together to form a unified campaign.


Direct mail works — and that’s a fact. A recent ExactTarget study conducted by Ball State University revealed that while e-mail plays a vital role in marketing communications, direct mail is still a dominant, prominent purchase driver for different types of customers.

In some cases, 70% to 90% of survey respondents made a purchase based on receiving direct mail — for all age groups.

Every time media influences are studied, direct mail shows tremendous power influencing buyer decisions. Response rates to personalized mail are consistently high. Studies show that especially for certain products (high-end, financial, health, and other categories deemed to be more personal) consumers overwhelmingly prefer marketing by print rather than email. ”

You can read the full article on why direct mail still works at

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