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5 Reasons Direct Mail Still Gets a Stamp of Approval From Pro Marketers


With the proliferation of digital marketing in the 21st century, it’s understandable why some brands might consider direct mail marketing to be an outdated tactic. But after a closer look at the numbers, many of these brands might just change their views. That’s because the data shows that not only is this ages-old marketing tool still widely read and highly effective, it can also compete with its more modern counterparts in a number of critical areas — and often even outperform them.

If your brand has already abandoned its direct-mail marketing campaigns or is considering a move in that direction, consider these five solid, data-driven reasons to keep direct mail in your marketing arsenal:

1. Direct mail’s response rates rock

According to the Association of National Advertisers/Data & Marketing Association’s 2018 Response Rate Report, direct mail outpaces all other forms of direct media in response rate — and does so by a large margin. While email, social media, paid search and online display saw their response rate results land at 1% or lower in the study, direct mail’s figure was nearly 5% for prospect lists, and climbed to almost 10% for house lists. This makes its response rate at least 5 times higher than any digital marketing channel. So, if your brand is seeking consumer responses to its surveys, contact forms or other requests for information, direct mail may well be the optimal avenue for such consumer queries.

2. Direct mail captures consumers’ attention

As many ad-weary online consumers are well aware, it can sometimes be easy to ignore brands’ digital marketing efforts, especially when our inboxes are overloaded and our timelines are packed with paid ads. But by putting a physical piece of mail into consumers’ hands, direct-mail advertising has proven highly effective at drawing and keeping recipients’ attention. In fact, according to the U.S. Postal Service’s 2020 Household Diary Study, a full 50% of households read the advertising communications they receive in their mailbox, with another 23% scanning it. These figures have remained remarkably consistent over the last few years of the survey, with 49% of households reporting that they read their direct mail ads in 2018, and 51% reporting the same in 2019. Further, according to the aforementioned ANA/DMA Response Rate Report, a whopping 84% of surveyed consumers reported taking action on coupons that landed in their mailbox.

3. It’s trusted across age groups

When consumers are navigating their paths to purchase, whether or not they have trust in a brand is a key factor in their eventual conversion decision. And according to a 2017 study performed by MarketingSherpa, traditional marketing channels are broadly trusted by surveyed consumers of all ages. Among these channels, direct mail enjoys high levels of trust among the Silent Generation (83% of whom said they trust ads and catalogs they receive in the mail), Baby Boomers (80%), Generation X (77%) and Millennials (70%). Also worth considering when targeting older consumers: According to the study, direct mail was the single most trusted marketing channel (out of a total of 13 categories listed in the survey) among members of the Silent Generation.

4. Direct mail is especially effective at driving household purchase decisions

While emails are generally sent to a single recipient, direct mail is typically received and viewed by multiple members of a household. And according to a 2019 study from Murphy Research and PebblePost, 88% of consumers’ major purchase decisions are made at home after consultation with other members of the family — with spouses being particularly influential in these discussions. Because direct mail is often viewed by multiple members of the household, it can play an outsized role in driving and informing household conversations related to consumers’ purchase choices. In fact, according to the same study, 61% of direct mail recipients say the marketing tool ultimately influenced their purchase decision.

5. It boasts a lengthy life span

While digital communications may arrive in an instant, they don’t tend to stick around nearly as long as direct mail does, according to a 2018 study from the U.K.-based Go Inspire Group. Per the study, the life span of the average email is best measured in seconds, while the average shelf life of a direct mail piece is roughly 17 days. The study also indicated that consumers are less likely to perceive direct mail as spam, and that direct mail leads to improved messaging and branding retention among consumers. The study’s top takeaway: Brands can generate the biggest impact for themselves among consumers with a mix of direct mail and digital messaging.

Could your brand benefit from some professional help executing its direct mail marketing campaigns? At The Brandon Agency, our team of certified brand strategists and data-driven marketing experts has helped clients in an array of industries boost the effectiveness of their direct mail marketing efforts. Further, TBA’s fully integrated marketing firm can cover the full spectrum of your brand’s marketing needs, including email marketing, social media, brand strategy, web design, creative, and much more. To get started with help ranging from a simple website analysis to a comprehensive strategy tailored to boost the performance of all of your marketing campaigns, contact us today.