Direct Mail Makes A Comeback

By | June 19, 2020

Companies and organizations have spent many billions on e-mail and other Internet message delivery mechanisms over the past decade, often at the expense of more traditional marketing methods, like direct mail. But in some respects e-mail has failed to live up to its initial promise. And marketers who are turning back to tried-and-true methods like “snail mail” report excellent results, often better than e-mail. liteblue login

According to a 2005 Direct Marketing Association (DMA) comprehensive study of marketing tools, e-mail produces the best return on investment and is the cheapest and fastest direct marketing tool. But only a fraction of the average company’s prospective customers opt in to most rentable lists. And it can be against federal law to send commercial e-mails to people who have asked not to receive them. It’s spam. If companies play by the new rules, they cannot get their marketing messages to the vast majority of their prospective customers using e-mail.

So marketers are going “back to the future” by reinvigorating their marketing campaigns with renewed investments in printed and mailed materials to complement or substitute for e-marketing methods.

Why Direct Mail Works

In a recent article in B2B Marketing Newsletter, a publication of the Business Marketing Association, consultant Eric Gagnon described direct mail as the “workhorse” of every business-to-business marketing program. “While the buzz these days is all about Internet-based marketing–Google AdWords and e-mail marketing programs–direct mail is still the mainstay of most business-to-business marketing and lead-generation programs: where there’s a readily-identifiable mailing list of plausible prospects, and a mailing piece to send to them, there’s a profitable marketing project waiting to happen.”

Direct mail is effective at focusing marketing strategies on vertical markets that can be reached by renting targeted mailing lists. Says Gagnon, “The most important element of any direct mail project is the mailing list.”

Increasingly, marketers are finding that postal-mailed printed materials are better for prospecting new business because marketers can have access to entire lists, such as subscribers to a trade magazine or members of an association. Rarely more than a fraction of publication subscribers or association members opt in to a permission-based e-mail list. And the more “selects” required, such as job function, industry or number of employees, to carve out the best segment of the list to reach a particular target, the fewer names remain. Marketers who want to reach almost everyone who can be a customer must use direct mail in their multimedia mix.
For instance, only 31% of the subscribers to InformationWeek magazine agreed to receive e-mail, only 55% of Chain Store Age, and 65% of Sales & Marketing Management Magazine. To reach all of the subscribers of these influential industry publications, you must rent these lists and send them a direct-mail piece.

E-mail’s second major limitation as a cold-call leads-generator is deliverability. Spam filters, frequently changed e-mail addresses, multiple e-mail addresses for the same person, list churning and unreliability in e-mail dissemination mean that a substantial minority of e-mails that are sent don’t get delivered.