• Samantha Reis

Direct Mail Marketing Alive and Well

Updated: Oct 14, 2019

Is direct mail marketing effective? With all of the technological advances over the last many years, it might seem that direct mail marketing has no place in the marketing world. Even email marketing is often questioned lately. However, I am here to stake the claim that direct mail marketing is NOT dead and can in fact be a great marketing tool if implemented effectively and for the right purpose.



First let me start with my reasoning behind why direct mail marketing is making a come back. Then I'll try to back up my claim with some data. So let's examine why mail marketing diminished in the first place. Over the last 10-20 years, the new and enticing online world has become the place where people prefer to receive information. So businesses that started to market online and through social media channels stood out. The first ones to do this were unique from their competitors and obtained more business. But nowadays, when you scroll through social media there are SO many advertisements and posts directed at selling something to you, that it's easy to scroll past them and barely take notice. And it’s exhausting. Now that you aren't receiving many advertisements in the mail - well guess what? - you notice them more, particularly if they are visually unique or if there is an offer included in the content. Plus receiving mail is exciting!


I don’t receive much business mail, but when I do they often include a 10% off coupon or access to a free product/service. And these I hold on to and use! For the most part they are larger well-known businesses (Bed, Bath & Beyond, Victoria’s Secret, Wayfair, etc…), but I would hold on to them even if they were local businesses too! And these types of offers may get me to utilize a local small business that I hadn’t ever thought of before, potentially turning me into a lifelong customer.


So what does the data say about all of this?

  • 80-90% of direct mail gets opened, only 20-30% of email gets opened on a good day*. That means almost everyone you send a direct mail advertisement to is at least going to SEE it.

  • The response rate to direct mail pieces is about 3.7%, as opposed to 2 % mobile, 1% email, 1% social media, and .2% internet display*. So you have a better chance of recipients doing something about your direct mail than you do with other marketing mediums.

  • Response rates to direct mail have been INCREASING significantly over the last few years (see image below). Some of this is due to better aesthetics of direct mail advertising as well as better targeting methods. However, I believe some of it is also due to the explanation above - that you can stand out using direct mail as opposed to social media more than previously, since social media is overly saturated with marketing delivery.



Who is direct mail marketing right for? There are TWO groups of businesses that I think can succeed most with direct mail marketing:


  1. Businesses whose products/services are high cost, low volume. If you can secure just a couple of new customers as a result of your mailer, then it would be WELL worth it. Think of trades and service businesses (with products/services that cost $100+).

  2. Businesses whose products/services cause a happy customer to return for repeated use. Think about a restaurant - if you go once and enjoy your time, you are likely to be a repeat customer for years to come. The value of ONE customer visit can grow exponentially, making the price of the mailer and the discount offer well worth it.


I’d like to end this post with a couple of recommendations and tools, should you decide to implement direct mail marketing. First, I do recommend you spend the money to have a professional formally design your mailer. But if you are on a tight budget and are going to design your mailer yourself, be sure to use a site like canva.com to enhance the aesthetics of your design. Second, utilize sites like Shutterfly, Vistaprint, or Moo to order the materials. OR if you’d like to support your local businesses, find a good local print shop and develop a relationship with them! You may be surprised that they are not as expensive as you might think.

Lastly, take advantage of the USPS direct mail routes to target your mailers so that they are sent to the right geographical areas with the right household sizes, age ranges, and income levels for your product/service. This increases your chances of customer response and action. I’ll dive into this more deeply in my next video!


As always, please reach out with any questions!


* “Direct Mail Marketing Statistics”, Small Business Trends. 2018. https://smallbiztrends.com/2017/01/direct-mail-marketing-statistics.html

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