When used wisely and analyzed carefully, direct mail outperforms many tactics, particularly with prospects and certainly with many customer segments.
Here are eight points that illustrate how and why direct mail remains alive and well in the 21st century.
- Intrusive - direct mail is an “active” format. Customers may find their way to your website, but a catalogue or a direct mail piece in their mailbox is an intrusive tap on the shoulder that online-only activities don't allow.
- Tactile - there's something to be said for appealing to the senses. Direct mail delivers a tactile sensation that online activity can't.
- Targeted - direct mail is targeted to the customers most likely to respond. Whether you are speaking to prospects or customers, the best way to reach a specific audience is through direct mail.
- Varied - while the cost of some direct mail, particularly catalogues, continues to rise because of postal increases, direct mail offers a wealth of other format options. Depending on the segment and on what you are asking the recipient to do, a postcard, self-mailer or three-dimensional package can get results much like a catalogue — sometimes even greater.
- Measurable - one of the key reasons direct mail remains a viable channel is that you can test hypotheses and measure results. While metrics are getting better for online efforts, direct mail still reigns supreme on testing, measurement and analytics.
- Personalized - there's no question that online technology has made amazing advances in personalization that print can't touch. But there is something magical about seeing your name in print.
- Integrated - direct mail should not be the only piece of your contact strategy. You should build your mail plan with direct mail as a component, a cog in a larger machine. Use email, website and social media to promote your online presence. Several channels working together is powerful, and there are remarkable advantages. One channel should never replace the other — all should work together to form a unified campaign.
- Effective - direct mail works — period. A recent ExactTarget study conducted by Ball State University revealed that while email plays a vital role in marketing communications, direct mail is still a dominant, prominent purchase driver for different types of customers. In some cases, 70% to 90% of survey respondents made a purchase based on receiving direct mail — for all age groups.
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