The Return of Direct Mail

It is not a secret amongst those in the industry that the art of direct mail has been lost, as the birth of the internet and other digital marketing channels have offered a multitude of different options when it comes to how a marketer might want to spend their money. 

In the 28 years since the internet became publicly available, a great deal of evolution has taken place, with channels such as email, paid search, and social media ads (most notably Instagram and Facebook) brought to the forefront of marketing and, in many cases, preferred over direct mail. The rush of keeping up with new marketing methods means that marketers have left simple but effective strategies behind, direct mail is one of these. The decline in the number of people who have had experience in using direct mail has exacerbated this drop and continued the downward trend which we have seen in recent years. As a result, brands have used direct mail less and less in their marketing mix. 

However, and perhaps surprisingly, direct mail has not stagnated at all during this time and has evolved along with other marketing channels. It has advanced in the following areas: personalisation, integration, styles and cost. Its personalisation has improved as a fully bespoke and personal message can be delivered to the customer; its integration due to API print techs allowing brands to integrate automated direct mail to their marketing plan. Plugging these techs into the current CRM means that mass direct mail can be sent out easily and cheaply. Direct mail can now come in many different styles too, using innovative materials (some of which are fully recyclable), and new paper(like) stock made from cotton allows for a clever design tailored to the product being marketed. Finally, it isn’t that expensive; it can cost as little as 30p per item (spec dependent), meaning that it is a cheap and reliable way to get personalised marketing out to a large audience thanks to its recent progress.

Arguably, for the majority of brands, prospecting cold new customers is better done through online channels due to how granular the targeting can be. This appears to be a great way to bring in new business, and the ease at which bespoke advertising can be delivered can make it an appealing option.

However, brands that are combining both digital and physical options for both retargeting and retention are seeing some amazing results. The ability to do this is a real benefit – according to omnicoreagency.com, 70% of businesses cannot seem to consistently integrate their content correctly to maximize sales, highlighting how companies who can reliably integrate their marketing are likely to perform much better than those who can or do not. 

But how can direct mail be used effectively? Well, adding direct mail to a brand’s welcome journey can create the sense that the brand cares about and values the customer and this can go a long way in making them feel a part of the company. The abandoned basket is another useful method – potential customers who are ready to buy products can be sent an automated direct mail item with the items they had in their basket with an offer or incentive to complete the purchase, and this can convert to sales. Targeting customers who are not responding to initial messages can also be helpful – sending direct mail items to customers who are at a lapsing point can show that the brand cares, and ultimately doesn’t want to lose their business. Gone-aways are one to watch – customers that have left/opted out can be sent a re-engagement piece, telling them that the brand wants them back – these often contain phraseology such as ‘we miss you’ and similar messages.

On the flip side, rewarding existing customers for their loyalty by sending them direct mail items can be a key part of retention and creating a brand community. These products can be personalised too – customers can be sent relevant new products or services in line with previous purchases, to retain their business, encourage new buys, and maximise profits.

Although direct mail may appear to have died out, it is instead alive and constantly evolving. Its recent return highlights its adaptability to the modern market, meaning it could be an avenue for your business to explore.

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