It’s the digital age, but we still live in a physical world. Yes, we are going more paperless, we do our banking online and we use the “snail mail” much less than we used to. So much so, that Canada Post recently announced they are scaling back their services.1 Logic would suggest that an advertising medium as old as direct mail would join the ranks of obsolete items like the vinyl record. Ah, but just like the vinyl record, which has made such a huge comeback that there’s now an official “Record Store Day,” there’s also a new appreciation brewing for direct mail – ironically enough, in the online world. Just search “direct mail isn’t dead” in Google and you’ll see pages of articles singing its praises. Why? Because like the vinyl record, whose warm sound can’t be matched by the MP3, direct mail also delivers what can’t be mimicked – a physical consumer connection and real results.
Here are our top 10 reasons why we should still be doing direct mail:
1. People actually read their mail.
The fact is, even though there’s less of it, or maybe because there’s less of it, people almost always read their mail. 68% of Canadians open their mail right away2 and 95% of Canadians read their mail the same day it arrives.3 And a whopping 89% say they will open a direct mail package if it looks interesting.4
2. It’s still a preferred form of communication.
Believe it or not, consumers really do prefer direct mail. In a poll of nearly 5,000 North American consumers (which included the 18-34 demographic), direct mail was the top choice for brand communications, and over 60% said they “enjoy getting postal mail from brands about new products.” That same poll also found that people consider direct mail to be 3X more trustworthy than social media.5
When it comes to physical vs. digital, other studies have had similar findings. The Chief Marketing Officer Council discovered that 73% of consumers would opt for more traditional mail if promised less environmental impact.6 And in a study by JWTIntelligence, 80% of respondents from all age groups agreed that “physical cards/letters make me feel more connected to people than digital notes (emails, SMS, etc.),” and 75% agreed that “it’s nice to give a physical book, movie or album rather than an e-version, even if the person has an e-reader or MP3 player.”6
There’s even a neuroscience study that compared the effects of direct mail and online media on the brain. They found that physical media “leaves a deeper footprint in the brain” and produces “more brain responses connected with internal feelings, suggesting greater “internalization” of the ads.”7
3. It’s a great bang for the buck.
There’s a reason why so many not-for-profit organizations use direct mail – it’s truly affordable advertising. The return on investment (ROI) for DM is more than twice as high than traditional media, such as TV and radio.8 The cost per lead is also about the same as email,9 and according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), targeted directed mail boasts a 4.4% response rate, compared to email’s rate of 0.12%.10 DMA’s data also reveals that direct mail offers benchmark response rates of 1.1 to 1.4% versus 0.03% for email, 0.04% for Internet display ads, and 0.22% for paid (online) search.11 If a benchmark of 1.1% sounds low to you, consider this: if you sent 100,000 mailings, 1.1% is just over 1,000 valuable customers.
Whether you are trying to acquire new customers, or retain existing ones, DM has proven to be effective at both: 40% of consumers say that they have tried a new business after receiving direct mail, and 70% have renewed relationships with businesses that they had previously ceased using.12
4. You can really target your audience.
If you have a list of existing customers and prospects, or even if you don’t, direct mail enables you to reach exactly who you want to reach. From a specific group of people such as small business owners, to a specific location such as everyone within your company’s neighbourhood, you can customize your mailing list as needed. You can also send different versions of the same mailing – such as one for prospects and one for existing customers – to customize your message even more. If you’re in Canada, Canada Post’s online Precision Targeter tool is especially helpful. With over 15 million addresses and detailed consumer information, Canada Post can provide more complete and accurate data than any other source.13
5. You can easily track results.
If you use unique website URLs and phone numbers on your direct mail pieces, results are super-easy to track and analyze for future campaigns.14 You can even use printed QR codes – so people can immediately be brought to your website via their smartphone.
6. Smart companies are still doing it.
Put simply, direct mail works or companies wouldn’t still be doing it. Thanks to its affordability and high ROI, direct mail is especially popular among car manufacturers, banks, insurance companies, cable/internet/phone providers and nearly every not-for-profit organization. Even Google (yes, Google!) has joined the list of companies using direct mail, promoting their sponsored search ads to businesses.
7. It’s definitely stood the test of time.
Direct Mail is considered a “back to basics” or “classic” form of advertising as it’s been around for 179 years – longer than TV, radio and even billboards.15 Only print advertising has been around longer. The first known direct mail campaign – created to help stop slavery in the U.S. – can be traced back to 1835.16 There is also speculation that Benjamin Franklin invented the first mail-order catalogue in 1774.17
8. You can be environmentally friendly about it.
Yes, direct mail uses paper, but there are plenty of ways to ensure that your mailings are as “green” as possible. Some examples are production methods that reduce print overruns and waste, responsible paper choices and vegetable-based (non-toxic) ink.18 Be sure to check out Canada Post’s tips on how to “go green with your mail.”
9. You can really stand out and be creative.
Because direct mail is a slightly less used (though very effective) advertising medium, simply getting your brand in the mail is a prime opportunity to get noticed. Couple that with a creative idea and insightful message and you will definitely get noticed. From budget friendly postcards and letters, to premium packages with a free gift inside (which almost always get opened), there’s a mailer that can deliver on your marketing goals.
10. There are experts who can help you.
Contact us – our team’s combined experience adds up to nearly 1,000 direct mail campaigns! We’ve got lots of cost-effective ideas to help you get your message out there. And if you’ve never done a direct mail campaign before, canadapost.ca/directmail is a great place to start, as they cover off the essentials.
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