When Does Direct Mail Work Best?

When Does Direct Mail Work Best?

Though it might seem old fashioned, sometimes direct mail is your best marketing tactic for reaching your target audience and getting it to act.

When we recommend direct mail as a tactic to include in a client’s marketing campaign, we often get surprised reactions. However, the results we get from our direct mail campaigns quickly change their minds.

If you’re one of the people who thinks direct mail is old fashioned, it’s time for you to think again.

Why You Should Reconsider Direct Mail as a Marketing Tactic

Year over year, direct mail has increased its effectiveness. In 2018, direct-mail response rates increased to 4.9 percent for prospect lists (contacts with whom the marketer had no existing direct relationship) and a whopping 9 percent for house lists (contacts with whom the marketer had an existing relationship), per the ANA/DMA Response Rate Report 2018.

This makes direct mail one of the highest performing marketing tactics by response rate—a rate far higher than digital options, including e-mail, paid search and display advertising, and social media.

Further, people who receive direct mail have an incredibly high rate of brand recall—which makes direct mail a must-do tactic for companies that have brand awareness as a marketing goal. Compared to digital-ad recipients, who remembered brands 44 percent of the time, people who received direct mail recalled the brand 75 percent of the time.

When someone receives a piece of direct mail, she has far less distraction than she will have when seeing a digital ad on any platform. She’s more likely to see the brand and the message and read the text than she will for an ad delivered by phone or desktop computer.

Therefore, she’ll focus on the offer in front of her in that moment, even if she decides it doesn’t suit her needs right then. If you’ve targeted your ads correctly, your offer will suit her needs in the future—and when the time comes, she’ll remember your brand.

When Your Message Needs Focus

The level of focus direct mail receives over most other options means that direct mail has importance for your marketing plan when you want your target audience to truly absorb your key marketing messages—and especially if these messages take some attention to fully sink in.

Also, the attention people pay to direct mail helps your message stand out from the clutter. If you’re in a crowded market and want your differentiated message to jump out of the mix, direct mail helps.

Further, direct mail can make a personal, human appeal like few other media can. If your format your direct mail piece like a letter, a package (maybe even with a gift inside), or a greeting card, you can then craft a message for the format that makes an appeal that no digital ad on a web page ever can.

When You Have a Target Market that Requires Direct Mail

Some target audiences will respond better to direct mail.

In some cases, this is due to the personal-outreach characteristics of the direct-mail medium. As mentioned above, direct mail makes it possible to appeal to a person individually and speak to his life and world in a way no other medium can and with his attention captured like no other medium does.

In other cases, this is because of the medium’s access to the target audience that other tactics don’t provide.

On the business-to-business marketing side, small business owners who personally review all their mail and people who work in jobs that don’t have them sitting at desks daily will receive a direct-mail message when they might not otherwise. Also, these audiences may not have the time or budgets to attend many events and activities, where you might have other nondigital marketing activities planned.

On the business-to-consumer marketing side, parents with children at home and people who have jobs that don’t allow them downtime at work to surf the internet or check their personal e-mail may not see digital messages as often as others. A direct mail item sent to their home addresses will reach them when few other things do.

When Your Budget Can Afford Direct Mail

Direct mail, even when sent via bulk mail postal rates, has a hefty price tag—and that doesn’t count the cost of printing, stuffing, list building, and creative development. If you want to send something “lumpy,” like a gift in a puffy envelope, your costs only go up.

Further, as with all other tactics, you can’t send just one piece of direct mail and expect the tactic to work. You need to do multiple direct mail drops as part of your campaign if you add direct mail to your tactical plan.

Oh, and don’t forget your other tactics. As with all marketing tactics, you need to have other tactics in play to complement your direct mail efforts and create the marketing “surround sound” effects that get results. Your direct mail needs to run in coordination with other traditional marketing and digital marketing tactics, from advertising to events to e-mail. If running direct mail means you can only run direct mail, then you should forego it to spread your budget across a more complete suite of marketing tactics.

However, if you have the budget to accommodate direct mail in addition to other marketing tactics, you should seriously consider doing it. The sheer cost of the tactic will scare off many of your competitors, meaning that direct mail will give you a rare opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

When Your Bandwidth Allows Direct Mail Tracking

Companies love digital marketing tactics because they seem so easily and directly trackable, especially if you know your way around Google Analytics.

With direct mail, you need to be a little more intentional about setting up trackability from the campaign-planning phases, meaning that you must work harder to make it trackable and to actively monitor it after the campaign starts running.

Is tracking direct mail possible? Absolutely. Is it easy? We think so. Yet you have no clear-cut way to fall back on assumptions around open rates, as you do with e-mails, or clicks, as you can with e-mails and digital advertisements.

Ready to Revisit Direct Mail for Your Marketing?

Contact FrogDog today for a free consultation!

Posted: Dec 02, 2019
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