Skip to main content

React

Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Data Shows Direct Mail Marketing is Anything But Dead

In the age of the internet and social media, it’s easy to assume that digital marketing is the only way to reach consumers. However, the digital marketing world is noisy, crowded, and oversaturated. Research shows that businesses shouldn’t overlook direct mail marketing as a feasible option.

Data Proves Direct Mail ROI

 Business leaders often make it sound like the terms “marketing” and “digital marketing” are synonymous, but a growing body of research suggests there’s still considerable value to be extracted from physical marketing channels like direct mail.

According to research curated by Matt Mansfield, Tech Editor for Small Business Trends, more than 150 million direct mail promotions were sent out in 2015 and 2.5 billion coupons were redeemed. But perhaps most interesting is the fact that 54 percent of consumers surveyed say they want to receive mail from brands they’re interested in.

More than half of all customers find print marketing to be the most trustworthy form of marketing, while 70 percent of American consumers believe mail is more personal than digital forms of marketing and advertising.

According to one study, U.S. advertisers spend $167 per person on direct mail to generate $2,095 worth of goods. That’s a robust 1,300 percent ROI. A separate study shows that the average ROI for direct mail campaigns is somewhere between 18 and 20 percent.

While many digital marketing proponents propagate the idea that direct mail marketing is dead, the data tells a different story. When used in conjunction with digital marketing, offline methods may prove to be extremely high returning.

 Here’s Why Direct Mail Marketing Works

 Recent reports clearly show that direct marketing works, but what makes it so valuable – especially for small businesses that are looking for ways to do more with less?

Cost is perhaps one of the biggest benefits. Companies can purchase 1,000 double-sided, color postcards for less than $0.10 per card, which maximizes reach and stretches limited budgets. But it’s not just that direct mail is cheap – it’s also highly effective.

 “Though there has been a reduction in response rate for direct mail over the last ten years, it’s still holding strong,” Steven Pulcinella writes for Forbes.“In its response rate report, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) analyzed Bizo and Epsilon data and found that direct mail achieves a 4.4% response rate, compared to 0.12% for email.”

One of the reasons direct mail gets such a great response is that 80-90 percent of direct mail is opened, compared to just 20-30 percent of email. There isn’t a clear answer as to why more direct mail gets opened, but it probably has something to do with the fact that it’s tangible.

“Even the most obvious junk mail in your mailbox has something that few marketing emails will ever possess: the reality factor,” Pulcinella explains.“We’ve sent it and received it, opened it, saved it and thrown it away for much of our lives. It has weight, substance and dimension. Mail is a constant.”

Email, on the other hand, is easily disposable. There’s zero emotional connection and nothing tangible about it. All it takes is a swipe or a click and an unwanted email can be designated to the “trash.” With a physical piece of mail, there’s effort, touch, and feel involved. This doesn’t always mean the message will be received, but the exposure is much higher.

 Is Digital Fatigue Imminent?

The amount of technological innovation that’s occurred is staggering. Society has moved from being largely offline to predominantly online. Landlines have essentially become obsolete, while the modern smartphone now has more processing power than an entire room of computers had at the end of the 20th century. The internet has become a unifying global force. Social media has given rise to some of the world’s largest and most successful companies.

As new innovations have permeated our world, everything has rapidly become digitized. From a business perspective, this has shifted the focus to digital marketing and advertising. At times, this makes traditional marketing feel like it’s being left behind.

But what if we’re experiencing digital fatigue? What if people are getting tired of the noise that exists online and want to enjoy the simplicity of more traditional forms of media? The data is telling a story for those willing to listen.

While digital marketing is the way of the present and the future, ignoring the present-day value of physical marketing methods, like direct mail, is doing a disservice to the marketplace. It should be used to season modern marketing strategies and bring out unique flavors that customers crave.

Direct mail may seem outdated, obtrusive, and bulky, but what if it’s email that’s cumbersome? The data on the matter seems to suggest direct mail deserves a second look.

If you would like to contribute an article to Cornell React, please email us.
Skip to toolbar