Contrary to what you and your direct marketing colleagues have now heard uttered for years, direct mail is not dead. It’s not even on life support, thank you very much.

Because while it’s true that direct mail strategies have changed over the years, including the seismic shift from sending mail to everyone and their mother to the highly-targeted data-driven approach we take today, the stats prove direct mail is alive and kicking:

According to the 2015 DMA Response Rate Report:

  • Direct mail is over 7x more effective than all digital channels combined.
  • Direct Mail, even with its higher cost, offers the same ROI as social media at 15% – 17%.
  • 3.73% is the median direct mail response rate for house lists. The only medium higher is telephone calls with a response rate of 9%-10%. (Email, social media, paid search, mobile and internet display together tallied only a 0.62% median response!)
  • Direct mail formats continue to play a role in response rate and cost per response. Oversized envelopes have the best response rate at 5.0%, followed by postcards at 4.25%, dimensional 4.0%, catalogs 3.9% and letter-sized envelopes 3.5%. And, despite what you may think, dimensional mailings have a lower CPR than letters, oversized envelopes and postcards – so don’t count out that extravagant, die-cut piece that could be more expensive up front, but bring in big dividends in the end.

Direct Mail Tips for your 2016 Campaigns

While most of these are common sense, we’re constantly surprised how some marketers lose sight of these best practices:

  1. Understand your target
    Each target segment should be addressed differently based on where they are in the customer life cycle. A prospect should not receive the same message or offer that you would send to a loyal customer. The more relevant your campaign, the better the response rate.
  2. Have a call to action
    Don’t bury the headline! It’s important to get to your call to action as soon as possible so your target quickly understands what you want them to do. If the benefit of the mailer is unclear at first glance, you can lose your audience – and your sale.
  3. Test, test, test
    You should always strive to have an A/B test in each campaign that you deploy. Test messaging, offers, creative, mailer format, etc. Each test will bring you closer to understanding exactly what moves your target to act.
  4. Use multi-channel messaging
    Direct marketers should think about how their campaign works across all channels, both traditional and digital.
  5. Remember data is key
    Each and every campaign element should be tracked and results considered and integrated into your next campaign.

A well-executed direct mail campaign, combined with work in other channels, will get noticed and build engagement with your target audience. In fact, it must be considered for any one-to-one campaign, if strategy, time and budget align.

In closing, far from hearing the death knell of direct mail, at Smith Brothers we believe the rumors of the demise of this tactile and still relevant medium have been greatly exaggerated (sorry for the shameless appropriation, Mr. Twain).

Lindsey Knight
Lindsey Knight
Senior Manager CRM & Direct

Lindsey brings more than 15 years of experience developing and executing comprehensive marketing and one-to-one strategies to Smith Brothers as our Senior Manager of Direct Marketing and CRM. Lindsey’s passion for helping her clients develop a strong brand relationship with their customers keeps her poised for driving profitable customer retention and growth for all her clients. For more than five years she worked on the Rite Aid Pharmacy business, and has also worked on PA Lottery, Nature Made, Cooper Tires, Make-A-Wish, Gold Eagle, and Health Alliance to name a few. Lindsey is a graduate of Kent State University with a B.A. in Business Administration. She is an Ohio native, loves spending time with her husband and son, and is a first-time beekeeper.