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  • Writer's pictureValerie Fullen

Direct Mail: Dead or Alive?

Updated: Aug 14, 2019

Like all good things, every trend makes a comeback. Mom jeans, plaid skirts, vinyl records. But could the same be true for direct mail marketing? Despite the rising cost of postage and paper, and the decrease in sent mail over the past ten years, the statistics for direct mail responses are intriguing many marketers. Bottom line: direct mail responses have increased in the last decade. The Data & Marketing Association (DMA) claims that, although response rates represent only a small percentage, they are still rising. As far as costs are concerned, the DMA notes that each response from a customer costs organizations just over $22, with prospective customers costing nearly $40 per response. With today’s need for marketing efforts to be personalized, however, the DMA suggests that including direct mail in your marketing campaign could produce surprising results for your business. So how can you design a direct mail campaign without breaking the bank?


The most challenging aspect of introducing direct mail to your team’s marketing mix is the difficulty of measuring response rates. Many marketers attempt to measure response rates by using codes or URLs. However, this isn’t a trustworthy indicator, as consumers may visit your site without using these personalized codes. Instead, it is best to spread your marketing efforts across a few channels of communication, in addition to mailers. Top marketing consultants agree that the most successful direct mail campaigns are those that include a similar message across different platforms. Reach out to your customers with direct mail and send a similar message via email. Then, you can monitor your rates through your email campaign to judge the effectiveness of your efforts. To get a true picture of your Return on Investment (ROI), it is important to measure every single component of your campaign, from mailing frequency, to the type of mail being sent, to the customer segments being reached. This will give you the insight you need to tweak your campaign into something great and valuable for your company.


The amount of data we have as marketers has dramatically increased over the last century. Many consumers express feelings of being creeped out by how personal some of the ads and messages are that they receive. To avoid coming off as a creepy cyber stalker, use caution when personalizing your direct mail campaign. Large, complex algorithms collecting personal data to target customers is a seemingly faultless method, but there is a dark side to this as well. Even if something is factual and true, it doesn’t mean that it should be sent to the customer. Back in 2012, Target received mass media attention when the company sent coupons for baby clothes to a high schooler. Turns out, the young woman was in fact pregnant, but had not yet shared the news with her father. The poor girl was outed by the coupons. To use personalization to your company’s advantage, use data that is relevant and not overly specific, and be sure to give your customers options such as type or frequency of mail they’d like to receive.


The number one thing to keep in mind when designing your direct mail campaign is to avoid looking like junk mail - that’ll just land all your hard work into the recycling bin. Consumers want to see something catchy and unique that’s personal to them. The design of your mail walks almost as fine a line as personalization does. Put enough effort into your design so that it doesn’t look sloppy or tired, but don’t overdo it with an overly extravagant ad. The beautiful thing about direct mail is that your customers get to hold it in their hands and read it, with little to no distractions - unlike online advertisements that seem to get lost in the inbox, never to be seen again.


The right campaign means nothing if you send it to the wrong people! Since direct mail can be so expensive, it is important to choose your segments wisely. Who are your best customers? Who haven’t you heard from in a while? Have they already visited your website but have yet to make a purchase? Use these demographics to build your contact lists and build additional lists for other similar demographics.


Some marketers are skeptical of direct mail’s future. Many, however, believe that it will continue to be an important piece in the puzzle of marketing. Stick to creating a campaign that is relevant, personal and valuable, send it to the right people, and you’ll be surprised with the results.

Thinking about integrating a direct mail campaign into your company’s strategy? Let JanMar Agency help! We have the knowledge and expertise to design a unique and personal campaign for your business! Let’s get started today!

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